COMPARISON: NETGEAR Arlo Q vs Nest Cam vs Logi Circle vs Samsung SmartHD vs D-Link DCS-2630L

Picking the right wifi smart camera for your home can be an overwhelming shopping experience.  These days it seems there are just too many options, and too much to consider!  Lucky for you, this blog exists for folks like you.  We’re here to take the guess-work out of your decision, by testing the latest & greatest device, and then giving you our unbiased opinion. In this review we’re pitting some new comers and some old favorites in our latest wifi smart camera comparison!

For those of you who have visited the blog before, you may have seen the recent Wireless Camera Comparison article.  In that test we liked the Logi Circle quite a bit, and felt it was one of if not the best new comer to this already crowded segment at that time.  Since it can be easily ran in a wired state it made sense to compare here, against other wired cameras.

Avid readers of this site also know by now that we’ve always pinned the Nest Cam to the top of our favorites list.  It is the personal top-pick of contributing editor Holly, and I’m equally apt to suggest it to friends and family alike.  It just works, proving to be a stable device with a strong eco-system, so it is also included here.  From there we went on to add some new hardware, which is what makes this new blog post exciting!

While I have always loved my Arlo devices, their wireless devices lack full HD 1080 video, as well as any microphone/audio support.  Enter the new Arlo Q as NEGEAR’s answer to those two items.  It boasts 1080p HD video, 2-way audio support, 24/7 recording options, and more.  Where the Nest and Logi have $199 retail values, the Arlo Q is similar at $219 suggested retail value.  This device just came out at the start of 2016 and we’ve finally tested it long enough to share our proper results.

Sidebar: As with all of the hardware tested by myself and/or Holly on this site, devices tested are items we paid for using our own money.  We do not accept free or subsidized contributions.  This allows us to provide you our thoughts without being tainted by someone else’s dollar.  What you’ll get here is always honest to goodness feedback, with nothing held back.

Another fairly new camera to the market is the D-Link DCS-2630L, which most of you should notice looks remarkably similar to the Nest.  Coincidence? We think not.  It too offers 2-way audio and 1080 video recording, and while it retails a bit higher than the others at $249, it seems to have been on sale for $179 at Amazon since it was released.  This makes it a very competitive option in this crowd based on initial specifications.

Lastly, we decided to throw in the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro for good measure.  It has all the same features as the prior devices listed such as 2-way audio, 1080 video, and 24/7 recording options.  Like the D-Link unit, it has a higher suggested retail price, but is actually permanently available at much lower costs via Amazon and other sites.  And this unit boasts compatibility directly with the Samsung SmartThings hub, making it potentially attractive to a certain subset of buyers.

So there you have it, five similarly priced, similarly spec’d products.  Let’s take a closer look at each one, one at a time, as we examine their ease of setup, smart phone app, and unique features.  We’ll finish with our overall impressions and suggestions at the end, but you’ll soon find out that while they have lots in common, they also all differ in some key aspects.  Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Logi Circle

Some of the photos above are from the Logitech Circle comparison post we recently conducted, but you’ll find in the gallery above a sample photo of Holly’s house to compare to the other cameras below, too.  As with ALL of the photos I’ve included in this blog post, they are just samples.  Capturing them on the phone screen was easiest for sharing here, but we’ve done our best to provide feedback that will do better justice to their quality.

We won’t spend too much time reviewing this unit again, and will focus more on how it compares to the others we include there. Again, see the original comparison article for more details on the Logi Circle.

Setup of the Logi Circle was the easiest of this entire group, so if you like a lot of pictures to help you along, get this one.  That isn’t to say the others are difficult to setup, but where the Nest Cam was the gold standard prior, the Logi matches it, and perhaps even bests it slightly for simplicity.  But as with the prior review, this camera is also one of the simplest in feature-set too.  Less features, less complexity.  For some the limited functionality will be welcome, for others that might make it too sparse.

Although the hardware is the smallest of this bunch, making it dinky looking, it boasts a nice 135-degree field of view, with a pivoting up/down head that can truly capture whatever angle you want.  And with the magnetic base this unit has plenty of mounting options.

One major difference between the Logi Circle and all of the other devices we tested here is the fact that it can be used wirelessly.  Although the longevity of battery life in this mode was paltry (rated 3 hours, we found it to be even less), it still may serve a purpose for some users to have this ability.  All the other cameras in this test were wired only, all the time.  If you need a wireless device from time-to-time around your home or small business, this works great though there are other wireless options in the other comparison article recently posted.

Another difference about this camera is that it only records in 720 versus the higher resolution 1080 of the other four units here.  But while you might get a few less pixels in your view with the Logi Circle, the quality of the video is superb, besting for example the D-Link we test later in this review.  And when it came down to night vision, the Logi Circle was tied for best with the Nest Cam, offering adequate depth of view and crispness in low-light conditions.

