Arlo Pro 4 security camera review: Wireless, 2K resolution, and a built-in spotlight
Each Arlo Pro camera generation has been better the last, but it was hard to imagine how the Arlo Pro 3 could be improved. The folks at Arlo must have felt the same because they barely made any changes for this fourth-generation device, the Arlo Pro 4.
There is one big change, though: You no longer also need the Arlo SmartHub base station, which has been a staple component of every Arlo Pro camera going back to the product’s introduction. While you can use the Arlo Pro 4 with a SmartHub if you have one, it’s not strictly necessary to get a wireless signal sufficiently strong to deploy this indoor/outdoor camera outside. And that’s no small improvement.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Aside from the completely wire-free connectivity, the new camera is a spec-for-spec reproduction of the Arlo Pro 3. It has a 160-degree field of view, a 12x digital zoom, and captures video at 2K resolution. A pair of infrared LEDs provide black-and-white night vision, while an integrated spotlight enables color night vision. A speaker, noise-canceling microphone, and 80dB siren are built in to communicate with visitors and ward off intruders. It can also detect and track motion within a 130-degree field of view.
As with the Arlo Pro 3, you’ll need an Arlo Smart subscription to unlock capabilities beyond recording in response to motion and audio triggers. Arlo offers a three-month trial of Arlo Smart Premier with your purchase, which enables person, animal, vehicle, and package detection; interactive notifications; 2K recording; customizable activity zones; smoke/CO2 alarm detection; and 30 days of video storage in the cloud. Once your trial expires, you can continue the plan for $3 a month for a single camera or $10 per month for up to five cameras. Without Arlo Smart, the camera is limited to seven days of cloud recording at 1080p resolution.
The camera can be integrated with your smart home setup in several ways. You can pair it with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Siri to enable voice commands. It’s compatible with Samsung SmartThings and Apple HomeKit automation systems. And you can choose from dozens of IFTTT applets to make it interact with your other smart appliances that also support that service.
Setup and performance
Without the base station, setting up the camera is much more straightforward. Once you download the Arlo app and create an account, you tap Add New Device and select the Arlo Pro 4 from a list of options. You’re then given the option to pair the camera with a base station if you have one or connect without it. I picked the second option and was prompted to select my Wi-Fi network, enter my login credentials, insert the camera battery and wait for the camera’s LED to blink blue. Then I just had to scan a QR code in the app with the camera and wait for it to connect. The process was pretty seamless, and after waiting another minute or so for a firmware upgrade to complete, the camera was up and running.
The bottom of the Arlo Pro 4 is flat enough to allow it to stand freely on a table or shelf, but if you’re going to use it outside, you’ll need to attach it to a fence or house siding. It comes with a simple magnetic mount, which sufficed for me since I was placing it high enough that no one could reach it without a ladder. But Arlo also offers some alternative screw-in mounts that provide more theft protection for the camera. They are sold separately for about $20 each.
When you launch the Arlo app, it opens to a device screen displaying each connected Arlo camera on its own tab. The tab displays the current battery level and signal strength along with a recently captured screenshot of the camera’s view. Tapping the play button on this opens the live feed, which you can expand to full screen by pressing the double arrows in the upper right corner. While viewing live video, you can mute the audio, activate two-way talk, turn the spotlight on and off, record video, or take a screen shot using dedicated buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Having used the similar Arlo Pro 3, I wasn’t surprised by this camera’s stellar image quality. The 2K video is tack sharp with rich, vibrant colors, and it maintains that quality fairly well when zooming in. Hues are a little more muted in color night vision mode, but they are accurate enough to provide usable details in the event of a crime. Black-and-white night vision delivered strong illumination and contrast.
The camera uses the same four operational modes that have been around since the first Arlo. In Armed mode, the camera alerts you when it detects motion or audio and records a video clip that can be accessed directly from the push notification. Disarm mode disables these detection and notification features. Schedule mode lets you set time blocks for when you want the camera active. Geofencing mode uses your phone’s GPS to automatically arm the camera when you leave home and disarm it when you return.
The camera’s smart detection was more consistent here than when I used the Arlo Pro 3. Vehicles, people, and packages were accurately identified in virtually every detected event during my testing. Initially I was also getting generic motion alerts triggered by swaying trees during some particularly windy days. I remedied that by toggling off detection for “all other motion.” Creating an activity zone around my driveway also allowed me to filter out the motion of cars passing down my street, so I would only be alerted to those driving onto my property. Auto-tracking also excelled here, locking onto any person or car that entered that zone and following them until they were outside the camera’s view.
The Arlo app makes it easy to tweak the camera’s various settings. Changing detection sensitivity, activity zones, and which smart notifications you receive are just a few taps away from whatever screen you’re on and are easy to intuit.
The Arlo Pro 4 is simply one of the best indoor/outdoor security cameras you can buy. With beautiful 2K video, accurate smart detection, a polished app, and the ability to integrate with a range of smart devices, it’s an unbeatable value at just $200. You’ll need to factor in the additional costs of a cloud subscription to enable most of its best features, but even this is reasonably priced, making the Arlo Pro 4 easy to recommend to anybody looking for a high-end smart home security solution.