Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Review

We review Arlo's wired and wireless video doorbells to see which is the right fit for your front door.
Best for emergencies
Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell
Arlo Essential Wired
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • pro
    Built-in siren
  • pro
    Emergency response feature
  • con
    Limited standout features
John Carlsen
Jan 19, 2023
bullet6 min read

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review. We may earn money when you buy through our links.

The Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell is a great starting point before you decide to go all-in with Arlo for your security camera needs. It has a built-in siren to help scare away intruders—surprisingly no other doorbell cameras have such a useful security tool. It also stores pre-recorded responses to help you greet visitors more quickly—a feature previously exclusive to the pricier Google Nest Doorbell.

For more detail on why we like the Arlo Video Doorbell, check out the rest of our Arlo doorbell review. We also explain why you shouldn’t sleep on the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell.

pro
Pros
pro Emergency response feature
pro Smart detection alerts
pro Pre-recorded responses
con
Cons
con No free cloud storage plan
con Wired installation

Compare Arlo doorbells

Doorbell
Price*
Field of view
Power source
Pre-recorded messages
Learn more
Arlo Essential Wired Video DoorbellArlo Essential Wired
180º Wired
bulletYes
Arlo Essential Wireless Video DoorbellArlo Essential Wireless
180º Battery, wired
bulletYes

*Amazon.com price as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.

What's in the box

  • Arlo Video Doorbell Wired
  • Power kit and wire extension
  • Wall mount screw kit
  • Flat and angled mounting plates
  • Security latch release pin
  • Quick start guide

Arlo Essential Video Doorbell features

Core features

Two-way audio: All smart doorbells—not just Arlo’s—have two-way audio so you can talk to visitors on your porch. The audio kicks in after someone presses the doorbell button, and you accept the call on your smartphone.

Motion detection: Arlo doorbells have built-in motion sensors that send you notifications without a visitor pressing the button.

Easy installation: You can install these doorbells in less than 10 minutes—simply follow the step-by-step instructions in the Arlo App. Still, it might take a little longer if you need to drill new holes for the mounting screws.

No base station: Arlo Essential Video Doorbells work by themselves right out of the box. They connect directly to your Wi-Fi network after installation— you don’t need any extra equipment, so you spend less money. You can add an Arlo SmartHub base station if you want local video storage, though we're not sure it's worth paying more than the doorbells themselves.

Video quality

Arlo’s video doorbell records 1536p videos in a square aspect ratio—similar to what you find in an Instagram post. This gives you a better view of your porch than Ring’s widescreen video. Some other brands—like Google Nest and August—use a similar aspect ratio for their doorbell cameras. But Arlo has the highest resolution of the bunch, making for crisp videos both day and night.

Advanced detection

The Arlo Video Doorbell also uses artificial intelligence to distinguish between people, animals, cars, and packages. While other doorbell cameras offer similar features, online reviews say that Arlo is less likely to send you notifications that confuse dogs with people.

Quick replies

When a guest rings the doorbell, you can skip the small talk with one of five pre-recorded messages:

  • "Leave the package by the door."
  • "You are being recorded."
  • "I'll be right there."
  • 'We can't answer the door right now."
  • 'Leave your message."

These are great when you can't come to the door or just want someone to stick around while you turn the stove off in the kitchen.

Answering the door

One noteworthy quirk is that Arlo treats doorbell calls like a regular phone call on your smartphone, where you choose to accept or decline a call. It can be confusing at first but is a bit easier than opening a tiny notification. There’s also a siren in the Arlo Video Doorbell, which you can activate in the app to startle uninvited guests trying to open the door.

Another feature we like about the Arlo Video Doorbell is pre-recorded messages you can play for visitors, an option that pops up after you accept a call. This is such a time-saver, especially with deliveries where face-to-face interactions are unnecessary or if you’re finishing an important email for work.

bullet
Arlo Chime 2

We like the wireless Arlo Chime 2 accessory because it's compatible with all Arlo security cameras, not just the doorbells. It's a little pricey (about $50) so you might consider a cheaper alternative like the Wyze Video Doorbell, which comes with a chime in the box.

