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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Good picture quality
Excellent motion detection
Reliable smart alerts and e911 available
Somewhat difficult to DIY install
The Arlo Video Doorbell is one of the most well-priced smart home devices on the market.
Once under the Netgear umbrella but now a separate publicly traded company, Arlo has become a big name in smart home security cameras. Arlo’s Video Doorbell is one of its more affordable offerings, and it’s designed to serve as a practical means by which to protect your property. Equipped with a siren and other enhanced features, the Arlo Video Doorbell appears to provide a lot of bang for your buck. But, how does the Arlo Video Doorbell perform compared to other video doorbells, like the Google Nest Hello, the RemoBell S, and the Ring Video Doorbell 3? I tested the Arlo Video Doorbell for a week to find out.
The Arlo Video Doorbell looks similar to the Google Nest Hello at first glance. It has a similar oval shape and black and white color scheme, with the camera positioned on top and the doorbell button on the bottom. However, while the Google Nest Hello has a status ring surrounding the doorbell button, the Arlo has LED status dots in a circular pattern along the inner perimeter of the doorbell button. Also, the camera protrudes slightly forward on the Arlo, while it sits flush on the Google Nest Hello.
The Arlo Video Doorbell is larger than a lot of video doorbells I’ve encountered (including the Nest Hello). The Arlo measures five inches tall. It’s not extremely wide or thick, as it only measures 1.7 inches wide and an inch deep, but its longer length makes it more noticeable, and a visitor can spot it pretty quickly when they approach your house.
The Arlo requires a wired connection to maintain power. The power requirements aren’t as liberal as I’ve seen on some other budget doorbells (you need to have 16V AC and 24V AC power/a 10VA transformer), so it’s a good idea to make sure your existing doorbell system and wiring meet the requirements.
The Arlo app provides really good step-by-step setup instructions, so you just follow along with the app to swap out an old doorbell for the Arlo Video Doorbell. I did encounter one pretty big problem during setup, and it made the installation process go from a quick one-hour event to a four-hour nightmare. On the back of the Arlo doorbell, there are two screw terminals where you connect the doorbell wiring. The screw terminals were so tightly fitted into the doorbell’s housing that they easily stripped when I tried to untighten them to connect the wires. After hours of Googling “how to remove a stripped screw" and trying a rubber band, glue, and a number of other hacks, I drilled down into the screws enough to be able to loosen them.
After the whole stripped screw nightmare was over and I had the Arlo doorbell installed, I just had to connect the doorbell to my network, which was a quick and easy process.
For a doorbell in this price range, the Arlo has an impressive feature set. Some of the features require a subscription to Arlo Smart, but you get three months for free when you buy the Arlo video doorbell. After the trial period, you can pay $3 or $5 per month to continue the subscription on a single camera.
Out of the box, the doorbell features live video, motion detection with alerts, night vision, full duplex two-way audio, and video calling to your phone when someone rings the doorbell. It also has geofencing, custom modes, and a number of other settings you can customize in the app. One of the coolest features about the Arlo doorbell is the built-in siren, which you can trigger in response to a motion event or trigger remotely. You can also have the siren go off if someone tampers with the doorbell.
With an Arlo Smart subscription, you get additional features like 30-days of cloud recording history and more advanced motion detection that alerts you to people, packages, vehicles, or animals on your property. The Arlo Smart Premier Plan has e911 calling, so you can set it up to have the camera send first responders to your home in response to certain events.
The screw terminals were so tightly fitted into the doorbell’s housing that they stripped when I tried to untighten them to connect the wires.
The motion detection is extremely sensitive, and it even detected a wasp flying by and sent me a push notification. Fortunately, you can customize the motion sensitivity, and turn off specific types of motion detection. I tested this by turning on notifications for people, and turning off notifications for animals, vehicles, and all other motion. The smart alerts remained accurate, and I only received alerts when it detected a person.
The Arlo Video Doorbell has a max resolution of 1536 x 1536, and the picture is clear and vivid. It has a 1:1 aspect ratio that allows you to see a full-body image of your visitor. The 180-degree diagonal field of view means you can see a large portion of your porch and front yard. I was able to see almost all of my porch and a decent portion of my yard and driveway. The camera has an impressive 12x digital zoom, so I could really get a good view of people and vehicles from a distance. As a car drove into my driveway, I was able to zoom in and clearly see its license plate number.
My biggest complaint about the video quality is that it requires a lot of bandwidth. So much so that it operates on a noticeable delay, even with my 300/50 Mbps internet speed and long-range router. On the max settings, the live feed took five to ten seconds to load at times, and the video was delayed by almost a whole second. Once I lowered the video quality, this slightly reduced the delay.
Audio on the Arlo Video Doorbell is crystal clear. When I checked the live feed, I could hear the wind blowing, birds chirping, and kids playing outside. The Arlo has a single microphone array and full-duplex, two-way audio, so you and the person on the other end can talk simultaneously (you don’t have to wait for them to finish talking before you begin). The conversation flows naturally. Like the video feed, the audio does sometimes experience a delay though.
When someone rings the doorbell, you can set it up to call your phone. You can answer and start a call with the visitor, or play one of the pre-programmed messages to your guest (like “I’m busy right now”). If you don’t answer, the visitor can leave you a message as well.
The Arlo App is one of the better video doorbell apps out there. There’s not too much of a learning curve, and most people will be able to figure out all of its features and functions within a few hours.
You can customize many of the features to your liking, and you can see the most recent activity right on the main screen. The menu icons at the bottom are easy to navigate, and you can take a shortcut and access the main menu directly by pressing the menu button on the image on the main screen.
The Arlo Video Doorbell retails for $150, and that price includes three months of Arlo Smart. This is an exceptional value considering the pricing of other video doorbells on the market. The Ring 3 Plus, for example, sells for around $230. The Arlo is closer in price to a lot of budget doorbells, yet it offers much more than most video doorbells in the budget category.
With an Arlo Smart subscription, you get additional features like 30-days of recording history and more advanced motion detection that alerts you to people, packages, vehicles, or animals on your property.
Although the Google Nest Hello and Arlo doorbells are similar, the Google Nest Hello retails for significantly more ($230). Like the Arlo, the Google Nest Hello requires a subscription to unlock all of the features, but the Nest Hello a bit more subscription dependent than the Arlo.
The Nest Hello does provide some benefits over the Arlo—it feels a bit faster, it's a slightly easier install, and the picture appears cleaner even though it’s 1600x1200. Both doorbells offer perks like person and package detection, but the Arlo offers a better viewing angle and a built-in siren.
A budget-priced video doorbell with high-end specs and features.
With a built-in siren, people and package detection, high res video, and high-quality audio, the Arlo Video Doorbell hits the mark in almost every area.