In the last few years broadband has finally gotten to the point where if you want the speed or bandwidth you can get it and this has lead to an explosion of internet connected devices. Some of these are a little… unexpected…. wifi toaster? – but others, like internet connected security cameras, make perfect sense. The Arlo Q is an internet connected camera and microphone designed for indoor home use. Want to see what your pets do when you’re out for the day or keep track of who enters and leaves through your front hallway? That’s what it is designed to do.
The Q has a range of features. First and foremost it’s a video camera and microphone that streams to your phone or desktop letting you remote monitor an area. I found it great to keep a small window streaming on my desktop covering the driveway to get advanced knowledge of visitors.
While you’ll sometimes want to watch the feed live the fact that it can trigger recordings based on sound or movement is usually far more useful. The software lets you define zones to watch for movement so if for example you had it pointing from a window to your driveway you could exclude the main road in the background. Netgear have also added small speakers which let you speak back to whatever you’re looking at – this is great for talking to (or telling off) your pets, but it’s got enough lag that it’s not comfortable for a one to one conversation.
At night the Q uses a ring of IR lights to give itself night vision that works surprisingly well inside a building – it picked up the cats moving around at night perfectly. It does not however work through glass as the IR reflects back, but they can be switched off to rely on any pre-existing outside lights.
So how is the picture? Surprisingly good. Netgear say the video streams 1080p at 30fps and the quality shows, but only if you get perfect lighting and the best possible wifi. Despite not quite getting it’s theoretical limit the quality is consistently good enough for purpose, with faces and movements being clearly recognisable.
Retailer: Amazon +
Price: ± £99
Paid extras: There are three plans available. Every camera comes with the Basic plan, which gives you 7 days of cloud DVR recording for free and up to 5 cameras per account. Premier gives you 30 days DVR and up to 10 cameras for £6.50 a month and Elite gives you 60 days DVR with up to 15 cameras. Elite and Premier also extend support from the standard three months to unlimited.
There is also a separate plan that lets you record continuous video from one camera to the cloud for 14 days for £7 a month or 30 days for £13 a month.
Netgear is a very well known American network technology manufacturer. You probably know them best for their home hubs and wifi routers, but they’re a major supplier to industry as well and make a range of network connected devices like NAS (Network Hard Disks), firewalls and security cameras. They were set up in 1996 and have just over a thousand employees spread around the world.
The Arlo Q is a physically a small white camera fixed via a ball socket and neck to a fixed base. The way it all fits together means that it can be set easily to almost any angle and that the weighted base can either be rested on a flat surface, attached to a wall with screws or via a built in magnet. The front of the camera has a series of stripes going in towards the central lens – a chrome ring, a white ring with status LEDs and the microphone, an opaque ring which has the IR LEDs and the central lens. There are two physical switches on the side of the main camera – a sync button and a reset pinhole. Power is provided over microUSB and the provided cable has an angled head and connection clips that give it a low profile and avoid it getting in the way.
Setup is usually reasonably simple. Plug in and give it a minute to boot up and then press and hold the sync button and it will create it’s own wifi network. Load the app and you can connect to this network and using QR codes you show to the camera get it onto your home wifi and tied to your Netgear account. It’s not a perfect system and for some reason it won’t join a wifi network that has any form of non alphanumeric characters in it. Mine had a ‘ which stopped all progress until I figured it out and changed the SSID.
Once you’ve gotten it setup and adjusted the camera to the perfect angle you’ll interact with the camera through the software interfaces. Netgear have apps on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire and a decent web interface. They’re all well laid out and sensible if not pretty. It’s designed to handle a number of Arlo cameras at once which makes perfect sense if you are using them for security.
The Q can be set to one of four modes to begin recording – continuous recording, triggered by sound or motion, timed on a schedule or geofenced based on the location of your mobile phone. They all work well although the triggered on motion has a tendency to miss the first second or so of recording.
Once the camera is triggered it can send you an email or more usefully a notification on your phone at which point you can view the live stream or the recorded snippet. Both work well once you’ve taken care to think about them – a camera in your front hallway will overwhelm you with notifications if the kids and cats go past it every minute.
Network security for IOT devices is something that has been a problem for a number of companies small and large and that’s included Netgear. Most recently the Mirai botnet affected many router models but it does not affect the Arlo cameras and both my own prodding at the camera on the local network and the research I’ve done don’t seem to indicate any issues. One extremely good point is that the Arlo’s can automatically update their own firmware if an issue is discovered. If you are particularly concerned about the security of your IOT devices there are technical solutions “Three Dumb Routers” approach that you you isolate your IOT devices on their own network.
- Motion and audio detection with alerts via the app or email
- Streaming video and audio switchable on manually at any point
- Built in speaker so you can talk back
- Night vision using IR LEDs
- Cloud recording and control
- Magnetic and wall mounting
- Digital controllable zoom
Environment & People
At around one hundred pounds per camera with no long term storage fees required the Q is sensibly priced. There are cheaper options, but they are significantly lower quality video or no-name manufactures with inherent security issues.
Item Weight: 151g (not including cable)
Colour: Cream white with chrome accents
Waterproof: No – indoor use only
Cable Length: 3m (replaceable)
Cloud storage: 7 days included and longer plans available
Power type: MicroUSB 5.0V and 2.0A
Wifi networks: 2.4GHz or 5GHz
Recording level: 1080p
Audio: 2 way
Software: Web interface, android, FireOS and iOS apps
Field of View: 130 degrees
Warranty: 3 months basic support with more purchaseable
The Q requires a decent wifi network and a power source within three metres to plug into.
Netgear has tried to create a camera system that can give you integrated control of numerous different cameras. The Arlo system works well at the scale most people will be interested in and neatly sidesteps all the technical aspects that would traditionally have been needed.
The Q camera itself is well made, streams decent quality video and blends as well as a security camera can into the background. If you’re looking to setup a small home security system the Arlo Q would be a great choice for an indoor camera. Recommended.
The review is based on the Netgear Arlo Q Camera kindly provided by Netgear during February 2017. This article was first published on the 3 March 2017.