Netgear Arlo = bugs, bugs, and more bugs

Tea

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
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3,718
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27a No Fixed Address, Oz.
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www.redhill.net.au
#1
We bought a Netgear Arlo security camera system the other week.

The good news: the machinery is outstanding. Small, neat, beautifully engineered. Expensive, but I've never minded paying for class. Great battery life, very well thought out.

The bad news: the associated app and website aren't just bad, they are not even fit for purpose. Several times we have been on the point of sending the whole bloody lot back and starting again with something else. Some examples:

The website, incredibly, requires Flash to function correctly. Hello? Welcome to the 21st Century Arlo. FMD, there isn't even going to be any such thing as Flash as of next year - Adobe are finally junking it. But Arlo's spiffy new website uses Flash. (Yes, Arlo - AKA Netgear, AKA Cisco.)

The package we bought comes with a 12 month subscription included. There is a discount code you type in when you register on-line. It's on a card in the box the unit ships in. But it doesn't work. You type it in and the system rejects it. Every time. Eventually, Arlo support (getting on to them is a whole different horror story, see below) instructed me to do as follows: (1) Ignore the "free" 12 months I'd paid for. Instead, sign up for a free 30-day trial. Follow that process all the way through, including entering your credit card details. Finalise that account setup. Restart the app. Then, close the account you just set up. Then, open a new account, follow the same steps only this time paying for 12 months subscription. Finally, enter the discount code to get your $129 back. Farnarkle me! Mind you, the tech support guy wasn't able to describe all that in any sensible way up front, he had to stay on-line with me all the way through telling me what to do next at each step. What a massive waste of his time and mine.

This brings me to their tech support. No email. No web-based form, nothing except a "live chat" button. Press that, wait 20 minutes: nothing. Try again, wait another 15 minutes, then spend the half hour it took to register my system with their tech telling me what ridiculous things to do at each step. Total (including time wasted looking for the support email address or equivalent) about two hours. Blood pressure? Don't even ask.

Arlo has massive problems with notifications. When first installed, it used to go crazy, sending multiple notifications over and over again. Worse, the alert light on your phone (similar to the one that lights when you have a new SMS and your phone is in standby) stays on forever. No matter what. The only way to clear the alert light is to reboot the telephone.

Then they released a "bug fix" software update. Yep, it no longer spams you with multiple notifications, nor does the alert light stay on all day. They don't send any notifications at all. None whatever. No light at all either. What is the point of a security monitor app which doesn't actually tell you if there is an alarm? Ans: none. It is carp with a capital K. Is it just me? Nope. A quick web search results in page after page of people experiencing the same sort of frustrations. These issues go back years. They are seldom the same - Arlo, it seems, tries to fix each major notification system issue by breaking some other part of it and making a different problem, usually just as bad as the first one.

Lastly, speed. The system takes forever to get organised. On a fibre-optic connection with 100% reception, it still takes so long to wake up when you start the app that the phone screen often greys out before you can actually do anything (such as turn a camera on or off). Given my excellent connectivity at this end, this can only be server problems on Arlo's part.

It's a damn shame. The hardware is so good. The app looks good. It's sensibly designed and laid out. In fact, it does everything except actually work.
 

Clocker

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
3,540
Location
USA
#4
I have an Arlo system with 5 cams and a doorbell. Most of the stuff I got free as a beta tester (3 of the cams and the doorbell). I have 2 Arlo Pro cams, 3 regular Arlo cams, and the doorbell. I am not having any of the issues you describe other than occasionally the app is a little slow to load, but i am using my ancient Galaxy S6 phone. I am currently using a VMB4000 base station but also participated in Arlo/Orbi integration beta test where they integrated the Arlo functionality into the Orbi - getting rod of the need for the base station - (that I also did testing on). It worked great, but sadly when Arlo was sold off, they shelved the idea it seems.

To me it sounds like your Arlo system is having internet connectivity issues but that is just a guess on my part. Can you put the base station in a DMZ? My internet is just Xfinity 150/12 service. I do wish the batteries lasted longer though but I guess that depends on how much video you capture.
 

Tea

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
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27a No Fixed Address, Oz.
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www.redhill.net.au
#5
Cheers Clocker. No, I'm on NBN Fibre, the gold standard of connections.

After a lot more mucking about, Arlo still doesn't work. It's a disaster. It is now sending notifications again, but only sometimes, and they only work when you wake up your phone. And the can't-cancel bug is back. So I have to get out of bed to look at the phone just to see if my alarm has gone off. WTF? How hard can it be? Any other organisation on the planet sends an SMS - i.e., a message which reaches the recipient reliably in real time, works on any phone, and even works when you are out of proper mobile coverage. Why is this reliable, useful technology not an option?

I've been investigating email-to-SMS services. (Arlo can send emails, more-or-less.) Sadly, it looks as though you have to pay for them.

I reckon I'll have another go at getting hold of Arlo support, and then send the whole bloody lot back as not fit for purpose and claim a refund under consumer protection law.

Which will leave me looking for a security system which does work. Sigh.

PS: the base station attaches directly via LAN cable to the modem/router. Apart from my own router, it is the only thing attached to the modem/router.
 

Clocker

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
3,540
Location
USA
#6
Bummer it's not working for you. Its working great for me. Something to do with your geographic location maybe?
 

Clocker

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
3,540
Location
USA
#8
Lol! I was thinking maybe there could be some connectivity issues between Oz and wherever the Arlo servers are, but you never know, the situation is shitty, so maybe the Corilois factor is in effect! It'd be interesting to see some stats on the connection (trace route, ping, stability) nonetheless Other that that, I can't explain the difference in experience. Perhaps a bad base station or it may need a firmware update. Firmware updates have happened several times. If the connectivity is good and firmware is the latest I guess I'd see if I could try a different base station. I believe I have one and I could send it for only the cost of shipping. I have to dig through my box of stuff.
 

DrunkenBastard

Storage is cool
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
643
Location
on the floor
#10
My understanding from perusing various Arlo cam reviews is that due to the limitations of battery power, the response time/frame rate for an event capture is less than ideal for their batt powered units.

Also great to see Clocker and Tea after long time no see! Welcome back!
 
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