Security cameras are a must in schools today to prevent vandalism, theft and occasionally record discipline problems. Netgear’s $220 Arlo Wire-Free and $180 Arlo Q Web cams are state of the art with the ability to capture HD video and audio, while storing it online for instant playback. There’s also a $250 Q Plus model that includes a wired Ethernet adapter that can be powered by the Cat-6 data cable.
The Arlo Q cam has an ultra-wide 130-degree field of view while the Wire-Free cam takes in 110-degrees. Either way, it’s a lot of real estate and both cameras render colors surprisingly accurately and work well in the dark. Ultimately, they work better if you put a little distance between the cameras and the intended subject because any items that are too close to the lens may appear curved at the edges.
Everything is stored on Arlo’s password-protected Web site. Each camera automatically archives a rolling week of videos for remote viewing for free. For $10 a month you can extend that to a month’s worth of recordings for up to 10 cameras and for $15 a month you get to store up to 100GB of video or 60-days of clips from 15 cameras, whichever is lower. At any time, you can download any video clip you want or need to keep.
Both come with mounting hardware so the cameras can reside on a wall or a shelf and are easy to hide, but there’s nothing like the Wilife surveillance camera that’s housed in a clock radio to mask its intensions. While the Wire-Free version is waterproof and can be set up outside, the Q model needs to stay indoors. The cameras work well shooting through a window and even an insect screen.
Regardless, each of the cameras deliver sharp and rich full HD video that gets compressed using the H.264 protocol. You’ll need to set up and configure each camera either with the iOS or Android app or via Arlo’s Web portal.
Setting up the Arlo Q was a snap. All you do is plug it in, press the Sync button and then start watching the video flow. For the Arlo Wire-Free camera, it’s a little more involved. You’ll need to start by inserting the four included C123 camera batteries into the Wire-Free camera’s bottom; Netgear says they’ll last for up to six months, depending on how often the camera is activated. Then, plug the included Base station into an AC outlet and a wired network, followed by registering it on the Arlo Web site. Finally, you’ll need to press the Sync button to activate the camera.
Once everything is set up, you can watch the output of up to five cameras at once. They can be independently set up to awaken when there’s motion or sounds; the Q NS q Plus only respond to sounds. This allows the cameras to left idle at night and will snap on to record an intruder (or the janitor). A word of warning, it’s very sensitive so don’t point it at the gerbil cage.
The cameras worked just as well at picking up intruders during daylight as at night. On the downside, the nighttime footage is monochrome and lacks the definition of daytime shots.
After it’s recorded the action, Arlo sends an email and app notification with a time-stamped screen shot of the scene. You can grant viewing rights to just about anyone with an email address. Arlo’s software sends them an invite to look at the camera’s output. They’ll need to create an account as well.
The Wire-Free cam records up to 2-minute clips at a time, while the Q aqnd Q Plus can do up to 5-minute streams. With an extra cost plan, they can run 24/7. Unfortunately, it’s not inappropriate for sending live or recorded video to a sick child to watch at home or for an administrator to check in on a teacher’s dynamic or classroom techniques.
Because all the clips are stored online, there’s no need for a central video recorder and you can quickly find the clips you want. It all comes together in Arlo’s Library, which shows all the recorded videos. The interface shows how long each clip is, whether there’s audio as well as the time and date it was recorded. Any can be deleted or downloaded to a PC or Macfor future use.
At about $200 per camera and the ability to incorporate a variety of cameras, the Arlo family can provide evidence of a break-in or vandalism for a fraction the cost of a dedicated security system.
+ HD resolution
+ Motion- and sound sensitive
+ iOS and Android apps and Web viewing
+ Includes mounting hardware
+ Week of free online playback
- Clips are short
- Videos are deleted after a week with free plan