Arlo Pro 3 Review: Robust features and sharp video
Arlo first unveiled its Pro 3 camera system back in September with a friendly price tag and promises of eventual HomeKit support. While Apple’s ecosystem has yet to be integrated, there’s still a lot to love about the latest from Arlo. A truly wireless design, various DVR options, and easy installs make it one of the best options on the market in 2020.
However, slow response times and quirky settings provide some challenging steps along the way to securing your home. Our Arlo Pro 3 review dives into all of the best features and notes a few areas of improvement that we hope to see this year.
Arlo Pro 3 delivers specs at a reasonable price
Arlo provides many of the features we’ve come to expect from a reputable security camera in 2020, including resolution topping 2K and support for HDR. Arlo notably released its Ultra 4K line a few years back, but despite an attractive feature set, the price turned off many consumers. The new Pro 3 calms many of those complaints with a more palatable MSRP while still maintaining some key features.
- HD video quality – zoom in on objects and see clearer details and colors in 2K with HDR
- Wire-free and weather-resistant design works with Alexa and Google Assistant and includes three months of Arlo smart service with rolling 30-day cloud recordings
- 160° field of view for a complete view
- Color night vision: see what’s lurking with color night vision or traditional black and white
- Integrated spotlight: light up the night and ward off unwelcome guests
At the time of our review, HomeKit support is not available on the Arlo Pro 3, although it is promised in the future. Arlo has been rolling out this feature to various models over the last 6-months, and Pro 3 remains in the pipeline at this time for HomeKit support. Alexa and Google Assistant are already compatible at this time.
Arlo is currently offering its Pro 3 camera system in three different options at the time of our review. Shoppers can pick up the 2-camera system for $500 or 3-cameras at $650. A single-camera is available for $200. We often see these prices drop by 20% or so at retailers like Amazon.
Installs with ease
For my testing, I opted for the 2-camera bundle, which ships with different mounts, a battery for each unit, and the base station. Each battery charges after being slipped into the camera itself via the bundled magnetic power cable. It takes about 3-hours to power up each camera when fully depleted.
The 2-camera bundle includes a magnetic mount and another with an adjustable arm. Both have their merits and install with bundled screws. Overall, the process is simple without much hassle. I prefer the mount featuring an adjustable arm for getting the correct angle. In my testing, I found the magnetic mount to be solid (good) but almost overpowering when making fine-tuned adjustments (bad).
Setting up the base station is straight forward, but depending on your home’s materials, it may require some creative placement. My network setup resides in the basement, and I have a metal roof. That’s a tough combination for any wireless product that lives outside. My cameras often had inconsistent or no signal available in this configuration. Luckily, I was able to solve it by purchasing a low-cost powerline extension kit and placing the base station in my attic. It’s not a complaint per se, as any product is going to struggle to get through a metal roof. This small investment locked in reliable performance and reliability.
You’ll also get an ethernet cable for hookups and some video monitoring stickers to place around your property.
Subscription plan pains and a robust app
Arlo gets a lot of love for offering free cloud storage on many of its cameras. Unfortunately, the Pro 3 system is not one of those. Going with one of Arlo’s more premium offerings, with 2K video and HDR support, means that a pricier subscription plan is required. A free 3-month trial is included out of the box, but after that, you’ll have to opt for one of Arlo’s two plans if you want to enjoy expanded functionality and recording.
At the time of our review, the Premiere Plan goes for $3 per camera each month or $10 for a up to 5-cameras. You’re limited to 2K video on this plan, which is where the Pro 3 is capped anyway, so it’s the most sensical plan. The other save 4K footage but isn’t applicable in this scenario.
Going with a Premiere Plan delivers a number of notable features, including cloud storage for up to 30-days and various activity detection options. The ability to turn off certain categories, like animals, is particularly helpful…although the app sometimes gets confused by my toddler walking around outside. Additionally, you can set up package notifications, and the ability to leverage’s Arlo’s e911 service in the event of an emergency.
I found the app to be full of helpful features during my testing, including the ability to manage just about every feature without having to jump onto a desktop web browser. There’s the option to view cloud recordings and set up monitoring zones — access to live views of all your cameras and more. They nailed every aspect there.
Sharp video feeds, slow reaction time
First and foremost, perhaps most importantly, Arlo nails the video aspect with sharp feeds that are easy to see. When set to 2K, the 160-degree viewing angle is wide and clear. Dropping the resolution a bit enables Arlo to zoom in when movement is detected, following persons, cars, and animals as they move through the field of view.
When plugged into an outlet, response time is quick when pulling up a live feed. Unfortunately, that can’t be said when operating on battery power. Arlo will record the initial movement, but you’re wanting to quickly pull up the feed to see what’s happening live, be prepared to wait up to 15-seconds, which may cause you to miss out. This is hardly a complaint limited to Arlo, as many other cameras struggle in the same way. It would just be nice to see Arlo deliver in that way with zippier performance.
Conclusion: Features make the Arlo Pro 3 an easy purchase
Going beyond the low price tag of some security cameras on the market rewards the consumer with higher build quality and more features. This rings particularly true on the Arlo Pro 3, which stands out as a great mid-range consumer security camera featuring stellar video quality and an approachable setup.
The subscription plan is going to be a turnoff for some, but that’s frankly to be expected in 2020. Going with a premier plan unlocks a number of notable features that are well worth the time in my eyes.
Overall, Arlo Pro 3 delivers everything you could want in a security system for under $500. And the option to co-exist with Arlo’s other offerings make it all the more attractive.
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