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Smart Home

Netgear's Arlo Pro camera gives rechargeable batteries a go

Netgear tackles the great outdoors with its new indoor-outdoor Arlo Pro security camera, complete with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

You can find a wide variety of do-it-yourself indoor cameras on Amazon and at chain retailers today, but there aren't as many models weatherproofed and rated for safe outdoor use.

Netgear's Arlo, a $180/£135/AU$240 camera and hub introduced in 2014, was among the first. An indoor-outdoor HD DIY camera powered by four CR123 batteries, Arlo made a lasting impression with its versatility and impressive performance. A number of outdoor cameras have launched since, but few offer the flexibility of Arlo's battery power.

Now Netgear is back with a new-and-improved Arlo -- as far as specs go, at least. The $249 Arlo Pro camera promises to do even more than the original Arlo, which will continue to be sold.

Netgear hasn't shared its plans for international availability just yet, but I expect it will join the original Arlo for sale overseas.

Here's what's new for Arlo Pro:

  • A rechargeable battery
  • A Micro-USB charging port
  • A microphone and a speaker
  • A new base station with a built-in siren and two USB ports
  • New accessories, including a solar charging station and various stands
  • A digital infrared motion sensor (the original Arlo has an analog motion sensor)

We spoke with Damir Skripic, Director of Product Management for Arlo Smart Home, who explained that the rechargeable battery should last for roughly 4 to 6 months (based on viewing the live feed for about 5 minutes daily) and should take about 2 hours to charge. The Micro-USB port provides a convenient place to connect your Arlo Pro if you prefer to use continuous power.

With the microphone and speaker, you now have the power of two-way talk so you can intercom with your pets throughout the day or scare off a potential burglar. This addition also allows for sound-based alerts instead of motion alone.

The updated base station's 100-decibel siren adds some security benefit, but it has to be tethered to your router. That will limit the hearing range if you're trying to startle someone walking in your backyard or otherwise away from the base station. Its two USB ports also allow for backup storage, so your motion- and sound-related clips can be stored locally.

Fortunately, if you already have the original Arlo and want an Arlo Pro too, the last-gen base station will still work. Just buy an Arlo Pro as an add-on camera for $189 and you're done.

Skripic also said an app update is in the works that would bring "smart analytics" to Arlo Pro's motion and sound detection. With this update, it should be able to distinguish among various objects and noises, although the ability to detect a specific person is still a little ways out.

Now playing: Watch this: Netgear's Arlo nails versatile DIY home security
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Everything else about Arlo Pro remains mostly the same as the first-generation model (shown in the video above). It still has a magnetic base so you can install it sans hardware. it still has free 7-day event-based cloud storage and it still has 720p video resolution. Skripic said Netgear chose not to bump the resolution up to 1080p in an effort to conserve battery power and because many phones don't show a strong distinction between 720 and 1080p.

I don't necessarily agree with Skripic's stance on HD resolution, though. Having compared the 720p Dropcam Pro with the 1080p Nest Cam Indoor on the same iPhone, the Nest Cam is distinctly clearer. Of course I can't speak to the specifics of Arlo Pro's relative clarity before I test it out.

Like the original Arlo, Arlo Pro will work with IFTTT and Samsung's SmartThings. Netgear also plans to introduce integrations with Apple TV and Apple Watch in the near future. We're tracking down a review unit now, so be sure to visit again soon for pricing and our full impressions of Arlo Pro.

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