Emergency call service

We think that Arlo’s best feature is its emergency response features that you can use to get help in an crisis. It's similar to the professional monitoring you get with the Arlo Home Security System, except you manually trigger the call. While you'll need an Arlo Secure Plus video storage subscription to use the feature, it’s worth checking out.

Smart home compatibility

Arlo has some of the best smart home compatibility among security camera companies, so making it work with your favorite smart home devices is practically stress free. It’s easy to add Arlo products to the most popular smart home platforms (though your mileage may vary with what you can do):

Wired power source

You can connect these devices to your existing mechanical doorbell chime for continuous power and added convenience. By using your existing doorbell chime, the doorbell works like it always has, so you know when there are visitors even if your phone is charging upstairs.

The Arlo Video Doorbell requires a hardwired connection to your existing doorbell chime. This is standard practice for most video doorbells but comes at the cost of a slightly more complex installation. It also limits placement options when you compare it to battery-powered models like the Ring Video Doorbell.

The Arlo Essential Wired doesn’t have a battery, so it isn't as flexible as its wireless sibling. Still, we think it’s better for most folks because a wired connection is more reliable and cuts $50 off the price tag. Although the Arlo Essential Wireless doesn't require wiring, hooking it up to your doorbell wires is a handy way to charge the battery.

Arlo Secure subscriptions

Despite some impressive features, the Arlo Video Doorbell has a few problems—the biggest of which is that the camera doesn’t come with free cloud storage. This is a feature that Arlo offered on its older products but stopped offering on new products like the Arlo Ultra, Arlo Pro 4, and the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell.

Fortunately, Arlo’s cloud storage costs $4.99 a month for one-camera plans, which is one of the best prices among security cameras and video doorbells.

Compare Arlo Secure plans

Plan
Price
Number of cameras
Cloud storage
Basic features bullet
Advanced features bullet
Emergency response
Learn more
5None
bulletYes
bulletNo
bulletNo
130 days
bulletYes
bulletYes
bulletNo
Unlimited30 days
bulletYes
bulletYes
bulletNo
Unlimited30 days
bulletYes
bulletYes
bulletYes

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We like that the Arlo Video Doorbell offers a ton of extras when you subscribe to an Arlo Secure video storage plan. But our favorite feature comes with Arlo Secure Plus: an emergency response services that connects you to the police, fire department, or EMTs. For convenience, we like the package detection for when your new kitchen gadget arrives on your doorstep.

As good as the emergency response feature is, you need to subscribe to Arlo Secure Plan Plus to use it, even if you have only one camera. Because $17.99 a month is a high price to pay for cloud storage on one camera, it’s a good idea to hold off until you have more than one Arlo security camera or video doorbell.

Final word

The Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell gives the Google Nest Doorbell a run for its money by offering many of the same features in a cheaper package. It also has excellent video quality and works with a wide variety of smart home platforms. While the e911 service brings extra security to your home, it can be pricey to get the feature if you have only one camera.

Overall, this is one of the best video doorbells you can buy today thanks to a list of thoughtful features that go beyond chatting with visitors on your stoop. Check out our Arlo security cameras review to see how the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell compares to its siblings.

Arlo doorbell FAQ

Yes, you can view a live video feed from any Arlo Video Doorbell or Arlo security camera—even if you don’t have a subscription.

The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell doesn’t require a base station. This applies to both the wired and wireless versions.

Yes, you get simple notifications when someone rings the doorbell or when the camera detects motion. You can also watch the live video feed and use two-way audio to speak with visitors at your door.

How we reviewed

We aren’t able to do hands-on testing on the Arlo doorbells due to limited resources. But we took advantage of our experiences with testing other smart doorbells to guide our research. We plan to update our review after testing the doorbells in person.

For now, we looked at the tech specs from Arlo’s website to learn what makes the products unique and to compare how they stand up to the average smart doorbell. We also researched user reviews for both products to gain a greater perspective. If you want to learn more about how we evaluate products, check out our full testing methodology.


Disclaimers

*Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

†Nest, Google, Google Assistant, and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over a decade of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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