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The battery-powered Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free features sharp HDR video, voice control, and interoperability with third-party smart devices.
In our review of the Arlo Video Doorbell last year, we praised its sharp HDR video, easy installation, and integration with Alexa. Arlo’s latest offering, the Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free ($199.99), provides the same excellent video quality and works with even more smart home devices. As its name implies, it’s now battery-powered, making it an excellent alternative to Ring’s $229.99 Video Doorbell 3 Plus. If you can use a wired camera, the Ezviz DB1C is half the price and offers more features, making it our Editors’ Choice.
Battery Space in a Familiar Design
The Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free resembles the original Arlo Video Doorbell. However, at 5.6 by 1.8 by 1.3 inches (HWD), it’s larger than that model (5.0 by 1.7 by 1.0 inches) and taller than the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus (5.1 by 2.4 by 1.1 inches). A rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack powers the device and simplifies installation since there are no wires to deal with.
Featuring a glossy black face, a white side trim, and a matte black mounting base (a black side trim is also available). A round button is surrounded by an LED status ring on the bottom half. The top half has a camera, an ambient light sensor, and a microphone. Below that is a small speaker.
A doorbell and base are included in the box, as are a battery pack, an angled mounting plate, a release pin, a battery charging cable, and various mounting and wiring hardware. Installation is straightforward: insert the release pin (included) into the hole on the top of the base and remove the Doorbell. For a hardwired power solution, you can use the two-wire terminals inside the base, but make sure you have a 10VA transformer that outputs 8-24 VAC, which is standard for most traditional doorbells.
The video is recorded at 1536 by 1536 pixels with a 1:1 aspect ratio, so you get a head-to-toe view of the person at your door. In addition, HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology allows for brighter whites, deeper blacks, and more vibrant colors. There is a 180-degree field of view, a 12X digital zoom, a 110-degree field of view motion sensor, and an infrared LED for black-and-white night vision.
In the same way as other Arlo products, the Essential Doorbell features a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio and does not require a hub, although you can connect it to an Arlo Smart Hub system. Additionally, it has a built-in siren that can be activated via the mobile app.
Unlike the Arlo doorbell we reviewed in our original review, the Essential model supports both Amazon Alexa voice commands and IFTTT applets. It is also compatible with Samsung SmartThings.
Whenever motion is detected or the doorbell button is pressed, the Doorbell records video and stores it in the cloud. Even so, the Ezviz DB1C does not offer local storage, nor does it have the Ring’s ability to capture four seconds of video before an event takes place. Unless you have a Smart Hub with a USB storage drive attached, you must subscribe to an Arlo Smart plan to access the video. $2.99 per month gets you 30 days of video history and 2K recording for a single camera.
Besides advanced object and package detection, cloud-based activity zones, intelligent alerts, and e911 calling, you can reach the nearest emergency dispatchers no matter where you are with Arlo. For $9.99 per month, you get the same features for up to five cameras.
Essential doorbells can be controlled with the same user-friendly mobile app (for Android and iOS) as Arlo cameras. The Devices screen contains panels for every Arlo camera you have installed, and each panel includes a still image with a play arrow. Tap the play arrow to view a live stream from the Doorbell. The video screen includes mute, snapshot, manual record, and two-way audio buttons. In the upper right corner are two arrows that allow you to view the video in full-screen mode.
Tap the gear icon in the lower right corner of the doorbell panel to access the settings screen. In this section, you can configure Wi-Fi settings, enable Flicker Adjustment, put the Doorbell into silent mode, and select a chime. The video settings let you adjust brightness, enable HDR and Night Vision, and configure video quality. You can determine which areas will trigger motion alerts using Activity Zone settings, and call settings allow you to muffle the speaker and microphone and enable the Leave a Message feature that instructs the visitor to leave a message if you do not answer after a period of 20 seconds.
With the Arlo doorbell, you can select from Home or Away modes to enable or disable motion detection. In addition, you can create a motion detection schedule or have the device change modes based on your location (geofencing). The red shield button at the top of the screen can be tapped to activate the siren, call 911, or call someone on your Friends list.
The video that is sharp and bright
You can install the Essentials Doorbell easily, especially if you take advantage of its wireless capabilities. I first charged the battery for a couple of hours until the LED indicator turned green. If you don’t already have an Arlo account, now would be a great time to download the mobile app and create one. I selected the Essential Doorbell Wire-Free on the opening screen (there’s a separate selection if you opt for a wired installation) and hit Continue after scrolling through the welcome screens.
For connecting the Doorbell to my network, I selected my network SSID, entered my Wi-Fi password, and removed the mounting plate from the Doorbell to install the battery pack. To begin the sync process, I tapped Continue and pressed the doorbell button. At this point, the LED ring began flashing white, signaling that the Doorbell was ready for setup. Then I held my phone with the QR code up to the doorbell camera until I heard a chime. I tapped Continue and waited a few seconds for the Doorbell to be added to my network, then I gave it a name, and within seconds it was added to my network.
You can also install the Doorbell physically with the on-screen instructions that help you determine the correct height and angle for optimal viewing. My doorframe was drilled with two holes and attached with screws using the mounting plate as a template. After snapping the Doorbell into the plate, the installation was complete.
The Essential Video Doorbell performed well in testing. The daytime video was bright, with outstanding image detail and rich colors, and the black-and-white night vision video was very sharp and showed excellent contrast.
The Motion Alerts arrived quickly, and the Advanced Object Detection feature correctly identified motion from people, animals, and vehicles. In addition, the package detection feature worked well, and the Amazon Echo Show device displayed video instantly in response to Alexa voice commands.
This is a top wireless doorbell.
For homeowners without low-voltage doorbell wiring and transformers or who don’t want to deal with them, the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free is a great choice. It delivers sharp, high-resolution video, and it works with lots of third-party smart devices via IFTTT applets and by using Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings. To take advantage of some of its advanced features, however, you will need to subscribe to Arlo Smart, and it does not offer Pre-Roll video capture like the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus.
Meanwhile, if doorbell wiring isn’t an issue, we recommend the Ezviz DB1C, which is half the price of the Essential Doorbell and has a few extra features, including dual-band Wi-Fi and local video storage. Additionally, advanced features such as intelligent motion alerts and custom motion zones do not require a subscription.
Need additional help then our Video Doorbell Shopping Guide will help.