As with our prior test, one of our favorite features with the Logi Circle is their Day Brief view.  It shows you a 30-second recap of the activity of that day, and is a great way to see your family members or pets as they came and went within the field of view of the device.  The notifications for sound or movement were perfect, never too many or too few, and the audio quality for 2-way communication was also one of the best here.  Overall there wasn’t much to dislike with the Logi Circle camera.

But in the end the Logi Circle isn’t the only game in town, so we wanted to see how the others compared.  And though the Logi does a good job as a basic device, it surely lacks some of the deeper rich features you can configure when it comes to “security” in mind.

Logitech touts this device as a portable video monitoring camera, and for that it does just great. But they only give you 24-hours of cloud storage free, with no option to record for longer periods of time should you need it.  So if you’re headed out on a week long vacation and might not be able to check the videos each day, this could be a huge limit for folks.

We like the Logi Circle as an entry level, easy-to-use device, but as you’ll see in the other devices below, those wanting more granular control and deeper security will want to check out other options.  Or if you need more recording options (cloud or local), you’ll want to keep shopping.

Nest Cam

We’ve tested the Nest Cam so much lately that we didn’t want to throw the same old photos at you.  For more photos and thoughts about the Nest Cam, be sure to check out THIS REIVEW, or even go back to THIS OLDIE!   You’ll see more screen shots in those two articles that showcase the user interface and such.

These photos above will have various time-stamps to use as a side-by-side of the other testing we did, though more so they give you examples of various lighting condition.  Though we did much of our testing during darker periods where you can truly see the Nest’s great performance, daytime and natural light performed equally flawless.

Meanwhile, here are our latest thoughts…

Even as new products come to market, the Nest Cam continues to hold its own against these other gadgets.  We found the Nest’s night visit capabilities in low light to still be one of the most crisp here, with the Logitech unit being the only equivalent as far as lack of grain in the image.  Additionally, the Nest Cam and the Logitech were the only two with easy ability to turn them on/off on demand, where others lacked this feature, or buried it deep into a menu.

Furthermore, video quality on the Nest Cam is one of the top units here, with less fish-eye affect than most of the others.  Admittedly that is due to the wider view angle the newer devices offer, but we felt some of them added more width by sacrificing overall image squareness.

We also continue to love the easy setup of the Nest Cam, which was second only to the Logitech.  Equally so, navigating their application was easy, and changing settings such as sensitivity to sound or motion were equally simple.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy the Nest Cam devices, which like the Logitech are great for newcomers or general users.

Holly & I discussed the features that might interest someone purchasing these devices and we felt three key factors play into the best camera.  First is cost of ownership, second was simplicity vs complexity (ease of use/setup), and thirdly was configurability.  In truth the last two go hand-in-hand, such that devices with too much customizability also often tend to be overly difficult to setup or maintain.

At the moment then the Nest Cam sits squarely in the middle of the bunch here, offering more “security” than the Logitech, but at a higher cost and lower depth of options from some of the others below.  You can configure more options with the NETGEAR (see next section), but that also makes the app a bit more complex for a new user.  Nest also lacks any sort of local recording options like the D-Link or Samsung offer via SD card slots.

Sidebar: When it comes to local video recording for home security there are even more options beyond the wifi items you see here.  There is an entire segment of IP cameras for local video recording, which is one area this blog has not yet delved into.  As a personal fan of the Synology brand, you might want to start with something like a Synology Network Video Recorder to enter into that realm! Just keep in mind that if you do buy a local video recording station you’ll need to acquire cameras that are compatible with the NVR that you purchase. 

As you compare all five of the other units here, consider this: if you’re willing to pay $10 per camera per month, the Nest Cam platform provides a very user-friendly interface that is both simple yet feature-rich.  With that subscription you don’t just get cloud recording, you also add deeper configuration options, such as configurable alert zones within the field of view, less false alerts using their Nest Aware algorithms, and other goodies like their Time-lapse view.  It may not be the cheapest option of this bunch, but the Nest Cam is still one we truly feel is worth considering at this time.

Cloud recording with the Nest Cam gives you remote access 24/7 to your dwelling or business, and you can go back 10-days at the base $10 monthly price point.  Triple the cost and you’ll get triple the storage (30-days).  Our biggest gripe here is that this becomes costly, quickly.  In comparison, the Arlo camera also costs $10 monthly for continuous video recording (CVR) but gives you 14-days instead of 10.  But more importantly, there is a free option with the Arlo that we’ll talk about in the next section that we think most users will prefer.  When you compare free-versus-free, the Nest falls just a little short compared to Arlo.

We love the sleek style of the Nest Cam device, which is versatile enough to mount anywhere.  We’ve even been using one outdoors with a 3rd party outdoor enclosure and have had great results there, even though it isn’t rated for outdoors by Nest.  If you want to bridge the gap between simple and secure, the Nest Cam is a winner.  But it isn’t the perfect option for everyone, as you’ll see in our final thoughts section.

One last thing to keep in mind wth Nest: they have more third party integrations than any other device in this list.  That means that you can set your camera to start recording after an IFTTT trigger, or similar.  Check our this Works With Nest page just to see how far down that rabbit hole goes.  That alone makes the Nest a great option still versus the others trying to steal their market share.

