In this review, we’re going to get started with the Arlo Video Doorbell. This video doorbell has an aspect ratio of 1: 1 and has unique functions on board.
We had to wait a long time for it, but the Arlo Video Doorbell is now also available in the Benelux. The Arlo video doorbell was nine months ago already announced , but appeared initially only in the United States. Last month, the Arlo Video Doorbell was launched with a suggested retail price of 199 euros. Unique to this model is the square viewing angle. Does Arlo’s first video doorbell convince? You can read the answer in this review.
What is it?
The Arlo Video Doorbell is a smart video doorbell with a unique 1: 1 aspect ratio. The maximum video resolution is 1,536 by 1,536 pixels, but you can also choose a lower resolution of 1,080 x 1,080 pixels or 720 x 720 pixels. The viewing angle is 180 degrees, according to Arlo, although that is not achieved in the field test. We are dealing here with a very wide and high viewing angle, so that you have a lot of vertical view from the camera on this doorbell. HDR is supported, although you will not actually notice that much. In addition, there is night vision, adjustable motion detection with activity zones, 12x digital zoom, a siren and two-way communication.
You will receive notifications on your smartphone when motion is detected or when someone rings the bell. The camera distinguishes between people, animals and vehicles. Images are stored in the cloud with the Arlo Smart subscription. When you purchase the Arlo Video Doorbell you get three months free. Would you like to continue using Arlo Smart? Then that costs 2.79 euros per month for a single camera. Images are then stored for 30 days. Arlo also has subscriptions if you own multiple Arlo cameras. Local storage is not possible with the Arlo Video Doorbell. The European launch also provided support for Google Assistant .
Arlo Video Doorbell design
The Arlo Video Doorbell is initially quite similar to the Nest Hello with the white housing, the shape with rounded corners at the top and bottom and the black front. Still, the Arlo Video Doorbell is a bit longer. It is not disturbing, but it is something to take into account when you want to hang this video doorbell at your front door. However, there is nothing wrong with the build quality, because the whole is very sturdy. The doorbell button at the bottom is equipped with LED lights and you will find the camera at the top.
In the box you will find, in addition to the Arlo Video Doorbell, a straight mounting plate and an angled mounting plate (to hang the doorbell at an angle), a Power Kit for your mechanical chime, a Pin to remove the doorbell from the mounting plate and various screws and other materials to fix the doorbell. You will also find a bell transformer in the box for the correct voltage for the doorbell. The video doorbell is weatherproof and suitable for temperatures between -20 and +45 degrees Celsius.
Installing the Arlo Video Doorbell
The Arlo Video Doorbell cannot be connected to every doorbell connection. This model requires a voltage between 16V and 24V. In most old houses the old doorbell with mechanical gong works on 8V, although this is not always the case in new-build houses. Fortunately, Arlo supplies a bell transformer (DIN rail) for your meter cupboard. Don’t want to use your old mechanical gong? Then installation is easy with the supplied bell transformer. Power goes in and you connect the call cable directly to the Arlo Video Doorbell at the other end. If you want to keep using your old mechanical gong, you will have to tinker a little more. Arlo also supplies a Power Kit that you have to hang on your mechanical gong. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the mechanical gong will continue to sound.
The Arlo app will guide you through the entire installation, although the steps for the bell transformer are skipped. As the app also indicates, this is best done by an electrician (rightly so). After the physical installation, it’s just a matter of entering your WiFi password, scanning the QR code with the video doorbell and you’re done. However, the video doorbell will probably need fifteen minutes to charge the internal battery to some extent (LED lights around the doorbell button flash red and white alternately). Then it is completely ready for use. And no, that internal battery does not mean that you can use this model completely with a battery. You will always have to connect this model wired. However, if the power fails, you can continue for a while with the built-in battery until it is empty.
We have to compliment Arlo on the app, because it is immediately clear which option you can find where. When you open the app you come to the ‘Devices’ tab. Most of your screen shows the camera image. You can go directly to the live view at the touch of a button. At the top of the live view you will find the settings and a red button for the alarm. This way you can immediately activate the siren or call a set phone number. If you have multiple Arlo cameras, you will also find them on this tab. At the bottom, next to the ‘Devices’ tab, you will also find ‘Library’ (with all recordings) and the ‘Mode’ tab. Here you can switch devices on and off.
In the settings you can adjust all kinds of things, such as notifications, video settings and activity zones. This allows you to draw a square on the screen to indicate where the Arlo Video Doorbell should look for movement. You can also switch between a mechanical chime and a wireless chime and you can specify all kinds of preferences with regard to the operation of the video doorbell.
