Know who is at your door before they knock.
UPDATE as of 5/29/2020: Arlo Video Doorbell is now compatible with Google Assistant. With Google Assistant, you can automatically receive notifications whenever the doorbell is pressed. At any time, you can ask “Hey Google, show me the front door” to live stream video from your Arlo doorbell directly to your Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max.
UPDATE: As of Feb 4, 2020, the Arlo Doorbell is now compatible with Amazon Alexa.
For many years, I have enjoyed the peace of mind that comes from having home security cameras installed. Because I like the ease of use and wireless gadgets, I lean towards the home security solutions that work with my iOS devices. I’ve discovered that one of the most vital parts of the home security puzzle is in fact a video doorbell. I’ve used several different brands in the past and now, I am happy to be able to review the Arlo Video Doorbell.
According to the Arlo Video Doorbell website, it’s designed to capture what traditional video doorbells can’t. Users are notified when motion is detected and will receive a call on their phone when the doorbell is pressed. The camera captures HD video with HDR for more vivid details than most video doorbells and features night vision. There is a 180º viewing angle with a 1:1 aspect ratio displayed from the camera and 2-way audio is provided so that users can hear and speak to visitors. You also have the option to respond with a pre-recorded message. The Arlo Video Doorbell is built to withstand heat, cold, rain, or sun. This doorbell is hard-wired into your existing doorbell wiring. In addition to being able to monitor those who come and go from your home, the Arlo Video Doorbell also gives you the option of using a siren to ward off intruders.
The Arlo Video Doorbell comes with 3 months of Arlo Smart at no charge (subscription packages start at $2.99 for one camera). Some of the features of Arlo Smart include:
- Cloud Video recording (starting at 2K video resolution)
- Cloud Video history – up to 30 days
- Interactive notifications
- Person, Vehicle, and Animal detection
- Package detection
- Cloud activity zones
- Call a Friend
- e911 Emergency Call Service (U.S. subscribers only; only available with multi-camera plans)
Video Doorbell Specs:
- Max Video Resolution: 1536×1536
- Video Modes: 1536×1536, 1080×1080, 720×720, 1:1 ratio
- All Video Features: HDR, SIP video call at doorbell push
- Max Lens Field of View: 180-degree diagonal
- Spotlight: No
- Motion Detection: Single Motion Sensor, 110-degree horizontal
- Night Vision: Night Vision, high powered Infrared LEDs (850nm) with IR Cut Filter
- Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor UV & Weather resistant
- Digital Zoom: 12x
- Microphone: Single Microphone Array
- Audio: Full Duplex 2-way audio, SIP audio/video call initiated at doorbell press, quick reply messages
- Operating Temperature: -20 to 45 degree Celsius
- Wired doorbell and chime with existing electrical wiring.
- Voltage between 16V AC and 24V AC, and a 10VA transformer.
- High-Speed Internet Connection.
One of the reasons I decided to switch to the Arlo Video Doorbell was because I had recently added Arlo Video cameras into my home security plan. They are easy to install and work with so I thought the same would be true of the doorbell. I wasn’t disappointed. The first step in working with the doorbell is to install it. As noted above, a wired doorbell and chime with existing electrical wiring are required in the home before installation can take place. Our home is about 40 years old and even though it’s quite old, there is an existing wired doorbell in the home. The doorbell kit comes with:
- (1) Arlo Video Doorbell
- (1) Flat Mounting Plate
- (1) Angled Mounting Plate
- (1) Power Kit
- (1) Screw Kit
- (1) Security Latch Release Pin
- (1) Wire Extensions
- (1) Quick Start Guide
One step in the set-up for this video doorbell stood out to me. I had to connect a power kit to the existing chime. In the past, I simply had to connect the doorbell unit to the wiring on the exterior of the house. At first, I was slightly intimidated about doing this as it’s an old chime. I opened up the chime assembly and found three screws where the chime was wired in. The Arlo App actually walks you through the entire installation process and included variations for the different wiring harnesses that one might encounter with the chime. I loosened the screws and attached the wiring from the power kit. The power kit is supposed to be adhered to the chime assembly using the included 3M adhesive. It’s recommended that you find a place where it’s not going to interfere with the wiring or the chime. Once I did, then I moved outside to install the doorbell.
Once you attach the mounting plate (with or without the angled back), installation is just a matter of attaching the existing wiring to the back of the doorbell and then connecting the doorbell to your WiFi. Once the wires are attached to the doorbell unit, you simply snap it the doorbell into the mounting plate. The wires will power the doorbell and you will follow the on-screen instructions to get it connected. Connecting the doorbell to your home’s Internet network is only a three-step process.
- Enter your WiFi’s credentials.
- Allow the app to search for the doorbell.
- Doorbell is added to your Arlo app list of cameras.
This was probably the easiest video doorbell set-up I’ve encountered. I wouldn’t classify the others as ‘hard’ per se, but I didn’t experience any connection issues and in less than 5 minutes from when I powered on the doorbell, it was operational and sending notifications to my phone. The video quality has been outstanding and we actually installed this doorbell at just the right time — the holidays. With the ongoing onslaught of packages being delivered and the increased threat of porch pirates invading, I loved having the additional protection for our home. I do have a couple of features I would like to see modified.
- The doorbell can only connect to 2.4Ghz networks. We have a dual-band wireless router so it wasn’t an issue for us, but I would love to see more WiFi connected devices be able to connect to 5Ghz networks as well.
- The screws that came with the installation kit were sub-par. This is not an issue that is exclusive to Arlo. Most installation screws that come with devices like this are cheaply made. In this case, the screws stripped and I had to find a suitable substitute in my toolbox in order to finish the installation.
- It would be great to have an image on-screen when the doorbell calls your phone. I love the calling feature of the doorbell, but dislike that you answer the call without seeing who you are answering. All the phone shows is “Arlo Doorbell Calling” with a black screen.
- When you go to view a new notification, you are taken to the main dashboard in the app rather than directly to the video clip associated with the notification.
- It would be nice if a few days of cloud video was accessible without a subscription to one of the premium plans.
Even though I had a few things I’d like to see improved, the Arlo Video Doorbell does a lot of things very right. For example, when you get a notification, a screenshot of the video appears with the notification — even on the Apple Watch. This feature has come in VERY handy for me. I also really like the fact that the doorbell is in the same app as the other Arlo cameras. I really dislike it when security cameras from the same company (or any connected devices really) have different apps.
The Arlo Video Doorbell is a very nice option for home security. Installation is easy and it’s a solid investment for the price you pay. I’ve been very happy with the quality of the products I’ve gotten from Arlo and I can’t wait to try their next release.