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​Arlo Go review

This smart, portable camera works anywhere there's 4G

​Arlo Go
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As a smart security camera ecosystem, Arlo is one of our top choices. From the entry level Arlo to the 4K Arlo Ultra, the system can be mixed up, matched to your needs and budgets, and nearly limitlessly expanded – if you can foot the cost.

But the Arlo Go represents a slightly niche outlier in the Arlo range. While all other cameras require access to your Arlo base station, the Arlo Go uses a 4G SIM card to beam up footage to the cloud. This means it can be placed anywhere, whether you’re looking for a wildlife camera or just to cover black spots on your large country estate.

But how does it perform? We’ve been living with it to test it out.

Arlo Go

Arlo Go: Design and features

The Arlo Go appears like a beefier version of the rest of the company’s cameras. It’s larger, heavier and bulkier – but unlike the Arlo Pro and Arlo Ultra, you don’t need to connect it to a base station.

The Go has IP65 weather-proofing, which means it should handle pretty much anything nature can throw at it, plus the expected standard features such as motion detection, night vision and push notifications.

Like all other Arlo cameras it's 100% wire-free, and uses a Lithium-ion battery, charged using a micro USB port at the back. That's covered by a rubber bung that was the subject of a redesign on the Arlo Pro 2 – so that's clearly going to be a weak point here. However, we've used the Arlo Pro 2 for over a year with no issues, so it's not one to worry about.

The main difference with the Arlo Go is that you’ll need a 4G/LTE SIM card to complete the installation. Once that’s acquired, setup is a cinch.

Head into the Arlo app, find the Arlo Go, hold the sync button on the top, point the camera at the displayed QR code, and you’re done. It’s a superb, five minute setup.

Arlo Go

Being a 4G camera there’s a few downgrades here – chiefly that the maximum resolution for recording is 1280 x 720, so it’s not full HD. You’ll probably thank Arlo for that choice when you’re trying to stream live footage from your remote camera – and that’s not to mention the upload to the cloud.

And let’s stick on that for a second. By default the Arlo Go limits clips to 10 seconds, which on average run to around 750Kb (on balanced quality/power settings), rising to 1MB on best quality.

Clearly, how many clips are uploaded will vary on its location – but uploads of 100MB per day wouldn’t be surprising, meaning even a 2GB a month plan would be extremely tight. This is extremely back-of-a-napkin maths to say that data could be a pinch point with the Arlo Go.

More on cameras: The best outdoor smart home security cameras

That brings us onto another missing feature: Given the portable nature of the camera it’s not possible to set activity areas, nor can it be smart about the type of motion it’s seeing. Newer Arlo cameras can determine people, animals, vehicles and even packages but the Arlo Go doesn’t have that capability.

This means that it will produce many more false positives. The lack of editable action areas also means you can’t stop swaying branches triggering motion alerts either – which can be a frustrating part of the experience. Especially when you’re essentially paying for each video upload.

There is, however, one feature to help with this. Like other Arlo cameras you can use scheduling to avoid capturing video at unnecessary times of day.

You can skip cloud uploading altogether of course. The Arlo Go has microSD storage, so pushing video to the cloud isn’t essential. That means you can be miserly with the 4G data plan you’re using, which will only be eaten into if you intend to log into the camera to live stream.

If you’re happy to retrieve the microSD card from inside the camera each time you want to review footage, that option is there.

We tested this out and local recording worked easily – although we had under-estimated the hassle of retrieving the card, and the process of checking each video individually.

Arlo Go

Arlo Go: Everyday use and performance

The Arlo Go fits right into the rest of your Arlo set-up. Motion alerts are sent immediately to the same Arlo app, and footage is ready to be viewed within moments. You still have full range of control over the camera in real time – and it's hugely responsive. Lag times weren't even noticeable compared to Arlo cameras on our home network, which is hugely impressive.

Obviously this was tested in an area with decent 4G coverage, so be mindful of where you want to place your Arlo Go. We did try in a low-signal area and still had success – although we were bombarded with notifications about the Arlo Go dropping off the network.

In terms of visual performance, the Arlo Go does the job. Footage is a little dark and grainy, as you might imagine for a camera that’s sub full-HD. Images are more pixelated than we're used to – after all, it's hard to find cameras that record at less than 1080p these days, although the reasons here are understandable.

The frame rate is decent, although the lack of detail is exposed when there are elements on camera moving at speed. You can see some of our test videos below.

Night vision was also more than usable, and resolution aside, little different to the Arlo Pro. You'll get a good 20 foot of IR range if you carefully mount the Arlo Go on a wall away from the floor. If it's placed on a surface, you'll get less coverage. Subjects in range are well detailed and well lit, even in pitch black conditions, making the Arlo Go a good option for nocturnal wildlife shots, as well as security.


Arlo Go
The Arlo Go is a niche camera that few will have the need for – and we suspect wildlife enthusiasts will find the 4G recording more useful than home security types. Each will have their own use case for the Arlo Go, which performs well. Yes, there's a pay off in quality but it's great at what it does, works incredibly simply and is reassuringly reliable.
PROS
  • Fast and responsive
  • microSD local recording
  • Good night vision
CONS
  • Rack up data costs
  • Only 720p
  • Charging port could be weak point

TAGGED    security cameras

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