Arlo products are known for their diverse methods of use, ease of installation and placement, and real-time footage display via mobile apps. The company was critically and commercially praised for the features of its security cameras including the ability to set up and install a system without professional assistance, monitor your home or business from anywhere via an app on your phone, and record video in clear high definition.
However, with all this talk about subscriptions, you may be wondering: can Arlo products be used without a subscription?
You can set up an Arlo device and still benefit from a wide range of helpful features without signing up for a subscription. These include rolling weekly cloud recording, local storage, live streaming, two-way audio, and activity zones.
While it is possible to use Arlo products without a subscription, should you not have an Arlo subscription, you will only have access to basic functionality, meaning that you will not have access to features such as:
- Motion detection,
- Customizable motion zones,
- Cloud storage,
- 4k quality.
To better understand whether it is worth investing in an Arlo subscription, it is important to decipher these key features in greater detail, as well as the different subscription models available to Arlo users. Let’s explore these issues in greater detail below:
What Features Do Arlo Cameras Have Without A Subscription?
The majority of cameras bought from Arlo, regardless of their type or model, will come bundled with a three-month free Arlo subscription trial (assuming you bought new Arlo products directly or from reputable dealers).
Once this subscription period expires, you will be required to purchase a subscription plan (more on those below) to maximize the features available from Arlo cameras.
While it is recommended to purchase a subscription plan, there are still plenty of features that Arlo cameras provide regardless of whether you have a subscription (dependant on the Arlo model):
- Remote and local live streaming,
- Push notifications,
- Two-way talk,
- Smart home integration,
- Color night vision (not available on all Arlo devices),
- Local storage recording (not available on all Arlo devices),
- Auto Zoom and Tracking (not available on all Arlo devices),
- Built-in Siren (not available on all Arlo devices).
Remote And Local Live Streaming
Although there are some advanced features and qualities that come with paying for an Arlo subscription, all Arlo models are durable, weather-proof cameras that are capable of wireless recording.
This means that the core functionalities of Arlo cameras as security cameras that are battery operated and capable of a minimum of 1080p video capture remain consistent, regardless of whether you have a subscription or not.
Consequently, Arlo cameras are easy to install, portable cameras that provide enough coverage through a wide-angle lens to effectively and efficiently capture activity.
Further to Arlo’s key differentiator of wireless installation and integration through wifi is the ability of all Arlo devices to alert consumers of any activity or issues via their mobile phones.
These alerts can take the form of push notifications that allow consumers to access live footage remotely or to inform consumers of any other issues, such as an Arlo device needing an update or recharge.
The option for remote, instant access to footage and alerts that ignores phone settings such as being put on sleep mode allows consumers to remain alert to any security threats on the go and act appropriately.
While perhaps not an essential feature in all Arlo devices, the option of remote, two-way talk functionality is a fantastic feature for certain Arlo products, such as the Arlo Doorbell products.
This allows users to access the live video feed of an Arlo camera and to talk to a person who may have been spotted by Arlo’s motions sensors. Therefore, consumers can easily communicate with visitors or delivery people remotely.
Furthermore, most Arlo products have noise cancellation technology, which allows for clearer, easier conversations without background noises causing unnecessary disruptions.
Smart Home Integration
Given Arlo’s focus on wireless connectivity and ease of access, it’s no surprise that Arlo would look for third-party integrations to combine their technology with smart home systems.
Therefore, Arlo products allow for seamless third-party integration with popular smart home products such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This allows customers to have voice control over their cameras, access live feeds, or connect to third-party smart home apps such as Apple Homekit, SmartThings, and Stringify.
Color Night Vision
While only available in Arlo products after the Arlo 2, color night vision is one of the key features of Arlo products that separates them from the competition; this is because most cameras have a nighttime vision or can only display green nighttime vision.
This is an important safety feature when identifying people or vehicles on your property, as profiling through the use of color helps to identify unwanted visitors to your property (i.e., Being able to identify a person was wearing a blue shirt and driving a white car when they entered your property.)
Furthermore, it also allows you to capture clear footage for other recreational reasons, such as installing an Arlo camera to capture footage of wildlife. This is of particular interest for research purposes, where colors may be important markers in animal identification and tracking.
Local Storage Recording
Arlo products without subscriptions allow for local internal storage of material captured to upward of seven days of footage. This footage is typically accessible via an SD card or other forms of manual access.
This means that all footage captured needs to be uploaded to a separate data device or cloud by the consumer every seven days, as failure to do so can lead to the footage being deleted or stops the Arlo product from housing any more footage.
Depending on how many cameras you have and where they are situated, this can prove difficult and frustrating if you do not opt for a subscription that allows for cloud storage (more on this feature below.)
In conclusion, should you opt for an Arlo camera without a subscription, it is advisable to invest in an Arlo SmartHub, which allows for improved battery life, storage capabilities, and Wifi connection so that you can download footage to a mobile phone or integrated piece of technology, rather than manually using SSD cards or USB drives to download any stored footage.
Auto Zoom and Tracking
Auto Zoom and Tracking are features that allow certain Arlo cameras to digitally zoom in, focus, and follow certain targets in their line of sight. This allows Arlo cameras to zoom and focus on moving objects, people, or vehicles.
