Wireless outdoor cameras, although largely ignored by the industry, are vital to every smart home. There are a lot of IP, closed system solutions available, but few integrate nicely with other devices (Hue, SmartThings, Nest, etc).
Today, I’m running Arlo, by Netgear. It’s a fairly good, and well known, solution that offers some basic smart home integration options. I have one watching the front porch and one watching the backdoor/patio. Highlights/low lights:
- Everything runs through their cloud, so connectivity is sluggish at times
- Video quality is good, but not great in both day and night (infrared) conditions
- Batter life is not very good and expensive. My front camera catches the mailman every day. This means, on average, I’m looking at 6-8 recordings per week. My batter burn rate is about 3 1/2 – 4 months. Note: uses 4 CR123 batteries, so it can get a little pricey
- Great: weatherproof, wifi (requires LAN connected hub), mounting options
- The app is ok, but lacks a timeline. It also has a web-based interface which I find myself using a lot
- Motion detection is not very good. It doesn’t like anything coming straight towards it and is often late to pick up cross traffic. Also, it hates the sun. Tons of false alarms if the sun hits it directly or if it has to manage window reflections.
Overall, Arlo is ok, but like most cameras, it’s sometimes a struggle to get the sensitivity settings right and it’s fussy.
The new Arlo, Arlo Pro, is now available for pre-order and offers fixes to many of the common complaints. The price is a little high, but offers more features than most brands. Arlo Pro starts at $250 for 1 camera and hub. From what I can tell, the Pro cameras will NOT run on the current Arlo hub.
- Long-life rechargeable batteries. This is a good thing
- Can be run hard-wired
- 2-way audio that can be used as an intercom or as a trigger (record on sound)
- Intelligent recording – ignore dogs, cars. etc.
Not to be outdone, Canary is also taking pre-orders for their new outdoor camera. I don’t currently own any Canary products, but there is no doubt that Netgear and Canary are going head to head for this market.
The Canary Flex is very much like the Arlo (wireless, weatherproof, numerous mounting options), but also offers a few other features:
- Wifi, but no need for a hub
- Supports bluetooth
- Personalized alerts
- One-touch call to emergency services
- Competitive pricing ($199 vs $250 from Arlo for one camera)
I still need to see and touch Canary Flex to see if it has a better motion sensor than Arlo (my primary concern with my current cameras). I’m also curious to see how well it integrates into other products like SmartThigns. Arlo is doing some of this integration already, including IFTTT, but it’s not that great yet and offers limited flexibility. Even the SmartThings integration will require some kind of fee for recording. However, I assume Pro will support SmartThings and IFTTT like its little brother.