NETGEAR Arlo Q

A few months ago I acquired a 100% Wire-Free Arlo Smart Home Security Camera System with some of their wireless cameras and did a quick look blog post.  Shortly after that was the wireless camera comparison post, where my personal needs for outdoor mounting gave the NETGEAR Arlo devices my top pick, and the Logi Circle my second best (ideal for indoor use).  Since then I’ve been loving those little devices, but both the Arlo Wireless and the Logi Circle lack 1080 video, or any sort of audio recording.

With their recent release of the new Arlo Q wired camera you get all of those missing features, and more!  Right off the bat we noticed this unit isn’t following the mold of the other devices on the market, by taking a rather aggressive but overall stunning visual approach to the design of the camera.  It isn’t huge, but it is a bit bigger than the wireless cousins they offer.  The white/silver device is a nice size and style, feeling solid in construction and build quality.  It has a metal neck, which extends into the base, providing a rigid unit with full 360-rotating head access to any direction you may need.

Setup of the Arlo Q was easy, again offering a different approach than other devices.  You hold up a QR code (that shows up on your smart phone) in front of the camera, and it uses that code as part of the configuration process- quite slick!  Be aware that when editor Holly setup this camera at her home she realized she had a prior NETGEAR account, and had to wait for an email to reset her password to get the ball rolling.  If you already have setup NETGEAR devices in the past, try to know your login credentials ahead of time to help you along the process.  My setup (Ari) was as a first-time NEGEAR user, so things went quite a bit more smoothly than they did for Holly.

After you’ve setup the Arlo Q camera it comes with two default modes: Armed, and Disarmed.  The former will provide notifications for any motion/sound detection, the latter does not.  But you’re not limited to just these settings by any means.  Where the Arlo Q begins to differ from Nest or others here is the granular level in which you can configure settings, alerts, modes, zones, and so forth.  For the power user, you’l love it; for the timid newcomer, the Arlo Q is decidedly overkill, and perhaps a bit daunting.

For example, there is no need to set your Arlo Q camera’s motion sensitivity globally, because you can set this for each specific mode.  Let’s say you have periods of time where you are at home, but you are exercising in your basement.  Maybe you want the camera in your family room on during that time, but with no sound sensitivity so the TV you’re watching down there doesn’t set it off.  Or perhaps you want the camera that faces your front door to be more sensitive overnight when you’re asleep, but less during the day when your dog might set it off.  For all these examples you can create modes for those time periods or occasions, and then specifically set each camera to behave in the fashion you want during those times of day.  Then you setup a schedule, or switch between these modes manually, when you see fit.  Many users will create Home, Away, Sleeping, Vacation, or other modes accordingly, for these and other reasons.

What we found is that having this many tiers of controls was great for the type of person who wants to sit there for an hour or two and really contemplate their home, their security needs, and all of those details.  But we don’t think most users will want to go that route.  Most folks who acquire the Arlo Q will be happiest to simply use the built in schedule to tell the device when they’re usually home or away, and let the device switch into Armed or Disarmed modes accordingly.  From there you can still adjust how the Armed mode works to your liking, playing with things like sensitivity to sound or motion. One missing feature right now is geofencing, allowing your arrival to your home or office to trigger the system’s modes.  Hopefully Netgear adds this in the future.

Edit/Update: You CAN set a schedule with the Nest, I stand corrected on that- but only 32 instances per week, and you can’t group this by camera.  This will make scheduling a lot more difficult on the Nest versus the Arlo when you have many cameras to deal with, though for a user looking for simplicity, the Nest is satisfactory.

As with any device of this nature, the more time you spend up front learning about the device and configuring it, the better your long-term experience is going to be.  Still, the Arlo Q is a mixed bag of pros and cons, though we overall felt there are more pros than cons if you invest your time right.  Night vision quality was similar to the Nest, though maybe slightly more grainy when the infrared mode is active.  And with the Arlo Q you don’t open the app to a live feed, but instead have to call up that camera and wait a few seconds for it to load.  But you can record on-demand which most other devices here don’t offer.  You can even snap still frame photos on the fly, or adjust the brightness too.

Speaking of recording video, with the NETGEAR Arlo Q you get an impressive 7-days of recording for FREE!  When you compare that to the others here, that is what sets the Arlo Q apart from the rest.  No other device that we’ve tested in this segment offers as much free storage!  With the free tier you also have the ability to create motion zones, something the Nest does but only if you pay for their Nest Aware plans.

It is definitely worth mentioning that the Arlo Q‘s free tier only saves recorded clips that are triggered by sound or motion.  If you want continuous recording you’ll have to spend $10 per month, per camera, just like the Nest.  In this way the NETGEAR Arlo Q is the best FREE option for cloud storage, and when you upgrade to the CVR plan it is tied with the Nest Cam in pricing and features.  Most users will probably opt for the free tier, giving the Arlo a nice advantage at the same “free” price point for the Nest.

