Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera


Verdict

Maintaining what’s great about the Arlo system, including a brilliant app, simple controls and excellent smart notifications, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera gives a cheaper way to get into the system. Well-built and capable of shooting high-quality 2K video during the day and decent (if not a little soft) full-colour video at night, this camera cuts the price but not the quality. The main thing likely to hold people back is the relatively high subscription costs.

Pros

  • Great value hardware
  • High-quality daylight footage
  • Excellent app and controls

Cons

  • Expensive subscriptions
  • Colour-night vision is a little soft


  • TypeThis is an outdoor security camera pack, available with two or three cameras.

  • Battery lifeUp to six months on a charge, depending on the number of alerts generated.

Introduction

If you like the idea of Arlo security cameras but have been put off by the relatively high prices, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera could be the set that tempts you into the ecosystem.

With a two-pack costing the same as a single Pro 5 camera, this set of 2K video cameras gives you the same physical control and detection abilities in a much cheaper package.

There are some minor limitations, but at this price, who’s complaining?

Design and installation

  • New design and mount
  • Integrated battery
  • USB-C charging

Available as a two-pack for £199.99 or a three-pack for £259.99, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is far cheaper and more affordable than the previous wireless range of cameras. Oddly, it’s not available as a single camera in the UK, although you can buy just one camera in the US.

To keep the price down, some differences in the design, compared to the regular range of Arlo cameras, have been made; there’s nothing particularly concerning about what’s changed, and I’d argue that some alterations are for the best.

First, the body of the camera has had an overhaul. While the cameras still have that distinctive lozenge shape, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is taller than it is deep; the Pro 5 was longer but shorter.

Part of the change is because the camera now has an integrated battery. The limitation is that the camera has to be removed for charging, and you can’t just swap batteries; however, how many people actually had spare batteries and did this?

This could mean a bigger issue for longevity, as you can’t replace a battery that has died. That said, given that the battery shouldn’t have to be charged very often, it’s likely that you’ll upgrade the camera before the battery has any noticeable problems.

Rather than the proprietary magnetic charger that the old system used, the Essential cameras use standard USB-C, with the port protected by a rubber, waterproof cover. This is a welcome change, as you can use any USB-C cable.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera USB port
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

If you don’t want to charge the camera regularly, then there’s an optional solar panel that plugs into the USB-C port, keeping the camera topped up.

Arlo provides a mount in the box. This has two parts: a mounting bracket has to be screwed to a suitable vertical surface, and then there’s a moveable ball joint that screws into the back of the camera. It’s pretty easy to install, and then to focus the camera where you want it.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera mount
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

As with recent Arlo cameras, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera can be connected to your Wi-Fi network or to an Arlo SmartHub if you have one. I just used the app to connect the camera to my home Wi-Fi.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera installed
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • Excellent app
  • Requires an Arlo Secure subscription for the best features
  • Clever mode control

Once connected to Wi-Fi, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera appears as a device in the app, alongside any other Arlo cameras or doorbells that you have. You can view a live stream from the devices page, or you can tap the camera to go into a more detailed page that includes a scrollable list of events.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera app
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

To view an event, you need an Arlo Secure subscription plan. It’s £4.49 a month (or £44.90 a year) for a single camera, with 30-days of video history; Secure Multi-Cam adds support for up to four cameras and costs £10.99 a month (109.99) a year; and Secure Plus unlocks unlimited camera support, boosts history to 60 days, and ups the maximum recording quality to 4K (4K cameras required) and costs £14.99 a month (£149.99 a year).

That’s quite a lot of money, although the advantage is that Arlo Secure is very good, and the system is simple to use.

One of the benefits that Arlo Secure brings is smart notifications. With these enabled, you can choose to be alerted for your choice of people, vehicles, animals or all other motions. Detection quality is very good, and being able to cut down on alerts to only get important notifications makes the cameras more useful.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera smart notifications
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There’s a further option to add activity zones, with only motion inside a zone being recorded. With this camera, zones are rectangular and resizable at any of the four corners; with the Pro 5, zones have six control points, which makes them a little more flexible and able to fit around more complex layouts.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera zones
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Even with activity zones and smart notifications, it’s important to point the camera so that it’s not in a very busy area. With PIR motion detection used first to pick up motion, the camera can drain its battery fast if it’s woken up too often.