This is of particular use should you want your camera to automatically focus and follow key features, such as license plates of cars or people’s faces.
While the feature may be programmed to operate automatically upon sensing movement and deciphering the image the camera is recording, you can also manually access an Arlo camera to operate Zoom and Tracking via the mobile app.
The newer models of Arlo cameras come equipped with built-in sirens. This is a fantastic method of deterring unwanted people, animals, or vehicles on your property, as the siren acts as a warning that they have been spotted and to vacate the premises immediately or risk facing prosecution.
This feature can be set to automatically trigger a siren sound in the event that motion is spotted on the camera, or it can be set to manual activation via the mobile app.
What Features Do Arlo Cameras Have With A Subscription?
Although Arlo cameras are a worthwhile investment regardless if one opts to enter into an Arlo subscription or not, there are some noticeable features that a subscription offers. Namely:
- Motion detection,
- Customizable motion zones,
- Cloud storage,
- 4k quality.
Motion detection is one of the key differentiators of Arlo cameras. This is because they can pick up motion in their line of sight, which results in a push notification to the mobile app, allowing for access to the live feed and reacting accordingly.
Consequently, motion detection is an essential method of ensuring that Arlo cameras work as intended, that being devices with security and reaction to security threats as their primary purpose. Without this feature, they essentially just work like regular security cameras.
This is also essential for the use of Arlo cameras for recreational or research purposes, such as the use of motion sensors to alert Arlo customers to sightings of animals or birds in real-time that a user may be tracking/studying.
Customizable Motion Zones
In collaboration with the above feature, Arlo cameras can be programmed to recognize certain areas as one’s in which motion detection is necessary for security purposes.
Therefore, customizable motion zones are vital for areas that have a large amount of motion in a camera’s line of sight (such as a busy highway or a flag waving in the distance). By programming customizable motion zones, these motions can be ignored, allowing Arlo cameras to focus and alert users to more tangible security risks.
Further to customizable motion zones is the inclusion of advanced object detection. Advanced object detection is available to Arlo Smart Premier and Arlo Smart Elite subscribers. The purpose of this feature is the ability for Arlo cameras to recognize the difference between hostile and familiar objects/people in their line of sight.
Once again, this is a vital security feature that mitigates the risk of false alarms, as your Arlo camera can be programmed to send push notifications when a stranger or unfamiliar car enters your premises but to ignore non-threats such as a family member or family member’s vehicle.
Cloud storage is one of the most efficient and effective ways to access and share any footage captured by Arlo cameras remotely and automatically. This means that, unlike non-subscription plans, which require manual downloading, footage from subscriber Arlo plans can be automatically uploaded to the cloud.
Furthermore, this method of automatic cloud storage means that not only is no footage deleted or inaccessible, but that all methods of cloud storage, be they the Arlo Smart Premier or Arlo Smart Elite subscription plans, allow for a 30-day video history, rather than just seven days as per the non-subscriber plan.
While non-subscribers may have access to 1080p video recording, this underutilizes the capabilities of the majority of Arlo cameras which allow for cloud video storage in 2k and 4k quality. Therefore the level of quality on offer to Arlo Smart Premier Subscribers and Arlo Smart Elite subscribers is far superior to that of non-subscribers.
However, it is important to take note that 2k cloud recording and 4k cloud recording are exclusively available to Arlo Smart Premier and Arlo Smart Elite, respectfully. Therefore, you must ensure that the Arlo product you have is capable of either 2k or 4k cloud recording before you decide to choose a subscription plan.
This is because, at $2.99 per month for Arlo Smart Premier vs. $4.99 per month for Arlo Smart Elite, you need to make sure the correct plan matches your camera so as to ensure the correct method of recording for the right price point (while also bearing in mind that price points for up to five cameras under Arlo Smart Premier and Arlo Smart Elite are $9.99 and 14.99 per month respectfully.)
Should You Get An Arlo Subscription Plan Or Not?
The answer is… maybe!
I know, I know. I hate it when people give these kinds of answers too. But in this case, we really do need to get a little bit more information about your situation first before we can decide if getting an Arlo subscription plan is actually the best choice for you.
While I am personally of the belief that an Arlo subscription plan is worth it, given the low price point for a variety of key security and accessibility features, the decision to enter into a subscription plan should be premised on what exactly you want to use your Arlo cameras for.
Arlo is all about their cloud ecosystem and making it easy for you to access your videos from any device. Their philosophy is that they can always be building more value into their subscription (more features, more storage, whatever) and use that as justification to raise prices.
Namely, if you are just looking for simple, portable recording devices, it is unlikely that you will need a subscription plan. If you’re not willing to pay month-to-month for cloud access, there are plenty of other camera systems out there that don’t require a monthly fee.
However, if your main reason for installing Arlo cameras is security, you can’t go amiss with the reasonable entry points of $2.99 upwards of $4.99 per month.
Arlo products are recognized as some of the better home security cameras on the market. This is because they are durable, portable, easy to install, and equipped with a variety of customization options at a low price point to meet the needs of all customers.
We’re so glad that you stopped by today to read this article, and we hope you’ve found some helpful information here. If you have any more questions or want help with anything, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help!
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