There are so many options in DIY and wire-free home security. There are so many brands around, individual cameras and kits with broad-reaching functionality that can meet and surpass the needs of users. We’ve had a look at Swann, Ring and Arlo in the past, today we’re looking at Arlo’s latest addition the Essential Spotlight Camera.

What is it?

It’s similar in functionality to the Swann Spotlight camera we recently took a look at, but with a couple of differences. The primary difference is that the Essential Spotlight camera is battery powered, rather than mains powered.

The box contents is very simple:

  • The camera
  • A charging cable
  • Wall mount bracket
  • A mounting kit for either wood or brick surfaces

As you would expect, it triggers motion alerts to your phone when the cameras are armed and after dark, the spotlight will also illuminate. The two-way audio means you can converse with whoever happens to be near your camera or trigger the siren to scare away would-be intruders. Finally, as you would expect with an outdoor security camera, the Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera is weather resistant so you can mount it wherever you want to.

Setup as a stand-alone camera, or add it to your existing system

Arlo Technologies recognised that not everyone has an existing camera security system. So the Essential Spotlight Camera can be set up as a first, stand-alone camera or simply added to an existing system. For this installation, the latter was the case.

To initiate adding the camera, in the app you simply need to add a device. From there, providing you’re able to follow simple instructions you’ll be running in minutes. The camera needs to be turned on and the app detects that — in my case — there is a base station in place. The camera and base station then link and your new camera is online.

It’s likely you’ll get a firmware upgrade immediately, but this too is automated.

The process to connect the camera to my existing system was very easy and only took a matter of minutes. From unboxing to viewing a stream, was less than 10 minutes and I don’t believe it could have been any easier.

Placement of your camera

Unlike a standard wire-free camera, the spotlight makes the placement of this camera a little more important. It can be placed on a pathway approaching your home, a particularly dark corner of the yard to provide visibility and safety as you approach your home.

If you’re adding to an existing system think about the existing coverage and covering any “blind spots” your camera system may currently have. If you’re not really sure where you want to, or perhaps should, set up your camera there are some excellent tutorials for DIY security on YouTube.

Video feed and Arlo App features

With purchase and installation of an Essential Spotlight Camera, you’ll find that within the Arlo app you’ll have a 3 month free trial of Arlo Smart. This is their subscription service which offers a host of features:

  • Higher resolution storage
  • Longer period of storage
  • Object (person, animal, package etc) detection and notification
  • Activity zones (ability to ignore bushes that move in the wind)
  • Customisable and intelligent alerting

What this results in is an easy to understand, to customise with excellent quality of user experience. There just haven’t been any false positive alerts since I engage the feature for object detection, despite the fact that the camera is pointing at a garden area.

Where some of the other Arlo Cameras can lend themselves to indoor mounting, the Essential Spotlight is clearly intended for outdoor use. It reacts very well to movement, captures these but (once set up) will only notify you actively of people moving in your yard. Even being mounted in an exposed area, I’m very impressed at how little noise is captured by the camera.

The video feed you’ll get on your mobile device, as well as the cloud storage, is 1080p which in most cases is enough to show who or what has been in your yard. Providing you have a decent upload speed (NBN should ensure that, right?) the images and videos you’ll see on your device are crystal clear.

Smart Assistant options

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Arlo hardware is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. We’ve got a few security cameras at my home, to be able to simply ask Google to show me “camera name” and have it appears within seconds live streaming just makes visibility around your home very easy.

Final thoughts

The Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera is a new entry into an established market. To make an impact it needs to be really good, offer something new or both. Coupled with the Arlo Smart features, it’s a really impressive little package.

The versatility of being able to hook this up as your first, stand-alone camera or add it to an existing system with a base station makes it that much better. The additional functionality of the spotlight means that it can double as a safety light for night time around your home.

You can pick up the Essential Spotlight Cameras at a starting price of $229.00 for one and $429.00 for two. They’re available starting in September from the usual retail chains.

Disclosure Statement

The camera is permanently mounted to a difficult to access location, thedostory have not requested the item back.