Control over when the camera can and can’t record is handled via the app, which has Away, Home and Standby modes, similar to an alarm system. For each mode, you can choose which cameras are active and which ones are off. Manual control is useful, but you can automate modes using IFTTT, or via the app with both schedules and geolocation supported.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera modes
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Arlo now only supports geolocation at one location, whereas the old app used to let you control each device based on its location. There is a workaround: use SmartThings, which lets you turn individual cameras on and off, including the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera. The only restriction with SmartThings at the moment is that I couldn’t get it to display the live stream from the camera.

I could stream the video to an Alexa-powered smart display, such as the Echo Hub, or a Google smart display.

Recorded video is available in the app, either by tapping an individual camera or going to the Feed section, which shows a thumbnail list for all devices. This list can be filtered by date, device, and event type (person, animal, vehicle, or other motion). All clips can be viewed or downloaded.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera feed
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Video quality

  • Sharp video during the day
  • A little noisy at night
  • Colour night vision

The Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera has a 130-degree field of view, which is slightly less than the 160-degree field on the Arlo Pro 5. I found that with the camera mounted on my garden office, pointing towards the house, I could capture a lot of my garden; certainly, enough to see what’s happening.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera lens and spotlight
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Recording at 2560×1440, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is capable of shooting sharp images, particularly during the day. Compared to the Pro 5, the daytime footage wasn’t quite as vibrant and a touch softer, but it’s easy to make out individuals and see what’s going on.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera day sample
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

At night, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera can turn on its spotlight and shoot full-colour night vision. The image sensor used isn’t quite as good as the one on the Pro 5, so there’s quite a bit of noise introduced into the image and finer details, such as lawns, are eradicated. It’s also hard to find a still frame that shows someone in sharp detail, although I could clearly see what was happening.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera night sample
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Battery life

Battery life is quoted at between four and six months, although a lot of this depends on how often the camera has to wake up to record video.

In my experience with the camera, I found that it lost around 1% a day, so that’s just over three months. If you place the camera somewhere busier, then expect it to drain faster.

Latest deals

Should you buy it?

You want a quality experience at a lower initial price

Taking everything great about Arlo, including the app and powerful cloud service, and distilling it into a cheaper device, these cameras are a great budget alternative to the main range.

You want the best image quality or no subscription fees

If you want the best night-time video quality, then the Pro 5 camera is a better choice. Those who don’t want to be saddled with monthly subscription costs should opt for an alternative camera, too.

Final Thoughts

The price of these cameras makes the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera quite an attractive proposition. For the most part, the cameras are good: sharp daytime video, an excellent app and simple controls for setting what the camera can and can’t notify you about, plus when recording can or can’t happen.

Night-time vision lags behind that of the Pro 5, and the relatively high price of the cloud subscription may put some people off. For alternatives, see my guide to the best outdoor security cameras.

How we test

Unlike other sites, we test every security camera we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main security camera for the review period

We test compatibility with the main smart systems (HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT and more) to see how easy each camera is to automate.

We take samples during the day and night to see how clear each camera’s video is.

FAQs

Do you need a cloud subscription to use the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera?

No, but without an Arlo Secure subscription, you can’t record video, and you get more basic motion detection.

Can you change the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera’s battery?

No, this camera has an integrated battery.

UK RRP

USA RRP

Manufacturer

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Model Number

Resolution

Voice Assistant

Battery Length

Smart assistants

App Control

IFTTT

Camera Type

Mounting option

View Field

Recording option

Two-way audio

Night vision

Light

Motion detection

Activity zones

Object detection

Audio detection

Power source



Source link


Verdict

Maintaining what’s great about the Arlo system, including a brilliant app, simple controls and excellent smart notifications, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera gives a cheaper way to get into the system. Well-built and capable of shooting high-quality 2K video during the day and decent (if not a little soft) full-colour video at night, this camera cuts the price but not the quality. The main thing likely to hold people back is the relatively high subscription costs.

Pros

  • Great value hardware
  • High-quality daylight footage
  • Excellent app and controls

Cons

  • Expensive subscriptions
  • Colour-night vision is a little soft


  • TypeThis is an outdoor security camera pack, available with two or three cameras.

