Loud and clear two-way talk
Custom motion zones
Doorbell alerts sent as phone calls
About the Arlo Essential Wire-Free Doorbell
Here are the Arlo Essential Wire-Free Doorbell’s specs:
- Price: $199.99
- Colors: Black
- Connectivity 2.4GHz WiFi
- Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings
- Installation type: Hardwire and/or battery-powered
- Operating temperature: -4 degrees to 113 degrees Fahrenheit
- Video Resolution: 1536 x 1536 maximum, 1:1 ratio
- Dimensions: 5.63-inches H X 1.85-inches W x 1.45-inches D
The Arlo Essential Wire-Free Video Doorbell comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six months per charge, or you can hardwire it to your existing doorbell wiring. It is complete with a 180-degree field-of-view lens, 12x digital zoom, HDR video, night vision, and custom motion zones.
It offers two-way talk capabilities, pre-recorded quick reply messages, and has a built-in siren. Paired with an Arlo Smart Plan, the wireless Arlo doorbell will send intelligent smart alerts when it senses motion and detects a package, animal, vehicle, or person in the camera's view. The paid Arlo plan also includes visitor messaging, which allows guests to leave a voicemail at the doorbell when you're unable to answer the door.
What we like
The best view yet
There’s a lot to love when checking out the view from Arlo's new wireless doorbell camera, starting with the very generous 180-degree field-of-view. Arlo's video doorbells offer the largest viewing angle of any video doorbell we’ve ever tested. For comparison’s sake, our previous best doorbell pick, the Nest Hello, offered 160-degrees.
The Arlo records in a 1:1 square aspect ratio that offers head-to-toe video of what’s unfolding outside your front door and the HDR video is as clear as day. Many video doorbells, like those from Ring, record in a 16:9 format, which offers a wide-screen view that doesn’t always fully capture people from top to bottom.
When it’s dark outside, you can still easily see the view from the wireless doorbell cam thanks to its high-powered infrared LEDs (850nm) with IR cut filter. So, there’s no need to flip on the porch lights to see what’s happening outside after the sun goes down.
Super simple setup
For a long time, the only way to install a video doorbell was to use your existing doorbell wiring. Nowadays, video doorbells and security cameras like Arlo's latest offer more convenient installation options for homeowners and renters alike.
The Arlo Essential Wire-Free Doorbell comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six months on one charge. It took me just a few minutes to hang it up outside using the included mounting kit, and from there, it was just a few taps on my phone using the Arlo app before the wireless doorbell was connected to my WiFi.
Alternately, you can hardwire this doorbell to your home and never have to worry about recharging the battery. That kind of flexibility in installation makes this model a great fit for any type of home.
Works well with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
While I had no issues integrating Arlo’s wireless doorbell with Google Assistant, I struggled a bit with adding the camera for Alexa voice control. The Amazon Alexa app could not discover my new Arlo doorbell after several attempts. If you run into a similar issue, try disabling and re-enabling the Arlo Skill in the Amazon Alexa app, which did the trick for me. However, once set up, everything works great.
When paired with Alexa and/or Google-enabled smart speakers, you can ask either smart assistant to show you your Arlo doorbell and a live stream will appear. A smart display like a Nest Hub Max or Amazon Echo Show 5 can also serve as a "chime," announcing when someone presses the doorbell button.
Ultra secure doorbell and app
The Essential Wire-Free Doorbell comes with all of the common privacy settings you'd expect from a home security camera, like two-factor authentication, the option to log in using Face ID technology, and advanced encryption for video storage. However, Arlo takes it a step further with a few security features that made me feel extra safe. When a login attempt is made from a new device, a request for approval is sent to the main user's phone or tablet. It felt like a bit much at first, but it’s nice to know there’s one more layer preventing someone from accessing my camera without approval.
Remember, these privacy measures are only to keep the bad guys out. If you want to add approved users (like roommates or family members) to manage your Arlo doorbell, it's easy to do so within the Settings section of the Arlo app.
There are also built-in security features like a smart siren, which can be triggered automatically or manually via the Arlo app and plays a very loud alarm tone when triggered. You can also call 911 and up to three contacts directly from the Arlo app if a problem arises.
What we don’t like
Phone calls as doorbell press alerts
When it comes to Arlo doorbells, this isn’t a new gripe from me—I’ve never been a fan of doorbell press alerts coming through as phone calls. It’s hard to answer and pull up the video when you’re actively talking on the phone with someone because you have to place that call on hold to answer the doorbell notification.
There is a bit of a workaround. In the Arlo app, you can put the doorbell in Silent Mode, which prohibits incoming calls and chime push alerts. In Silent Mode, you can still view the event in the Arlo app, but I would much prefer the doorbell notifications come through like the regular smart push alerts, as they do when a person or package is detected. Ultimately, this all boils down to personal preference and isn’t enough to keep me from recommending Arlo’s Essential Wire-Free Doorbell as the No. 1 option to watch over your home’s main entry point.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely, it’s the best smart video doorbell we’ve ever tested.
Arlo’s Essential Wire-Free Doorbell is the best smart video doorbell you can buy right now. It offers the widest viewing angle of any video doorbell we’ve tested and records HDR video in a 1:1 format to give you the very best viewing experience. Setup is quick and simple, and we like the wire-free battery-powered installation option, making it versatile enough for just about any home. I also love how easy the Arlo app is to use and navigate, not to mention the extra layers of security offered within the app.
While a paid Arlo Smart plan is an additional cost to consider, we recommend signing up for one after the complimentary three-month trial expires. Plans start at $2.99 a month and get you access to intelligent smart alerts (the ability to differentiate between people, packages, vehicles, and animals), cloud storage for up to 30 days, custom activity zones, and more.
For a more affordable, yet still-great video doorbell, we recommend our Best Value pick, the Eufy Security WiFi Video Doorbell. It almost instantly sends notifications over WiFi and data, offers crystal clear 2560 x 1920 pixel resolution during the day and at night, and it's frequently on sale at Amazon for well under $200.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use home security camera that offers two-way talk and clear video day and night without missing a beat, the Arlo Essential Wire-Free Doorbell is the perfect pick to arm your front door.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior Staff Writer@rachel_murphy
Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for several major outlets and as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America.
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