Looking back then, we felt the Logi Circle is good for a camera, but with only 24-hour review it wasn’t ideal for creating secure footage.  From there the Nest adds more features and security, but has no free cloud recording options.  Here, the Arlo Q builds on both of those with an amazing FREE cloud service, and extremely deep configurability.  And if you want 30-days of recording, NETGEAR offers that longer storage cloud option just like the nest.  But for the Arlo Q it is $20, making it $10 cheaper than the Nest at that tier.

We didn’t like having to tap the LIVE button to pull up the feed on the Arlo Q, which does take a second longer to start up video than the Nest cam.  But we do love that NETGEAR has a specific ARLO page on their site, which mimics the phone app.  From there you can do virtually all the same things as your phone, giving you a great web portal.  You can also easily share your cameras with others (like Nest), for friends or family members to help keep an eye on things for you.  This is similar to the Nest “home” page which offers the same level of quality and support.

Overall then we love the Arlo Q from NETGEAR, but feel some entry level users, or people looking for a quicker set-and-forget experience, might find it a bit too complex.  On the flip side, we adore their interface overall, even if it takes a little to learn all the granular controls, and can’t praise enough their amazing free cloud storage option.  But what if you want local storage? Keep reading!

Samsung SmartCam HD Pro

Immediately looking at the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, you can tell that this one is different from the others.  It has a very different shape and makeup to it.  It is admittedly a little plasticky and cheap looking. It is very light-weight compared to the others, and appears to have little to no metal parts on or in it. The head can swivel up and down, left and right, but it doesn’t seem to swivel 360-degrees on the stationary foundation/base.  This was not a big deal for our testing, but for someone who plans to mount it permanently, make sure to note the range of motion of the head where you may need to mount it.

The setup was equally different from the other cameras, taking significantly longer and containing far more steps. The Samsung SmartCam camera comes with an ethernet port so you can hook it up directly to your router, which at first seemed to perhaps be the only option.  It wasn’t until we downloaded the smart phone app that we realized it allowed for wireless setup.  During setup you have the ability to create a unique password for each camera device that you setup.  This allows you to have multiple cameras available, but password protect each of them.  Samsung also has an Micro SD card slot for local storage, which is great for users who don’t want their private video data shooting across the cloud.

We found the interface of their app to feel a bit dated, but the video quality made up for it.  During natural daylight the Samsung SmartCam actually exhibits some of the best video quality of this bunch!  It was also easy to quickly change settings like sensitivity and such, making it similar to the Nest in ease, and not quite as overly complex as the Arlo.  However, even with those adjustments, we still got excessive notifications, even quicker than Arlo was by default.  Therefore this may be a device that would be better suited to a place that sees less activity or is very quiet otherwise.  We were unable to trim the alerts to a reasonable level during our testing, due to our pets.

When it came to 2-way audio quality all of these devices were good, but not all of them were as fast as one another.  Where some of them lagged during 2-way audio conversations, we have been very impressed with the low latency of the Samsung.  It is the fastest out of all the devices that I’ve seen.  For example, Holly tested it and found that if she said something, half a second later it could be heard through her smart phone during testing.  With Nest, that can take up to two seconds sometimes (though it’s usually only about a second) which was about comparable with the Arlo.  Low lag is nice if you’re going to use the 2-way chat feature a lot with your Samsung SmartCam.

As I said before, when the resolution is set to the higher mode, it’s crisp and clear.  Drop down the settings to low resolution however and while it isn’t horrible, there is a change for the worse.  Also, images have a little bit of a fisheye at the edges as opposed to others, but nothing very noticeable and overall on-par with the Alro.  Where things take a turn for the worse with the Samsung SmartCam is in night-vision mode in the dark.  Where the Nest almost looks like there’s a bright light shining in the room, the Samsung is considerably darker.  It’s not horrible though, as you can still see items, but just not as clearly as the others.  This may prove important for security purposes, so if low-light is a concern, the Samsung might be worth avoiding.

We found no easy way to turn on/off the camera remotely.  And there is no way on the Samsung SmartCam to set modes like the Arlo offers, making it more akin to the Nest in overall user experience.  As you can see in the various screen shots above, the Samsung offers some controls and settings, but it hardly the most feature-rich of the bunch.  We feel two things will sway people to this specific device: the local SD card storage, and the fact that it integrates with the the Samsung SmartThings ecosystem.  As we didn’t test the SD card, we’ll jump right into SmartThings.  We’ll talk again about the storage on this unit in the closing section.

When it came to smart hub integration, it took Holly a couple of times to even get the SmartThings hub to find the Samsung SmartCam.  But even then after she went through all of the setup questions, it still ended with an error.  After three unsuccessfully attempts we never actually got our SmartThings hub to recognize the camera.  I’m sure other people will post in the comments below that they have a camera linked to their the SmartThings hub, but sadly for us, this just never came to fruition.  There are other cameras that work with the hub so perhaps this one just isn’t the best option there.  We would have liked to do more testing in this arena too, but our results were poor.  Sorry!

