With its friendly bunny ears, Netgear's $200 Arlo Baby looks right at home tucked away on a bookshelf in your child's nursery. But it's no toy — this high-def video monitor is packed with night vision, temperature and air quality sensors, a color-changing nightlight and a speaker that can play lullabies or just let your child know you're on the way. Even a year after we first reviewed it, we think the Arlo Baby is at the top of the list of best baby monitors with video that you can buy.
The Arlo Baby is extremely cute for a smart-home product. It comes with removable rubber bunny ears and feet, which you can swap out for a kitten or puppy look for an extra $20 per critter. At 4.3 x 2.6 x 2.5 inches, it's nicely compact, and comes with a wall mount plate if you prefer that option.
Setup took less than 5 minutes. You just connect the included micro USB cable to Arlo Baby and plug into a power adapter. When the light blinks amber, you can launch the Arlo app on your iPhone or Android device, create an account, and connect up to five Arlo cameras that can all show you live feeds at once. (In addition to the baby monitor, Netgear also offers indoor and outdoor security cameras under the Arlo label.) Following the prompts to put Arlo Baby on my Wi-Fi network was also a breeze — the video monitor connected on the first try and hasn't dropped the network once.
Arlo Baby has an onboard 2400mAh battery, but if you want all-night monitoring, keep the camera plugged in. After I put my son to bed at 9 p.m., with the nightlight at half brightness and lullabies playing for half an hour, the Arlo Baby's battery conked out before midnight. But the battery is still convenient to monitor naps in other rooms, and so it doesn't shut down if you need to move the camera from outlet to outlet.
Camera Range: Static field of view adjustable from 90 to 130 degrees
Handheld Monitor: NA
Handheld Viewer Size/Weight: NA
Mobile App: Android, iOS
Temperature/Humidity Sensor: Yes/Yes
Video Recording: Yes, 360p to 1080p
Subscription: Free for 7 days of cloud recordings, optional plans start at $10/month
Arlo Baby's camera defaults to 720p resolution and 110 degrees of view, but you can adjust those up to 1080p and 130 degrees, and down as far as 360p and 90 degrees, respectively. Even better, the app lets you specify which areas should trigger a motion alert. That comes in handy if you want the camera to watch the crib but ignore the cat wandering in and out of the door all night.
You do have to find the right angle by adjusting the camera manually. The camera isn't motorized to let you pan and tilt via the app, but you can use the app to zoom in for a closer look.
A color-changing nightlight on the back of Arlo Baby's "head" illuminates the room more softly than a light on the front would, and you can turn off the status light, which is a nice touch. The Arlo app includes six lullabies (they're MP3-quality, but no singing, just music-box-like tones) and three white-noise sounds to play over the speaker. You can edit or reorder that playlist or add your own MP3 songs from cloud storage — heck, you could even record your own voice singing or talking, right in the Arlo app.
One unique feature is Arlo Baby's Always Listening mode. This feature streams the audio from the camera's microphones to your smartphone all the time, even if you're using other apps or have your phone locked. It basically replaces the need for a separate handheld monitor, though Netgear says a $349 version of Arlo Baby with a dedicated handheld monitor is coming soon. In our testing, though, the mobile app on a smartphone provided a perfect way for checking in on the nursery.
Onboard sensors measure the temperature (to the tenth of a degree), humidity (to the tenth of a percent) and air quality in your baby's room, and you can get notifications when any of them are out of your preferred range. "Air quality" is explained in the app as the relative amount of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the room. Netgear says that if you get an "Abnormal" or "Very Abnormal" reading, you can typically bring it back to "Normal" by opening a window for a while.
Arlo Baby's videos look good. They're in full, bright color if there's any light in the room, and they offer quality night vision.
I was able to see my son's face clearly in the dark from about 8 feet away, although his eyes had that creepy night-vision glow, like a raccoon's when it's raiding the trash. In the morning, his window gets blown out by the sunshine (one of these days I'll remember to buy blackout shades), but the rest of the image stays crisp.
The well-designed Arlo app is incredibly versatile: When Arlo Baby sees a motion or hears a sound, it can either take a snapshot or record a video, and send you a push notification, email or both. When you're looking at the live feed, you can start recording, take a snapshot, talk over the two-way speaker, adjust the nightlight, start or stop the music, set a sleep timer to fade the music out after a while and check the sensor data. Everything is right at your fingertips and easy to find, especially considering how much is there.
The app's Mode tab lets you schedule monitoring if you only want to get alerts during scheduled nap times and after bedtime. Optionally, you can set a geofence, so you can have different monitoring rules based on whether you (and your phone) are home or not. But it's not quite accurate enough to pinpoint just the baby’s room. And, of course, you can just turn monitoring on and off manually. You can even make your own rule sets (say, for days, nights and weekends) and switch between them.
The Library tab shows all the videos and snapshots taken by the camera, which are kept encrypted in the cloud for seven days for free, with optional plans for storage beyond that. Downloading or marking videos and snapshots as favorites is easy too.
Unfortunately, Arlo Baby takes a little long to show you what's happening after you get a notification, since you have to launch and log into the Arlo app. The app supports Touch ID and Face ID on the iPhone, so I haven't had to type in the full password very much, but it's still another step. And then the camera image has to load. Depending on your network speed, this can take 30 seconds to a minute. I wish the app attached a snapshot to the push notification, so I would know if I had to actually open the app or not.
Netgear's Arlo line of cameras is compatible with IFTTT, so you could, in theory, have a Hue lightbulb flash if the camera sees motion, or get a notification when the battery runs low. When we tested the Arlo Baby, the camera didn't show up as supported in the IFTTT app — Netgear's forums at the time called it a known bug that was being worked on.
The Arlo Baby is also one of the best Apple HomeKit products, meaning you can use Siri to control it as you wish.
With its easy setup, friendly app and tons of features, Arlo Baby is a solid choice for parents who need a video monitor. I especially appreciated the ability to add my own lullabies to the playlist, as well as the notifications when my son's room was too hot or too cold. Getting seven days of cloud storage for videos and snapshots without a subscription fee is a big perk, too.