When it comes to the concept of home security things have changed dramatically in the last few years. Think back a decade ago and the idea of having a security system was something often reserved for rich people and businesses. Today things are much different.
Since 2018 Arlo has been steadily making inroads in the security space. Its wireless and weather-resistant cameras have become an increasingly popular solution for many consumers.
Among its more recent options is the Arlo Pro 3, a 2k (2560 x 1440 pixels) security camera system that’s offered as a $500 complete solution. Included in this bundle are two of the cameras with wall mounts and screw kits, and a SmartHub. Homeowners can buy additional cameras for $200 each, adding them to a home as needed.
Our team was fortunate enough to receive a review bundle of the Arlo Pro 3 and have been using it in-home for about two weeks. Here is our review.
What is the Arlo Pro 3?
In short, it’s a security camera with 2k resolution that also packs a spotlight, two-way communication, and a siren.
The Arlo Pro 3 is a compact camera that fits in the palm of your hand; it employs a clean modern design. It’s right at home with the likes of what comes out of Google and Apple nowadays.
Each camera comes with a rechargeable battery that can be removed and charged directly at the wall. Interestingly and conveniently, it can also be charged with the included magnetic cable.
The cameras have user-defined settings such as field of view and resolution. Moreover, they have high powered infrared LEDs to record in night vision or low light scenarios.
What’s in the box?
To be clear, the bundle does come with more than a few items. Here’s a list of what’s included in the box.
- 2 Arlo Pro 3 cameras w/ mounts and screws
- 2 Rechargeable batteries
- 1 Magnetic charging cable
- 1 SmartHub
- Power cable
- Ethernet adapter
- User manual
As part of the setup and installation, you’ll have to plug the SmartHub into your home network. This is what gets your cameras to talk to your phone and allow for all of the smarts that come with them.
The SmartHub is a white device that looks similar to a wireless router. It’s more tower-like in shape but doesn’t take up too much space.
Setup and Configuration
It’s really easy to get set up and configure the Arlo Pro 3 bundle, especially if you’re not putting the cameras in their final resting spots. And even if so, the actual process of drilling or screwing in is straightforward.
It is worth pointing out that you’re going to need to plug your SmartHub directly into a router. If you’re low on ports or don’t have any available, you’ll want to get a switch.
I tried to unplug the SmartHub after initial installation to see if it would still work, but it doesn’t. The Arlo Pro 3 requires the hub to be powered and plugged in at all times.
The cameras are easy to assemble and more or less consist of placing the battery inside and snapping together. Our bundle had one magnetic wall mount and an adjustable indoor/outdoor short mount. It’s simple to screw the cameras in or stick it to the magnetic mount and there’s no risk of scratching or damaging things. Nothing permanent happens here.
You can mix and match settings on your cameras to suit your needs. If you want a wider range view for the front door and want a higher resolution image on the back, so be it. Want to have the flood light come on for one camera or use the NightVision? No problem.
As part of the initial setup you can put in an address to connect to e911. Should you need to alert emergency services you can do so with a tap of you phone’s screen.
While I have yet to settle on the final resting spots for each camera, I’ve also yet to finalize the settings. As such, I dabble with various settings. The app makes it very easy to adjust things on the fly.
Some nights I have it automatically turn on and keep an eye on rooms while other nights I just drop in and out to see the feed. I particularly like that the Arlo Pro 3 lets me see real-time what’s happening through the camera(s) and listen in, too. And while this is nowhere near exclusive to the brand or model, it’s nice nonetheless.
Want to drop in on the camera and toggle the flood light? That’s a simple tap of your screen. The same goes for adjusting the perspective and resolution, automatic zoom and tracking, speaker volume, and more. Speaking of perspective and field of view, the 160-degree setting is good enough to fully cover most rooms, driveways, yards, or other areas.
I’ve found that daytime image quality is fairly balanced with solid contrast and rather realistic color representation. The Auto HDR feature is particularly noteworthy because it does an excellent job with exposure near bright windows or doorways.
Built for Mother Nature
The Arlo Pro 3 is built to withstand temperatures between -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) and 113 degrees F (45 C). Depending on where you live you might find yourself bringing them in on extreme days. Otherwise, you should have no problem leaving them outside.
