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(Pocket-lint) - Arlo has been refining and expanding its offering over the past few years, with the Arlo Pro cameras moving to their third version and evolving into the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera, a hybrid of two areas that Arlo operates in - cameras and lighting.

While most Arlo cameras now offer some sort of LED illumination, the Floodlight goes a lot further, crossing over into space that was previously dominated by dedicated security lights. So is this fusion a best of both worlds?

Design and installation

  • Dimensions: 218.5 x 77.9 x 190.5mm / Weight: 650g
  • Wire-free installation
  • Waterproof

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera essentially looks like an Arlo Pro 3 camera sitting in the middle of an LED bar. The design maintains a familiar look to the body of the camera, the big difference being that spread of lights to the front. But this camera is longer in the body than the regular Pro 3 too and has a more substantial wall-mount to accommodate the additional weight.

As before, there are two main components to the light: the wall mount and the casing; and the camera, light and battery assembly. The latter combination slides into the casing and clicks into place. 

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That means there are no seams or joints on the body, the only place where there's a joint is around the end of the casing where it meets the back of the light - and well sealed to keep water out. It's survived some heavy rain and having used Arlo cameras over a number of years, we've found them to be waterproof, so no concerns here.

There's also no way to lock the camera into the housing, you just have to press a button to release it. That's not a problem for cameras mounted high, but if it's within reach, it could potentially be removed easily - and not necessarily by yourself.

Installation is simple, because there's no need for a wired connection, it's a battery-operated device. That means you can position the light wherever you please, but you will have to drill into the wall to secure the mounting plate. All the screws and wall plugs are supplied in the box, and it's a quick job to get it up there.

Once the mounting plate is in place, you can attach the remainder of the casing, secured with another screw so it can't be easily removed. Then the camera assembly slides into the housing and locks into place. The angle can be adjusted, with a ring around the base of the mount to tighten it all up and keep the camera pointing in the right direction.

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Arlo has an healthy range of accessories and if you'd rather have this as a wired device, you can buy a charger that magnetically fixes to the bottom, while there's also a solar charger option too.

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Setup and the Arlo system

  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or SmartHub or Base Station connection
  • Arlo app control

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight will either act as a standalone camera - connected to your Wi-Fi network - or it can connect to an Arlo SmartHub or older Arlo Base Station. In some previous devices the SmartHub was obligatory, but the Pro 3 Floodlight gives you a little more freedom, meaning it's a more affordable route to getting a single Arlo device up and running.

Using the SmartHub means you get 2K local streaming and 2K local recording on a microSD card, as well as auto zoom and tracking features, so it delivers a wider array of features than the standalone route.

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Setup is all managed by the Arlo app on your smartphone and that's the place to start. Given the size of the camera, it's worth charging and connecting before you put it in place on your wall, just to make sure everything is working correctly - something that's easier to do when you don't have to worry about climbing up and down a ladder repeatedly.

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight will happily work within an existing Arlo system, the main advantage here being much more substantial illumination.

Once connected and installed, you'll have to decide how your camera behaves. Unlike some systems, Arlo doesn't just start recording everything automatically, you have to decide what you want the camera to do. This is important because they are battery operated and capturing every movement will soon drain the battery.

As this is both a light and a camera, you also have to decide if you want to separate these functions. You can choose, for example, to have the light come on when movement or sound is detected, or you can have video captured, or both. Depending on how and where you install the camera, you do at least get the chance to choose and via the app you can create operation modes to cover all your needs.

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Talking about battery life, Arlo says that the battery will last 6 months, although we suspect that's in an environment where it's not triggered. We suspect the typical battery life would be around 3 months, but it's going to depend on things like the temperature and how much you capture - dependent on the volume of usage. We're on track for about 2 months of usage, but we have the device illuminating on motion detection and capturing the cats coming and going on the garden whenever it's triggered.

Recharging takes 5-6 hours for this extended battery pack and you have to remove the entire camera array to plug it in via Micro-USB to get it recharging. For those who don't want to worry about battery life, we'd recommend the solar panel to keep it running instead. 

Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera performance

  • 2K HDR video capture (2560 x 1440 resolution)
  • 2-3000 lumen floodlight
  • 160-degree wide angle
  • Built-in siren
  • 2-way audio

The camera on the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight is basically the same as the Arlo Pro 3. That gives you a great wide-angle lens covering 160-degrees, with the option to reduce that angle of capture if you want something narrower.

There's a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, although you can opt for lower resolution if you want. To view those 2K videos you'll need a device that supports HEVC (iOS 9 or later, Android 5 or later), but that covers most smartphones from beyond the past few years. The advantage that a higher resolution offers is that you can zoom in to see a little more detail on captured video if you need.

It's a good resolution, able to capture plenty of detail and thanks to that huge floodlight on the front, when triggered in low light, you'll get high quality video at night too. It's better than the non-Floodlight version because there's a lot more light available for night-time capture, although for some it might be too bright and be irritating to neighbours - but you can also change the brightness.

You can capture night video without the floodlight, with IR illumination able to provide some coverage, although not to the same extent as the full floodlight experience and that's rather more basic - but still useful.

With all that light available, the Pro 3 Floodlight also works great as a welcome home light, even if you only have video capture when you're away from home. Via the app you can also manually turn on the light, which is useful if you want to do something outside when it's dark.

Motion detection can be defined in zones (if you're an Arlo Smart subscriber), which means you can choose not to have it triggered by passing cars, only motion on the driveway, for example. You can also set the sensitivity for motion or audio triggers. As we said above, these triggers can be ascribed to both the camera, the light or both together.

Able to capture audio, you can also talk through the Arlo's built-in speaker, meaning you can converse with someone you catch doing something you're not happy with - while there's also a siren that you can manually trigger, or have automatically trigger, which you probably don't want outdoors, but could be useful if you're using it to monitor your garage or storage shed.

As with other recent Arlo devices, you'll need an Arlo Smart subscription to get the most from the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera - priced at $2.99/£2.99 a month. That unlocks smart features like like the detection zones, auto pan and zoom, and 2K video cloud storage for 30 days.

It's all about the Arlo app

  • Voice assistant compatibility
  • Remote monitoring
  • Customisation

While the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera can act as a standalone device, it works best as part of a system. That's because you'll need to use the Arlo app to control it - and it's better to have one app, rather than a collection of apps to control a range of cameras from different manufacturers.

Unlike something like a lightbulb, the range of options that Arlo presents means there's a lot more to get to grips with, but there's some integration with other systems, like Apple Homekit, Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and SmartThings. You can, for example, view your Arlo cameras through a device such as the Amazon Echo Show, but we still maintain it's better to use the Arlo app directly, as you can then view your history and have full control of your devices.

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You can also have voice-controlled activation of your Smart Hub. This will allow you to arm your Arlo system via voice through a virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa - with the option to have PIN protection for voice disarming too.

The Arlo app, on the whole, is good. It takes some time to learn your way around it and explore the wealth of features, but it's generally stable. There will be the occasional time when you open the app to have it reported that you have no connection and can't see any cameras, but generally restarting the app (and checking you actually have a connection of course) resolves that.

Alerts can be customised and with an Arlo Smart subscription, you can choose the type of alert you want too - such as vehicle, animal or person. You then receive a rich notification on your smartphone, getting a thumbnail of the person detected, for example.

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Verdict

Arlo is one of the most popular home camera brands and it's easy to see why, thanks to the versatility that the system offers. The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera offers all the advantages of the Arlo camera system, but with that powerful lighting giving you more options - and the flexibility to choose how it is used.

It's a bit of a big beast, but given that you could remove your regular floodlight once you have the Arlo in place probably offsets that worry.

Overall the great performance, good quality video night and day, along with a wire-free setup and the option for hub-free operation means it's great on its own or as part of a wider system of cameras.

Alternatives to consider

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Ring Floodlight Cam

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Less pretty than the Arlo, this camera offers greater flexibility with directional spotlights. It's around the same sort of price, but uses the Ring system instead, with a 1080p camera, although it is a wired camera.

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Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera

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The Netatmo camera is wired - designed to replace an existing outside light - so it's not quite as simple as the Arlo, but it does come with no ongoing costs. That's because it saves the footage to internal storage which you can then access via the smartphone app. It's a 1080p camera.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 4 January 2021.