This makes it a fairly affordable smart home security camera but if you’re after cheaper alternatives, check out our recommendations in our roundup of the
best security cameras.
Arlo Q Smart Camera review: Design
Compared with some smart home cameras, the Arlo Q looks fairly simple and unassuming – exactly what a security camera should be. While some cameras sport futuristic, sexy designs, these are more likely to be spotted by potential intruders in your home while something fairly small, like the 69.8 x 71.1 x 114.3mm and 167g Arlo Q, is more likely to go unnoticed.
The base of the Arlo Q can be affixed to the wall for extra security, but I prefer the alternative method. You see, while many bulky home cameras offer options to attach the camera to a wall using screws or sat on a flat surface, the Arlo Q can be attached to metal surfaces using built-in magnets. It’s hassle free, and provides users with metal surfaces an easy way to set up the Arlo Q without getting the drill out.
While some cameras are designed to be portable and wireless, that isn’t the case with the Arlo Q. The home security camera requires constant power to work, and although it features a built-in battery for power cuts, etc, it won’t last too long unaided. This means that you have to consider where to place the camera, as it has to be near a power outlet. Of course, the upside to this is that you don’t need to worry about charging the system to keep it online – just plug it in and forget about it, until it’s required.
Arlo Q Smart Camera review: Features and performance
Setting up the Arlo Q at home was a surprisingly easy experience. In my experience, I find that it usually takes two or three setup attempts to get a smart security camera connected to Wi-Fi – however with the Arlo Q, I was set up and ready to go within minutes, as it worked the first time. It’s so simple to set up too – simply plug in the camera, download the app and input your details, then the app generates a QR code to share this information with the camera. All you need to do is raise your smartphone screen up to the camera and it’ll automatically connect itself to your home network. Like I said, nice and simple.
The Arlo Q supports the 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency too, not only 2.4GHz like other popular smart home security cameras, like the Piper Classic. Connecting to the 5GHz network allows users to access the live camera feed much more quickly, an important feature when checking the camera after a motion notification.
But how do you access it? Via a smartphone app, or via your browser. Users can download the Arlo Q app across iOS, Android and even Amazon’s FireOS, and those using a PC or Mac can access their cameras via a number of web browsers. There’s a common issue when it comes to security cameras though, where the security camera itself is packed full of cool tech, but the app often lets it down. It’s not the case with Arlo Q though, as the iOS app I used during my time with the camera was well designed and intuitive, worlds away from some of the sub-par security camera apps I’ve used in the past.
The Arlo Q features a 1080p HD camera with a wide angle lens, offering customers a 130-degree field of vision when looking at the live camera feed. The high quality of the stream also allows users to ‘pinch-to-zoom’ into certain areas of the room for a closer look, although the quality quickly degrades when zooming in. The quality is generally quite clear, impressively so in rooms flooded in daylight, although in dark conditions (that don’t quite merit the night vision mode) the video feed starts to lose clarity.
As I briefly mentioned above, the Arlo Q also features night vision, allowing you to keep an eye on your home or business long after the sun has gone down without running up an expensive electric bill. According to the manufacturer the Arlo Q features 850nm infrared LEDs, illuminating the area up to 25 feet away from the camera. While I couldn’t confirm this for myself during testing, I have no complaints about clarity when using night vision in my living room (although it’s far from 25ft long). If you’re looking to secure a large area with the camera, it might be worth measuring the space first.
The app allows you to converse with whoever you’re monitoring, too. Thanks to the built-in speaker and microphone of the Arlo Q, users can activate the two-way audio feature in-app, allowing them to talk and respond to whoever might be on camera. It can allow you to do fairly simple things like telling your kids to go back to sleep when you catch them sneaking out at night, to ordering intruders to leave the premises remotely. Of course no one is going to chat to a burglar mid-robbery, but informing them that the police are on the way (along with a few obscenities, of course) will hopefully get them to move on.
You can also set up Activity zones via the app, which monitor motion in specific areas instead of the room as a whole. This is ideal for those that have pets, as you can focus on motion detection at a height that pets can’t reach, avoiding false alarms at 4am when you think there’s a burglar, when in reality your dog was wandering around your front room. Of course that’s just one example and there are many other uses for activity zones, depending on the needs of the person in question. We found it fairly easy to set up activity zones in the app, and found them to be generally quite accurate during our testing.
What happens when motion or loud noises are detected? You’re alerted, of course, via push notification on your smartphone and email – although you can toggle either off at any time within the Arlo app. A video clip is also recorded, 15 second by default, that is uploaded to the cloud so even if the Arlo Q camera gets destroyed, the evidence is safe. The video is available to view from your smartphone within seconds, and can be saved to your device with a few taps. You can also set the camera to record constantly until no more movement is detected, although the mode is currently in beta testing and we wouldn’t rely on it if we didn’t have to.
Those that want the option of storing recorded videos locally should take a look at the Arlo Q’s bigger brother, the Arlo Q Plus. The Arlo Q Plus lets you record locally via a built-in microSD card slot, alongside a handful of other enhancements when compared to the standard Arlo Q.
There’s also an option to record 24/7, but this doesn’t come for free. While users are provided with seven days of free cloud recording when purchasing the Arlo Q, those interested in constant video and audio recording can pay a little extra for the capabilities.
Lewis Painter is a Senior Staff Writer at Tech Advisor. Our resident Apple expert, Lewis covers everything from iPhone to AirPods, plus a range of smartphones, tablets, laptops and gaming hardware. You'll also find him on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel.