Arlo Pro 3 Review
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Having setup several cameras with my Arlo Pro 2 system, I thought setting up the newly released Arlo Pro 3 version of the system would be a breeze. However, I hit some snags on my initial attempts.
I was able to add the new base station to my existing Arlo account with no problem. Adding the cameras were another story. After getting over my disappointment that Arlo hadn’t already paired the cameras that were included with the base station, I began the pairing process by following the instructions in the app.
It took several attempts and several presses of the hidden “Sync” button on each camera until the base station detected them. I thought that the battle might be over at this point, but I was quickly proved wrong when prompted to “name” each camera. After typing in a name for the first camera, the app simply hung for about 2 minutes and then took me to a generic error message directing me to “try again later”.
OK, surely the next camera will work, right? Well, I couldn’t easily go back and pick the other camera… I had to restart the whole syncing process. After another song and dance of opening the camera and pressing the sync button, I still ended up at the same error message. OK, maybe if I unplug the base station and plug it back in it will work? Nope!
At this point, I had to go to work, but I tried again that evening and, finally, the cameras were able to be paired to the base station and named. I didn’t do anything differently, so I’m stumped as to why it didn’t work in the first place. I’ll chalk it up to a temporary server issue and the fact that the system has just been released.
I like that Arlo has relocated the charging port to the bottom of the camera. If you’ve mounted the cameras, this allows you to use a portable power bank to charge the cameras without needing to take them down (in previous versions of the camera, the charging port was on the back next to the mounting point, so you needed to take the cameras down to access the charging input).
Unfortunately, the charging port is no longer Micro USB and is instead a proprietary wireless contact. While this is more convenient, you do need to be careful to not lose the special charging cord.
While Arlo advises not to touch the lens of the camera, but accessing the battery and the sync button basically begs you to touch the lens: instead of flipping open, the camera now pops forward and you need to grab the front of the camera and pull the inner portion out.
I am impressed by the wider angle view available on the Pro 3 camera. I can now capture almost my entire back yard with one camera. There is a bit of “fish eye” distortion, but I’m still able to make out what is going on outside.
When motion is detected, the camera can now zoom in and follow the movement, which makes watching recordings a little more convenient. When motion is detected, the camera can activate it’s built-in LED spotlight to help improve night vision and hopefully scare off whatever is tripping the motion.
The upgrade 2K video looks great and captures a lot of detail! To achieve the full 2K video quality, your camera will need to be relatively close the base station for the strongest signal; otherwise, the stream will be downgraded to a lower resolution
Siren: Each Arlo Pro 3 camera has it’s own built-in siren that can be activated from the app or it can automatically be set to off when motion is detected.
Built-in Spotlight: As noted earlier, you can set the built-in LED spotlight to turn on whenever motion is detected at night. It can also be configured to flash or pulsate to hopefully confuse and scare off intruders.
Color Night Vision: This seems a little gimmicky, as it requires that the LED spotlight be turned on to see color “at night”. In fact, if you turn off the spotlight LED option in the app, the Color Night Vision option also disables. So, in reality, you’re not seeing color with the infrared lights only (that view is still in black and light).
Flash required on web interface: Believe it or not, I don’t always want to watch the fancy new 2K resolution in a tiny little box in the app (or get the timing just right to tap the “full screen” icon before it disappears). At work, I like to check the cameras on my computer. Unfortunately, live viewing your cameras on the My Arlo website still requires the Flash player (you know, the player that Adobe announced they were discontinuing years ago). It’s 2019! Most browsers either don’t include Flash or disable it by default, requiring you to jump through hoops to enable it again. I hope Arlo makes their site HTML 5 compatible soon!
No HomeKit at launch: I was very happy when Arlo upgraded the Arlo and Arlo 2 cameras to be HomeKit compatible. However, the Arlo 3 cameras do not have HomeKit functionality at this time, although I hear this is something that is coming in the near future.
The Arlo Pro 3 brings us a few new features compared to the Pro 2: integrated LED spotlight, 2K video quality, integrated siren on the camera and a charging contact located on the bottom. However, at launch time, the system is lacking HomeKit integration.
- 2K video quality
- Charging connector located on bottom
- On-camera siren
- No HomeKit at launch (but "coming soon")
- Website still requires Flash