Arlo launches a smart doorbell with camera that you can use wirelessly. When the doorbell rings, you receive a call on your phone, and if you don’t like the visit, you sound the siren. We could test it.
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free
Video doorbells are extremely popular, as was apparent from an AW Poll at the beginning of this year. That is also understandable because they are very handy devices. You can simply talk remotely with the person at your front door, wherever you are. You also see him or her in the picture and you store those images in the cloud for up to 30 days.
The new Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free also monitors your home, detecting any intruders, and you can scare them away with the siren. That is a function that we do not find with other doorbells, and what is special is that you use the Arlo doorbell wired or with its battery. From now on, let’s get straight to the point, you can read all about our findings in this review.
|Video quality:||8 MP camera, 1536 x 136 pixels, 180 degrees image (motion detection 150 degrees)|
|Night images:||Yes with infrared|
|Digital zoom:||12x zoom|
|Installation:||Wireless or with 2-wire 5V 2A|
|Storage:||Only in the cloud|
|Smart home platforms||Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT|
|Additional:||Siren, smart detection features|
|Recommended retail price:||199 euros|
1. Easy installation
It’s super easy to get started with this Essential video doorbell from Arlo. Because this is the wireless version, you must first fully charge the battery of the doorbell. Then you connect the doorbell by creating an Arlo account and displaying the QR code of your phone. You then connect the bell to your WiFi network and finally attach it with two screws, and you’re done.
It is important when determining where you want to fix it that people standing at the door are clearly visible. You know that by keeping an eye on the video feed on your phone and looking for a good height. Your doorbell also comes with an attachment, which is useful when you want to tilt the doorbell to the left or right, for example, when you mount it against the wall. In my case, that extra intermediate piece was superfluous in order to get a good picture of people.
You then have the choice of whether you want to use the doorbell without wires or with the two-wire connection of your old doorbell. The second is in principle the most useful if those wires are present anyway. In that case, you don’t have to worry about charging, and your doorbell also connects immediately to any mechanical chime. Make sure you switch off the correct fuse at home before you connect the doorbell.
The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free gives its user a lot of options, which is very nice. You can use the doorbell anywhere, it is waterproof, and you do not need any technical knowledge to perform the installation. All the steps are easy and they are well explained in the Arlo app as well. There is also the video below that is in English, but even if you don’t speak that language, the images are still telling. Good work, Arlo!
2. Good images at night and during the day
I was pleasantly surprised by the images this Arlo doorbell creates. It films in a square of 1536 x 1536 pixels, people are clearly identifiable in the frame and the resolution feels just right. The doorbell also has no problem with difficult lighting conditions or backlighting, because it comes with an HDR function that is on by default. If you’re having problems with your internet connection, you can also choose a lower resolution in the Arlo app, and you’ll still get good images.
An image at night
I am also very pleased with the wide 180-degree angle in which the 8 MP camera takes images. That angle ensures that people are always in view, and unless visitors are almost glued to the front door when ringing the bell, you won’t be bothered by the lens distortion that occurs with the wide-angle lens.
Finally, there are the black and white night images with infrared, which are also of very good quality. Both objects and people hanging around the front door are easily recognizable. That was really a stroke of luck with this Arlo doorbell, and that means the door can also easily serve as a security camera that keeps an eye on things at night.
3. Communicate smoothly with people at the door
The Arlo app makes it incredibly easy to interact with people at the front door. Your phone plays a ringtone when someone presses the button on the Arlo bell, and then you can accept or decline it like a phone call. If you don’t respond, you can have visitors leave a message as with voicemail.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the call quality. Both the loudspeaker on the doorbell and the microphone of the Arlo are of very high quality. In both directions, conversations are easy to understand, loud and clear, as if you were on a phone call.
At any time in the app you can mute the microphone or respond with one of the standard phrases. For example, consider the classic you use when Jehovah’s Witnesses make another attempt to convert people: “Sorry, we’re not interested.” And believe me when I say that it is called out clearly and somewhat firmly. You’ve never rejected those people as easily as with this doorbell.
4. Strong Security
Arlo customers can use the brand’s Smart plan for free for three months, turning your doorbell into a security camera. In this way, she makes a distinction between animals, persons, vehicles or packages that are in the picture. Then you choose which things you want to be warned about.
As soon as the doorbell detects one of these things, for example, a person, you will receive a notification. I got different kinds of notifications, but I found that machine learning-based recognition works accurately. You can also mark an activity zone on the screen where the Arlo video doorbell will look for things. Anything outside that zone will not be reported, as it should be.
The notifications themselves also work very well. Conveniently, when you unfold the notification, you can see an animation of what is happening even without tapping it, so you know whether you want to watch the full video or not. Arlo also immediately names what he sees in the notification, for example: ‘Person detection’. Then, if you tap the notification to watch the video, you can share, save or favourite it.
