Review: Arlo Essential Indoor Camera- Manufacturer Arlo presented a new Indoor Camera in the ‘Essential’ series last month. The cameras in this series come with essential features, but at a budget-friendly price. In this review we will start with the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera with a sales price of 129 euros. Is that still budget-friendly?
Specifications and design
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is a smart security camera for the home and has been available since April 1 available in our country. It records images in 1080p resolution and comes with an automated privacy shield. Are you at home? Then the lens is closed. Are you leaving? Then the cover slides away from the lens and the camera is active. The camera offers two-way audio, comes with night vision and gives you notifications on your phone in case of movement and / or audio detection. There is also a built-in siren. You can easily connect the camera to your WiFi network.
When combined with an Arlo Smart subscription (you get three months free with purchase), videos are stored in the cloud for up to 30 days, you get smart notifications, detection of people, vehicles and animals, package detection, activity zones in the cloud and the ability to have a friend automatically call in the event of an emergency. Without Arlo Smart, images are therefore not saved. Then you only have access to live video streaming and notifications. In most cases this is not enough. After all, you want to be able to review images and have access to the recordings. And so the purchase price of 129 euros will eventually become even more expensive because of the Arlo Smart subscription that you actually cannot live without. For a single camera, an Arlo Smart subscription costs 2.79 euros per month.
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera seems to come with good hardware, but in a (cheap) plastic jacket. The security camera is available in white and black. The front with the lens is flat and black. The back is convex. Here we also find the speaker. The base at the bottom lets you place the camera in every conceivable angle. However, the base is made of a low quality (hard) plastic. You can place this camera, but you can also hang it on the wall. The mounting material is included in the box. We find a USB connection at the bottom of the camera. You connect the cable here, after which you plug the other end into the socket. The cable is approximately one and a half meters long and the plug is also included.
Setup and the Arlo app
Installation has been kept very simple. You download the Arlo app and create an account. In the app, press add camera, after which you must select the correct model. Put the plug in the wall socket, enter your WiFi password and have the qr code on your phone scanned by the camera at a distance of about 15 centimeters. Actually, it was. The camera will then search for the latest updates. This can take a few minutes. The camera is then ready for use.
We have used the Arlo app with other products of the brand before. Although it looks very clear at first glance, you have to give yourself fifteen minutes before you really know your way through the settings. If you open the app, you will see three tabs at the bottom. By default, the ‘Devices’ tab opens. Here you will find an overview of all connected Arlo cameras. Click on the image to start the liveview. If you press the three dots below the liveview, the device settings will be there. Even a very scanty overview of device settings. How can you set things up now? Surely these cannot be all possibilities? It took a few minutes before I found the correct window for the device settings. At the bottom of the app, next to ‘Devices’, you will also see ‘Library’ with all recorded images and finally ‘Mode’. With this option you can turn off or turn on all devices. Below that you see an overview of ‘My devices’. If you click on the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera, you will see four statuses, namely Enabled, Disabled, Schedule and Geofencing. Behind each of these options is a pencil. Press this and then another window opens with another pencil under ‘Rules’. You can press here and you will see the actual options.
You have now entered a kind of if / then principle. First of all, choose ‘As the following’. Below are the events for detecting motion and / or audio. You can also set the sensitivity of the motion sensor behind movement. Then enter the actions under ‘Then do the following’: For example, you can choose Do nothing, Record video (behind this you press the pencil to set the time of the recording) and Take snapshot. Below you choose whether the siren should be activated. You can also reset the siren in terms of sound level. And trust us, the siren is very loud! Finally, you will find at the very bottom whether you want to receive notifications or e-mail alerts.
As you can read above, geofencing also works. This function uses the GPS signal from your phone. If you choose this option, you can choose a status when you are not at home. For example, the alarm is automatically switched on when you are away and switched off again when you are at home. This way everything goes automatically and you don’t actually have to do anything at all anymore.
