One of the fastest growing smart home product groups is security cameras. it makes sense now that high quality sensors are falling in cost and the technology that’s needed to bring a connected camera to market is commoditised. That also means it’s hard to make a product that stands out. The Netgear Arlo Go, offers a high quality camera but throws in a solar power option, weather-proofing and cellular comms so it can be remotely deployed where your Wi-Fi doesn’t reach. Here’s Lifehacker’s review.
The Arlo Go comes wth a number of different bits and pieces. It comes with a mount that can be screwed into a ceiling, external eave or onto bricks. It comes with the required lugs and screws for doing that. That camera screws onto the mount using a standard tripod screw.
Before mounting it, I inserted the supplied battery, a SIM card and a micro SD card into the slots inside the battery compartment. Once the unit was powered on and I downloaded the app – there are iOS and Android versions – I got into the camera’s set up process.
The app guided me through. The key step is that the app displays a QR code that you hold in front of the Arlo go. This pairs the camera to the app on your smartphone. Once that was done, I could view the video stream on my iPhone easily, with about two seconds of latency.
Importantly, the Arlo Go delivers its video stream to you over cellular comms – it doesn’t use Wi-Fi. The package I tested was supplied through Telstra and came with a pre-paid SIM card.
As well as the battery, the Arlo Go can connect to mains power, to keep the battery topped up, or you can use the solar panel that came in the package I looked at to keep the battery going.
One thing that was annoying was that the Arlo Go I was shipped required a firmware update. The setting to do this was buried, several clicks deep, in the recesses of the Arlo app. Given the security issues surrounding connected devices, this sort of thing needs to be made clearer and users need to be alerted when new updates are available. Furthermore, there were release notes but no easy way to access them from the app. And, when I tapped the link for the update, there was no progress meter or other indication that the update was happening.
The Arlo Go boasts 1280 by 720 video encoded with the H.264 codec. The viewing angle for the camera is 130 degrees and there’s an 8x digital soon for zeroing in on something specific you’re looking at or for.
I must admit that I did have some reservations about the Arlo Go only supporting cellular connections. But, assuming you place the camera in an area with good overage, you won’t have a problem with it in my experience.
Images are stored on a microSD card – you’ll need to supply one of those – or you can use Netgear’s online service that supports up to five cameras and retains seven days of footage for free. There are more expensive options, starting at a little over $10 per month to support more cameras or longer retention periods.
Features and operation
The Arlo Go offers four different operating modes:
- Armed: Motion and audio detection are on
- Disarmed: Motion and audio detection are off
- Scheduled: Motion and audio detection are only on at times you set
- Geofenced: Motion and audio detection are only armed, disarmed or scheduled depending on where you are
I particularly like the Geofenced setting. As the Arlo Go can send alerts for all motion and sound, either as notifications on your device or via email, you can choose what happens depending on where you are. However, that means you’ll need to give the Arlo app access to your location at all times.
For example, I had it armed when I was away and disarmed when at home.
You can also create your own operating modes that trigger on sound and motion sensitivity settings you prefer.
Over time, you’ll accumulate quite a bit of footage from the camera. All of this is easily accessible in a library that is sorted chronologically. Simply choose the date you want to look at and then scroll along through the thumbnails which are labelled by the time they were recorded. In response to motion or sound detection, the Arlo Go records 10 seconds of footage. You can pause and zoom in on what’s been captured, share the footage or delete it.
Interestingly, there’s also an option to donate the footage to Netgear so they can use it for research.
Price and availability
The Arlo Go is available through Telstra Consumer and Small Business channels for $30/mth when signing up to a $15/mth Go Mobile Data Plus plan or My Business Mobile Data Plan, for 24 months, with $15/mth device repayments (min Cost $720. Per MB 1.46c). This includes a bonus Arlo Solar Panel valued at $149.
It’s also available for outright purchase through other retailers for $599 but then you’ll need to add your own data SIM.