Arlo Pro 2 Review
There are few systems that are as powerful or as flexible as the Arlo Pro 2. Giving you indoor or outdoor coverage, the system can be expanded to use multiple cameras. Image quality is generally very good – although a touch soft during the night – with footage saved to the free cloud storage. The Arlo Ultra system produces better-quality video, but the Pro 2 is the better-value system.
- Easy to set up and install
- Excellent control over recording
- Cameras work with new Ultra Base Station
- No activity zones unless powered
- Review Price: £279.99
- Indoor/outdoor battery-powered cameras
- 59 x 175 x 127mm
- 1080p resolution
- 130-degree filed of view
- Cloud (7-days free), USB recording
- Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa support
What is the Arlo Pro 2?
The 4K Arlo Ultra may be grabbing the headlines for its best-in-class image quality, but the wireless indoor/outdoor Arlo Pro 2 offers many of the same benefits for less money thanks to its 1080p resolution.
If it’s a flexible security solution you’re after then one of the best apps in the business plus free cloud storage make the Arlo Pro 2 a winner.
Arlo Pro 2 – What you need to know
- Installation – Complete wireless installation and indoor/outdoor compatibility make these cameras really easy to install anywhere
- Detection performance – A PIR motion sensor picks up all movement, but you need to permanently power the camera or upgrade to Arlo Smart if you want to reduce the number of alerts you receive
- Image quality – A Full HD sensor captures a decent amount of detail during the day, but the picture is a touch soft at night
Related: Best security camera
Arlo Pro 2 – It’s super-easy to install and you can place it indoors or out
The Arlo Pro 2, as with previous cameras in the range, is a complete wireless security camera system. It comprises of one or more wireless battery-powered cameras that talk via a dedicated Wi-Fi link to a hub. This hub is connected to a base station hooked up to your home network.
You can buy the Arlo Pro 2 with a hub, in one, two, three or even four-camera packs. You can also buy additional cameras separately. Opt for the Arlo Pro 2 with a base station and you’ll get seven days of free cloud storage and a loud siren built into the hub, too.
However, if you have an Arlo Ultra system already, you can just buy plain Arlo Pro 2 cameras and connect these to the new base station (the Ultra camera isn’t compatible with the Pro 2 base station). This means you can expand your Arlo Ultra system with cheaper cameras where you don’t need the same level of details, but you lose out on two features.
First, you don’t get free cloud storage with the Ultra base station, instead getting a free one-year subscription to the new Arlo Smart system. Second, you lose the internal siren.
Whether you use the Arlo Pro 2 base station or the Ultra unit, installation is easy. Each Arlo Pro 2 camera you have needs to be charged via the micro-USB port on the rear. Once done, you use the app to sync the camera.
You can then use the signal strength tool to work out where your cameras can go, inside or out. The wireless signal strength is pretty good; I could get coverage all around my Victorian terrace, including any cameras attached to the external walls. Placing a camera in the garden required me to move the base station to the kitchen.
In the box you get a magnetic mount, which requires a single screw to hold it in place. The Arlo Pro 2 then grabs hold of this, giving you stability and flexibility to point the camera where you want it. Magnetic mounts do make it easier for someone to steal the camera or knock it aside, so you may want to use the screw thread on the camera to install a more secure mount.
Arlo Pro 2 – To reduce false alarms the Arlo Pro 2 needs permanent power, or you have to upgrade to Arlo Smart
When running on battery power alone, the Arlo Pro 2 uses its PIR motion sensor to pick up movement. As soon as it gets some, the camera wakes up and starts recording, sending a video clip to cloud storage.
Although you can adjust motion sensitivity, PIR motion sensors generate a greater number of alerts, as they’re not so picky about what they class as movement. To better control motion detection there are two options.
First, you can permanently power the camera, which lets you draw activity zones around the areas of the image in which you’re most interested. You can use the provided USB cable for indoor use, but for outside you’ll need to buy the outdoor power cable (£26.99), which gives you a waterproof seal. This does make installation harder, and you’ll need to drill a hole in an external wall. These type of zones dramatically cut down on the number of alerts you receive.
Second, you can upgrade to an Arlo Smart subscription (£1.99 per month for one camera or £6.49 for 10 cameras, for 30 days of cloud storage), which introduces Cloud Activity zones. With these, the camera uses its PIR motion sensor to wake up and start recording, but this time cloud processing checks if the movement was outside of a zone and discards the information.
