Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras

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pwaggs
Apprentice
Apprentice

Bottom line is that it is 'fine'. No bad, not great but fine. It does most of what I wanted a security camera for, and comes up short in a few categories. I am not a security camera expert, so I cannot compare my Ultra 2's to other units on the market. 20/20 hindsight I wish that I had purchased an Ubiquiti solution, but the reason I did not then, still exists (I am monitoring the system primarily remotely and can't risk having to reset servers and such.) That being said, the Arlo system has for the most part met my requirements, though I have had a failure in the smarthome and an outdoor power supply that were both replaced by Arlo at no charge and with free express shipping.

 

Ok, 1 Arlo wired doorbell and 2 Arlo Ultra 2 cameras, both powered by Arlo outdoor power supplies (These are outrageously priced at $50 a pop, but you have to have them to enroll in CVR.)

 

The doorbell has been plug and play and I am really not going to go into it much here. It just works. Easy installation and I have on occasion from around the world had to communicate with people at the door and it works. There is a delay, but when I have needed it to work it has always worked. The image is great. The phone interface is fine.

 

The Arlo Ultra 2's are fine. The advertised 4K, is exactly that. Advertised with sweetened photos online and throughout Arlo advertising. You can in fact get the 4K images, but you can't really do anything with them and you certainly cannot zoom to the degree that Arlo leads you to believe that you can. 

 

The interaction with the cameras has improved since purchasing through the app. The App and notifications on my Android phone have changed quite a bit in six months. Alerts now contain video clips and are actually useful.

 

My biggest issue with the Arlo system is the CVR. Bottom line is that it is pretty useless. There is no way to gate a piece of footage and then have it exported. It does not record at 4K and even if it did, for some strange reason I can't pull any of the video out of the cloud. If someone steals your car on video but it did not trigger an alert, you cannot pull the piece of video off of the cloud. Not that it would matter because you would never be able to zoom in on the perpetrator and make any sort of reasonable identification.

 

I have had two major failures of hardware with my setup. The smarthome did not have a functioning SD card drive and an external power supply failed. In the end the Arlo techs on the phone and online authorized replacement units which arrived in days via FedEx. There is a pretty strange RMA process that you have to go through online, but it has always worked despite the interface and inability to send useful photos to the tech.

 

The 2FA is a debacle and I cannot figure out how to make it more user friendly. Most of the time I am accessing my feeds I cannot have my phone available. So I cannot receive the SMS and I have to jump through hoops to get an email. I wish that the 2FA simply recognized my computer as a trusted computer and maybe 2FA'd me every few months or so or monthly, but EVERY time I want to access the portal is maddening.

 

Live streaming from PC is still pretty hit and miss. It works for a bit an then it does not. The system is really geared to be used from your phone.

 

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to take 'photos' from the 4K stream. The camera icon simply disappears in 4K. As soon as you downgrade the feed it reappears. 

 

Oh another huge CVR problem I found is that if Arlo techs ever tell you that you need to un register a camera as part of their troubleshooting, you lose all of your CVR video and can NEVER get it back. You bet booted out of CVR plan and have to re purchase the plan. Arlo will then work with you to prorate your plan as you have already been charged for it before your camera was un registered.

 

I wish that there was a way that I could pause a camera from alerting for a period of time. If I am going to have people eating on a deck, I do not need the camera triggering constantly. Right now the only option is to turn the camera off. But then you have to remember to turn it back on. Easier said than done. If I could simply disarm it for two hours and then have it rearm, that would be great.

 

Would I recommend the system, yes. It meets most criteria that it advertises and I believe it is still a leading device on the market. Just know that it is flawed and Arlo really is not working very hard to fix things that have been identified as flaws outside of the app and its interaction with your phone. That has seen lots of growth.

 

If I could do it all over again I might have gone with the Ubiquiti. I wanted a system that could be operated remotely and even with my Arlo system I have had failures that required me to return to the site and fix the issues. I feel that with the Ubiquiti I would have at least had better video and no plan to purchase. But for now I am happy.

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SinisterStairs
Apprentice
Apprentice

For your 2FA complaints*, consider a password manager:  Many of them support 2FA and have a desktop or web interface, so you don't need a phone**.  Personally I use 1Password, but there are many others:  LastPass and Bitwarden are also popular.  If you have an Apple Watch, you can also confirm logins by just tapping Approve, although you'd need a cellular model if you won't have your phone with you.  (Wi-fi might work if both devices are on the same network, but I'm not sure.)

 

* Arlo's servers can't even remember my computer is a trusted host, so it's always asking for 2FA even if I simply Refresh my current session by accident.  Yeah, it's inexcusably annoying.

 

** I'd be remiss not to point out that using a password manager for "2FA" means it becomes 2SA (assuming it also stores your Arlo password). 

dcfox1
Master
Master

@pwaggs  Not sure if you want to use 2FA or not but for now you can turn it off until Arlo makes PC a trusted device. I also agree CVR needs work. I had it for a week to try and cancelled it. 

StephenB
Guru Guru
Guru

@SinisterStairs wrote:

For your 2FA complaints*, consider a password manager:  Many of them support 2FA and have a desktop or web interface, so you don't need a phone


That sounds wrong. Seems to me that since the PC is not trusted, a password manager on the PC can't intercept the web push going to the phone.  Are you suggesting a password manager on the trusted phone that automatically allows the PC log on?  Can you give more details on one that works with Arlo?

 

Overall, 2FA is being improved to allow PCs to be trusted.  In the meantime, you can just turn 2FA off.

pwaggs
Apprentice
Apprentice

Thank you! This is what I did in the end for 2FA. I just turned it off.

 

Even if the 2FA was better implemented and I could use my verify app it would be better than the existing 2FA nonsense. But we really need to be able to establish trusted computers, even if only for a period of time (a month or a couple of months). With my bank, I can establish a trusted computer for quite a while.

StephenB
Guru Guru
Guru

@pwaggs wrote:

But we really need to be able to establish trusted computers, even if only for a period of time (a month or a couple of months). 


Totally agree.

SinisterStairs
Apprentice
Apprentice

@StephenB:  You're right; I mispoke.  For some reason I thought I had set up Arlo 2FA using my password manager, but I remembered incorrectly because ultimately I just use my Apple Watch to approve.

 

Password managers can be used as an Authenticator, but in Arlo's case it doesn't allow 3rd party authentication.

 

I'll try to edit my initial post.  EDIT: But regrettably, I'm no longer permitted to do.

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