Despite that, though, some people really want security and privacy measures, and the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro definitely has it. Between the SD card for local video capturing storage, two levels of password protection, the option to password protect each camera, and local image encryption, this device ensures that your video is very safe from being stolen!  It may be worth a bit of the bug encounters for this kind of privacy!  It wasn’t our favorite device, but maybe it will be yours?

D-Link DCS-2630L

HUGE!  That would be the first word you’ll use to describe this device when you unpackage it.  Not only is the style & design a blatant ripoff of the Nest Cam, the D-Link DCS-2630L is just considerably larger than the others in this review.  If discreet is your goal, this probably isn’t the device to get.  It can tilt up/down and the head swivels, but that is about it for flexibility.  It is a sturdy device, but it seems unnecessarily large.

Setup here was again different from the bunch, this one requiring a press of the WPS button on your router to complete the task at hand.  There are enough on-screen prompts and tutorials to get you through the process, making all of these devices easy to handle.  We’d rank setup of the D-Link as being not quite Logi/Nest levels of simplicity, but still easy enough for even the most entry-level of user.

Our initial reaction to the video was a chuckle at the overlay date/time stamp, which reminded us of closed-circuit recording from decades ago.  Still, having this feature might be nice, and for someone using this to monitor a small business that feature might have merit.  Buttons overlaying the display provide you adjustments, and the ability to initial 2-way ago which again mimics what all the cameras reviewed here can do.

Of all the devices we tested this was the only one where the video feed doesn’t fill the screen entirely.  It also exhibited the worst fish-eye effect of the bunch.  This is undoubtedly due to the 180-degree field of vision that the D-Link offers, the widest angle of the devices we tested here.  Still, we found the video feed quality underwhelming, even in the higher 1080 resolution.  Perhaps this is due to the 180-vision, but we weren’t impressed.  We’d rank the overall images from this unit at the bottom of this bunch, and would say they were adequate, but just mediocre.

One thing we loved is the way in which audio sensitivity adjustments were made (see photos above).  In real-time you could see the adjustment and how it fell into on/off notifications for that sound level.  This made it far easier to trim in your specific needs when compared to the other units, where a slider was a bit of guess work and trial/error.

Additionally, the D-Link has an amazing circle of IR light, and boy does it work!  We felt it certainly matched or bested even our coveted Nest in it’s ability to see in low or no light.  The Nest Cam provides a clearer video image, but farther away it gets darker quicker.  With the D-Link this thing can definitely see more impressively at farther distances in low/no light, but not as crisply.

Users needing a wide-angle of view, or long-distance night vision, the D-Link is a great option.  However, as we’ll cover in the final section, it probably isn’t our top pick today.  It does offer local SD card storage recording, but no cloud options.  And it just felt too big and bulky in a world where security cameras should be small and hidden.

And the winner is….

All five of the cameras we tested here have the same core features: wired connectivity, fairly wide view angles, multiple mounting options, indoor use, 2-way audio communication, and HD video recording.  From there, however, key differences help push specific devices to the forefront for each individual users.  Allow us to elaborate, and help you pick the right one for your application.

Simplicity helps make the Logi Circle an obvious choice for someone who perhaps needs just a single or small set of cameras, and with limited security features.  Sure, you’ll get 24-hours of free cloud storage, and you can get alerts from the device, but the Logi Circle comes across more like a “family/home” camera more than as a device that will truly protect your home or small business.  It is easy to setup, can be used for small periods of time wirelessly, and is the most compact one here.  We like it for a basic, simple device.  Users who might desire deeper security features, however, should consider the other options below.

From there the Nest Cam is the next step up, offering again a very easy setup and interface, but adding a bit more security to the mix.  However, no cloud storage makes the Nest harder to suggest in today’s market.  You can get 24/7 recording, but it gets expensive quickly.  Still, the Nest Cam is easy to use, nice for monitoring both casually and aggressively in a secure environment.  And the Works with Nest family keeps growing, so we’re apt to still suggest this unit heavily for integrations with 3rd parties.  But between the Nest Cam and Logi Circle, we might start to favor the Logi just for the free cloud features.

Logically then the next step up would be any of the three remaining cameras.  However, the Samsung SmartCam has no cloud recording options.  That will limit it right there to users who are okay with local storage only, or perhaps want it because of SmartThings smart home integrations.  Still, the lack of cloud storage in a world where that is becoming more the norm makes us drop the Samsung SmartCam to the bottom of our list immediately.  Samsung themselves offers no recording options beyond the SD card slot, but there are recording boxes that you could install locally for a one-time cost to record your video footage.  We’re not against these options, but feel casual users won’t be as willing to take the time to go this route.

