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Review: NETGEAR Arlo Q Full HD (1080p) WiFi Security Camera

As of late, I’ve been looking for a decent camera to replace my Motorola Scout 85 and the range that stood out to me, was NETGEAR’s Arlo family of devices. In particular, the Arlo Q is the camera that has stood out most significantly to, not only me… but also my wife (the true test!).

Features
  • Full HD 1080p video recording/streaming
  • INCREDIBLE 130° wide viewing angle
  • Infrared night vision up to 25ft
  • 2-way audio (listen and speak)
  • FREE 7 day cloud storage
  • Motion/Audio alerts
  • IFTTT integration
  • Ability to set “Motion Detection Zones”
Installing/Setting up the Arlo Q

Install of the NETGEAR Arlo Q is a piece of cake. It’s as straightforward as plug in the camera, download the app. The setup, however, is where I ran into a very minor hiccup! I’ve set up plenty of products over the past few years alone, ranging from smartphones to servers, however the Arlo Q setup process had one step that I think it’s fair to say – surprised me.

In order to configure your Wi-Fi network on the camera, you get your camera to scan a bespoke QR code. It took me a few goes and a fair few minutes to get this right, waving my phone and laptop at the camera like a mad person, but when I finally did, I was left feeling rather “proud” of myself. It may be just me, but I don’t like QR codes. I’ve always thought they’re a bit gimmicky and not entirely useful.

Don’t get me wrong though – this step makes setting up the camera pretty much foolproof. It’s actually an extremely clever idea and does make the setup process incredibly simple! But I’d like an alternate option for when the camera doesn’t pick up the QR code you’re waving at its lens.

Please note though: When I ran into issues with my setup, I immediately ran to Arlo’s Support site and utilised the Live Chat feature. Bearing in mind I was setting this up on a Saturday, I was expecting “Sorry, no agents available”… but no, in less than 60 seconds I was chatting with a support agent and in less than 10 minutes we had my issues sorted. As it turns out, NETGEAR offer 24/7 technical support for the Arlo cameras. I cannot rave about this level of support enough!

Design

The Arlo Q is housed in plastic and has a pretty compact design. Weighing in at only 0.37lbs (168g), the camera is lightweight, yet sturdy. The button’s are cleverly “hidden” on the lower right-hand-side of the camera, putting them completely out of view unless the camera is mounted overhead.

The power cable is 10 ft long and as you can see in the picture below, connects to the rear side of the camera. It is a micro-USB cable, however it’s highly advised that you use the included cable as opposed to your own.

NETGEAR Arlo Q WiFi Security Camera - Side view and buttons

My wife’s initial reaction to the camera: “Oh that’s so cute! And it matches our colour scheme/decor so well”.

Image quality

Probably the most important aspect of any security camera is the quality of the video/images. Despite it’s compact size, the Arlo Q both records and streams at 1080p 30fps (you can change this to 720p, 480p, 360p or 240p if necessary) and I’ve found the image quality to be more than adequate for my requirements.

I was most impressed by the incredibly wide-angled 130° field of view, without significant image distortion. I can see my whole room with a single camera, at Full HD. Such a wide field of view negates the need for pan & tilt functions.

Dropping the Arlo Q’s resolution to 720p and streaming side-by-side with my old Motorola Scout 85 was the real test. The results were night and day. The Arlo Q has far superior image quality, allowing me to make out the shape and colour of treat that my dog is chewing on.

One thing that did cross my mind is – if this camera is streaming such high quality video, how is that going to impact my WiFi/broadband speeds? As it turns out, NETGEAR have worked some magic here and bandwidth usage is absolutely minimal. As you can see below (from the Arlo Q FAQs), you can see that at most the Arlo Q utilises ~1.5Mbps of bandwidth, when streaming full 1080p.

