Arlo Pro 5 2K Review: Security done well (for a price)

Arlo Pro 5 2K

The Arlo Pro 5 2K camera system works very well for securing your home or office, though you do need to factor in the subscription price alongside the hardware cost.

Pros
Very quick motion detection
Generally good video quality
Integrated spotlight and alarm

Cons
Subscription model locks some features away
No local recording
Proprietary charging cable

Score: 3.5/5

The Arlo Pro 5 2K is Arlo’s latest take on a compact and essentially wire-free home security camera system, with the promise of enhanced wireless compatibility and improved battery life.

It scores very well on these fronts, though it’s also worth factoring in the ongoing cost of an Arlo subscription into the value equation. If you can’t or won’t pay for that, there’s a lot less appeal here.

Design

Arlo Pro 5 2K

Arlo has a very distinct style for its cameras, preferring bulky but rounded camera bodies that make the Arlo Pro 5 2K a virtual clone of the slightly older, but still available Arlo Pro 4 model.

Arlo sells the Arlo Pro 5 2K in single, double or four pack kits, with each camera module measuring in at around 52x78mm and weighing around 330g based on my rough measurements.

The external white casing is an interesting design choice. Press the release button at the bottom and the camera module entirely slides out, revealing just the casing, a connection point for charging and a heavy metal plate at the back that gives it some of its weight and its magnetic connection capability.

Arlo Pro 5 2K

The Arlo Pro 5 2K uses a removable battery, meaning that you could potentially hot swap them if you had several to maintain power continuity outside the couple of minutes you were doing the swap.

The Arlo Pro 5 2K cameras are robust, designed for either indoor or outdoor usage, with what Arlo’s own specifications simply call “weather resistant”.

This worries me just slightly; other Arlo cameras are stated at IP65 and I might guess that this was what the Pro 5 2K offers… but Arlo never explicitly states that, at least on its Australian support pages, just that it’s “weather resistant”. Which sounds nice, but means relatively little in real terms.

Arlo’s support notes do state that the included magnetic charging cable is for indoor use only, so if you wanted a permanent power hookup, that’s not officially supported if it’s likely to get moist over time.

Performance

Arlo Pro 5 2K

Arlo’s setup routine is, like just about every home small security maker out there, based around synchronising with a smartphone app, in this case the Arlo app.

Except it’s not the Arlo app of old, instead being replaced with a new Arlo Secure app that uses a widget-based interface that gives you some degree of configuration depending on your cameras and needs.

I’ve used and reviewed a very wide slew of Arlo products over the years, so I’m quite familiar with how Arlo generally handles installation, and that hasn’t really changed at all.

Even if you weren’t, setup is a very smooth process, and one that should actually be even a little bit better than for prior generations. That’s because the Arlo Pro 5 2K is dual band Wi-Fi compatible, so it can hook into 5Ghz as well as 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi networks.

Arlo provided me with a dual camera kit to test out, so I set one of the cameras to work in my back yard – mostly to try to capture vision of the neighbourhood cats who seem to love to prowl through there – and one in my carport, to give it a head-to-head comparison against an existing Ring video doorbell and Google Nest Cam With Floodlight for detection timing and video quality.

Arlo Pro 5 2K: No cats to be seen here. Continue scanning.

No cats to be seen here. Continue scanning.

I didn’t get much cat-based action from the rear cameras, but the carport model got a serious workout, and presented itself very well during a few weeks of testing time.

I should note that the Arlo Pro 5 2K and Ring doorbell were essentially the same distance from where anyone might approach them, while the Google spotlight was a couple of metres forward, based on where it has to be installed.

The Arlo Pro 5 2K was nearly always the first camera to respond, both in turning on its very bright spotlight and sending me a smartphone notification whenever motion was detected.

Arlo Pro 5 2K: The spotlight at 100% is PAINFULLY bright.

The spotlight at 100% is PAINFULLY bright.

Video quality can be set to 2K, 1080p or 720p, though I’d only advise the lower rates if your WiFi really does struggle with connectivity to the camera and you need real-time connections.

