With a sharper picture and smarter object detection, the latest Arlo Essential range makes it easy to check in on home while you’re out and about.
Initially, security cameras around your home were primarily intended for catching uninvited guests. These days there’s a greater focus on checking up on everyday events – whether it’s kids getting home from school, pets getting up to mischief or couriers coming to the door.
Arlo’s latest Essential range is designed to cater for those shopping on a budget – forgoing some of the bells and whistles of the more advanced models in order to keep the price down.
In some ways, a video doorbell has become the cornerstone of the modern home security system because it’s so versatile. The $229 second-generation Arlo Video Doorbell 2K lets you keep an eye out for family and friends, intruders coming through the front yard and couriers on your doorstep.
You might also invest in the wireless $79 Arlo Chime 2, which also connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can place the chime anywhere in the house.
Unlike some video doorbells, the Arlo Video Doorbell 2K offers the choice of running on a battery or hard-wiring it to the power. The wide 180-degree field of view and 1:1 square aspect ratio offer a wider view than some doorbells, meaning you can see a visitor from head to toe as well as a package on the ground. The camera can also see in the dark.
While you can answer the door in real-time from your smartphone, it’s worth noting the doorbell won’t actually save any recordings unless you sign up for Arlo Secure. Unfortunately, this model doorbell lacks the “foresight” feature of the premium Arlo models, which shows the video leading up to an event so you’re more likely to capture what happened and get a good look at someone.
As with most smart home gear these days, a subscription is required to unlock many of the advanced features. You also see a video history of events up to 30 days past, but only if you pay for one of Arlo’s subscription services; Arlo Secure ($4.99 p/m single camera, $14.99 p/m unlimited cameras) or Arlo Secure Plus ($21.99 p/m unlimited cameras).
Additionally, you can upgrade to continuous video recording at $12.99 p/m for a 14-day archive or $24.99 p/m for 30 days.
With a subscription, you can cut down on unwanted notifications thanks to the ability to specify zones within the camera’s field of view. Meanwhile, smart object detection can distinguish people, animals, vehicles and packages – although Alro says for the best results with package detection you should have the camera installed up high, which isn’t very practical for a doorbell.
Arlo Essential 2K Indoor Camera
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera adds a physical privacy shield.
When it comes to watching what’s happening inside, the $129 second-generation Arlo Essential Indoor Camera adds an automated privacy shield that can be activated via the Arlo app. While it’s a welcome addition, which slides up to cover the lens, it’s a shame that it relies on the app and can’t be manually engaged by anyone in the room who needs a little privacy.
The 130-degree field of view offers a decent view of the room if placed strategically, with a flexible stand and mounting thread on the back. The camera’s not battery-powered, so you’re limited by the fact that it requires access to a power socket.
Stepping up from 1080p to 2K resolution, combined with 12x zoom, lets you zoom in on details to see what’s happening. With an Arlo Secure subscription, you’ve got smart object detection, smart activity zones and animated previews that display a short clip on your phone’s lock screen.
Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera
The Arlo Essential Outdoor Camera is designed for to handle the weather.
When it comes to guarding the perimeter, the $159 second-generation Arlo Essential Outdoor Camera also steps up to 2K resolution with colour night vision to make it easier to see what lurks in the shadows.
Like the indoor camera, it supports 2K resolution and 12x zoom, while an Arlo Secure subscription adds smart object detection and smart activity zones.
The camera is battery-powered, which makes for easy installation using the supplied mount, but the trade-off is that it needs to be taken down occasionally for charging. It features an integrated spotlight, which is unusual in a battery-powered outdoor camera and will naturally take a toll on the battery life if used regularly.
Who is the second-generation Arlo Essential range for?
Altogether, the new Arlo gear makes for a pretty tight ecosystem, especially if you’re prepared to cough up for a subscription. Considering that most cameras need a subscription to unlock their best features, it’s certainly more economical to ensure that your doorbell and other cameras are from the same vendor.
The fact that the Arlo ecosystem talks to Alexa, Google, SmartThings and IFTTT is also handy if you’re looking to integrate it into your existing smart home setup. You’re missing a few bells and whistles but, as the Arlo Essential name suggests, the Essentials range might have you covered if your needs are simple and your budget lean.