With the burst in smart technology, one popular category to emerge is the Smart Video Doorbell. Like many smart devices, a smart doorbell takes the original device and improves it in several ways.
We’ve been reviewing the Arlo Wired Video Doorbell for a while now and I have to say, I like it. We had been looking for a device that was compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, allowed remote monitoring and had the option to enable more advanced features.
So did the Arlo Video Doorbell do the trick? Read on to find out.
The device itself looks similar to other smart doorbells you have seen, with an elongated body, video camera and well, a button. We quite like the rounded look of the Arlo compared to the boxy appearance of many others, but that’s going to come down to taste. It’s a bit thicker than some we have seen, but we also don’t think this is a real issue.
The camera itself is an FHD HDR-capable sensor, with a maximum resolution of 1536×1536 providing a 180-degree field of view. Using inbuilt infrared LEDs the Arlo Doorbell provides security day and night.
Audio-wise it includes a single microphone array as well as an adequate speaker. While I wouldn’t recommend hooking this thing up to your Chromecast network to pump out the party tunes it was more than ample for its intended purpose.
Now, this is a very very very very important point, this device is intended for retrofitting into an existing wired 16 – 24V AC wired doorbell. The Arlo contains no chime of its own, and the optional chime requires the dedicated Arlo wireless Hub to connect, which quickly gets expensive, however with Alexa and Assistant integration you can get announcements that way.
Again, make sure you have an AC powered doorbell, if not Arlo also offers a completely wireless option you can consider.
Installation took me about 20 minutes to complete the first time I installed it. This installation was replacing a traditional wired doorbell and was super simple. The app provinces step by step instructions for those that need them.
Once the old doorbell was removed and the Arlo attached it simply powered up. Connecting to the app is also simple, you flash a QR code from the app in front of the camera, enter your WiFi credentials and you’re done.
Now, due to unforeseen timings, I had to rapidly move house and as a result, I found myself without a powered Doorbell to replace. Long long story short I was able to rig up an independent power supply and get the unit working.
Arlo does not recommend this, I do not recommend this, but if for some reason you want to I can attest that it is possible.
The simplicity of a Video Doorbell is actually one of their best features. For the user there is no training, they arrive at the door and press the button, that’s it. From there depending on your set up several things will happen.
If you have a chime attached, it will Chime. If you’ve connected it to a Smart Assistant it will announce the visitor, and of course, the app will notify you.
The app will notify you when motion is detected, so if you notice this as people are walking towards your door, you can actually open the feed before they even press the button. If not, you will receive a ‘call’ from the doorbell.
The 180-degree field of view is more than adequate for my set up, and the motion detection has never failed to work. Audio quality is acceptable for the purpose, allowing clear two-way communication.
I will say that with my NBN connection (HFC) I get about a 5 second lag between what is happening in real-time and what I see and hear in the app. This can result in a bit of a calling from the other side of the world experience.
Google Assistant integration
With Google Assistant integration your Assistant speakers and displays become part of your chime network, with notifications when the doorbell is pressed. You are also able to link to the camera from a smart display to see what’s going on at your front door.
This has been handy when waiting for Ubers etc, if I think I hear the horn in my office I can tap the camera and bring up the feed. I would love the ability to answer the doorbell from the Assistant display and actually have a 2-way conversation, at this stage that is not supported.
One of the big advantages of a smart doorbell is the ability to get enhanced features such as cloud recording, object detection, package detection and even individual identification. Arlo offers all of these features, except detecting specific people as part of their monthly smart plan.
Unlike some smart video products, the Arlo system does not include any cloud backups without a subscription. If you do subscribe, $4.49/ month for one camera $14.99 for up to 5 at 2k quality.
What’s in the subscription? You get 30 days cloud storage, person, vehicle, animal and package detection including smart notifications letting you know right in the notification shade what’s been detected, and finally Cloud activity zones where you can specify what zones of the camera you want to monitor, handy for avoiding moving trees and shrubs.
The notifications work well, and we found that it’s person/ pet, vehicle or package detection was always accurate.
While there are growing numbers of Smart Doorbells available in Australia, Arlo is one of the only devices you can get that offer Google Assistant Integration, wired power and retail availability for peace of mind. At $289 RRP it’s not overly expensive, either.
Of course, if you want all of the benefits of a smart system you’re going to have to pay the $4.49 per month, which at $54 a year is not really that expensive. Arlo has the advantage of being a widely available brand in Australia, and if you want to build a larger security ecosystem you can easily expand with cameras, floodlights and even a baby monitor.
Would I recommend the Arlo Wired Video Doorbell? Yes, if its features suit your needs, it’s easy to install, inexpensive and worked flawlessly for us. I am not a fan of buying devices locked into one ecosystem or another so the integration with both Assistant and Alexa is a huge bonus for me.
If you’re looking for the ability to use a smart display to control your video doorbell and interact with guests, then your retail options in Australia are limited. If that’s not a deal-breaker for you then I fully recommend the Arlo Wired Video Doorbell.