Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras

Re: High Definition Video

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PJANDO Tutor
Tutor

Hi everybody,

 

I feel really frustrated and in need of advice.

 

I've just spent a lot of money on the Arlo Pro system, having been completely sold on the fact that it's wireless and high definition.  I love it!  The system was incredibly easy to set up and is so simple to use even my mom can safely have a log on.

 

The problem is, the video quality is KILLING me.  It's nowhere close to high definition and I think that, in its current guise, it's really unfair of you to market it as high-definition (even with the 'best video' mode activated) when realistically, it's below average quality at best.  My guess is the cameras have HD capability but are hamstrung by crippling compression for bandwidth purposes.

 

 

I'm sitting here in two minds whether or not to send it back, but before I do, I really want to know if someone from Netgear/Arlo can tell me if there's a firmware update planned for the near/medium-term future to resolve this?  If not, I'll send them back and invest in a wired system instead.  I see there's a lot planned for the second half of 2017 which I've got no problem in waiting for...but improving video feed quality is an absolute deal breaker for me and I'd rather get an honest response to make an informaed decision.

 

Thanks in advance for your help,

 

Pablo

 

*Just to note, I'm a network admin by trade.  The devices are spaced approximately 3 meters from the hub in either direction with a single-layer brick partition wall between, and it's linked into a fibre broadband connection which during the day is solely used for the purposes of this camera system. 

Model: VMC4030| Arlo Pro Wire-Free Camera
Johnny290 Prodigy
Prodigy
Arlo Pro system has a lot of problems hopefully they will be fixed
Master steve_t Master
Master

As you'll know, HD merely relates to the resolution (720p). The video bitrate is what's affected by the quality setting and even Best Video could be better. There is a beta firmware relating to video quality that will hopefully be released soon but it's more for a pixelation problem so I can't be sure it'll make the cameras as good as you're expecting. Obviously an wireless, battery powered camera system is going to have pros (easy of set up and camera placement etc) and cons (need to try and conserve battery life, wifi signal interference etc)

If video quality is your highest priority, you'll find a number of wired systems that have 1080p resolution and higher are available. But obviously these mean running cables through the walls, roof space, soffits etc

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PJANDO Tutor
Tutor

Hi Steve,

 

Yes, you're absolutely right.  Don't get me wrong; I was anticipating some level of trade-off between being wireless & battery powered and the quality of the video.

 

I wouldn't take issue with it either, if it wasn't marketed as High Definition.  By the very nature of that description, one could reasonably expect sharp picture quality that reflects the product description when in reality, it's really nowhere near.

 

I take hope in the fact that the devices are under constant development and seem to be getting better and better, I'd just really appreciate an open and honest answer from one of the developers that will indicate whether or not picture quality is likely to improve in the near future.

 

Kind regards,

 

Pablo

Guru jguerdat Guru
Guru

It's a bit of a misnomer that started with HD TVs.  720p is <1 megapixel and 1080p is only about 2 megapixels.  While that may be fine for watching a TV show, especially compared to the old analog signals, anyone familiar with photography at all knows that this sort of resolution is not high definition.  Take any photo from an old 1Mp digital camera and try zooming in - it get pixelated in a hurry.  Then add in the compression level and you can see why HD isn't high definition - it's just better than other choices. 

 

It also depends on the viewing mechanism.  Folks used to complain about how an 8x10 photo looked grainy when peering closely at it.  The appropriate viewing distance for an 8x10 is more or less at arm's length.  You can take a "sharp" image and view it on a huge screen and suddenly it's not so sharp.

 

I understand what you're saying but blame consumer ignorance/complacency for allowing marketing types to get away with this.  I've long had an issue with cell phones which have barely "good enough" audio quality compared to landlines.  If you don't question the reason for why it's supposed to be acceptable, it won't get better.  It's all relative...

PJANDO Tutor
Tutor

I agree; it's all marketing and perception.

 

However, there I'd suggest that if you were to take an Arlo picture feed and display it across a TV, the quality would be less than sharp when compared with a 720 feed from another device.

 

A 720 'HD' video camera would be able to accurately record a car's number plate from a distance of a few meters, something these cameras in their current configuration simply can't.

 

I'm more concerned about the compression of the feed here; the cameras must be capable of delivering a sharper picture than we see in the videos, and I'd like someone from Netgear (@JamesC - I'm looking in your direction!) to tell me if compression is something the company are likely to improve on with firmware updates or not.  

 

I appreciate the cloud storage option is limited because it's free - but I'd be far happier to rely on local storage through the hub at far better quality.  As things stand, I'd even pay a monthly fee to store improved image quality in the cloud.

Guru jguerdat Guru
Guru

I can relate on all of this.  There's certainly things I'd like to change (compression level for starters) but the best we can do is to make requests on the Idea Exchange section here and hope enough kudos get added to get attention and, maybe, action.  The decisions are out of our (and JamesC's) hands so raising the issue is what's needed.

arlomike Initiate
Initiate

I'd have to agree.  The video is definitely not 720p HD.  Puting a vitamin bottle about 6 inches from the camera, I still cannot read the writing on the bottle.  How is that possible?   I'm on the fence of keeping it or returning. 

