Arlo Pro vs Nest Outdoor Impressions
Greetings from Pittsburgh, new Arlo Pro user here.
I've been wanting security cameras for a long time and two weeks ago, after much research I found that two brands consistently were ranked near the top for wireless models - Nest Outdoor and Arlos.
Well, I went with the Nest Cameras from Best Buy but quickly soured on those.
They were almost impossible to keep online.
I have a newer router, a LinkSys WRT1900AC that is fairly powerful.
After having connection issues with the Nests, I went through their myriad of troubleshooting tips and I even upgraded my ISP to their top-tier 250Mbps package and also bought a wi-fi-extender. I then spent two days on the phone with their tech support.
Nothing seemed to work - the cameras dropped offline constantly.
At the suggestion of their tech I returned those cameras for another set.
Same thing. On the first night one camera dropped offline 24 times.
Another thing about the Nest cameras is that they record 24/7 (when they're working) which causes serious bandwidth issues with other devices in the house.
Unless you have nothing else running other than maybe one laptop and one smartphone, these cameras are going to be a problem for you.
I ended up returning the Nests for a refund.
Enter the Arlo Pro.
Several observations so far after only three days.
The good: The battery life seems to be all they claim it is - after three days of use, they are both still showing 100%.
I like the fact that they come with their own dedicated base station for communication.
The Nests talked directly with my router, which caused issues with other devices.
I also like that they seem to be more capable of maintaining a steady connection, although I have had one go offline already, just once.
The not so good:
I'm still getting used to the idea of short recorded clips as opposed to continuous video but I can understand the trade-off.
10 second clips are too short and there's a fair amount of lag before video starts recording, as often I'll just see myself walking out of the frame after the video started. I increased that to 15 seconds and also increased sensitivity and so far it's a bit better.
I'm seeing posts in the Arlo Support Community where people are asking for the ability to have the cameras continue to record as long as motion is detected, clearly a good sense option and one that could easily be added with a firmware update. I also see where Arlo reps have stated as far back as 2015 where their "engineers are working on it" and that the option would be "coming soon".
That's from over two years ago, and so far nothing.
Night vision is fair at best. These cameras are advertised as 720p, but clearly that's only available if you're recording at "Best Video".
The "Optimized" setting looks good in daylight, but at night it looks like it's recording in 360p. The night recordings look like those grainy security cameras footages you see on the 6 o'clock news where you can't even tell the race or gender of the subject.
The Nest cameras beat these Arlos in image quality by a factor of ten, day or night, even when set down from 1080P to 720p.
So far one camera has already gone offline (yesterday). I didn't receive any notification that it had and only noticed it when I logged in to my phone app. With the Nest cameras they would eventually recover and restart themselves - not so with the Arlos. From reading posts in the Arlo Support Community I quickly found that the only way to get the camera back online again was to physically restart it (remove the battery). In some cases I'm reading that people have had to bring them back inside and re-sync them with the base station. If a camera goes offline when I'm away from home then I'm SOL. What's the point? Kind of defeats the purpose for security cameras doesn't it?
The smartphone app is OK, confusing but OK. But the web interface is terrible. Seems the only way I can get it to work (also from information I saw in the Support Community) is to turn my Bitdefender Antivirus off, or at least disable SSL (scanning for Secure Site Licenses).
This is flat-out stupid. Does Netgear not employ people who can code properly for HTTPS sites?
With both apps, I routinely get notices that cameras are "offline" when clearly they are not. I still get notifications and recordings but the apps are really flaky. I would expect more for this kind of money.
Notifications are VERY touchy. I'm not using the email notifications because I don't want (or need) my mailbox filling with posts, so I'm only using the push notifications. At best I can get a notification within 3 seconds of walking in front of a camera. I've also seen these notifications slow to the point where I won't get it until 30 minutes after the event. Again, what's the point?
These last two points are examples of Netgear reps being aware of the problem and promising a fix, years ago.
Conclusion: I'm still very much on the fence with these Arlo cameras.
They seem far better than the Nests were in terms of connectivity, with the exception of that one unexplained disconnection I saw yesterday.
I'm very concerned that the issues I'm experiencing are not unique, in fact they seem to be the norm.
I'm also concerned with Netgear's apparent lack of concern with fixing any of them.
I've already thought about adding a third camera and purchasing a few accessories like their adjustable mounts and skins.
I'm going to give them another week before I decide though, as I'm just not confortable spending more money on something I haven't yet decided to keep...
I would think that in this day and age of technology that vendors would be able to supply products without all these kinks in them.
One thing I'd like to add is that the Arlo system has one HUGE advantage over the Nest system.
The free 7-day cloud storage and the ability to allow local storage.
The Nest system comes with a 30-day trial of their Nest Aware cloud storage, but after the time runs out you'll only get 3 hours of recorded video before it deletes. And to suscribe to their cloud storage is very pricey, even for their lower-tier 10-day recording - $100/year for the first camera + $50/year for each additional camera. Totally unacceptable IMO.
The Arlo system easily allows just about any USB storage solution.
I even plugged in a spare 256Gb external harddrive I had lying around and it worked just fine, but that was serious overkill.
I've since replaced that with a much smaller 16Gb flash drive I also had as a spare.
More than enough by my calculations to record about a year's worth of clips - figuring about 1Mb per 15-second clip, and averaging about 45 clips per day.
I REALLY want to like this system, so I hope the quirks are minimal.
But so far it seems to be a fairly reliable solution.
A couple of thoughts:
- The length of recordings is set in your modes and rules. Use the Mode tab, click on your base and check out the Armed (default) mode. However, rather than modifying it, create your own custom mode and set up a camera rule as you like. Save and reedit it to add more cameras. You can currently set recording length between 10 and 120 seconds. A new feature to allow recording up to 5 minutes as long as motion continues (important that the motion actually continue as opposed to start, stop, start, stop...) was available but didn't work right so was pulled, to be reintegrated in the future.
- Night vision can be supplumented by IR spotlights and/or outdoor lighting. I have cameras that switch to color instead of B&W with the addition of motion detector lighting.
- Resolution is only part of the story. Best gives you 720p, optimized give 640p. However, then there's compression to keep video size down as well as the wide-angle lenses used. Zooming in gives limited utility due to this. Positioning of the cameras can help by giving them a scene of only the actual area of interest rather than a broad view. Personally, I'd like some future cameras with angles of view <90 degrees to give more clairity.
- Offline cameras can be due to various things such as hardware problems as well as the WiFi connection to the base. SOmething that interferes with the connection (cordless phone, etc. that uses the 2.4GHz band) can cause this as well as signal strength and/or building construction. Repositioning the base and/or camera a bit may help with this. While there are a number of complaints about this, my cameras rarely go offline, for whatever reason. It's impossible to troubleshoot accurately over the Internet due to the many possibilities that can occur. You just have to slog through trial and error to get the best out of the system. If it's always one camera that causes the issue, swap positions with another to see what happens. If the issue stays with the position and repositioning isn't possible or doesn't help, a second base may be the answer to improve the signal.
Nothing is perfect. Just because mine work to my satisfaction doesn't mean much. Your usage and particulars may well be different so you have to make up your own mind.
I have owned both of these security cameras and can say for sure that the Arlo Pro is way better. Keeping Nest Cam live is a rea problem problem and I've had to make dozens of calls to solve some of my everlasting issues. Sadly, support wasn't much of a help and I decided to try out Arlo.
Best decision I've made so far. Batteries long last, it captures perfect clips and the free cloud storage is a wonderful additon.