When it comes to the D-Link DCS-2630L camera, there is again no cloud recording option.  However, instead of being limited to just the SD card internally, they actually offer their own recording box options such as the D-Link Camera Video Recorder device or similar.  For some people this might seem like a bit of a hassle, and indeed we feel adding more hardware makes this far too complex and not quite plug-and-play for most folks.  However, with that type of a device or a Synology Network Video Recorder, you can spend as much as you want to have as much storage as you need.  For users who need LOTS of cameras and want to avoid monthly costs, we like the D-Link DCS-2630L camera as much as we liked the Samsung.  But we see this device and local recording as quickly becoming a thing of the past, and that becomes apparent with our final camera below.  Businesses might want an NVR-setup, but the audience for the blog here are home owners, who we don’t truly believe will find the D-Link or Samsung in their best interest.

Last but not least then is the Arlo Q from NETGEAR.  Where Holly’s top pick from our testing here were the Logitech and Nest devices thanks to their ease of use and simplicity, my (Ari) personal favorite is the Arlo Q.  With a full week of free recording, and many options beyond that which still end up being cheaper than the Nest, I found the Arlo Q a superb option.  It tends to be more ideal for a power user, however, or someone who wants precise controls or very secure recording.  Add the fact that NETGEAR offers their Wire-Free Arlo Smart Home Security Camera System and you can create a fully inclusive indoor/outdoor system all within a single ecosystem.  But again, you’ll get out of the security cameras what you put into it, so expect to need a bit more time to learn the Arlo feature set, if you want to truly tailor it to meet your needs and expectations.

In the end our top three choices are: the truly adorable Logi Circle camera, for simplicity and 24-hour free cloud storage; the still quite impressive Nest Cam for those wanting third-party integrations and a robust ecosystem; or the Arlo Q from NETGEAR for the more aggressive user wanting truly granular controls.  From the beginner to the advanced user, all three provide options that are sure to fulfill your security / video monitoring needs!

Did you purchase one of these devices recently?  Do you have questions before you pull the trigger?  Sound off below in the comments, ask questions, or tell us about your experiences! 

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Published by

Ari Jay Comet

Sharing my life experiences. Interacting with technology. Digital self-expression. Binary is black, white, and many shades of grey.

47 thoughts on “COMPARISON: NETGEAR Arlo Q vs Nest Cam vs Logi Circle vs Samsung SmartHD vs D-Link DCS-2630L”

    1. If you want a device that really does a great job, and includes air monitoring too, get:

      Withings Home Baby Bundle
      http://amzn.to/21AlVMW

      If you want one that integrates with other devices and has good reliability:

      Nest Cam
      http://amzn.to/21Am4QL

      And if you need wireless/portability on occasion, then I’d pick the:

      LOGI Cam
      http://amzn.to/1RbyVRX

      Overall I like them all for slightly difference reasons. But for baby monitoring I’d probably take the LOGI or the Withings as top picks.

      1. Thanks for the reply. The Arlo baby definitely looks cute, but we have the original Arlo system and I loathe that the feed isn’t live when you open the app. Because of this, we’re leaning towards the Nest but I should probably spend some time looking at a few of the lesser known brands that you reviewed above.

  1. This review was awesome. Cameras I didn’t know about, tested all the functions, covered the practical side of the monthly cost, good detail on what it’s like to be an owner that had to part with cash. Two questions, any pics of the cables and installation provisions, and what are each like when you want to view your cameras from outside the wifi network? Thanks!

    1. Each gallery of photos shows the corresponding included hardware. Most of these units are primarily meant to be placed on a shelf, but all of them are able to mounted on a wall or ceiling, using included screws/anchors. It would be as simple as marking a few holes, drilling, and installing. I would estimate 15-30 minutes per camera to install in a more permanent location.

      Some of them have bulkier power cables than others, again as photographed. Review the first photo in each gallery to see the camera next to its included hardware to answer your question there. As for remote access, they all had this capability as I can recall, and worked nicely in that regard. Some were marginally faster than others, with the Nest and Arlo getting the highest marks during our testing for overall app experience, local or remote. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks I see them. Sorry for overlooking them. I came here via google image search, wanted to see the back of Arlo Q them got stuck in to the article. For remote access, on Arlo, did you need to register with a DNS server, use Static IP on the hub and set up a firewall port forward? I always find this annoying and clunky and needing reconstruction months down the line. Thanks!

      2. Arlo uses their own cloud service for remote access. You don’t need to do a thing fancy on router. It was plug and play. You’re not accessing direct but via their cloud service back over. It just works! Thanks for reading the site have a great day!

  2. Thanks for the informative review. I would like to give one of these cameras a shot but my requirements are:

    1. POE
    2. Local Storage via SD Card + Free Cloud Solution (could be 1 day)
    3. Day/Night
    4. Indoor/Outdoor

    The Arlo Q requires power to be run to it but the Arlo Q Plus is POE and appears to have all these boxes checked (is it indoor/outdoor?). Reasonable to assume this is the same camera plus PoE as the Arlo Q?

    1. I’ve never heard of the Arlo Q Plus, honestly. I have not had much time lately to review new hardware in this segment. Home security and cameras have been of much personal interest hence no blog posts about such. But I would suggest contacting Netgear for this matter. They have great support!!

