The latest addition to Netgear’s Arlo family of security cameras is a baby monitor. The Arlo Baby camera is designed for young parents, especially those who do not want to miss a single laugh, sigh or cry from their newborns.
I mean that literally, because it can continuously stream audio, via the Arlo mobile app (for iOS and Android devices), from the camera to your smartphone, even when the phone’s screen is turned off. This audio-only option does not deplete your smartphone’s battery as quickly as streaming a live video stream would.
Unfortunately, this useful feature seems buggy. I have encountered many instances when the audio feed would go silent, presumably because it has lost the connection. This means restarting the app, which is extremely annoying. More importantly, it is a potentially serious deal-breaking flaw for a baby-monitoring device.
It is a pity because I really do like the Arlo Baby. And also because the live video feed, viewable on a smartphone, seems immune from this bug.
The camera has digital zoom, but lacks pan and tilt functionality. It compensates with its wide field of view of up to 130 degrees. But video quality is not great when the camera is zoomed in.
There is also a latency of around 3-5sec, despite my handset being on the same local Wi-Fi network as the Arlo Baby. This lag likely increases if you are watching the live feed from outside the home using a 4G connection.
When the camera detects any motion or audio, it sends an e-mail alert or an app notification. It can also automatically record short video clips, up to 1080p quality. Infrared LEDs let it work even in the dark.
Because the camera has very little internal storage and lacks a memory card slot, these clips are encrypted and uploaded to Netgear’s servers. They are stored for up to seven days before they are deleted or overwritten. Download or share the videos with others before that happens.
Many of these features are standard for Arlo cameras. But the Arlo Baby has a few unique features.
First, it has a multi-coloured LED night light with a range of colours that rival the LED backlighting of gaming keyboards. It can display a single colour, or cycle through a range of colours with its light-show mode. The light can be set to turn off after a certain amount of time (up to three hours).
Second, to lull your baby to sleep, it can play white noise, lullabies or nature sounds from a playlist of more than 30 tunes.
You can record a short audio clip of your own singing, but you cannot upload an MP3 from your personal song collection.
It has sensors that measure temperature, humidity and quality of air, like an air purifier. It can detect volatile organic compounds such as ethanol and methane which are released from things like hair sprays and paints.
Setting up the camera with its mobile app was a quick and painless affair. The user interface is user friendly, though more cluttered than that of the basic Arlo camera because of its additional features like the night light and air sensors. It is also fairly slow to display the live video feed, which may be aggravating to some parents.
Available soon is a range of accessories, from a 7-inch touchscreen display to a wall stand. The Arlo Baby’s default bunny-like appearance can be changed to look like a puppy or a kitten – each character set costs $39.
• Verdict: A baby monitor that does almost everything except pat your baby to sleep. But Netgear needs to fix a potentially deal-breaking bug.