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Test: Arlo Essential – Computer Magazine

Patrik Wahlqvist

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Arlo Essential is a scaled-down security camera at an attractive price. But should you really skimp on safety? We test!

Since Arlo launched its first security camera, the company has been presenting products in the upper price and function segments. Despite the fact that more and more manufacturers have launched models that only cost a fraction, Arlo has stuck to its strategy – until now. Because with Arlo Essential, you get a camera solution that is admittedly not directly cheap, but which compared to other products from Arlo offers a premium product at a significantly lower price than we are used to.

Cast in an all-weather chassis

On the outside, Essential is reminiscent of other newer models from Arlo. It has a white, oblong rounded chassis which measures 89 x 52 x 78.4 millimeters and is weatherproof to withstand wind, wind, rain, snow and heat conditions between -20 and 45 degrees. On the inside there is a permanently mounted rechargeable battery which during normal use should last up to six months. As the battery is not replaceable, the camera must be taken down when it is to be charged, which is a bit of a shame, but we understand of course that Arlo must make certain restrictions to get down in price. For those who wish, it is possible to connect the company’s solar cell charger, which makes it a lot easier.

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To sample Arlo Essential, the supplied holder is screwed to a wall and then the camera is threaded onto the bracket, a procedure that takes a maximum of five minutes and that everyone can handle. Once up, we connect the camera via Wi-Fi directly to our router, or if we already have an Arlohubb so we also connect to this. In both cases, Wi-Fi 4 is used, which gives a certain limitation in terms of the distance between the camera and the selected access point. For the best possible coverage and best data transfer, you may need to use a Wi-Fi extender of some kind.

Easy installation via mobile app

The installation is otherwise, generally very simple and is fully managed via Arlo’s app, where we also gradually receive notices and can both see and via the system’s two-way communication can talk to people in front of the camera. The sound is as usual for Arlo clean and clear with an effective noise and echo reduction to avoid roundabouts. A small peculiarity we did not encounter with previous Arlo cameras appeared when we were connecting the device to a Wi-Fi network and our one mesh system used the same 2.4- and 5-gigahertz SSID. The mobile used was connected to the latter band, which meant that the camera, which can only connect via 2.4 gigahertz, did not want to go any further, which was a bit strange. When we separated the two bands, everything worked perfectly.

ADVERTISEMENT: This is how much Arlo Essential costs at Webhallen

From the application, we can also trigger the unit’s integrated siren, which has more of a deterrent effect than making it sound unbearably loud. The app also has several functions and possibilities, but these are associated with a subscription cost which, above all, feels justified if we have several cameras, as this gives a lower “per-unit” cost.

Arlo Essential offers clear movies in Full HD

On the front of the unit, in addition to an IR LED (for the possibility of filming in color even during the night), we find a motion sensor with 110 degree detection and a smaller headlight that helps to illuminate the area closest to the camera.

Arlo Essential has a slightly simpler camera solution than other of the company’s cameras. It shoots in Full HD resolution and has a 130 degree angle and uses H.264 format for recording. The image quality is clear and it is easy to see the difference between different individuals. We also get a twelve-fold digital zoom that we can use from the app, but this quickly becomes quite grainy when we zoom in too much, especially when we film in poorer lighting conditions.

Overall, the Arlo Essential is a fully approved camera at a lower price compared to other Arlo units

A plus is that Arlo Essential works with both Amazon Alexa and Goggles assistant and directly with IFTTT devices. However, at the time of writing, the camera does not support Apple Homekit. Overall, the Arlo Essential is a fully approved camera at a lower price compared to other Arlo units. However, we experience some problems with the camera that we have not done on other models. An example of this is a slightly longer delay between us receiving a notification of movement before we can start streaming the event. Whether this is due to a direct connection to an access point that is too far away or if there is something that future firmware updates can solve is difficult to say.

Arlo Essential

For

Stable and stylish construction / design, good picture, clear sound, good functions, smart battery management.

Against

Uses only 2.4 GHz band, most features require subscription, not optimal connection, lacks support for Apple Homekit.

Recommended to

If you want a simpler security camera that does not require other devices more than a wireless connection, this can be an interesting alternative.

SPECIFICATIONS ARLO ESSENTIAL

  • Manufacturer: Arlo, www.arlo.com
  • Approximate price: SEK 1,341 incl. VAT, SEK 1,073 excl. VAT
  • Maximum video resolution: FHD
  • Lens angle: 130 degrees
  • Night mode: 850 nm IR LEDs with IR Cut filter
  • Digital zoom: 12x
  • Audio: Full Duplex via single microphone
  • Weather protection: UV and weather protected
  • Connection: 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi
  • Power supply: Fixed battery

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