Arlo Q cameras use the following bandwidth when they are streaming:

  • 1080P = 1500 kbps
  • 720P = 700 kbps
  • 480P = 300kbps
  • 360P = 200kbps
  • 240P = 100kbps

However, when you are not logged in or when the camera does not detect motion, bandwidth is reduced to about 100 kbps at 1080P.

Moving on to the video quality at night, I’ve never expected much from IR night vision. However, I was pleasantly surprised to actually be able to see the entire room in which my camera is placed. The quoted “range” for the night vision is approximately 8ft (~2.5m), however I’ve found that figure to be closer to 12ft (~3.5m).

Audio quality

I don’t use the 2-way communication features in home security cameras often at all. When I’ve set them up, that’ll be when I try it. I don’t find them all too beneficial/useful in day-to-day life. The speakers in camera’s tend to be tinny and whatever you say tends to come out distorted and hissy. The Arlo Q is no exception here, the speaker is small and downwards facing so anything you say through the app/camera is rather tinny and muffled as well as distorted.

The only aspect I do find useful is the “audio detection” notifications, which can be configured to send a Push Notification to your phone when audio is detected by the camera, or it can be configured to email you with a picture/link to watch the video it’s captured when audio has been detected.

Arlo app (iOS)

I’ve found the Arlo app to be incredibly easy to use. Camera setup is a step-by-step process and navigation within the app is fairly straightforward, with your primary tabs at the bottom and the first page you land on being your list of camera’s – showing the status of each.

Digging in to the app, you’ll find a ridiculous (in a good way) amount of customizability with regards to the Arlo Q. You are able to fine-tune both the audio detection sensitivity by 5 levels and the motion detection sensitivity by an amazing levels. At level 9, the motion detection will notify you of any motion that happens up to 50ft in front of the camera! You then have the ability to fine-tune where the camera detects motion, by setting up custom “Motion Detection Zones”. Furthermore, you can even setup schedules for when your camera is actually “armed”!

If you’re familiar with IFTTT, you can integrate your camera for even further functionality, for instance – I have an applet setup that turns various WeMo Switch’es on around my house when motion is detected.

NETGEAR have taken things one step further by offering, all customers with up to 5 Arlo cameras, FREE cloud recording for all motion and audio alerts for 7 days. Therefore, if you don’t need to review an entire day (minute-by-minute, 24/7), you simply want a camera that sends you notification when there’s motion detected and you can then review that motion – this camera is for you. I typically only watch the last day’s worth of motion detection’s and then delete all of my video clips.

Issues I’ve had

As I noted previously, I’ve only had a single niggle and that occurred during setup. I struggled to get my camera to scan the QR code on my phone and laptop, however after persistently retrying, I got there after a few minutes.

Summary

The NETGEAR Arlo Q is an incredible all-rounder. At £120, I will definitely be purchasing at least one, if not two of these camera’s.

With it’s compact design, ability to be mounted on almost any surface, 10ft power cable and night vision capability, this WiFi enabled home security camera would make a good addition to any home or business looking for a reliable, simple and easy to use security solution. With the ability to then integrate that camera with IFTTT or Stringify, you extend the camera’s capabilities even further.

Useful links

NETGEAR Website: http://netgear.com/

Arlo Website: http://arlo.com/en-us/

Arlo Q product page: http://arlo.com/en-us/products/arlo-q/Default.aspx

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arlo-Security-Camera-NETGEAR-VMC3040-100UKS/dp/B01AWADR4S/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Netgear-VMC3040-Q-1080P-Security-Storage/dp/B017B2043W/

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This product was sent to me for review purposes. However, this is not a sponsored/paid review. All opinions are entirely my own and unbiased.

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Will Stocks

As a career "IT person" and technology enthusiast, I've been around technology for over 8 years now. From enterprise-grade hardware to consumer equipment, IT Support to Systems Administrator - I'm passionate about all forms of tech, learning how it works, integrates and the scenarios in which different people would use them. I started willstocks.co.uk in 2017 and have also contributed to other websites around the Internet.

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