It was just under a year ago when Netgear released their Arlo home security system. Each camera was wireless, waterproof and each suitable for use both indoors and out. Its hardware was everything industry leader Dropcam (now Nest Cam) wasn’t. Today, with the release of the Arlo Q Netgear couldn’t have created anything more similar.

The new Arlo Q will capture video at up to 1080p (providing you have the upload connection to support it) and features full two-way audio support via built in microphone and speaker. It also no longer requires a basestation to operate and instead connects directly to your home Wifi.

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Unlike its predecessor the Arlo Q is tethered requiring mains power to operate. This is done via an included USB cable and is far less of an issue than I thought it would be. Yes, a completely wireless unit makes positioning easier but for my needs a powerpoint was never that far away. Lastly whilst the Arlo Q will happily monitor the outdoors it will need to do so from the warm comfort of your home, the Q unfortunately not weatherproof.

Setup of the Arlo Q is straight forward. For a new user of the Arlo system you’ll need to jump through the hoop of registering for an account but that’s really the longest step in the process. Once registered it’s simply a matter of connecting the camera to your Wifi through the prompted screens and you’re ready to go.

The app — and subsequent online interface — have been improved since I first used the Arlo system last year. The clunky “rule” setup that defined where and how you’re notified of movement has been removed and the scheduling of when cameras are active has been vastly improved. The app allows for the creation of up to three activity zones within the Arlo Q’s 130 degree field of view to monitor for movement. It can also be used to stream live video as well as listen and speak through your Arlo Q in a relatively intuitive user experience.

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The camera is “armed” either manually or rudimentarily through a schedule you create via the app. Geofence activation has been promised again, as it was when I reviewed the original units last year. It’s disappointing to see the feature is still planned and not ready.

Alerts will be emailed to you when the camera picks up movement or hears a noise it considers too loud. Previously the level of movement or volume of noise was configurable but I was unable to find the option when using my version and I’m curious as to why it’s not there for the Arlo Q. At the moment any time a neighbour in my apartment block closes their door a little too quickly I receive a notification about it.

Where the Arlo Q — or rather the Arlo system as a whole — begins to let you down is its continued lack of integration.

The footage that’s captured is available to be viewed online or via the app freely and is retained on Netgear’s server for seven days — at no extra cost! Unlike it’s competitors the Arlo system offers a completely free tier for cloud video storage. To keep them longer or to enable the Arlo Q’s “rewind” functionality — allowing you to scrub through an entire day of footage — does require a monthly subscription. The fee varies based on the amount of storage you’d like and for how long you’d like it to be kept starting at A$12.99 for 30 days retention and 10GB of storage.

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Where the Arlo Q — or rather the Arlo system as a whole — begins to let you down is its continued lack of integration. Like the aforementioned geofencing functionality promises such as the integration into popular cloud service IFTTT have been a long time coming. Since day one of the Arlo system’s release users have been asking for it and according to product manager Damir Skripic they were due last December, another date long passed. Also said to come is integration into Dropbox for a more permanent storage solution as well as using cloud based architecture to better analyse footage and to reduce false positives, something competitor Nest Cam has offered for some time.

Regardless of delays to “nice-to-have” features the Arlo system, and more specifically the Arlo Q, offer a fantastic low barrier to entry for home monitoring. Technically it provides peace of mind 24/7 with night vision and live streaming (the same as its competitors) but it does so with a free tier for storage and it’s for that reason alone I continue to be an advocate of the product.

The Arlo Q is available from JB HiFi and other retailers for a RRP of A$349.

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