  3. Thanks for the thorough review.

    Question: I’d like to aim the camera through a window to the outdoors. Is this a feasible application? I don’t recall mention of IR, but I assume that is the manner in which night views work for all of these cameras and that it is possible window glass could pose distortion issues should motion be detected and the camera tries to record. If so, can IR be turned off and some night vision still be possible? I suppose I could use a motion detecting light outside without IR. Anyway, your thoughts will be helpful.

    1. If you are wanting to record activity outside, my #1 top pick there is the Arlo Wireless device set. They are the best outdoor, weather proof devices for such a task. You can find two reviews I’ve done that include those devices here:

      https://arijaycomet.com/2015/11/17/quick-look-arlo-smart-home-security-camera-system-indooroutdoor/
      and
      https://arijaycomet.com/2015/12/02/logitech-circle-versus-withings-home-versus-arlo-wireless-camera-comparison/

      If you are looking to purchase the Arlo wireless device, check out here: http://amzn.to/24IklZf

      There are no other great options to achieve what you want because, indeed, the night vision requires the IR and hence would reflect off the glass. I would say that many of the devices will let you turn off that feature, but I’ve never tested it in these exact scenarios. I’d fear that with it turned off it would never quite adjust enough for the low light, or may still somehow reflect from glass, but again no experience, so I cannot say for sure.

      Other options do exist, such as 3rd party housings for cameras (like Nest) that allow out-door install. However, overall, my suggestion would be the Arlo wireless devices for your needs. Hope this helps!

  4. I want to purchase one of the above mentioned cameras specifically to be able to see my elderly parent who lives alone. The most important feature for me is that I can log in any time day or night and see if they are ok, that we can speak to each other and that there is no lag time in the actual action and what I am seeing. Which product would you recommend?

    1. Lag time really depends on the speed of your internet connection, not so much the quality of the camera. All of these devices will keep up just fine, but again, you need fast enough internet at both ends of the connection to maintain a smooth video feed.

      That being said, ANY of these cameras offer the feature set that you want. My personal pick is the ARLO from NETGEAR just because the recording is free and ample for most users. However, the NEST Cam is a good option, too. Logitech’s LOGI isn’t bad, though it definitely comes in 3rd behind the ARLO/NEST options.

      ARLO Q:
      http://amzn.to/2cQCW1l

      NEST CAM:
      http://amzn.to/2cECzJZ

  5. Thank you for a very thoughtful and detailed review. One criticism I’ve seen of the Logitech Circle is that you cannot access the camera remotely (say from your smartphone to get a live feed from your camera at home) if Logitech’s servers are down. Do you know if this is correct, and if so is this a design that is different from other cameras? I’ve used Dlink cameras before and I didn’t think there was any reliance on Dlink servers to access the cameras from the internet – had always assumed the app simply handled the ip address of the camera and made the connection for you, but didn’t pass the information/data via their servers. If that’s right, isn’t this dependency on Logitech’s servers something of an additional potential problem?

    1. My understanding of how all of these cameras work is that they ALL connect to the provider’s cloud, to advise said cloud of their current IP Address. That is important because not everyone’s home connection is a Static IP. Because of this, it would be my understanding that if ANY cloud goes down (D-Link, Netgear, Logitech, even the coveted Nest now owned be Google), then in ALL instances, the same results (no connectivity) would occur. This is not an issue isolated to Logitech. However, if you had connected to said camera in the past, perhaps it would remember that location. AND, if they are using DDNS (Dynamic DNS), there is a chance that the IP address is stored somewhere other than their cloud, so that even if their servers are down, you could still hit it. What level of redundancy is built into each of these competing systems, however, I’m really not sure — you’d want to solicit each mfg and ask them that question, to see what protocols they each have in place, to allow remote access during cloud outages. Let us know if you learn more!

  6. Hi and thanks so much for the thorough reviews! I had a trail camera outside by the garage to get some pics of the critters that come around. I love the idea of phone notifications and being able to see the pics or videos without going to the camera and swapping out sd cards. It should also be wireless for the signal. I like the idea of the ARLO since I wouldn’t have to run an extension cord, but a cord is possible as the camera would be very close to the garage.

    1. What would you recommend?
    2. Do the camera have controls so that you can control where they are aimed from your phone or computer?
    Thanks!

    1. Yes I would highly recommend the ARLO for your needs– it would be perfect for that type of application. Check out the newer ARLO Pro option — I will include a link below for you:

      http://amzn.to/2fHx1gp

      As for controlling aim (PTZ cameras) I’m not aware of any that are wireless that offer those features, at least none that I’ve tested that are affordable and popular. However, the ARLO cameras have a great wide angle so you might not need/want that anyhow. Hope this data helps! – Ari

  7. Hey, I just bought the Arlo Model no. vms3330c, which is no cord, no wires. I like everything as HD security camera except the poor battery life. They recommend not to use rechargeable battery. each battery cost at least $1.40, have to buy 4 for one camera every time. seem like the battery wont last a month. I have three camera in the package. It will cost me at least $16 to $20 every month for the battery. Any idea can help me out??

