I’ll be honest; I jumped on the chance when I was asked whether I’d be interested in reviewing the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free.
Ever since I moved into my own house a couple of ago, I’ve been debating on whether I should get a video doorbell. The convenience one offers is awesome since you can pretty much be at home without being at home but then I’ve not yet found the doorbell.
So…after using the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell for a couple of weeks now, is the doorbell worth it?
Read on to find out.
What is the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free?
The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free is a smart doorbell from Arlo.
It has a camera that records in HDR, voice control and can connect with other smart home devices. The doorbell can be powered in two ways; via the included rechargeable battery pack or through your house’s wiring.
For this review, I used the rechargeable battery.
The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free costs SG$329.
Housed in a solid plastic container, the doorbell feels very sturdy and looks pretty cool.
The shiny black plastic exterior gives it a sleek, modern look that’ll impress anybody who sees it. Despite being made of hard plastic, I didn’t really get the impression that the doorbell’s a cheap piece of tech. Then again, it’s a doorbell…who’d care if it was?
I do have my worries if it’ll stand up to a drop from wherever you mount it but that’s a non-issue if the mounting plate’s securely fastened.
As for the fit, everything locked into place snugly with very little effort.
The rechargeable lithium ion battery pack snaps into its enclosure securely and the doorbell itself hooks up to the mounting plate (there’s a flat and angled one to fit your style) with no issue whatsoever.
All around, the doorbell is a solid piece of work.
First off, let’s start with the installation.
It’s damn easy.
You just charge the battery (which is supposed to last 6 months on a full charge), then when it’s full you insert it into the doorbell and hook it up next to your door. You’ll need to drill the mounting plate into your wall but that’s it. Or if you’re like me, you can just use double sided tape. That works too.
There are no wires (not unless you want to power it by your house’s doorbell wiring) so you don’t need to fiddle or finagle anything into place to make sure the doorbell works.
The only thing I disliked about the installation was that there was no way to lock the doorbell into the mounting plate. That means that somebody who’s familiar with the doorbell can easily slip it out of the mounting plate and just steal it.
It’s a weird oversight, especially as you need to use a special tool to unlock the battery compartment on the doorbell.
Why not just make it so there’s another lock (that locks the doorbell to the mounting) that requires that tool too to detach the doorbell from the mounting plate? If nothing else, it’d certainly set the buyer at ease and not worry about the doorbell being stolen.
I love how easy the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free is to set up through the Arlo app via Wi-Fi.
Connecting the app to the doorbell was simple, just follow the instructions and you’re set. It’s that easy.
Once the app is paired with the doorbell, you’ll get a ton of options on how you want to handle visitors. You can pre-record a message to play, you can get a live video feed of who’s at your door…you can even chat with them if you’re inclined.
I live in a HDB and the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free works like a charm. The video feed is crystal clear, even at night, ensuring that I was able to make out who was calling at the door.
The doorbell itself isn’t that complicated to use.
In fact, to visitors, there’s only one button to push.
The other visible feature on the doorbell is the camera, which is capable of video at 1536 by 1536, with a 1:1 aspect ratio (which gives you a full view of anybody at the door). The camera is also HDR capable so you’ll be able to make out better colors. I don’t really see a point to this, but it’s still a welcome feature to have.
Other features of the camera included a 180-degree FOV (field of view), a 12X digital zoom, a motion sensor (it’ll inform you on the app when it detects motion) and black and white night vision. HDB owners won’t need this feature though, as lights are constantly on in the blocks.
Unfortunately, there’s no built-in storage on the doorbell.
In fact, you can’t even use a microSD card or any sort of storage. If you want to save videos, you’ll need to subscribe to Arlo’s service or have a Smart Hub with storage capability. It’s a bit of a hassle, especially since the app should let you save videos direct to your phone.
I’m pleased to say that response time for the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free isn’t that bad. It’s noticeable but can be easily overlooked.
There’s a lag of a couple of seconds between the video that’s beamed to your phone and what’s happening outside but it’s not a deal breaker. After all, you’re not playing a game.
The app also lets you know if somebody is at the front door via motion sensing, so you can take a look if there’s somebody loitering outside without alerting them.
The Bottom Line:
I’m pretty impressed with the tech that the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-free has. It’s packing sharp video, a whole lot of features and an easy to use app. All those features make it a really attractive purchase.
Unfortunately it’s not perfect.
As I mentioned earlier, the inability to lock it to the mounting plate is a major gripe. The doorbell isn’t cheap, so somebody making off with it was a major fear of mine throughout my usage.
There’s also no local storage, which really sucks if you need video proof of a stranger or for other reasons. Implementing the ability to save to an SD card or to your phone’s memory via the app should’ve been a feature, especially considering the price of the doorbell.
Being forced to subscribe to Arlo’s service also rankles a bit. You’ve already paid a pretty penny for the doorbell but then are forced to shell out for a monthly fee if you want to take advantage of some of the doorbell’s more advanced features.
Great smart doorbell but could be much better.
- Looks nice
- Clear picture
- Tons of features
- No wires
- Pricey (SG$329)
- Need to subscribe to save videos
- No way to secure it in place