Smart Home Systems: Arlo Pro 2 Home Security Package

Having reviewed the initial Arlo Pro smart home security system release several months ago, it is notable how soon the new and improved Arlo Pro 2 smart home system has been released. What does the Arlo Pro 2 ($479.99 for a 2 Camera Kit) offer beyond the original iteration and is it worth the additional cost to consider the Arlo Pro 2 wireless security system compared to the original Arlo Pro? Read on to find out.

Related: Helpful Home: Control Your Lights, Thermostat & Security System with the Home App

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

The new Arlo Pro 2 looks nearly identical to the original design, and uses the same base station as the Arlo Pro. In fact, if you already have an Arlo Pro smart home system, you don't need to purchase the Arlo Pro 2 package, as the new features are contained within the new Arlo Pro 2 wireless home security camera hardware. New features include the ability to display and record video in true 1080p HD, the incorporation of activity zones (specific target areas in a frame used to detect motion), the ability to look up and review up to three seconds before a triggered event took place, and support for Amazon Alexa, IFTTT (If This Then That) and Stringify home automation services.

Setting up and using the Arlo Pro 2 platform is identical to the original Arlo Pro, so read my earlier review for my thoughts on the web-based and iOS-based Arlo management application as well as the overall user experience. This Arlo Pro 2 review will focus almost entirely on the wireless security system's new features.

The higher, true 1080p HD camera resolution is the most notable new feature, and compared to the original Arlo Pro camera, video captured with the Arlo Pro 2 looks sharper and more detailed. This makes identifying specific objects easier, though it is still not at the level of 4K-resolution, so you still cannot read the label on a package being delivered to your doorstep. While there is no external difference in the shape or housing quality of the Arlo Pro 2 compared to the original, I did notice that battery consumption was higher on the Arlo Pro 2, likely due to the fact that more energy was being used with more data was being transferred.

Arlo Pro 2

As for the Activity Zones feature, it is a welcome addition but is constrained by the fact that it only works when the camera is continually powered via a wired electrical connection. The same holds true for the 3-Second Look Back feature. This discovery was a major letdown considering that the most compelling reason to consider the Arlo platform was its fully wireless operation. It is understandable why these features require continuous power to work, but it's too bad that Netgear's Arlo designers couldn't figure out a way to implement them with minimal battery drain. As such, if you want to use two of the most helpful new capabilities in the Arlo Pro 2, the cameras must be connected to a continuous AC power source. Since the camera is powered via a microUSB connector that is accessed by flipping open a rubberized, weatherproof cover, it is no longer safe to operate the camera outside with this port exposed to the elements. As such, Activity Zones and 3-Second Look Back are also only destined for use on internal Arlo cameras. Bummer.

Arlo Pro 2 Camera

The last major improvement to the Arlo Pro 2 package is its support for Amazon Alexa, IFTTT and Stringify services. Unfortunately, Apple Homekit is still not supported in this release. That said, enterprising individuals may be able to configure workflows using the IFTTT or Stringify services to trigger Homekit-enabled hardware (such as turning on a porch light when the Arlo camera Activity Zone motion is detected). Visit the IFTTT website for the latest Arlo-enabled IFTTT applets.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, the Arlo Pro 2 is a somewhat disappointing follow-up to the original Arlo release. The higher camera resolution is appreciated, but the indoor powered limitations of the Activity Zones and Look Back features restrict what originally made Arlo such a compelling home video security solution. It would also have been a coup if they were Homekit-enabled so that the cameras could be easily added to Homekit automation scenes. Unless you really prefer the true HD resolution of the Arlo Pro 2 camera and intend to use them indoors continuously connected to an AC outlet, save your money by purchasing the original Arlo Pro package instead before they are out of stock.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.