Netgear’s Arlo brand — which is soon to be its own separate company — specializes in security products, with a full line of security cameras. We took a look at the Arlo Q HD Security Camera ($200, or $350 for a two-pack), one of the most accessible, affordable options in the Arlo stable.
How It Works
Arlo Q has a few working parts including the camera, a power adapter, 10-foot USB cable, wall mounting plate, anchors, and screws. If you’re not a fan of putting holes in your wall, you’re in luck. The mounting kit is optional, and not really needed since the camera works great just on a shelf. Plus, the Arlo Q has a magnet on the bottom of the base that you can attach to any metal surface. I tried it on the refrigerator and it worked great.
The camera itself is about 4.5″tall and only weighs 0.37 pounds. It definitely looks like a camera, so don’t plan on it blending in like other cameras might (like Canary’s All-In-One, for example).
Setting up the camera and app is simple. The process took around 10-15 minutes to unpack the camera, plug it in, and download and set up the app. It should be noted that the connection failed the first time and I had to start over. This seems to happen to a lot of people, so don’t be surprised if it happens to you.
You will need to download the app and follow the instructions. The first step is to choose your Wi-Fi network, and a large QR code will appear on your phone. You will be instructed to face that code towards your camera and wait until you hear a chime. Once you hear this, you will know that your camera and app are paired.
You will be asked to choose a name for your camera and then go through a syncing process that takes the most amount of time. The app prompts you with a series of steps and after that, you can go right to a live view of video on your phone.
You need a high-speed, Wi-Fi internet connection and a compatible device to run this camera. The Arlo Q app works with iOS, Android, Apple TV and compatible web browsers.
The camera has a 130-degree viewing angle — many other cameras only offer a 120-degree angle. It also has 1080p video, which records very clear and accurate color images. If you want to zoom in on anything that happens, the Arlo offers 8x digital zoom.
The first thing I noticed (and liked) about this camera was the quality of the video. Of all the cameras we’ve seen thus far, the Arlo Q has the clearest picture. The night vision feature comes with 10 infrared LED lights that produce night clips that are pretty clear — even at the maximum range of 25 feet. The issue with the night vision can pop up when someone walks past the camera — a few of the clips were blurry.
Let’s talk motion and sound alerts — this camera detects everything. Within minutes of setting Arlo Q up, my phone was buzzing and alerts were popping up one after the other. The notifications come quickly, often within a few seconds of motion or sound being detected.
This got a little out of hand when I was at home, so I immediately changed the mode to disarmed. You can manually change the mode from armed to disarmed, or you can create a schedule of when you would like the camera to turn on and off for video recording and notifications.
If you allow Arlo Q to access your location, you can take advantage of the geofencing mode, which lets you manage your recordings and notifications based on your location. You can then choose to have the camera disarmed when you’re home and armed when you’re away. After I changed to this mode, the notifications only came when I was away from home and activity was detected.
Like many cameras, Arlo Q features two-way audio. The built-in mic and speaker allow you to check in on any person (or pet) that happen to be home while you’re away. To access this feature from the live video clip, you press the Push-to-Talk icon and wait for it to connect. Once it connects, you hold the green button down and speak. This icon/button will turn purple while you are talking.
Arlo Q comes with the option to set activity zones, which allows you to set the motion and sound detection zones by specifying the area you want to monitor. This feature is often part of a paid subscription plan with other cameras, but it comes free with the Arlo Q.
I downloaded the app on an iPhone 8. It was easy to register and set up an account. Once the app was downloaded, the Wi-Fi connection was enabled (it’s important to note that you do need a strong wireless connection), and the camera was turned on, I started to dig through the app.
The first screen users see shows the name of the camera and a screen which allows you to see live video. At the bottom of the screen, you can click on “library” and it takes you to the short clips, listed in reverse chronological order, of when activity was detected. The clips include a time stamp and the length of time.
When you tap on a clip, it takes you away from the live feed and to a screen that just shows the recorded clip. You can watch, download, share, or delete from this screen. The audio on these clips is impressive and easy to hear.
Like most home security cameras, Arlo Q comes with a basic service plan, which lets you record seven days of motion and sound-triggered cloud recordings for free before it erases the data. This is one of the most generous basic plans that come with any camera. Most other cameras only come with 24 hours of free cloud storage.
If you want the premium features that make the camera more valuable, you have to shell out some money.
The camera comes with the following features:
- Seven days of cloud recordings
- Ability to have up to five cameras on the system
- Limited support for three months
The Premier subscription comes with:
- 30 days of cloud recordings
- Ability to have up to 10 cameras
- Unlimited support
The Elite subscription comes with:
- 60 days of cloud recordings
- Ability to have up to 15 cameras
- Unlimited support
Expect to pay quite a bit for these extra services. The Premier plan will run you $10/month or $99/yr and the Elite plan will cost you $15/month or $149/yr. This is more than a lot of the other subscription services that come with other cameras.
Additionally, you can purchase 24/7 continuous video recording which records nonstop to the cloud. Otherwise, the Arlo Q only records when motion or activity is detected. For $10/month, you can get 14 days of continuous video feed, and $20/month buys you 30 days.
You may notice a bright blue light on the camera. This is on and stays blue when Arlo Q is connected and live.
The camera has a ball and socket joint so you can move it to the side or front and back. This is a nice feature if you want to be able to change the angle of the area you’re monitoring.
I unplugged and moved this camera several times, and each time I plugged it back in, the camera reconnected right away.
When I tested it for lag time, I ran in front of the camera and counted until my image appeared on the live feed. This took less than five seconds each time I tested it, so there is a bit of a lag.
Who It Might Be Good For
- Users looking for different mounting/placement options
- Users looking for a wide-angle lens
- Users looking for a camera that can be pointed straight ahead, up, or down
- Users looking for two-way communication
- Users looking for a very generous free cloud storage plan (seven days)
Who It Might Not Be Good For
- Users looking for a camera that can work indoors or outdoors
- Users looking for advanced features that come free with the camera
- Users looking for continuous video recording
- Users looking for the highest quality of night recordings
If you’re looking for a dependable indoor camera with high-quality daytime video and a generous free cloud storage plan, Arlo Q is a great choice. It’s not the least expensive DIY home security camera on the market, but the well-designed features may be worth the extra bucks.