Hands-on gadget review: Arlo Go 2 security camera
Image credit: Arlo
A truly wireless camera with long battery life ensures that vulnerable areas are never out of sight and out of mind.
A smart security camera with a couple of differences. Most models rely on your home Wi-Fi network. They’re ‘wireless’ but often need mains power too; so while they’re affordable you won’t exactly be living the wire-free dream.
Enter the Arlo Go 2, with a SIM card slot for optional mobile data, and SD card slot for optional extra storage and – crucially – a battery that should last months, not days.
It’s not cheap, but it’s arguably good value because it can secure anything anywhere. The weatherproof security camera can livestream 1080p HD video via a 4G SIM (or Wi-Fi if it has a signal). It’s perfect for a caravan, boat, garage, even keeping an eye on a building site during refurbishment.
Being a freelance journalist, I don’t own a yacht... but I do have an allotment, so I set up the Arlo Go 2 to keep an eye on things in the shed there. Frankly the mice have been partying in my shed for too long now. They feasted on my seed potatoes. They ate a hole in the side of a box of lawn seed and turned it into a giant slide. They’re living their best life. I imagine their parties are legendary.
Unboxing was good. The camera is bigger and heavier than you imagine (remember – big battery). But the Arlo Secure app setup was a breeze. I picked a password and created an Arlo account with two-step verification. The app found the camera via Bluetooth and then I had to point the camera at a QR code on the phone screen; the app guided me through the whole process and nothing went wrong.
Next it needed a good ten minutes to sort itself out, which included updating the camera’s firmware. All of this I did at home using just Bluetooth, so the camera needed to be near the phone.
The camera now comes with two years of Arlo Secure Cloud storage (in the July 2022 issue of E&T we quoted £259.99 without the Cloud storage, but that’s no longer an option). Note that you’ll also need to pay for a SIM card and data plan.
Before hitting the allotment, I fully charged the camera battery; this is done via a USB cable that attaches magnetically to the underside of the camera, which suggests to me that it might be possible to charge the camera battery in situ using a USB battery pack. This would mean you don’t have to disturb the camera, but the battery pack would need a high capacity as the Go 2’s battery stores 13,000mAh.
I tested the camera at home first, then headed to the allotment. Every movement the camera sensed inside my bag triggered a push notification on my phone. You can turn these off or tailor them (see below).
I discovered a slight time delay too. On test in various locations, this was between three and eight seconds. So you see everything a few seconds after it happens. Which is just fine but reminiscent of a heist movie. Could the rodents scarper in that short time? Would they put a sleeping draught in my coffee and then replay old footage while they got away with the potatoes? My imagination was getting carried away with me. They’re hedonists, not high-end thieves.
The app lets you set up custom zones and advanced object detection, such as people, animals and vehicles. So you could tell the security camera to ignore passing traffic or to alert you to cars. You can teach it other regular movements to ignore too, for example to disregard a swaying tree that’s always in shot.
There’s built-in night vision but also a spotlight, which can be triggered automatically by motion or manually via the app. If you’re watching black-and-white footage at night and want a better view, trigger the light to see in colour. There’s a siren that can be automatic or manual too. And two-way audio: I could potentially have conversations with the mice.
At the shed, installation was as simple as three screws. The sturdy mount is threaded and connects to the back of the camera, with a 90° range of motion. So you can mount it to any surface and point the camera however you want. The camera doesn’t come with a stand as an alternative but its base is flat, so you can just put it on a shelf.
All set up, I could click on the app to virtually visit my shed at any time. The wide-angle lens meant I could take in the whole room; it was strangely compelling. There were no motion alerts and no mice, despite leaving a tub of seeds out, but I could watch over the shed late at night and even hear inside. The occasional clicks were spooky. While no mice came out to play, I could see moths flying around regularly. Best of all, I heard an owl hooting in the forest.
The 1080p video is detailed, even on night-vision mode. Use two fingers to zoom up to 12x, though at night it’s only useful to about 4x because the black and white picture has more noise.
The standard of reality television is pretty poor these days, so I found the shed cam relatively compelling. You could also use the camera to keep an eye on paint as it dries...
But the Arlo Go 2 will be worthwhile if I’m ever unlucky enough to be burgled. This happens sometimes on allotment sites and is hard to tackle as there’s no power. The same is true in a caravan. Of course, this camera would be the most valuable item in my shed. But thankfully the app includes a location tracker, so if it gets nicked you can find out where your camera has gone.
Obsessively watching your camera footage, rather than trusting push notifications to alert you to movement, takes its toll on battery life. It’s said to last months, but I used 10 per cent in a day while testing and obsessing. You can see this and more in the app, so you know when it needs recharging.
I realised after testing that I had mounted the camera in the wrong place. It should instead be over the shed door, looking along the plot. This would be conspicuous but it would let me see what gardening needs doing. No more ‘out of sight and out of mind’. I also might see the owl, bats, foxes and other nocturnal life.
Speaking of which, I’m next repositioning it to study the pond life at night. If the mice aren’t playing, I want to know what that frog gets up to...
A very similar camera to the Arlo Go 2, but without the SIM card slot, so only good if you’ll be in Wi-Fi range. Shop around to find it even cheaper online.
Eufy 4G LTE Starlight Camera
Features are much like the Arlo Go 2 and there’s an optional solar panel (£40-60 extra) that turns its three-month battery life into infinite battery life, perfect for remote locations.
Reolink Go Plus
Video quality is only 2K but otherwise has similar specs to the Arlo Go 2. Again you can add a solar panel and again good discounts are available online.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.