The Arlo Pro 3 is equipped with a smart Auto Zoom and Tracking feature, which is nice for monitoring things that might cross your driveway in the middle of the night. What’s more, Arlo does a great job of identifying whether the motion is a person or animal. The trade off for this feature, though, is that it drops resolution down to 1080p. With that said, it’s still good enough for my needs.
Another feature I particularly like is being able to create Activity Zones, or more specific spots viewable in the camera. This is a nice touch because not everything that moves needs to trigger an alert. Take, for example, filtering out the road and focusing on the driveway right in front. This way you don’t get a notification every time a car drives by but do get when one pulls in.
I’ve moved the cameras around my home, playing with different vantage points and perspectives. I do like that the camera has a modern design and looks right at home on a bookshelf. Likewise, they’re prominent and “serious” enough that people will take notice and maybe think twice.
If and when the cameras detect movement, and whether you’ve got them armed, they’ll capture short video clips. These clips can then be viewed on demand and also shared via a link.
One setting that I won’t necessarily use at my home is the siren. Each camera is equipped with a piercing alarm that can be triggered to automatically sound. This would be ideal if I had an offsite garage, storage unit, or remote property.
I did play with this just to test it and found it incredibly jarring and attention grabbing. In other words, it’s an excellent first line of defense if you happen to live in an area that’s prone to break-ins or theft.
Worth pointing out here is that there is no automatic siren for messing with the camera. Keep that in mind in the event you place it somewhere within reach. You might have footage of the guy stealing it, but you won’t have the camera.
Each Arlo Pro 3 comes with a three-month trial of its Arlo Smart services, which runs $3 per month for each camera or $9.99 for up to five cameras. There are discounts applied for more than five cameras should that be a concern.
Some of the features that come with the service include the aforementioned object detection, activity zones, and intelligent alerts. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the 30 day history of video recording.
Let’s talk about battery and how often you need to charge the Arlo Pro 3 cameras. These things get 3-6 months per charge, something I find to be really impressive. There was immediate peace of mind knowing that I wouldn’t be getting out a step-ladder every few days.
I was curious about how often I’d be disconnecting the camera or plugging in the magnetic cable to charge the battery. Suffice it to say, even with all of the messing around that I’ve done with them, they’ve only dipped to 91% in the more than two weeks since I set them up. Once I settle into the groove I bet it gets even more efficient.
The eufyCam 2, by comparison at $400, provides up to one year of battery but offers just 1080p maximum resolution.
If there’s one area that I would like to see addressed, it’s the pulling up of a live view. In some cases it is within a few seconds while others might take upwards of 30 seconds to see.
Similarly, asking my Lenovo Smart Display to show me a stream is possible, but there’s quite a delay. I can’t call on it to show me who is at the front door any quicker than it would be for me to walk upstairs and check. And it sure isn’t real-time.
I’m forgiving on the live view on a smart display because this isn’t designed as a doorbell. But with the app, I might appreciate a little more consistency in speed.
The Arlo Pro 3 kit doesn’t sound like it’s all that wallet-friendly at $500 but it is a very affordable way to add security to your home or office. It’s an up-front investment as opposed to some ongoing home security system that runs $35-$45 per month.
Something else that might help make your buying decision easier is that home owners and renters insurance will sometimes offer discounts for having a security system in place.
The cameras capture things quickly and in high resolution. Clips are clear, easy to share. Battery life is tremendous as you’ll only need to charge up a few times per year. You can use these indoors as well as outdoors and the mounting choices are flexible. What else might you want?
Add-on cameras are just $200 and I am already considering a few more for around the house. This way I can finally decide on where the first two might go. As a parent of a teenager and a pet owner, I think it’s worth having one or two of these in common areas of the house.
The extra monthly features are worth it to me and really don’t amount to too much out of pocket every 30 days. I pay more for coffee and junk that I don’t truly need and they don’t help me sleep soundly at night.
If you are considering a third camera at the outset, go for the 3-pack at $650 and save yourself $50 in the process.