Two years ago Netgear bought Avaak, a small company that made tiny wireless security cameras called the Vue. It turned that into the VueZone, an entire system that it sold along with a monthly subscription service for things like storage and notifications. Today the company is announcing Arlo, an updated version of that system with better quality video, and a tougher build so that you can stick the cameras outside.
The $349.99 Arlo kit Netgear's announcing today includes two cameras, with each rated for 4 to 6 months of battery life using a set of replaceable batteries. Netgear's given each one a 120 degree lens, infrared night vision, and 720p video recording, all of which are much improved from previous VueZone models. Videos it captures are sent to Netgear's servers, where users get 200MB of free storage. The company says that equates to about 400 clips, and between 2 to 3 weeks of footage for most people, and people can upgrade with a paid monthly plan. Just like previous models, people can get alerts when there's motion, and go through logged footage in the browser, on phones, and tablets.
You still need a base station, but it might get more useful
The entire system still requires a base station, something the company says is necessary to use ultra low power WiFi, and to work with as wide a range of routers as possible (including ones from competitors). Connecting directly to a router directly would also drain the batteries in two days, the company says. Beyond that, Netgear is angling the base station as a hub for future expansions. That includes hooking up with other smart home devices, and connecting things like Zigbee and Z-Wave antennas to two USB ports located on the back. Netgear didn't announce any partner products that might work with that today, but hinted at future products it's making that could tap into the new system. It also said that it's now part of the AllSeen Alliance, a group of companies working on interoperability between Internet of Things devices.
Arlo continues to exist in an unusual part of the home monitoring camera market. Many cameras, though especially those that record high definition footage like Dropcam, need to be plugged into a power outlet. Existing VueZone systems also required the tiny cameras to connect to the aforementioned base station that needed to be hooked up to a router. One of Netgear's most recent competitors, Homeboy, essentially offered the same thing, but in a design that connected right to the router over WiFi. The big difference here, and one Netgear hopes will get people to bite, is the fact that you can use the small cameras both indoors and outdoors.
The new system goes on sale in January and replaces the VueZone line, which Netgear says it's no longer producing but will continue to support. Just like those products, the company is selling standalone add-on cameras for $169 apiece, and plans to offer a way its own routers, sans base station with a firmware update.