Model: VMC4030| Arlo Pro Wire-Free Camera
Guru jguerdat Guru
Guru

If you use the Best video setting, the camera is definitely using 720p which can be verified by checking the metadata.  Optimized is 640p and Best Battery Life is  480 or 324 (I forget).  There may be two things affecting your scenario - focus (I'm not at all sure 6 inches would be in focus) and compression.  

 

The lens is fixed focus and relies on the wide angle of view as well as hyperfocal distance to keep things in reasonable focus.  Assuming that the focus is set at roughly 10 feet, that would mean focus could be defined as 3 feet to infinity, certainly not 6 inches.

 

The compression level is something I wish we could control to some degree (perhaps by using the existing setting for resolution) but right now we have what we have.

Ikechucu Initiate
Initiate
I totally agree, I was totally disappointed with the quality of the video. I can stand on my porch with the camera a short distance away (8'), and you can't even make out my facial features. If someone breaks into my car or even comes into my front door you can't ID anybody. So where is the protection? All you get is knowing someone is on your property, as far as who will remain a mastery. I think for the amount of money I kicked out, you should be able to see facial details for an ID. I get the whole 720p vs 1080p, but damn, couldn't they go the extra mile and truly be the best wireless camera that you can at least see someone's face clearer. I chose the arlo pro to avoid wiring the entire house. I paid $650 plus for accessories and I should be able to see more that a colorful siluettee. Once criminals catch-on to the limitations of an Arlo video, having the sticker in your window will only let them know that they can go for it because they can't be identified, even 2 feet away. The developers need to come up with an upgrade FIX at rocket speed. It's shameful to take that kind of money from customers to only see images of people without any real detail. If they addressed this MAJOR FLAW, these cameras would fly off the shelves. And fixing the problem with not being able to secure the cameras mounted outside so they can't be stolen so easily would be a great benefit too. Also, I have only had my camera for 4-days and they are already at 54-60%. No way are they going to last 4-6 months without charging. I even adjusted settings to low and again to unarmed to stop the battery drain.
Master steve_t Master
Master

Ikechucu, that sounds odd. Can you please go stand 2 feet away from your camera and then take a screenshot of the video showing how fuzzy your face is? There may be something wrong with your camera. I had one where the lens was not aligned correctly and it was fuzzy on one side.

 

It's normal for the first few months to drain the batteries much faster as people will tend to have their sensitivities too high and thus the cameras will get triggered by trees moving in the wind etc. Once you learn to fine tune the sensitivity so the cameras only record what is needed and don't record what's not, the batteries will last a lot longer. Also, you'll stop logging into the account to check the cameras as often. Every time you log in, it polls the cameras and uses some battery life.

 

My batteries are now lasting a lot longer

Ikechucu Initiate
Initiate

Hi Steve,

 

I can't stand 2 feet away from my cameras, they are mounted further than that on my house, at least one story up.  If you need to stand that close to get a clearer picture, then the problem is the capability of the 720p cameras.  The problem exist on all three cameras I have mounted, so I don't think it's the cameras.   I have read numerious reviews where people that are tech savvy complained about the same problems.  This response cite wouldn't allow me to upload an actual photo so you can see eactly what I am talking about.    My battery remaining is now at 37 - 47%, and that's with turning everything to the lowest setting, including disarming the motion detection in the day. 2-days ago it was 60%.

Guru jguerdat Guru
Guru
First, it's not so much the 720p resolution as it is the 130 degree fisheye lens on the camera. To put it in 35mm camera terms, it's about the same as a 10mm fisheye lens. Even with a great high resolution camera, try getting details out of that. The view is so wide details are very small and zooming will get blocky fast. These cameras are not so much about being used to ID from a distance as to alert. Moving the camera closer to the action is the only way to get more details. Maybe some day an Arlo ID camera will be released but that's not what we have.

If you want to post a screenshot or video, you can use the library sharing link which will work for 24 hours, host it yourself, or use the image icon on the toolbar above the reply text to be able to upload an image as part of the post.

Battery life can be due to the total number of minutes of recording and live viewing and/or WiFi connection. 2.4GHz interference can be an issue as well as distance, walls, ductwork, mirrors, wall construction, etc.
Master steve_t Master
Master

Ikechucu wrote:

Hi Steve,

 

I can't stand 2 feet away from my cameras, they are mounted further than that on my house, at least one story up.  If you need to stand that close to get a clearer picture, then the problem is the capability of the 720p cameras.  The problem exist on all three cameras I have mounted, so I don't think it's the cameras.   I have read numerious reviews where people that are tech savvy complained about the same problems.  This response cite wouldn't allow me to upload an actual photo so you can see eactly what I am talking about.    My battery remaining is now at 37 - 47%, and that's with turning everything to the lowest setting, including disarming the motion detection in the day. 2-days ago it was 60%.


Oh right. It was just that you said in your previous comment that you would't be able to identify a person standing 2 feet away from the camera and that doesn't sound right. You could always post the link to one of your library videos. The link only remains accessible for 24 hours or something like that

Johnny290 Prodigy
Prodigy
I have no problem identifying people from 2 feet away even further then that