Netgear — the brand you probably remember for making wireless routers — has taken a big step into the home automation market by announcing the release of the Arlo camera. Perhaps even more importantly, Netgear is positioning Arlo to become much more than just a home cam.
Meet the Arlo Security Cam
The Arlo camera is a small, vaguely bubble-shaped camera. The DIY emphasis is particularly noticeable when it comes to setup. The camera comes with a magnetic base. Attach the base to whatever surface you want, and then lock in the camera using the magnetic attachment, which lets you pick and adjust the angle whenever you want.
Unlike many entrants in the field, Arlo also goes out of its way to be outdoor friendly. The camera is fully waterproof, which in combination with its size means you can sneak the cam into all sorts of porch corners without it being too obvious. Keep in mind, however, that battery life is limited to around several months before you’ll have to replace the batteries.
You interact with the camera using the Arlo app available on a variety of devices, including iOS and Android smartphones. Desktop login is, of course, supported, and you can active the Arlo for live streaming no matter where you are or what time it is.
What You Get with the Arlo Kit
To use an Arlo camera, you have to buy the Arlo kit. Netgear has included two Arlo cams (and their bases) in the kit, as well as a hub device that they use to tap into your wireless network. The hub has a radius of 150 feet, limiting — somewhat — how far away you can place the cams.
There’s no local storage for the cam (there’s not much room to put it anywhere) but Netgear does throw in 200 MB of free online cloud storage, which means you can access stored video over the Internet from anywhere, something a bit more useful for security purposes. However, you’ll have to keep on eye on how full your storage grows so you don’t lose any video.
When the Arlo kit becomes widely available in early 2015, the kit will cost you $349.99. Any extra cams will cost $170.
Netgear’s Future Plans and Lifx
The high price of the Arlo kit may make you wince and reconsider these little cams. After all, there are other, less expensive cam options on the market, such as Dropcam (now owned by Google), HomeMonitor, and Netcam. Sure, most of these options only give you one camera, but a lot of homeowners only want one camera.
What sets Netgear’s plans apart is their obvious goals for the future: Arlo is not just about security cameras, it’s about the smart home. You can absolutely expect other home automation products to come into Arlo’s product line before long. Compatibility with other devices is also likely. Arlo already works with Lifx — an interesting first choice for a partnership. Originally starting as a Kickstarter project, Lifx is built around a smart light bulb that can be controlled through Wi-Fi. Much like Philips Hue and other products, the Lifx bulb can switch between several colors with a few taps on the smartphone. Thanks to the partnership, you will be able to control Lifx through the Arlo hub instead of using two different pieces of software.
So when it comes to investing in Arlo, the future will hold plenty of answers. On the plus side, Netgear is a well-established company and no doubt knows what it is doing. Possibly multiple partnerships with other new smart device ventures will help fill out the Arlo roster and give the system a very strong lineup. However, for now you will have to pay quite a bit for home automation that offers comparably little. The exception may be for especially large houses or businesses that require multiple cams, in which case the current version of Arlo could prove efficient.