    1. Hai, thank you for reaching out. I’m not really sure what model the VMS3330C are in this case— but I did find some support articles on the ARLO page:

      https://community.netgear.com/t5/Arlo-Knowledge-Base/What-should-I-do-if-the-batteries-in-my-Arlo-cameras-are/ta-p/473

      and

      https://community.netgear.com/t5/Arlo-Knowledge-Base/Arlo-displays-the-message-Camera-needs-new-batteries-after-I/ta-p/1179527

      However- you may want to reach out to NETGEAR and see what other data they can offer. Though it does also sound like you’ve been working with them, already.

      One thing I can offer to suggest is that you consider the weather. Cold weather will kill battery life. I would see 3-4 months in summer, and only a single month when the temps were below freezing. That is for my outdoor camera. My indoor cameras can get 6 months inside with moderate temps.

      Here are the batteries that I use:
      http://amzn.to/2iZ2VqN

      Good luck!!

  8. Just bought the 6 Arlo Q’s and was disappointed that I could not add all 6 cameras to one account. The verbiage on the box does not mention this limitation. Was also disappointed that it does not record 24/7 for the 7 days of recording that they include. Also wish they had a time lapse playback like the LogiCircle. I feel that it’s marketing is misleading in that it is cheaper than the nest when it comes to the paid services as it actually comes out to be more money. While the nest is very specific about their fees up front, the netgear Arlo is not and you only start to realize the fees for your whole system as you go through the account upgrade process step by step. That said, overall video and audio quality seems to be pretty good.

    1. Interesting feedback. In my findings ARLO does a great job listing what features it offers, and 99% of the people I’ve spoken to are happy with the limited recording (though most people opt for the wireless units, too). On the flip side, the hidden fees required by Nest for their subscription is more offensive to me, where the free service you get from ARLO is great (no other mfg offers as much free recording, for $0)

      That said, I can see where if your specific needs are such that you need 24/7 recording you might be unhappy with the costs. But I’d question why anyone needs recording when there is no audio/video trigger. IMO that is just unnecessary, at least in any example I’ve ever seen. But I am open to why you’d need it. (we do CCTV here at my office with 24/7 recording but have a local DVR that records).

      One thing I will agree on though is the 5 camera limit. They do the same limit on the wireless units, where I understand why (one hub = 5 cameras makes sense due to hardware limitations)– but per account, that limit on the Q never did make sense to me. You should contact ARLO/Netgear about that. (PS: you can resolve this by using a free gmail account, setting up the extra cameras on that account, and then sharing admin access back to your main account).

      1. 5 Cameras per account has a loophole. You can add five more and make a different account. On the settings of the new account under “Account” there is grant access which enable you to add your old account (which already has five arlo cameras) check all cameras you want to share and under that check the box that says allow access rights which enables you to edit settings and share and delete videos. Now you have ten camera in one app. Cheers!

  9. One thing that was not mentioned or taken into account was how each of these cameras work with third party applications, specifically Home Automation (e.g. SmartThings, Wink, HomeKit, etc.) For some, myself included, this has major importance as we do not want to have to have separate applications for every “smart” device in our home and IP cameras are definitely in that category. If you ever update this comparison you may want to take that into account.

  10. On the Arlo Wirefree is there a way to power it so you do not have batteries needing to be recharged? I am looking for an outdoor model and this seems to be my only option.

  11. What a fabulous review! This is exactly what I was debating about. One thing that wasn’t clear to me on the Arlo Q: Can I download what was recorded on the cloud? I realize that it would only record when activated by movement or sound. But can I download that? And, theoretically, if I were to buy the base station, would I be able connect it wirelessly to the Arlo Q and save 24/7 CVR filmed footage on a device attached to the basestation? Thanks so much for your thorough analysis!

  12. Okay, and now I’ve just discovered there’s an Arlo Q Plus for $20 more and it has an SD card option! That solves everything!

    1. Sounds like you solved both of your questions. Just FYI with the non-Plus version, yes, you can download the clips is records to your local device to save forever. In case anyone else wanted to know. Enjoy your new ARLO devices — be sure to use the links here to support my blog!

  13. Taken from Arlo’s Website:

    “Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Pro Wire-Free, and Arlo Go cameras are battery-powered and are not intended for continuous recording.”

    This rules out Arlo for me. Are there are outdoor, wifi, powered options that allow for SD recording?

  14. Looks like my only option is the Samsung SmartCam SNH-V6430BNH.

    + Wireless / Wired
    + PoE option
    + SD Storage
    + Outdoor

    Reviews online were spotty unfortunately.

  15. I ended up going with the Samsung SmartCam Full PoE Outdoor Camera. Setup was very easy with just a smartphone. Comes with a flat 25 foot Cat6 cable and a PoE block. Viewing angle is good, and picture quality is decent. I needed outdoor, wifi, continuous recording cameras that allowed SD card recording and this fit the bill perfectly.

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