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Arlo Video Doorbell review: Higher quality video on the cheap
At least a half dozen companies are vying for your video doorbell dollars and Arlo is one of them. Similar to Ring, Arlo sells doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras, lighting, and other smart home accessories to tempt the security-minded shopper. The Arlo Video Doorbell costs a bit less than the competition and has a slightly different feature set, including package detection, 2K/4K video quality, and advanced object detection.
Find out if this option is the right one for you in Android Authority‘s Arlo Video Doorbell review.
Arlo Video Doorbell review: Arlo, is anyone home?
Video doorbells are a window to the outside world that we can view from just about anywhere. These security cameras have become popular with home owners over the last few years as a way to keep tabs on visitors, delivery personnel, and the general activity in the neighborhood.
Arlo, then a subsidiary of NETGEAR, got its start in security cameras and sold its original product via Amazon and Best Buy back in 2014. NETGEAR eventually spun Arlo off into its own company as it branched out beyond cameras into smart lighting, video doorbells, and more. Arlo and its video doorbell compete with the likes of August, Eufy, Google, and Ring, to name a few.
Can Arlo’s offering stand out? We have the scoop.
See also: What is a smart home
How hard is the Arlo Video Doorbell to set up?
Similar to the Ring 3 Plus, the Arlo doorbell setup process requires a minimal level of around-the-house knowhow. Arlo suggests you download the app and follow the included tutorial. The tutorial is excellent and covers every single step you’ll need to take.
First, the Arlo doorbell is wired and not powered by a battery. This means your home needs to have a powered doorbell already in place. If you don’t have a wired doorbell, you’ll have to choose another product. Turn off the circuit breaker to your doorbell and install the power kit to the existing doorbell chime. You have to do this in order for the Arlo doorbell to actually ring inside your home. I appreciate the detailed instructions covering this part of the installation process, as dealing with the chime can be a pain. With this step complete, you can move onto the doorbell itself.
Remove the old doorbell and secure the wires. Using an included security pin, you detach the doorbell from the mounting plate. Feed the wires through the plate, screw the plate in place, and then attach the wires to the back of the doorbell. Then simply snap the Arlo up into the mounting plate.
Turn on the circuit breaker and you should be in business.
A couple of things. Arlo provides the mounting hardware, including a wedge, but you have to supply the drill, screwdriver, and other tools needed to complete the installation. Ring, by way of comparison, provides at least some of these things. Also, Arlo protects the doorbell with a special security pin to prevent theft of the doorbell. This pin is proprietary and only one is included. If you lose it, you’re screwed.
Overall, however, installation is a snap.
See also: The best smart home devices you can buy
How is the Arlo doorbell app?
The Arlo doorbell app is an exercise in hand-holding. It quite literally walks you through every step of the setup process — and I mean every. single. step — and does all the heavy lifting for you. Once you’ve installed the Arlo doorbell and connected it to your home’s Wi-Fi, you’ll be taught how to manage motion detection and alerts, handle video calls, send pre-recorded quick reply messages to doorbell presses, and more.
Actually it’s a bit much. I wish there were an option to skip all the individual steps and get to the main center of the app where I could learn at my own pace.
How does the Arlo doorbell work?
The Arlo video doorbell does things a little bit differently from Ring. Where Ring and others show you a 16:9 image, the same shape as many smartphones screens, the Arlo provides a 180-degree view. That view is 180 degrees from corner to corner, giving the image a 1:1 aspect ratio. This means there are no gaps in what you can see via the camera. You can see everything from ground to sky, and side to side. I like it.
Video is captured in either 2K or 4K resolution, providing you with plenty of pixels to see what’s going on. This allows for insane degrees of zoom, which means you can discern fine details when necessary. I do like this high resolution much more than the 1080p offering from Ring. You can see how clear the image is below.
When the Arlo doorbell detects motion, it will send an alert where you can choose to watch in silence, sound an alarm, call a friend, or even dial 911. Anytime a caller presses the doorbell, the Arlo connects to your phone instantly. You can choose from several pre-recorded messages, such as “leave the package” or answer the call and speak directly to the person standing at your door. (Arlo also makes an audio-only doorbell.)
I like that you can set motion zones to fine-tune where the camera chooses to look. While I don’t mind that the camera catches animals at ground level, I don’t need it registering the movement of nearby cars and trucks on the road near my house. The Arlo uses artificial intelligence to help determine what it’s seeing so it knows when to send an alert and when to leave you alone. In other words, notifications are minimized in a good way.
Night vision was better on the Arlo than the Ring, no doubt about it. There was less grain and thus more clarity.
As expected, the Arlo is water resistant and can handle being outside in the elements. Moreover, it’s more attractive than the Ring doorbell. (And yes, when you’re slapping something on your house that every visitor will see, looks matter to some degree.)
See also: Best smart security cameras you can buy
How much do the Arlo doorbell plans cost?
Arlo doorbell subscription costs are in line with what Ring charges. Video quality is the sole differentiator. The Premiere Plan costs $3 per month per camera or $10 per month for up to five cameras. It includes 30 days of 2K video storage. The Elite Plan costs $5 per month per camera, or $15 per month for up to five cameras. It includes 30 days of 4K video storage. I found 2K video quality was more than sufficient.
Storage is important if you want to be able to share videos with friends or law enforcement. Without an active plan, you can see a live view and answer calls.
Arlo Video Doorbell review: Should you buy it?
For the money, the Arlo would appear to be a better buy than the Ring 3 Plus. The Arlo doorbell cost is utterly reasonable at $149. That’s $50 less than the Ring 3 and $80 less than the Ring 3 Plus. Moreover, you won’t need to buy an extra chime because it uses the chime already in your home. On the flip side, it requires power and does not run on a battery. This means you have to have an existing wired doorbell for this security doorbell to actually work.
If you do have a wired doorbell, the Arlo video doorbell offers great video quality, affordable service plans, and ease-of-use for well under $200. If you don’t have a powered doorbell, you’ll have to find a battery-powered option from Ring or Eufy.