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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.
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:
|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|
|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|
|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.)|
|Mobile app||Yes, Android and iPhone||Yes, Android and iPhone||Yes, Android and iPhone|
|Web app||Yes||Yes, with cloud subscription||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.
Arlo Smart Premier: $10 per month for person detection, motion zones, rich notifications and e911. The Premier service also extends the video storage period from one week to 30 days. It works with up to 10 Arlo cameras.
Arlo Smart Elite: $15 per month for person detection, motion zones, rich notifications and e911. The Elite service extends the video storage period from 30 days to 60 days and it works with up to 20 Arlo cameras.
These cameras have solid battery life. I've had mine running for a month, with two weeks of very active use and they're currently sitting at 55 percent. They're not likely to last six months on a single charge (as Arlo claims), but they'll probably last about two months, which is roughly comparable to the Canary Flex.
Of course, battery life will vary based on usage. The more you view the camera's live feed (especially at 1080p HD) and the more activity the camera detects (motion, person or sound), the more quickly the battery drains.
Note that camera performance also depends on the quality of your Wi-Fi network. Be sure to test out your network's range before you install these cameras.
Get started by specifying the system mode in the app -- armed, disarmed, schedule or geofencing. From there, you can customize whether each camera records video and what type of alerts you receive. You can get push notifications and emails. For example, when my system is armed, I want both cameras to detect motion (but not sound), record video and send me a push alert (but not an email).
If you're getting too many (or too few) alerts, you can adjust the sensitivity of each camera. And if you pay for Arlo Smart, you can specify if you only want to receive person alerts rather than alerts every time any motion is detected. I found the cameras were good at differentiating between people and everything else, and they send prompt alerts.
The base station that comes with the Arlo Pro 2 cams is a required accessory. It has a built-in siren and connects to your router, but seems highly unnecessary. Current Arlo users with a compatible base station can buy single Pro 2 cameras for $220 each. There's also a four-camera Pro 2 kit (with a base station) for $800.
Arlo told me the base station is a "battery booster," but I've seen no obvious proof of this. Its siren isn't particularly useful either. Having a siren go off inside when you're most likely using the cameras outside to scare away wildlife or potential intruders isn't helpful.
It's easy to create zones, too (only available with an Arlo Smart subscription). Log in to the Arlo web app, select a specific camera and customize up to three zones.
The two priciest Arlo Smart plans also offer a feature called e911. The feature is designed to connect you to emergency responders in your area if something happens. It isn't the same as a professionally monitored system, but it is supposed to offer "one touch" access to law enforcement and other emergency personnel in your area. I didn't test this directly, but it's available with Arlo Smart Premier and Arlo Smart Elite plans.
The $480 Arlo Pro 2 security cameras are simple to set up, the web and mobile interfaces are straightforward and the cameras themselves perform well.
You should carefully consider whether or not they're for you, though. You have to already have a compatible Arlo base station to operate these cameras -- or be ready to invest a minimum of $480 in this two-camera starter kit.
That's a lot of money, and I'm not convinced the base station offers any value. Don't need two cameras? This system won't be worth it then, either. That said, if you're looking for versatile, battery-powered Wi-Fi cams that don't require voice control, the Arlo Pro 2's are worth considering.