Big Brother is watching – and talking. Netgear takes its networked home security cameras to the next level with Arlo Q.
I first trialed the Arlo range over a year ago when it launched – installing it in my property as a cost effective security option, which is still in use on a daily basis. Battery powered, if it detects movement, users receive a push notification enabling them to log on – using the free Arlo app on their smartphone – to find out what's happening.
It’s a great system, but the one feature missing is the opportunity to communicate through the camera; you could then 'politely' relay the message to burglars rifling through your undies drawer in search of valuables that the police are on their way. Well, Netgear clearly listened to me, and the latest evolution in the Arlo range does indeed incorporate this audio feature.
Organising your own home security is now an easy proposition thanks to systems like Arlo, and it’s simple to see how this burgeoning sector is becoming more popular by the week.
Netgear’s newest addition is the Arlo Q, a system designed to work in conjunction with your existing Arlo cameras. In terms of set-up, the Arlo Q, like Arlo before it, is idiot proof – another great selling point. In less than three minutes you are up and running. Download the app, follow the prompts to connect the camera to your modem/router, and press the pairing button to connect – it really is that simple.
The first thing you notice is how light the Arlo Q is. It comes with a mounting bracket for a permanent fix, or you can simply utilise the desktop stand, that also happens to be magnetic; at one point I had it stuck to the side of the fridge to spy on the dog.
The video is streamed in crisp 1080p and the Arlo Q has night vision for up to eight metres, a 4-megapixel image sensor (yes, you can take photos with it) and features a 130 degree viewing angle. You can be pan and zoom the vision. Unlike the wireless Arlo cameras, you need to plug the Arlo Q into an power point. Aside from the startling hi-def vision, the big selling point here is the ability for users to communicate via their smartphone microphone through to a speaker on the camera. The number of applications this would prove useful for is extensive, from the obvious protection against home intruders to the monitoring of sleeping children or teenagers left at home.
However, what proved invaluable for this family was gauging the level of separation anxiety our pet dog was registering. And my word, what a surprise we got. When movement or audio is detected, a push notification is sent to your smartphone/desktop. You then log into the Arlo app where you can view the ‘action’ live. A 15 second video is also recorded and saved in the library.
We had no idea that the dog could howl, let alone the volume he howled at! We're suprised the neighbours are even talking to us. However, by selecting the mic button on the user interface, I spoke directly to said pet through the speaker located on the camera unit, assuring him that everything was OK, and order was momentarily restored. Throughout the day I was able to speak and keep him calm (if you’re away from a Wi-Fi hotspot, just be mindful of your data allowance). Of course, this two-way works well with humans in the house, too. Latency here did cause a few problems, but we're assured by Netgear that a future firmware update will address this problem.
If the thought of receiving multiple push notifications as your pet/human moves around the house during the day/night is too much to bear, Arlo Q allows you to exclude a particular area on the camera, known as an ‘Activity Zone’. Similarly, audio sensitivity can also be adjusted. A feature called ‘Modes’ will enable operating times to be scheduled, so you can program office hours or school home times.
Another differential for Arlo Q is the addition of free cloud recording for seven days, and more extensive plans can be purchased that bump up the storage levels and length that the recordings are retained.
With forthcoming geo-fencing and IFTTT support, the Arlo Q offers you complete versatility and control. It will cover everything you need for personal security solutions with a host of customisation options and a brand name you can rely on. The secret life of your pet's days are numbered!