Within a few minutes you have adjusted all settings to your liking. The Arlo app is very clear and gives you all the options you could wish for. It is a pity that the software is a bit buggy. Through Arlo’s Community Forum, I read several issues users have with the video doorbell when they first turn it on after installation. And I ran into exactly the same problems. It started with the firmware update that Arlo asks you to do right away. This failed a number of times, after which it suddenly went well.
After that, the live view did not work and showed a black screen. According to the forum, it is important to set a lower video resolution, then watch the live view (that worked now) and then reset the resolution to the highest resolution. This was exactly right and solved the problems.
Another problem is the microphone when someone rings the bell. This is actually always on, whether you turn the button of the microphone on your screen on or off. Your visitor can therefore always hear you at this time, even if you have the microphone turned off. So if you answer via the shortcut keys (Quick Reply Messages) to play a spoken message, you have to be careful not to talk yourself. Your visitor will also be able to hear this. Also, the live view sometimes has trouble to be displayed when you click on it. Admittedly, the camera will always record instantly, so you don’t have to worry about missing footage, but sometimes the live view just won’t load. In theory, that could be due to the WiFi range, were it not that the range is also excellent at my front door. Incidentally, this problem mainly occurred during the hours after installation. After that, the live view almost always worked, although it can sometimes take a while.
So there seem to be quite a few teething problems in the software at the moment. Let’s hope that Arlo takes a serious look at this and can quickly solve this, because otherwise the Arlo app is very nice to work with.
Arlo Video doorbell in use
For the most part, the Arlo Video Doorbell (or Arlo Video Doorbell in the Netherlands) is a joy to work with. This is basically one of the best video doorbells on the market today, were it not for the fact that the software has various teething problems. Since the video doorbell has been on the market for nine months anyway, Arlo really has to work quickly to fix these problems quickly. These are not major problems that hinder the use of the video doorbell, but should not actually occur with a video doorbell of 199 euros.
Despite the software problems, it is a very reliable video doorbell that can send notifications to your smartphone very quickly. Unique to this model is the possibility to actually make calls with your video doorbell. Is someone calling? Even if your smartphone is locked, a full-screen notification appears immediately with which you can answer or hang up. Also nice are the aforementioned Quick Reply Messages. You simply click on these preset sentences to let your visitor know that you are on the way, not interested or to ask the parcel deliverer to simply drop the package at the front door.
Are you really unable to answer? Then set the visitor to be able to leave a message after twenty seconds. After those twenty seconds, an English voice asks if you want to leave a message. To do this, the visitor must press the doorbell button again, after which a thirty second video will be recorded. In contrast to the English voice of the built-in voicemail, the Quick Reply Messages are in Dutch. Whether this makes the visitor happy is the question, because the female voice is rather strict. Surely that could have been a bit more friendly? The Arlo app itself is completely Dutch.
The picture and sound quality of the Arlo Video Doorbell is excellent. It automatically switches to night vision when the situation calls for it and this also shows good images on your smartphone. The 1: 1 aspect ratio really has an added value, because you can also see better at the top and bottom. Notifications come in quickly and reliably and the distinction that the video doorbell itself manages to make between people and animals generally works well, although there can sometimes be a miss if the passing neighbor is mistaken for an animal. In my hallway in front of the apartment, motion detection is not an option anyway, because it will trigger anyone who walks by. Fortunately, you can also turn this off completely or adjust it via the Activity zones.
You don’t have to worry that someone can just steal the Arlo Video Doorbell. As soon as someone is fiddling with the housing, you will immediately receive a notification and you can immediately set off the siren if desired. You also need the Arlo Pin to remove the doorbell from the mounting plate. Finally, the support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. That support is available, but we are still missing an essential part. It would be very useful if the Google Nest Hub showed the image of the Arlo Video Doorbell when someone rings the doorbell. Unfortunately, this does not seem possible. You can, however, show the live view on your Google Nest Hub.
Arlo Video Doorbell – Conclusion
The Arlo Video Doorbell is potentially one of the best video doorbells on the market, were it not for the fact that the software has several teething problems. Overall, it doesn’t bother you with the reliability of the video doorbell, but you sometimes have to take a detour to get there. Arlo needs to fix this quickly, as I’m certainly not the only one who has run into these issues. However, recordings are always recorded quickly and reliably, just like the display of notifications on your smartphone.
Aside from the teething problems in the software, the Arlo Video Doorbell is a joy to work with. The image and sound quality is excellent and the video doorbell has many options to adjust things. Extras such as the siren, quick reply messages and the voicemail option are also valuable additions. Are you looking for a video doorbell? Then definitely consider the Arlo Video Doorbell.
- Excellent picture and sound quality
- Many extra options and setting options
- Clear app
- Teething problems in the software
- No live images to Google Nest Hub when you ring the bell
- Connecting can be tricky