Picture quality and sound
The images are displayed in 1080p resolution. And the quality of the images is good. You can clearly distinguish people and subjects and the wide viewing angle also helps for a good overview. The image is therefore sharp and clear enough in most circumstances. This resolution is more than sufficient for a home security camera. Is it getting too dark? Then the camera switches to night vision. The quality of this can be called reasonable. The amount of noise is just a bit too high in our opinion, but it will suffice in most situations. We are less satisfied with the delay in the image. In recent years I have tested dozens of security cameras. The network here at home is more than powerful enough to show as little delay as possible between reality and the live view. And yet there is at least a four-second delay between reality and the live view of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera. How is that possible? No idea. As a test we also have the Kruidvat IP camera connected at the same time and checked whether the wifi signal was indeed the problem. Not so. The delay was less than half a second. That delay with the Arlo camera is reflected in everything. It also takes about four seconds before you receive a notification. The sound in two-way communication is also four seconds behind.
The question is to what extent this delay is a problem. The camera responds accurately to movement and will store these images (in the case of an Arlo Smart subscription) in the cloud. So you have the images and during the test period it has become clear that the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera always responds reliably. It does, however, make two-way communication somewhat difficult. When you say something on your smartphone, it takes a few seconds before the sound comes from the speaker on the camera. A conversation is therefore quite difficult and you continuously talk past each other. What does not help is that the quality of the sound is not top. You have to listen carefully, otherwise you will not understand anything at all. The microphone on the camera is excellent, because you can hear everything well on your smartphone. Not the other way around. The sound from the small speaker on the back of the camera is very disappointing and half the time you cannot be heard at all. The sound is very depressed and creaky, making conversations, together with the delay present, very difficult. Everything can be heard remotely on your smartphone, but you cannot follow the conversation close to the camera.
Arlo Essential Indoor Camera in use
In use, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is generally a very nice camera. You can adjust many things via the app and if you also turn on the geofencing, then you actually do not have to worry about it at all. Everything then goes automatically. The alarm turns on when you leave and turns off when you get home. If you don’t want this, you can also adjust the mode and switch the alarm on or off at the touch of a button. And it is nice that you can make your own rules using the if / then principle, so that you have many options. The privacy shield helps to guarantee your privacy when you are at home. The slider goes in front of the camera, making it impossible to be secretly filmed. Worried about someone watching through a hack when you get home? In principle, this is not possible due to the privacy shield.
The app has a small learning curve, but give it fifteen minutes to half an hour and you know exactly where to find everything. The image quality in 1080p is more than sufficient and the night vision also works properly, although it is not great. Something we would like to see on cameras a lot more often is a built-in siren. This one is nice and loud and very annoying. Just as it should be. We are less pleased with the sound quality. You can speak to any unwanted visitor via two-way communication, but the quality of this is not good due to the poor speaker on the camera. The present delay of four to five seconds does not contribute to this either. If you already have other Arlo cameras in and around your house, then this model is a nice addition that fits seamlessly with the other cameras of the brand.
Arlo is known for its wide smarthome integration. We also find it on the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera. There is support for Google Home and Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT and SmartThings. This means you can always integrate this security camera with other smart home platforms, which is a nice addition. For more information, see the website of Arlo.
Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Conclusion
Arlo wants to offer essential features at a budget-friendly price with this Essential Indoor Camera. To what extent can 129 euros for a security camera still be called budget-friendly? Not as far as we are concerned. The quality of this camera is generally good. Despite the delay of a few seconds, this security camera does exactly what it is supposed to do. The image is good, the motion notifications are reliable and images are well stored in the cloud with a subscription. And the built-in siren ensures that this model is an advantage over cameras that do not have it. An Arlo Smart subscription is actually essential, because otherwise you will not have the option to save and replay images. However, that will make this security camera more expensive in the long run. You can already buy a Tuya security camera for 20 euros at stores such as Action and Kruidvat. These are of course a bit less qualitative and they lack a siren, but they do let you store the images on a memory card without subscription costs. In our reviews you have read that you also have reliable reports and recordings with these cheap cameras. Or take a look at the brand’s cameras Eufy wherever you don’t need a subscription. The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is a good security camera, but in our opinion it is too expensive compared to what you get for it.
Pros of Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
- Complete alarm system in a single camera
- Built-in siren is nice and loud
- Privacy shield guarantees your privacy
- Image quality is good
Negatives of Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
- No storage without a subscription
- Speaker on camera makes conversations very difficult
- Delay of four to five seconds
- Not so budget friendly after all