In addition to its expensive surveillance cameras – such as the Arlo Pro 4 and Arlo Ultra 2 – the company, originally part of Netgear, also has a range of cheaper products, dubbed Essential.
We’ve already tested several products in the range, including the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera and Arlo Essential Wire-Free Video Doorbell, and now it’s the turn of the so-called Arlo Essential XL Spotlight Camera.
The products in the Essential series connect directly to the internet via Wi-Fi and therefore do not need a separate base station like Arlo’s more expensive cameras. This is also true of the XL Spotlight Camera, which incidentally stands out for being a lot deeper than Arlo’s other surveillance cameras (hence the XL name), mainly because it is equipped with a battery so large that it can supposedly last a whole year after one charge.
We haven’t had a chance to test exactly that, but it’s true that the Arlo Essential XL lasts longer than most similar security cameras.
All features of Arlo Smart Plan
The Essential XL Spotlight Camera records video in 1080p Full HD and comes with night vision, so you should be able to get clear images and recordings of what’s happening in your home both day and night. Of course, the image quality isn’t on par with what more expensive security cameras can deliver, but definitely good enough that you can clearly see what’s going on in the footage.
If the camera detects a movement, the user receives an alert directly on his mobile phone. The user can then choose to activate the built-in alarm or use the camera’s microphone and speaker to talk to the person who has disturbed the peace of the house.
And that’s pretty much the range of features available if you don’t take out a subscription. In this case, a so-called Arlo Smart Plan, which costs €2.99 a month for a single camera (the first three months are free).
With a Smart Plan, you can store video clips of various events for up to 30 days in the cloud, so you can go back in time to see which event triggered a particular alarm.
Arlo Essential XL also comes with the ability to set activity zones, which are areas in the camera’s field of view where motion should be responded to, as well as the ability to distinguish between people and animals, for example, so the alarm doesn’t go off every time the dog or cat moves around the living room. All these features also only work if you subscribe to Arlo’s Smart Plan.
Easy and practical
If you can live with the fact that Arlo Essential XL costs the same as a cup of barista coffe per month, you get a good product for the money. The set-up simply requires turning on the camera and downloading the Arlo app to your smartphone, and the rest is pretty much self-explanatory. The camera is mounted using brackets and screws, which are included in the box.
The operation itself is also simple and straightforward. Whether you’re setting up activity zones, adjusting whether the camera responds to both sound and motion, or forwarding video clips from the online library, it’s as easy as scratching your neck.
The night mode also works well, and the only criticism must be that the Essential XL takes a little longer to respond to movement and trigger the alarm if the room is dark.
The camera can also be used outdoors, and it supports all popular digital assistants and smart home ecosystems, including Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings.
In fact, our only serious gripe with the Arlo Essential XL is that the battery can’t be removed, so you have to dismount the camera to charge it. A bit annoying, even if it’s supposedly only needed once a year.
The Arlo Essential XL Spotlight Camera is an excellent surveillance camera at the price and can be used both at home and outdoors. The camera is easy to set up, works without a hub and delivers excellent sound and image quality.
The long battery life is a clear advantage, as is the support for all popular smart home ecosystems. Just a bit annoying that the camera can’t be charged unless you dismount it. Plus, you’ll need an ongoing Arlo subscription to take advantage of all the product’s features. You have to take that into account before buying the camera.