Arlo Pro 2 review: This battery-powered outdoor security camera duo goes where extension cords won't

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The Good The cameras and related Arlo app work well and allow advanced features like person alerts and motion zones (if you subscribe to the Arlo Smart cloud service).

The Bad $480 is pricey for a two-camera kit. It's difficult to angle the cameras unless you mount and attach them to the included magnetic bases (which requires a more permanent install).

The Bottom Line The Arlo Pro 2 security cameras ably deliver reliable live streaming and prompt activity alerts packed in durable weatherproof housing.

8.0 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8
  • Performance 8

Editors' note (July 2, 2019): This review has been updated and the Arlo Pro 2 awarded CNET's Editors' Choice Award.

The $480 Arlo Pro 2 kit is the latest option for anyone looking for a pair of outdoor-friendly wireless security cameras that can operate without the need to be plugged in to an AC outlet. The set includes two rechargeable outdoor security cameras and a base station you connect to your Wi-Fi router. The battery-powered cameras are weatherproof and designed to go outside -- as far as your Wi-Fi network will allow. If you subscribe to an Arlo Smart cloud plan (at extra cost), you can get alerts when the cameras see a person (versus a car or your neighbor's cat) -- and motion detection zones to the mix for added security.

The Arlo Pro 2 cams offer 1080p HD live streaming, which improves on the already solid Arlo and Arlo Pro models that delivered lower-resolution 720p HD video. They're versatile and responsive cameras with a generous seven days of free event-based cloud storage and support for Alexa and Google Assistant.

I like that the Pro 2 is battery-powered like the $200 Canary Flex, but you have to pay for person alerts (whereas Canary offers them for free). At the same time, the Pro 2's 7-day free cloud storage is much better than Canary's 24 hours. The Pro 2 doesn't have as many features as the facial-recognition-enabled $349 Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, but it requires a power adapter to work. Be sure to check out this roundup to learn even more about the other outdoor security cameras available today. 

I'd recommend that you give the Arlo Pro 2 cams strong consideration if you're in the market for durable Wi-Fi cameras that don't have to be plugged. 

Strong feature set -- with voice control issues

Take a peek at the chart below to see how the Arlo Pro 2 compares to the Canary Flex and the $180 Logi Circle 2, all of which are indoor/outdoor cameras: 

Comparing indoor-outdoor security cameras

Arlo Pro 2 Canary Flex Logi Circle 2 (wired model)
Price $480, £345 or AU$799 (two-camera kit, plus required hub) $200, £159 or about AU$280 $180, £130 or about AU$230
Color finish White Black, white White
Type Indoor-outdoor Indoor-outdoor Indoor-outdoor
Power source Rechargeable battery, power adapter Rechargeable battery, power adapter Power adapter
Resolution 1080p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD
Expected battery life Six months Two months N/A (must use power adapter)
Field of view 130-degree viewing angle 116-degree viewing angle 180-degree viewing angle
Live streaming Yes Yes Yes
Continuous recording No No No
Cloud storage Free seven-day event-based video history. (Optional Arlo Smart cloud service subscriptions ranging from $3 to $15 per month.) Free 24-hour event-based video history. (Optional 30-day event-based video history for $10 per month.) Free 24-hour event-based video history. (Optional 14- or 31-day event-based video history for $4 or $10 per month.)
Local storage No No No
Mobile app Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone
Web app Yes Yes, with cloud subscription Yes
Night vision Yes Yes Yes
Alerts Motion, audio (person alerts wtih Arlo Smart) Motion and person (package detection with cloud subscription) Motion (person alerts with Circle Safe Premium subscription)
Activity zones Yes, with Arlo Smart Yes Yes, with Circle Safe Premium subscription
Two-way audio Yes Yes, with cloud subscription Yes
Operating temperature range -4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 45 degrees Celsius) -4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 45 degrees Celsius) -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 50 degrees Celsius)
Third-party integrations Amazon Alexa, Apple TV, Google Assistant, IFTTT Amazon Alexa, Apple TV, Google Assistant, Wink Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant

All three of the cameras listed above have 1080p HD live streaming and integration with Alexa and Google Assistant -- these things are no longer considered "special" or "advanced" features, but they're still nice to have. You can ask a Google-Assistant or Alexa-enabled device to show you your camera's live video feed on your Alexa- and Google-Assistant-enabled smart displays.

In the Google Home app, search for Arlo under the Home Control section. Enter your Arlo app username and password and it will connect. After that, say: "Hey, Google, show me the garden camera on the main TV (or whatever you've named your devices)." 

I tried this using a Google Nest Hub and it worked as expected. 

Connecting to the Arlo Alexa skill worked well, too. I entered my login credentials for Arlo, as prompted by the Alexa app and was able to ask Alexa on a second-gen Echo Show to show me the camera. Shortly after, I was looking at the live video feed of the backyard camera at the CNET Smart Home.

Arlo also has an Apple TV app, but no Siri voice functionality. Even so, you can use your Apple TV to pull up your Arlo Pro 2 cams. That worked fine, but again, it doesn't support voice commands. 

All three cameras also offer person alerts -- Arlo and Logitech charge for the feature, while Canary offers it for free. 

What really sets the Arlo Pro 2 apart is its free cloud storage. Arlo gives you 7 days of free storage; Canary and Logitech only offer 24 hours of free storage. 

Pay a monthly fee for Arlo Smart if you want additional storage and features:

Arlo Smart Add-on: $3 per month (per camera) for person detection, motion zones and rich notifications.