The new Arlo Wired Video Doorbell is simply the best you can get – by a country mile. But it is not without some caveats as GadgetGuy’s review found.
We will go through those caveats to see if you qualify for an Arlo Wired Video Doorbell.
Do you want a video doorbell to see/talk to who is at the front door even if you are not at home? If yes, move to point 2. If no, why are you reading this review?
Do you own an Arlo security system – preferably a next-gen Arlo 4K Ultra or 2K Pro 3 and understand that high image quality is the solution. If yes, move to point 3. If no, you must be using an inferior Wi-Fi-based security camera, so stop reading now. Well you can use the Arlo Video Dorbell wiithout an Arlo camera sytem as well.
Do you currently have a wired doorbell (not Wireless)? If yes, move to point 4. If no, stop reading.
Are you prepared to spend a few hundred dollars more to get a sparky to install it? If yes, then you qualify. If no, then stop reading.
OK, sorry for what appears to be an overt push to the Arlo solution. Those that know GadgetGuy know that we are 100% independent. Sadly, we are the last free Australian-owned ‘deep-dive’ website that tests the products against manufactures claims. We do not charge for review, nor do we take affiliate commissions or click-throughs – all links are free of trackers. That is how we keep our high credibility.
Price: $289 from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and other Arlo authorised resellers
Warranty: 1-year ACL compliant. Details here. Note Arlo Australia can only offer a warranty on Australian models from approved retailers due to Australian certification requirements, and the issue of counterfeit and refurbished product.
Country of manufacture: Indonesia
Arlo is an American publicly listed company after a spin-off from NETGEAR
OK Challenge #1
Look at the name – Arlo Wired Video Doorbell.
Now while Arlo state, “Install it yourself by connecting to your home’s existing doorbell wiring” there is a catch or two.
Arlo requires 240V AC to 16-24V AC 10VA power (as do its competitors like Nest or Ring). Wired power means continuity of service and enables higher resolution day and night vision.
Strong Warning: The Electrical Safety Act requires a qualified electrician if connecting anything to a domestic supply other than a 240V AC plug pack.
The moment you see AC (alternating current) you should use a licensed electrician, especially as you may have to hardwire the transformer into the home’s 240V power supply. No sparky = no insurance if the house burns down from a DIY install.
Next catch. According to Lawrence and Hanson and RJ Turk (two major electrical wholesalers to the trade), Australia mainly uses 8V/1A DC power to run its wired ‘ding-dong’ Friedland/Honeywell doorbells (no electrician required as it is DC and usually has a plug pack). According to my sparky, he has never used 16V AC to wire up a door/chime or bell.
RJ Turk does have a 240V to 16V AC transformer plug pack (not a wired in) used for security alarms for about $50, so we decided to go with that. Mind you it did not have any wired 16V AC ding-dong chimes to replace my 8V DC Friedland chime.
Strong warning: You cannot buy the transformer from the US as the input voltage is 120V @60Hz – we need 220-240V, 50Hz input.
Ding-dong – Avon calling
A wired video doorbell also needs a chime.
We searched the internet for a 16V AC chime, and yes these were common in the US working with Nest, Ring and Arlo! These were relatively cheap US$30-50, but the freight/GST/handling was a killer – anywhere from US$50-150 extra.
After reading the online installation instructions, my friendly sparky quoted $120 labour plus the transformer – that seemed reasonable. First, he had to disconnect the existing 8V doorbell and chime. He tested the existing wiring to make sure it could handle 16V AC and declared it safe.
Next up into the ceiling to find the 8V/1A transformer. Fortunately, it was just above the chime and even more, fortunately, had a 240V plug. It was relatively easy to swap out.
Then remove the old chime and just use the existing wiring to the doorbell. Arlo also supplies a bypass switch that can isolate an incompatible chime.
The Arlo Wired Video Doorbell does not fit the standard doorbell screw template, so he had to use a masonry drill and wall-plugs to fit it. We used the supplied adapter to slightly angle the camera down the entryway. Because its view is 180° 1:1, you can place it at standard doorbell height. It is weather resistant.
Believe it or not, that took two hours, so his labour estimate was a little light.
Integrating with Arlo
That was the easy part – although not quite. We did the integration via the Arlo app a few metres from the Arlo Ultra Hub. All went well, firmware updated, we linked to the Arlo base station and Chime. Viola. But…
Arlo state, “Make sure that your Arlo Video Doorbell is no farther than 90 meters from your Wi-Fi router (or Arlo Base Station). The range might be less if metal objects or thick walls and ceilings are between your router and the Arlo Video Doorbell.”
