An outdoor security camera is a powerful deterrent to mischief makers and a convenient way to determine whether that thing going bump in the night is a friend, foe, or furry creature.

The Arlo Pro 2 is an easy-to-use outdoor Wi-Fi camera that’s compact and can be used hardwired or completely wirelessly—the latter thanks to a removable, rechargeable battery that, based on our testing, should provide at least a couple of months of operation on a charge (depending on usage). The Arlo Pro 2 is also the only cord-free 1080p camera on our list that offers seven days of free cloud storage (with more available for a monthly fee). However, the camera will reset the sensor in between recordings, which Arlo says will allow the camera to properly detect motion and not get stuck recording on a loop. That also conserves battery life, but it may leave you with recording gaps during important security events. If home security is your primary concern, we’d recommend one of our top picks, but the Arlo is great for checking in on family and pets—or stray cats slinking around your yard.

The Arlo Pro 2 produced excellent 1080p video with accurate colors during the day; a wide, 130-degree viewing angle; and two-way audio that was easy to understand on both ends. The system also lets you configure alerts based on motion and audio detection. When motion (or sound) is detected, the Arlo Pro can send smartphone notifications or emails, turn on a siren built into the indoor Base Station, record video clips, or do nothing. Adjusting the alert sensitivity will cut down on nuisance notifications, and you can also set up alerts based on a schedule or geofencing using your mobile device. The geofencing feature accurately recognized when we left the zone or returned, and it armed and disarmed the system accordingly. You can also expand the Arlo’s networking capabilities with Arlo Smart.

The Arlo Pro 2’s compact design and included battery made it one of the easiest to set up, but it required a bridge unit, called the Base Station. That 2.3-by-6.9-by-5-inch hub works with both the original Arlo Pro and the Arlo Pro 2, but not with the Arlo Ultra. The Base Station needs to be powered from an AC outlet, connected to your router via an Ethernet cable, and placed within 300 feet of the camera. It’s the brains behind the system, but it also has a piercing, 100-plus-decibel siren, which can be triggered manually through the app or automatically by motion or audio. The Base Station also has a USB port for storing recordings on an external hard drive, a nice supplement to the free cloud storage, and it’s more secure than systems that record to a microSD card in the camera itself: Because the storage is tucked away safely indoors, if someone steals your camera, they won’t get your video, too.