With Arlo Smart, you can use Smart Alerts to receive notifications only for your choice of people, animals, vehicles or other movements. Combined, the Smart Notifications and Cloud Activity zones reduce the number of alerts received.
However, when using Cloud Activity zones, you have to consider camera placement. Point it at an area of high activity, such as a street, and the camera’s PIR sensor will continuously wake it up, draining the battery fast. Be more thoughtful about positioning and you’ll achieve much better battery life: I estimated that I got around three months on a single charge.
As well as video detection, you can turn on sound detection, with the Arlo Pro 2 recording and sending an alert when a loud noise is heard. How well this works depends on where you live and where the camera is placed. When installed outside, I found that the road was too noisy and I received several alerts over nothing; inside produces better results.
Arlo Pro 2 – Brilliant controls for when to record
When it comes to controlling when your camera records, the Arlo Pro 2 (and all Arlo cameras) beat the competition hands down. Control of your camera is via Modes. The two basic ones are Armed (set to record) and Disarmed (set to do nothing), but you can add your own – say, having a Home option that turns on the outside cameras but turns off the inside ones. Modes can be scheduled, too, so that you can automate when things happen.
There’s also Geofencing built in, using your phone’s location (or those of multiple household members) to turn on your cameras when you go out. When you return home, you can either pick a mode or tell the system to go onto Scheduled mode. The latter is particularly powerful, as you can have your cameras turn on when you’re out, but when you’re at home, cameras operate at the times you want them – say, turning on cameras at night for extra protection.
No other camera system provides this level control by default, making Arlo particularly powerful.
Arlo Pro 2 – Excellent daytime vision, although nighttime recording can be a bit fuzzy
All footage from the Arlo Pro 2 is saved to the cloud. If you’re using the Pro 2’s base station, you can plug in a USB drive and record offline, too. The app gives you a library of all the footage recorded, each with its own thumbnail to make finding the clip you want easier.
You can also filter by date, camera and, with Arlo Smart, the type of alert (person, animal, vehicle or other movements). All clips can be saved to your phone for offline viewing, letting you preserve important evidence.
I found that it was best to set the Arlo Pro 2 to full image quality, even if this reduces battery life. If you go for a lower-quality video setting, battery life is improved but you sacrifice detail. During the day, the Arlo Pro 2 produces sharp and detailed video thanks to its Full HD sensor and 130-degree wide angle lens. Going through a video clip, it’s easy enough to find a still frame that captures a person in enough detail to make a positive identification.
At night, the camera uses its IR LEDs to light up the night. Unlike its big brother, the Arlo Ultra, the Pro 2 can’t shoot in full colour at night, so you get the standard black and white image. I found that clips were a little bit soft and it was harder to find a sharp frame where I could see a person in full detail. There’s enough information to see what people are doing, but you can’t always see exactly who’s doing it.
If you receive a notification at the time an event is taking place, you can use the camera’s two-way talk to try to scare off a person. The speaker in the camera is loud enough to be heard. You can also set off the siren. If you’re using the Arlo Pro 2’s base station, you get a really loud, piercing sound that competes with any alarm system; if you have the new base station, the siren is plaid out of the Pro 2’s speaker, which is a bit weak.
There are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant skills, which let you stream a camera’s footage to a smart display, such as an Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub.
Should I buy the Arlo Pro 2?
With the range of cameras on offer including the 720p Arlo Pro, 1080p Arlo Pro 2 and 4K Arlo Ultra, the Arlo system of cameras is truly powerful, letting you capture inside and outside your home at the quality that suits each area. The level of control is truly impressive, too, letting you set exactly when you want your cameras to record.
If you buy the Pro 2 with a base station then you also get free cloud storage, although you may want to power your cameras permanently in order to use Cloud Activity zones to cut down on alerts.
If you want Cloud Activity zones, you have to upgrade to Arlo Smart, which also gives you smarter notifications. Note that if you buy the Arlo Ultra base station, your Pro 2 cameras lose their free cloud storage. The main problem with Cloud Activity zones is that your camera can drain its battery fast if it’s pointed at a busy area.
The competition is tough at this level. The Arlo Ultra produces better overall images, but it’s far more expensive. Nest cameras, including the Nest Cam and Nest Cam Outdoor, have the same resolution of the Arlo Pro 2 but give you continuous recording via the more expensive Nest Aware system and slightly better nighttime image quality.
That all said, the combination of battery power and excellent app make the Arlo Pro 2 the most flexible security camera system overall. If you already have an Arlo Ultra, the Pro 2 cameras give you a cheaper but still high-quality way of monitoring different parts of your home.