Earlier this year, Netgear’s Arlo Pro outdoor security camera system earned our Editors’ Choice for its superb video quality, ease of use, and myriad features including motion and sound detection, rechargeable batteries, geofencing, and its ability to work with other smart home devices. The company’s latest offering, the Arlo Pro 2 (starting at $479.99), gives you everything that you get with its predecessor, but offers a few upgrades including 1080p video and support for Amazon Alexa voice commands.
It also offers a couple of features that only work when plugged in, such as Look Back, which allows you to see what happened several seconds before a motion- or sound-triggered event, and a CVR (continuous video recording) option. It’s expensive, and is the case with other Arlo cameras, it requires a hub, which is included, to connect to your wireless network, but it’s still our top pick for outdoor home security cameras.
Pricing, Design, and Features
If you already have an Arlo base station, you can pick up a single Arlo Pro 2 camera for $219.99. The two-camera kit reviewed here goes for $479.99, and a four-camera kit will cost you $799.99. Included in the kit are a base station, rechargeable battery packs for each camera, a base station power adapter, a camera power adapter and cable, four metal wall mounts and mounting screws, an Ethernet cable, and a quick start guide.
The Arlo Pro 2 looks nearly identical to the Arlo Pro, the only difference being a smaller black front panel. It measures 3.1 by 1.9 by 2.8 inches (HWD), weighs 4.8 ounces, and has a glossy white housing that meets IP65 waterproof standards. A magnet embedded in the rear of the enclosure allows you to attach the camera to the round metal mounts or any metal surface, or you can just place it on any flat area.
There’s a Sync button on the top of the camera, along with a button that opens the battery compartment at the rear. The Arlo Pro 2 uses a rechargeable battery pack that is rated to last up to six months. To charge the battery, bring the camera inside and plug the included charging adapter into the power jack located just below the battery compartment. The Arlo Pro 2 can also run on AC power when used indoors.
The biggest upgrade here is the camera’s ability to stream and record 1080p video (the original Arlo Pro topped out at 720p). Otherwise, it offers the same 130-degree field of view and speaker and microphone array for two-way audio communication. Six infrared LEDs provide up to 25 feet of night vision in black and white, and the camera offers an 8X digital zoom.
The base station measures 5.0 by 6.9 by 2.3 inches (HWD) and has LED indicators for power, internet, and camera connectivity, and a Sync button for pairing cameras on top. Around back are two USB ports for attaching USB drives, a LAN port, a reset button, a power button, and a power jack. It is powered by a 900MHz CPU and contains 802.11n Wi-Fi circuitry and a 100dB siren that can be set to go off when the camera’s motion or sound sensors are triggered.
New to the Arlo Pro 2 is a Look Back feature that uses pre-buffering technology, similar to that of the Vivint Doorbell Cam, to capture the three seconds of activity before a motion- or sound-triggered event. Also new is the addition of Activity Zones that allow you to zero in on a specific area of the camera’s field of view so that only motion in the zone will trigger a recording and alert. However, in order to use the Look Back and Activity Zones features, the camera has to be plugged into an AC power source.
The camera comes with a free Basic subscription plan that gives you seven days of cloud-based video storage, three months of technical support, and the ability to connect up to five cameras on one account. The Premier plan goes for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year and provides 30 days of storage, unlimited support, and connectivity for up to 10 cameras. For $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year, the Elite plan gets you 60 days of storage, unlimited tech support, and support for up to 15 cameras.
Arlo cameras only record video when motion or sound is detected, but if you want 24/7 recording coverage you can subscribe to a CVR plan. You get 14 days of 24/7 recording for $9.99 per month, or $99 per year for each camera, 30 days of coverage for $19.99 per month or $199 per year for each camera, or 60 days of coverage for $29.99 per month or $299 per year for each camera.
The Pro 2 uses the same Android and iOS app as every other Arlo camera and can be accessed via a web browser as well. The home screen shows all installed cameras with their individual battery level, signal strength, and motion and sound detection status. Each camera also has a gear icon that takes you to a Settings screen and a Play button that launches a live video stream. The live video screen contains buttons that allow you to manually record video, take a snapshot, switch to full-screen mode, mute the speaker, and initiate two-way audio communication. Camera settings include an on/off switch, battery and signal connection levels, video and audio settings, and a Motion Detection test. Video Settings is where you go to enable night vision, create activity zones, and choose a power mode (Best Video, Optimized, Best Battery Life).
Back at the home screen are buttons for Devices, Library, Mode, and Settings. Tapping the Library icon takes you to a screen with a list of recorded video and snapshots. Click on any video to view it, share it with friends, mark it as a favorite, or delete it. Tapping the Mode icon lets you arm or disarm sound and motion detection, create arming schedules, enable alert notifications, adjust motion and sound sensitivity settings, and create rules for recording motion- and sound-triggered events. There’s also a geofencing mode that you can configure to arm the motion and sound sensors when you leave a pre-defined perimeter and disarm them when you return home. The Settings page includes account information and allows you to grant access to the system to friends and family. It also allows you to change the order of where the cameras appear in the app, tweak camera settings, and edit profile information. The Devices icon takes you back to the main camera page.
The Arlo Pro 2 works with dozens of other smart home devices via If This Then That (IFTTT) applets and Stringify flows, and can be integrated into a SmartThings home automation system. It also works with Alexa voice commands to display video on an Echo Show or Fire TV device.
Installation and Performance
The Arlo Pro 2 is very easy to install and configure. Start by downloading the app and creating an account. Connect the base station to your router using the included LAN cable, power it up, and when the power and internet LED indicators turn green, tap Add Device in the app. I did this and the base station was immediately recognized and added to my account. I then inserted a battery pack into each camera (they come fully charged out of the box) and made sure the cameras were within three feet of the base station. I pressed the Sync button on the base station and waited a few seconds for the Sync LED to flash green, then pressed the Sync button on one of the cameras. Within 10-15 seconds the camera was added, and I repeated this process for the second camera. I took both cameras outdoors and mounted one on the left side of the front of my house and the other on the right.
The cameras delivered excellent daytime video in 1080p with rich colors and sharp image detail. Black-and-white night vision was also sharp out to around 25 feet and nicely lit. Motion detection worked very well, but I had to lower the sensitivity to avoid false alerts due to high winds.
I brought one of the cameras back inside and plugged it into a wall outlet to test the Look Back feature and was able to see recorded footage from before the motion sensor was triggered. The geofencing feature always armed the cameras when I left my home perimeter and disarmed them when I returned, and my IFTTT applet to turn on a D-Link Smart Plug when a camera detected motion worked every time. Motion and sound email and push notifications arrived instantly after a sensor was triggered, and I had no trouble viewing video on my TV using an Amazon Fire TV Stick and Alexa voice commands.
At $479, the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is expensive, but you get two weatherproof cameras and a base station with a built-in siren and USB connectivity for storing recorded video locally. As with the original Arlo Pro cameras, the Pro 2 cameras are completely wireless, use rechargeable batteries, and can be easily installed anywhere as long as they are in range of the hub, but this time around they bring 1080p video and Alexa compatibility, and when used with an AC power source, recorded clips will contain footage of activities that occur seconds before a triggered event. All of this makes the Arlo Pro 2 our top choice for outdoor security cameras.