Well, the theory is that 90m is maximum for 2.4Ghz line-of-sight. For every cement block wall, drywall, glass window or floor, it passes through you can halve that again and again. We believe that the maximum distance you can count on is closer to 30m if there is a wall or two.
When we placed it outside the front door (about 15m away and one floor down from the Arlo Ultra base station) the signal was not strong enough. We also placed the Arlo audio doorbell a similar distance from the base station at the back door, and it was unreliable.
Rule number one is to place routers, and in this case base stations, as equidistant as possible from the devices connected to it.
That meant moving the Arlo base station about 5 metres from its original location beside the router, but we did not have convenient Ethernet cabling to do that. The cure was a pair of NETGEAR Ethernet-over-240V Powerline adapters which JB had in stock for $127.
Note we are a great supporter of Powerline and now use them to distribute Ethernet all over the house and out to the garage. They are all HomePlug AV2 compliant, and you can have several on the one circuit.
Moving the base station, five-metres worked like a charm, and the system is flawless.
It has 1536×1536 (1:1 ratio) and falls back to 1080×1080 or 720×720 if the connection to the base is not strong. Now it is all about bandwidth and Arlo adjusts the bit-rate to suit that automatically.
At 720p we noticed considerable image tearing and as there is only 518,400 pixels details are poor. 1080p is not bad at 1,166,400 pixels (1.1MP) but the ultimate is 1536p (2,355,296 pixels or 2.4MP). In reality it is about 36% less than 2K (2860×1440).
After the base station move, we now consistently get 1536×1536 and the image quality and detail are superb. It also has settings for Auto HDR (brings out details in the shadows) and mono IR Night vision (if you don’t have security night lights). You can also define the recording area, and it has an 8X digital zoom (Arlo states 12X, but we could not get that on a live feed).
There is about a 2 second lag between movement and the live stream video. It defaults to approximately 20-second clips but you can adjust that up to two minutes.
And extra feature is Arlo Foresight which records 3-4 seconds of footage before the motion trigger event, so you can get the full context of the trigger (did someone approach from the around the garage, etc.)
BTW – the 1:1 ratio is excellent because it is a 180° field of view. You get a square fisheye image that allows you to see all from head to toe – not a 16:9 movie version.
It has one mic. Sound is duplex – 2-way – but there is a perceptible lag. The microphone is sensitive, but if it is in a windy area, it will pick that up.
The maximum speaker volume is 80dB (acts as a siren as well) and is acceptable for communicating with the visitor.
Silent mode or notifications
When someone presses the video doorbell, it rings on the chime and on your phone (the one the app is on). If you don’t answer in 20 seconds, they can leave a message.
Silent mode allows you to turn on/off the incoming call or chime.
Our front door has excellent security night lights. We don’t need the IR monovision and can switch that off. It works to 20m but in reality that is about 6m.
You could also link it to a motion-sensitive Arlo Light if you want colour night vision. The Arlo light requires its own Hub that connects to the Arlo Ultra Hub (to make outdoor placement easier) and provides 400 lumens. A pair costs $399 with the Hub. Just a segue – we use the Arlo light as a motion-detecting light in hallway and the bathroom – perfect at night!
You don’t need the cloud for regular use. It offers advance detection of people, packages, pets, cars and more as well as custom activity zones and a 30-day rolling library.
Google Assistant (and Alexa and Apple Homekit)
Arlo now supports Google Assistant, and you can allocate Arlo devices to rooms, cast images to the TV (via Android TV or Chromecast). We are just beginning to experiment with this, but it is nice to be able to cast a camera or video doorbell to a TV.
GadgetGuy’s take – I wanted an Arlo Wired Video Doorbell to complete the Arlo setup
We have an Arlo setup to test Arlo products. Just as we have a Google/Nest/Assistant and a separate Amazon/Ring/Alexa set up to test those products. And we have tested Wi-Fi-based Uniden, Swann, Laser, D-Link and more security cameras and video doorbells.
Provided you understand the installation caveats – that a $289 video doorbell could cost hundreds more (transformer, electrician, chime) when installed – it is by far the best video, sound and build quality we have seen. It also has a privacy pledge that would even satisfy a tin-hat wearer.
We have rated it as a security camera with benefits but it loses some points due to the need to find a 16V AC power supply and chime (if you don’t have one) and that you may need to use an electrician.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Great quality 1:1 ratio video
Using an Arlo Hub keeps video traffic off the home Wi-Fi network
16-24V AC 10VA transformer required
May need a 16V chime or use an Arlo Chime
May need a licensed electrician as DIY electrical will void insurance