Smart Cam on a Budget
Arlo CameraThe Arlo Camera is Arlo’s most basic security camera in their lineup. It’s budget-friendly, comes with a rolling 7-day video storage for free, and can be paired with any additional Arlo devices for a whole-home setup. Keep in mind, all Arlo cameras require the Arlo SmartHub or other base station to work properly. The Arlo 1’s camera sensor quality was okay at best. However, it’s inexpensive and value packed with the 7 day cloud storage for free. Still a good option on a budget.Check Price
- Easy install and magnetic mount is a unique accessory
- Pairs well with other Arlo devices
- Free rolling 7-day video storage
- Only 720p video quality
- Does not have audio detection or 2-way speakers
- Camera sensor isn’t great (color, clarity, and contrast issues; see examples below)
- Batteries are not rechargeable
10 SECOND SUMMARY: Overall, the performance is of the Arlo 1 camera is good, but not great. The video quality is a little grainy and colors get washed out easily. We also noticed a bit of a lag when activating live view (ranged from 5-30 seconds). Proximity didn’t seem to be the issue in our case, as the camera was very close to the router. Even so, we love the free 7 days of cloud storage (huge value add).
Video: Day vs. Night
During the daytime, video quality is okay. Areas with bright lights tend to get washed out, like around light fixtures, fans, lamps, etc. Daylight coming in through the windows didn’t seem to be as big of an issue, but still not great.
As figures get further away, general clarity and facial recognition deteriorates. The Arlo 1 only has 720p video quality so this was a consistent issue we noticed for day and night time shots.
For nighttime shots, we saw a similar issue with coloration, as shown above. The yellow light tended to wash out details and ares of darkness were hard to see any details.
In true darkness, the Arlo does switch to a grayscale mode, which does make it easier to see figures. The grayscale isn’t as contrasted as some other video feeds I’ve tested, but the lack of contrast does seem to help Arlo in this case.
In near complete darkness scenarios the sensor really struggles. Above is an image looking out into our back yard. There is enough ambient light for a human to see clearly, but the Arlo struggles to create much depth of view.
The Arlo 1 camera does not have any audio capabilities; no sound detection, no 2-way audio, and no on-board speaker.
The Arlo App
Using the Arlo app, you can perform the following features:
- View live feed
- Set up modes
- Timeline viewer (24-hours for free)
- Add a new device
How user-friendly is the Arlo app?
Overall, I would say that the Arlo app was easy to use and intuitive. There are a few options in the setup for different modes like “Armed”, “Not Armed”, “Scheduled”, and others.
That being said, there were a few limitations in terms of flexibility.
Notifications are pushed right to your smart device through the App. Without using the modes, the notifications can be bombarding and repetitive.
Of course, there’s an option to turn notifications off, but that seems counter-intuitive for if there’s an actual emergency.
There’s also an option to view the timeline, which shows a view of past history.
RELATED – See our complete list of home security camera tests here.
The Arlo camera is a modern security camera with a wireless design. It is made to work as two parts. You’ll need the Arlo SmartHub (or the base station) and the camera itself.
Together, these two devices communicate and help to expand the reach and effectiveness of your Arlo setup.
Arlo SmartHub vs. Base Station
All Arlo cameras need a “home base” to run their signals through and help with extra features. The older bases are called “Base Stations” while the newer ones are called “SmartHub”.
There are a number of different models out there and features may vary slightly.
Some have USB local storage while others rely on Micro SD or remote Cloud storage. Other differences include the inclusion or omission of the Smart Siren. (The siren may or may not be a deal breaker.)
You can view the Arlo base station comparison chart below for more information:
|Arlo SmartHub||Arlo Base Station||Arlo Base Station|
|Compatibility||Arlo, Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3, and Ultra||Arlo, Pro & Pro 2 Cameras||Arlo, Pro & Pro 2 Cameras|
|Local Storage||Yes; Connect a Micro SD to hub||Yes; connect USB drive to base||None; connect to router for cloud-based storage|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
The hub connects to the cam to the internet via your home’s router and provides connectivity and battery life for your camera.
The camera itself is wireless and can installed basically anywhere.
What does it do?
The Arlo cam provides 24/7 home security by sending you push notifications to your smartphone when motion is detected within the view range.
You can modify settings or engage different modes (like “armed” or “disarmed”) to help manage notifications and keep the alerts for when you really need it.
This camera can also pair with any existing Arlo devices for a whole-home security system.
What does Arlo look like?
The Arlo cam is small and easily fits in the palm of your hand. It has a white glossy shell with a black face where the camera lens is located.
There is also a slim silver accent trim that provides a bit of contrast between the two materials.
How you control it?
All controls for the Arlo camera are accessed through the smartphone-based Arlo app. The app can provide a live video feed or allow you to review past activity that was documented by the cam.
