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Netgear Arlo Q - 1080p HD Wi-Fi Security Camera with 2 Way Audio & 7 Days of FREE Cloud Recordings - VMC3040-100NAS
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

2 out of 5 eggs Great "Smart Camera", horrible "Security" Camera 05/13/2016

This review is from: Netgear Arlo Q - 1080p HD Wi-Fi Security Camera with 2 Way Audio & 7 Days of FREE Cloud Recordings - VMC3040-100NAS

Pros: -Quality build, easy to mount
-Great video feed
-Good sound & mic
-Easy setup and good quick-start guide
-Website and app are very easy and intuitive to use

Cons: -Branded as security camera, but not good for security
-Requires Internet connection to do anything
-Arlo website requires, and can potentially record, your WiFi password
-Various privacy & security concerns, involving both Arlo/Netgear and potential attackers
-Will not mix with any other camera model
-Nothing stopping them from becoming the monopoly over your home surveillance and increasing prices

Other Thoughts: Unboxing the Arlo was pleasant, and it was easy to mount. It feels solid enough that it’s not a big deal if your cat knocks it off the counter-top. The USB/Power cable is adequate length for most applications, and the camera can be powered from any USB port. The included AC adapter can provide 2 amps of power and seems to be good quality.

Setup process is simple, but appears to be done via the Arlo website regardless of if you use a PC or the App to do so. This website requires your WiFi password, which was very alarming to me. Being a security camera, that doesn't seem to be very security-minded. In addition, looking at the permissions on the app, I see it requires permissions for things such as Location, Phone Number & Call Information. Why would they need these?

There is no alternative process to set up the device such as device hotspot nor USB connection. If you’re not willing to give Arlo/Netgear your WiFi password, or stream your video via the Internet, this device is useless.

Once you provide your WiFi SSID and password, the app/website cleverly generates a QR code with your WiFi information. Simply point the camera to the QR code, and it will log into your WiFi.

But, right back to the alarming security concerns: the camera automatically connects to the Arlo website after it gets on WiFi, and Arlo/Netgear has immediate has access to the camera’s video feed before you even set up an account or agreed to the Privacy Policy! Registration only requires a weak password, but also requires a full name and security question. The email address you provide doesn’t even have to be validated. For access to something as private as a camera within your home, it’s very easy to make an insecure account. I find it very ironic that this clause is within their Privacy Policy, particularly considering the actions you must take to set up the camera:

"The Internet is not 100% secure. We cannot promise that your use of our sites will be completely safe. We encourage you to use caution when using the Internet. This includes not sharing your passwords. "

Next, you're presented with a few different payment plans, the "free" one being all the way to the right and unimpressive. Clicking that, you're presented with more purchase options to upgrade features, such as CVR. It’s abundantly clear they want more money from you, and they want it every month. The Arlo website does seem rather nice for managing multiple Arlo cameras, so long as you have Internet access and trust the Arlo website/Netgear with your personal details (and video stream). There’s no features to add cameras of other manufactures.

Both the website and app seem to have about 6 seconds of latency. I’m actually a bit surprised it’s not more, given that there’s no way to configure a shorter path for the signal to take. An Internet connection is required to view your cameras, and there doesn't seem to be any way to view your camera feed without it, even if you are sitting right next to your camera. This means the Internet bandwidth will be a potential bottleneck, it will bog down any other Internet applications you have going, and if your Internet is disconnected you're out of luck. I expected the WiFi to be a slight security risk, as anyone could simply jam your WiFi signal before they break into your home, but they don't even have to do that - they simply have to find any other way of disconnecting your Internet (such as the cable box outside). Or, they can simply gain access to the Arlo website via your login info/security question, or compromise your access to it, and you have no alternatives.

Is this a device I'd recommend to improve your home security. Definitely not! This, nor any Arlo product it seems, is what I'd call a "security" camera. The website may be secure enough to not make you an easy target so long as you do your part in securing your WiFi and picking good passwords, but if you're afraid of being explicitly targeted, then don’t use a “smart camera” such as this one.

If they didn't brand this as a security camera and advertise it as a security product, I'd probably give it 4 or 5 stars as it makes a really nice "smart camera". But, as much as I'm impressed with the hardware, and the innovative way of configuring it (I /really/ wish the app could generate the QR code offline!), I would strongly advise others to look elsewhere if they want true security from stalkers, burglars, or worse.

Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 Next Gen MU-MIMO Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Gigabit Router with Seamless Roaming (EA7500)
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

Pros: I'm quite happy with this router! It's solid in just about every way!

While unboxing this router, I was a bit surprised at the size of it. I think this is physically the largest one I've reviewed! But, it does have a solid build, and looks sleek. The antennas are removable with standard male TNC-RP connectors, but I'm not sure how using a 3rd party antenna would affect performance. The 12VDC 3Amp power adapter is also well built, and seems to provide relatively flat DC even when plugged direct into the wall – if this router goes bad, it's likely not the power adapter's fault.

