Arlo Video Doorbell review: Arlo ousted Nest as my favorite video doorbell

Arlo kept us waiting a long time for his first video doorbell, but I’m happy to say it was worth it. The Netgear spinoff Arlo it essentially transformed hers excellent Arlo Pro series of outdoor security cameras in a bell – a great bell – for only $ 150.

Like it

  • 180 degree viewing angle and 1: 1 aspect ratio show packets left by your door
  • The built-in siren makes it more like a home security camera than the Nest and Ring

I do not like

  • No free cloud storage – you have to pay for the Arlo Smart plan of $ 3 per month
  • Bigger than most of its competitors, including the large Nest Hello

If you consider that the Nest Hello Coming in at $ 229, Arlo’s $ 150 video intercom starts to sound pretty good value. While many of Arlo’s cameras are expensive, if not too expensive, the company has made great strides over the past year to introduce more affordable options, including the Arlo Video Doorbell.

It has a good price, it works well is Arlo Smart cloud service is competitively priced, starting at $ 3 per month. With Arlo Smart, you get tons of features, from advanced motion alerts to 30 days of cloud storage, and more.

Yes, I wish this buzzer had free cloud storage and the doorbell itself was smaller (it looks nice, but it’s over 5 inches tall, even bigger than the Nest Hello). But I highly recommend Arlo Video Doorbell, enough to give it an Editors’ Choice Award and enough to say it’s my current favorite video doorbell.

Finally, an Arlo doorbell with live streaming

This is Arlo’s first video doorbell, but it is not the brand’s first doorbell. I reviewed the $ 80 Arlo Audio Doorbell in April 2019 and was … confused. As the name suggests, the Arlo Audio Doorbell has no video capability. Instead, you should use it with an Arlo Pro series camera.

The audio doorbell had two-way conversation, but a nearby Pro camera should have provided the live video stream. Since then, I’ve been waiting for Arlo to introduce a video doorbell, a device that didn’t require a Pro camera to perform the functions of a regular smart buzzer.

Now, Arlo has provided the wired video intercom.

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Follow the step by step guide to install your doorbell. As always, consult a professional electrician if you have any questions.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton / HDOT

The Arlo app defines the video doorbell setup process from the start, making it easy to install the doorbell and complete the initial setup.

Start by downloading the Arlo app and creating an account if you don’t already have one. Follow the steps in the app, from turning off the circuit breaker to installing the power kit (an adapter that plugs into the doorbell buzzer to regulate the power going to your Arlo Video Doorbell) and installing Arlo Video Doorbell himself. Unlike some Arlo cameras, the doorbell connects directly to your wireless network, without the need for an expensive hub. It will also work with a mechanical or digital doorbell.

Be sure to consult an electrician if you have any questions about setting up your specific home, but it took about 20 minutes from start to finish to install the Arlo power kit and video doorbell on the HDOT Smart Home.

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Arlo Video Doorbell is a bit oversized (pictured next to Google Nest Hello).

Tyler Lizenby / HDOT

Arlo Video Doorbell has a decent design, but I wish it were a little smaller. At over 5 inches tall, it dwarfs most of the other smart doorbells I’ve tested, including the Nest Hello. Still, it looks nice – think about where you plan to install the doorbell and whether it fits.

Using Arlo Video Doorbell in the app is also easy. Like the Arlo Pro and Essential security cameras, you can turn Arlo Video Doorbell on or off, not unlike a traditional security system. When armed, motion detection and video recording are active. When it is unarmed, you will not receive any alerts.

You can also set up an automated schedule when you want your doorbell to be armed or disarmed, or even set it to work within your fence range, which controls the doorbell mode based on your phone’s location. When you are home, disarm the system and when you are away, arm the system. You can set the radius to small, medium, or large, although the app doesn’t specify the size of each range. I used big and he successfully armed and disarmed the doorbell for me when I arrived and left the HDOT Smart Home.

Without the Arlo Smart subscription plan, starting at $ 3 per month (read more here), you can’t do much in the app. Receive alerts when the system is activated and motion is detected, but you will not receive saved clips of any of the other advanced features Arlo offers.

When your system is armed and you have an Arlo Smart subscription, you will receive personalized alerts that will tell you if the movement was a person, car, animal, or package being delivered. 99% of my alerts were from people walking in and out of the front door, and the doorbell correctly identified them each time as in-person alerts. One notice I got was a generic motion alert from a bird that flew very close to the doorbell – it should have been an animal alert, but I’ll give it to this as how close the bird was to the doorbell yes.

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You can activate the doorbell’s built-in siren on demand, and the doorbell’s 1: 1 aspect ratio (image below) allows you to see more of your front curve.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton / HDOT

If you want to customize the area in which to receive alerts, you can set up a motion detection zone. This allows you to draw a “zone” in which you want to detect motion; the doorbell will then ignore movement that occurs outside that zone.

The doorbell also has a built-in siren and an option in the app to “Activate Siren” if you see something strange happening in your home. You can also call a friend or use the E911 service to send local law enforcement to your home if needed.

I particularly like the square proportions of this bell, which allows me to see the front curve where the packages are delivered. Some doorbells display live feeds and recorded clips in a more traditional landscape mode, excluding the critical areas you want to monitor.

The verdict

For $ 150, you get a solid wired doorbell that, yes, is a little oversized, but works extremely well. It has many advanced features, and even its essential features, such as live streaming, motion alerts, two-way audio, and cloud storage, work as expected.

The square aspect ratio is one of my favorite features of this device in general, because it clearly addresses how people often use their front door nowadays – to monitor when packages are delivered. And with the 1: 1 aspect ratio, you can easily see everything being delivered.

I still wish Arlo would offer a basic free cloud storage option, even just a few hours of saved clips, but I’m slowly starting to get the $ 3 / month price tag for cloud services, especially when they work as well as the Arlo Video Doorbell.

First published December 24, 2019.

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