Of course, you don’t want your doorbell to be on all the time to secure your home, because in that case, you’ll get notifications when it’s not necessary. For example, you can use geofencing, a technique where security kicks in when you leave the house. Another option is to set up a schedule where you specify the times of the week that the Arlo Essential video doorbell should work.
I noticed that notifications are sent very quickly in case of detection, and the doorbell can also play a sound and light up the LEDs around the push button whenever something is seen. If this does not deter an intruder, you can even activate the siren from a button in the notification on your phone. That’s one of the special features of this doorbell, and the fact that it’s there makes you feel safe.
In the Arlo app you can fine-tune all security functions. You choose for which type of detected things you want notifications and you can easily switch functions on and off. Although I must say that certain settings are sometimes unnecessarily spread out in the app, so it may take some getting used to before you can find everything smoothly. Fortunately, the basis of the Arlo app works smoothly and intuitively, namely the situations when the doorbell rings or when people or objects have been detected. At times like these, you don’t have to search the entire interface to take control, and that’s very important.
5. Good battery life
Arlo promises that its Essential wireless video doorbell can last about 3 to 6 months on a single battery charge. After that, the battery must be on the charger for 6 hours. Here at Techlargest we obviously haven’t been able to test it for as long as it should last, but after two weeks of use, I’m stranded at a 68 per cent charge.
At this rate, it therefore already seems to be a difficult task to even meet the minimum term of three months. It must be said that there is a caveat to this edit. Because I test this doorbell, I tested it very intensively to try out all the functionalities. In addition, there are external factors that can influence battery consumption, including temperature.
Although this doorbell will probably only achieve the minimum of the promised 3 to 6 months, that still remains a solid performance. Hanging the doorbell on the charger every three months is not a big job. It is a pity that charging is done via micro-USB. The fact that Arlo is cutting back on a USB-c port is not a very good choice.
1. You lose a lot without a subscription
The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is really featured rich. There are many possibilities in combination with the app, but many of these functions disappear like snow in the sun after your three-month trial subscription to Arlo’s services has expired. After that period you will use 2.79 euros per month, or continue without a subscription.
In essence, you can then no longer use your doorbell as a security camera, because the camera no longer makes exceptions between people, vehicles, animals and packages in the event of movement. Everything is simply a movement. The activity zone will also disappear, so you will receive notifications for everything that moves. In addition, you can no longer save recordings, and when you receive notifications, they contain less information.
What still works is the ability to watch live at any time what is happening in front of your door. In addition, your video doorbell still works as a video doorbell. in other words, you still get a call on your phone as soon as someone presses the bell button, and you can still talk to that person remotely.
That is of course still the main purpose of the doorbell, but you lose a package of security features. On the other hand, there are doorbells that come without a subscription but do work with activity zones and people detection. An example is Eufy’s video doorbells.
2. Does not (yet) work with local storage
This Essential doorbell from Arlo also has a wired variant that works with the company’s Base Station and Smart Hub. These are two devices with which you can store your images locally, without the need for storage in the cloud. You purchase these storage devices once, and after that you no longer have to worry about a subscription.
Arlo announces on its website that the wireless doorbell will also work with the SmartHub and Base Station in the future, but when that will also be the case, is not yet known.
3. No integration with Nest Hub
The Arlo Essential video doorbell works with the Google Assistant, because with a command “Hey Google, stream [doorbell name]”, you can request your images at the front door at any time. Only that did not work in combination with the Google Nest Hub during my test period. This seems to be a bug , because in fact it should work according to Arlo.
What also certainly does not work is a deeper integration with the Nest Hub, where your smart display spontaneously shows who is at the front door as soon as the doorbell rings. You can already see that with the Google Nest Hello doorbell, but not yet for the Arlo smart bell. Such a deeper integration is being worked on, as can be read on the Arlo forums since the end of 2020 , but it is not known when it will come. For now, owners of a smart display will have to make do with the phrase: “Someone is at the front door”, the same thing you hear on a smart speaker. That’s a shame.
The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a great product, because when it comes to video quality, I can only get very excited about it. They are of high quality, and the wide-angle camera works very well. Arlo is outperforming many of its competitors with this. In addition, it is a versatile product, because this doorbell can work completely wirelessly or in combination with a gong.
Then there’s the smart recognition thanks to machine learning that takes Arlo even further than most of its competitors. With most smart video doorbells you will only find person detection in the list of features.
That’s also why Arlo has presumably decided to hide its smart detection functions behind a paywall along with the way to store video images in the cloud. The latter also has a lot of impact, because unfortunately there is currently no way to save your video images via local storage. That feels like a loss, and hopefully Arlo will come up with the relevant update soon to remedy that. The same goes for integration with smart displays.
Nevertheless, with the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free you get a video doorbell that has a lot of talents. You pay a price for it, but you also get quality in return. Will this strong product also open doors for Arlo?
Buy Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free
The Arlo Essantial Wire-free Video Doorbell is for 199 euros in a white color and a white with black tint. You can find it at: MediaMarkt , Bol.com, Coolblue and Amazon. com.