Some of the top features of the Arlo 1 camera include:
- Motion Notifications: sends a push notification to your smartphone when the camera detects motion in the camera’s view
- Flexible Use: designed to be used indoor or outdoor and can sit upright on a shelf or be mounted to a vertical surface
- 24/7 Live Video: can record footage for 24/7 live video playback
- App Control: view the camera footage from your smartphone or other device using wifi pairing and cloud video storage
- Multiple Pairing: pair multiple cameras together (indoor or outdoor) for whole-home security
What’s in the Box?
The Arlo 1 camera is the most basic camera that is currently offered by Arlo and comes with basic parts and accessories for quick startup.
In the box, you’ll get:
- Arlo 1 wireless camera
- Batteries (not rechargeable)
- Mounting screw (optional)
- Drywall anchor (optional)
- Magnetic mount
The magnetic mount allows you to face the Arlo a variety of directions and angles. The process would be:
- Screw the magnetic mount into the wall.
- Magnetically attach the camera to the mount and set up designed position.
Setup & Usability
Setting up this camera system is pretty straightforward and involves just a few quick steps.
- Unbox the Arlo and remove all original packaging.
- Unlock the battery compartment and insert batteries (included).
- Bring the camera close to the base station or SmartHub.
- Sync camera to base station.
There are LED prompts along the way that help you to make sure the camera is working properly.
How to Pair the Arlo to the Smart App?
- Install the Arlo app to your smartphone.
- Follow the prompts as the app tries to locate your camera.
- Once the app locates it, the devices should pair seamlessly.
How easy is Arlo to install?
Install of the Arlo is about as easy as the initial setup and takes just a few minutes (outside installation may take longer). First, pick the location where you want the camera.
If you want it freestanding, like on a shelf or piece of furniture, you can simply just place it there.
The camera is wireless so once you have the view you want, it’s good to go. For permanent installs using the mounting ball, here are some steps below:
- To mount in the corner of a room, you’ll need to use the magnetic mount and screws or anchors.
- If you’re installing in drywall, use the provided drywall anchor and metal screw to secure the mounting ball to the substrate.
- To install into solid wood, siding or other dense material, you can use the threaded screw by itself.
- For install into brick or other masonry, you may need a specialty masonry screw for the best install.
Outdoor installs may also require an Indoor/Outdoor mount, which screws into the base of the camera and is more permanent than the magnetic mount.
How easy is it to use?
The Arlo camera, SmartHub (or base station) and the Arlo app all work together to create an integrated, connected, and easy to use smart security system.
The SmartHubs are a little easier to use than the traditional base station so if you’re now sure which to go with, I recommend this SmartHub (Vmb5000) with the Arlo cam.
The Arlo Smart Hub is the newest generation base station hub. It has the most features and is compatible with the most Arlo camera models.
Does Arlo require a subscription?
Arlo doesn’t require a subscription, but they do offer a couple plans if you want extra features.
Without an Arlo paid subscription, you would still have access to the following features:
- Live remote video streaming
- 7 Days of secure cloud DVR storage
- Email motion alerts & push notifications
- Support for up to 5 cameras
- Custom activity zones
With a paid Arlo subscription, there are a couple different options:
NOTE: The prices below are shown as USD.
Arlo Smart Premier
- Cost (single camera): $2.99 /monthly
- Cost (up to 5 cameras): $9.99 / monthly
- Description: offers rolling 30 days of video storage with up to 2K video resolution for 1 or 5 cameras
Arlo Smart Elite
- Cost (single camera): $4.99 / monthly
- Cost (up to 5 cameras): $14.99 / monthly
- Description: offers rolling 30 days of video storage with up to 4K video resolution for 1 or 5 cameras
Arlo 1 Specifications
|Field of View||110°|
|Local Storage||Yes; USB in base storage|
|Wireless Range||Up to 300'|
Should you buy the Arlo Camera?
I would recommend the Arlo if you’re looking for the following in a security camera:
- Wireless indoor cam: For indoor use, the Arlo cam is one is the sleekest we’ve reviewed to date. There’s no stand or complex base. And if you want to mount it on the wall, there’s a magnetic mount, which is an approach that is pretty unique to Arlo.
- Already have other Arlo devices: Since all Arlo devices use the same base station or SmartHub, if you’re already invested in one of these devices, it would make sense to go with the Arlo 1 as a way to get a better value out of the hub.
- You don’t need the absolute best clarity: The Arlo 1 camera sensor just isn’t incredible. It’s only 720p resolution and has issues with contrast, coloration, and night vision mode (especially when it’s incredibly dark). People and objects are still visible, but not as much as on newer model cameras.
- Free local storage for up to 7 days: Not many other companies offer extended free video storage without a fee. If you’re looking for security on a budget, Arlo could be the way to go as it offers this free 7-day rolling video storage.
Okay Performance, Great Value
The Arlo Camera is the most basic cam in the Arlo lineup. It offers smart home security on a budget, although it lacks some of the advanced features from newer or more expensive models. To run any Arlo cam, you’ll need to invest in the Arlo base station or SmartHub so be sure to take that into consideration when making your selection. That being said, Arlo has a fantastic collection of cameras so if you’re looking for a system that easily can be used across the house (indoor or outdoor), Arlo is a great option.