Setup was a breeze, and secure. It's about as easy as any modern-day router can be, so I'd trust my grandma to do it. Especially if you're setting it up on a wired connection – no passwords required, and any page load takes you to the router first-time setup. Configuring over WiFi is easy, and still secure with a randomized password, included on the router itself and the pamphlet.

As for performance, I'm impressed. I have about 15 active devices on my network (11 of which are WiFi) including PCs, laptops, cameras, and smart-plugs, and they all have perfect connectivity all around the house and the cameras stream flawlessly. I've always had some connectivity outside my house, but on other routers I find when the signal is this low it just doesn't work. Whatever magic the EA7500's using, it works even on those “troublesome” signal strengths!

It's configured for automatic updates by default. This may be a red flag for some, but for better or worse, I think this is the best option. There's just as much chance of the router shipping with a security flaw as there is in a new update, but at least with automatic updates it'll be fixed in a timely manner.

The USB 3 port is a nice touch you see in a few other routers, and it works well, but I'm not expecting massive USB serial speeds from my router...

You can configure VLANs and static routers, as well as some other advanced functions! Though I'm finding this a lot on modern routers, thus I haven't really needed to flash anything with DD-WRT or OpenWRT these days because the features are already there!

Cons: -The Cat5e Ethernet cable it comes with is rather short (just over 2ft) and seems cheap. Not a big deal at all, but for this price-tag I'd expect something above the average.

-Guess access is on by default. Though it is password protected, I don't think most people are going to turn it off and it's just a wasted broadcast. If they wanted it, I'd imagine they'd want to change the password anyway and thus go through the configuration.

-The light on it is small, but noticeable in dark rooms. There's the option to disable lights on the device, but it only disables the flashing lights on the Ethernet ports. So close! Whip out the electrical tape if you don't like lights.

Other Thoughts: For what this router is marketed as, I think it checks all the boxes and then some. Would I recommend it? I'd definitely recommend this product to a friend who wants a high-end router, but doesn't know enough about them to do his own research (or miss features it doesn't have). If you want more features like VPN services, you gotta move away from the "home router" market.

TP-LINK HS110 (Energy Monitoring)  Smart Plug, Wi-Fi Enabled, Control Your electric equipment from Anywhere, Energy Saving
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

Pros: This was a very interesting device, and I'm quite happy I got it. It's definitely an item where you may not think you need it, but once you have, you're glad you have it. Set-up was really, really easy – I'd trust my mom to be able to do it on her own! Perhaps the most difficult step will be remembering your WiFi password, which it'll require to join your network.

It has a comprehensive set of features, including a programmable weekly schedule with more precision than I see on most thermostats, a timer (see cons), and away/vacation function where it'll turn the device on or off randomly to make it look like someone's home. It's very well laid out and organized. Everything about this was easy to set up and use, and that's quite impressive. You can even still use things manually, just by pressing the button on the top of the SmartPlug.

It even includes power monitoring, so you know exactly how much power your device is consuming. It provides near real-time wattage, and kw/h feedback.

It's a solid build, and I don't feel like this will ever defect on me. It also provides a grounding pin, and full 15amp load using a conventional relay (causing a quiet but noticeable “click” when activated). It looks good, and even the packaging was sleek.

Cons: The app requires 15MB on my Android device. Currently taking up 25MB. Really?! That seems bloated for the simple and primitive functions it performs. It may not seem like much to newer phones, but this can exclude many users, and I'm very suspicious of running into a problem of needing to keep your smartphone up to date just so you can turn the lights on. It looks like this “Kasa” app is meant to control all your TP Link devices, and thus will become larger as time goes on and older versions will likely be discontinued.

I can't be too mad at them making you create an account to use the remote capability, because there has to be a server for you to connect to remotely somewhere. And for simplicity of set-up, and avoiding the same settings you'd find in the advanced functions of your home router, I'd say that was the smart choice. However, me personally, I'd like the ability to turn the roaming (Internet vs WiFi based) function off completely and not be asked to create an account at all, or the ability to set up my own server (even if it's not on the Smart Plug itself, saving a $3 embedded microcontroller).

The timer functions via your phone/app, so if you terminate the app, power off your phone, or your phone otherwise loses communications with the Smart Plug, the timer will break. The schedule and away functions do not seem to be affected and seem to be saved locally to the Smart Plug.

The device covers up both sockets on a conventional wall outlet no matter how you plug it in. You cannot plug it in up-side-down due to the required grounding pin. It can be used on a power strip, but be prepared to sacrifice 2 or 3 other sockets to make room. They could have easily solved at least some of the problem by trimming off a centimeter from the bottom.

Other Thoughts: I wish there was an in-line version so you can control your ceiling lights/fans, porch/garage lights, or even water heater. I also wish there was an outlet replacement, particularly GFCI outdoor, so you can use it to control your pool pump/heater. The things I want to use it on the most just don't plug into an indoor wall outlet... But, it sure is nice being able to turn off the standing lamp /after/ I get in bed!


BRIAN W.'s Profile

Display Name: BRIAN W.

Date Joined: 06/15/04

  • Reviews: 53
  • Helpfulness: 25
  • First Review: 03/08/07
  • Last Review: 05/13/16
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