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
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.15
  • Pros
    Built-in siren
  • Pros
    e911 feature
  • Cons
    Limited standout features
John Carlsen
Staff Writer, Security & Smart Home
Read More
Published on August 12, 2021

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 Nest Hello.

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 Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet e911 feature
Pro Bullet Smart detection alerts
Pro Bullet Pre-recorded responses
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No free cloud storage plan
Con Bullet 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
Icon Yes  LightYes
Arlo Essential Wireless Video DoorbellArlo Essential Wireless
180º Battery, wired
Icon Yes  LightYes

*Amazon.com price as of 08/12/2021 at 12:00 p.m. (MT). 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 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.

Bell
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 e911 emergency call service that you can use to contact emergency responders. During a typical 911 call, the police respond to your phone’s location, but e911 sends them to your home whether you’re there or not. While you need a multi-camera 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 Plan 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 $2.99 a month for one-camera plans, which is one of the best prices among security cameras and video doorbells.

Compare Arlo Secure plans

Without a planArlo Secure PlanArlo Secure PlanArlo Secure Plan Plus
Price
Number of camerasUnlimited1UnlimitedUnlimited
Cloud storageIcon Tooltip  DarkNone30 days 30 days 30 days
Video resolutionUp to 1080p Up to 2K Up to 2K Up to 4K
Live viewing
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Basic notifications
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Interactive notificationsIcon Tooltip  Dark
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Advanced detectionIcon Tooltip  Dark
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
e911 emergency calls
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 08/12/2021. 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 Smart video storage plan. Our favorite emergency feature from this subscription is the e911 call service that connects you to emergency responders. For convenience, we like the package detection for when your new kitchen gadget arrives on your doorstep.

As good as the e911 feature is, you need to subscribe to Arlo Secure Plan Plus to use it, even if you have only one camera. Because $14.99 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 Nest Hello 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.

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.

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.


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 Hello, 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 eight years 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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