The integrated speaker also works as a full duplex microphone, so you can use it as an ad-hoc intercom if required. Here I did notice some lag at times, but it’s better than having to make walkie-talkie style single shot conversations.

So far, so good during my test period… with a catch. The catch is that much of the Arlo Pro 5 2K’s functionality is locked behind a subscription requirement.

Arlo provides a 30 day subscription to Arlo Secure, its subscription service that unlocks a lot of functionality, including cloud recording, advanced object detection and activity zones.

Outside that 30 days you’re limited to a much less intelligent, much less responsive camera system unless you pay for a subscription. As standalone models, the Arlo Pro 5 2K cameras can’t even handle local recording.

At the time of writing, Arlo charges $4.99/month for a single camera subscription, or $14.99/month for an unlimited camera subscription.

For the two-camera setup that Arlo sent me, that means an effective $179.88/year to get the most out of these cameras.

That’s not an uncommon ploy in this space, but it’s absolutely one that’s well worth keeping in mind, because the price you pay for buying the hardware isn’t the only ongoing cost you’ll have.

Battery

Arlo Pro 5 2K

Arlo’s claims for the Arlo Pro 5 2K system is that it can manage up to 30% better battery life than the Arlo Pro 4, specifying an 8 month battery life for each camera.

I’ve not had it for 8 months to verify that, but I do have my doubts based on my own usage, with each of my cameras dropping around 25% of their battery life over a month’s usage.

One interesting facet here is that the much busier carport camera only dropped a couple of percentage points lower than the back yard camera, despite recording a lot more video in that month.

While the Arlo Pro 5 2K uses removable batteries, which I do appreciate in a product you’re probably going to want to keep for some years, I have less love for the charging solution that Arlo offers.

It’s a custom magnetic cable solution, and while that makes it easy to clip onto cameras to give them juice, it also means that you’re plumb out of luck if it’s lost or broken.

Given that it’s not rated for outdoor usage anyway, I don’t know why Arlo didn’t more simply opt for USB-C recharging, which is effectively universal these days.

Arlo Pro 5 2K: Alex’s Verdict

Arlo Pro 5 2K

The Arlo Pro 5 2K is genuinely quite good in what is quite a competitive market.

This is Arlo’s premium play right now, and the results it offers both in terms of intelligent pickup of moving objects and video quality do justify that cost.

However, as always, you’ve got to weigh that against the cost of the subscription needed to make the most of these cameras.

If that’s not going to work for you financially, I can’t recommend them, because they’re considerably more limited without those Arlo Secure features in play.

Arlo Pro 5 2K: Pricing and availability

The Arlo Pro 5 2K system is sold as either a single camera, twin camera or four camera pack in Australia at $329, $599 or $1099 respectively.

Want to support independent tech journalism and buy an Arlo Pro 5 2K? Use the button below to buy on Amazon:

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Arlo Pro 5 2K: Alternatives

Arlo itself has a wide range of available cameras, including the more expensive Arlo Pro 4 or the 1080p capable Essential Spotlight.

Google also has a play in this market with devices like the Google Nest Cam or the Nest Cam with Floodlight, which was one of my comparison sources against the Arlo Pro 5 2K.

If you’re after security on a tight budget, consider the Wyze Cam v3 Proyou can read my review of that camera here.

1 thought on “Arlo Pro 5 2K Review: Security done well (for a price)”

  1. Don Dalphin jr

    Do not buy this product, support is nearly non existent. Their standard answer is to subscibe to more “services”, the final straw was they told me to update the phone app, and found that I could not log in. I contacted tech support. And they wanted $399.95 to put everything back on line & full functionality. I declined, told them we are canceling our monthly subscription. About 5 minutes later. They called and “demanded”my credit card number and offering $299.95, I told them No, & hung up. A few minutes later, they called again offering $ 199.95, again I told them No, &hung up. Since then. I have received several emails asking us to reconsider., Nd bombarded with emails every day to buy more product.

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