  • Battery lifeUp to six months on a charge, depending on the number of alerts generated.

Introduction

If you like the idea of Arlo security cameras but have been put off by the relatively high prices, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera could be the set that tempts you into the ecosystem.

With a two-pack costing the same as a single Pro 5 camera, this set of 2K video cameras gives you the same physical control and detection abilities in a much cheaper package.

There are some minor limitations, but at this price, who’s complaining?

Design and installation

  • New design and mount
  • Integrated battery
  • USB-C charging

Available as a two-pack for £199.99 or a three-pack for £259.99, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is far cheaper and more affordable than the previous wireless range of cameras. Oddly, it’s not available as a single camera in the UK, although you can buy just one camera in the US.

To keep the price down, some differences in the design, compared to the regular range of Arlo cameras, have been made; there’s nothing particularly concerning about what’s changed, and I’d argue that some alterations are for the best.

First, the body of the camera has had an overhaul. While the cameras still have that distinctive lozenge shape, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is taller than it is deep; the Pro 5 was longer but shorter.

Part of the change is because the camera now has an integrated battery. The limitation is that the camera has to be removed for charging, and you can’t just swap batteries; however, how many people actually had spare batteries and did this?

This could mean a bigger issue for longevity, as you can’t replace a battery that has died. That said, given that the battery shouldn’t have to be charged very often, it’s likely that you’ll upgrade the camera before the battery has any noticeable problems.

Rather than the proprietary magnetic charger that the old system used, the Essential cameras use standard USB-C, with the port protected by a rubber, waterproof cover. This is a welcome change, as you can use any USB-C cable.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera USB port
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

If you don’t want to charge the camera regularly, then there’s an optional solar panel that plugs into the USB-C port, keeping the camera topped up.

Arlo provides a mount in the box. This has two parts: a mounting bracket has to be screwed to a suitable vertical surface, and then there’s a moveable ball joint that screws into the back of the camera. It’s pretty easy to install, and then to focus the camera where you want it.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera mount
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

As with recent Arlo cameras, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera can be connected to your Wi-Fi network or to an Arlo SmartHub if you have one. I just used the app to connect the camera to my home Wi-Fi.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera installed
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • Excellent app
  • Requires an Arlo Secure subscription for the best features
  • Clever mode control

Once connected to Wi-Fi, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera appears as a device in the app, alongside any other Arlo cameras or doorbells that you have. You can view a live stream from the devices page, or you can tap the camera to go into a more detailed page that includes a scrollable list of events.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera app
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

To view an event, you need an Arlo Secure subscription plan. It’s £4.49 a month (or £44.90 a year) for a single camera, with 30-days of video history; Secure Multi-Cam adds support for up to four cameras and costs £10.99 a month (109.99) a year; and Secure Plus unlocks unlimited camera support, boosts history to 60 days, and ups the maximum recording quality to 4K (4K cameras required) and costs £14.99 a month (£149.99 a year).

That’s quite a lot of money, although the advantage is that Arlo Secure is very good, and the system is simple to use.

One of the benefits that Arlo Secure brings is smart notifications. With these enabled, you can choose to be alerted for your choice of people, vehicles, animals or all other motions. Detection quality is very good, and being able to cut down on alerts to only get important notifications makes the cameras more useful.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera smart notifications
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There’s a further option to add activity zones, with only motion inside a zone being recorded. With this camera, zones are rectangular and resizable at any of the four corners; with the Pro 5, zones have six control points, which makes them a little more flexible and able to fit around more complex layouts.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera zones
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Even with activity zones and smart notifications, it’s important to point the camera so that it’s not in a very busy area. With PIR motion detection used first to pick up motion, the camera can drain its battery fast if it’s woken up too often.

Control over when the camera can and can’t record is handled via the app, which has Away, Home and Standby modes, similar to an alarm system. For each mode, you can choose which cameras are active and which ones are off. Manual control is useful, but you can automate modes using IFTTT, or via the app with both schedules and geolocation supported.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera modes
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Arlo now only supports geolocation at one location, whereas the old app used to let you control each device based on its location. There is a workaround: use SmartThings, which lets you turn individual cameras on and off, including the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera. The only restriction with SmartThings at the moment is that I couldn’t get it to display the live stream from the camera.

I could stream the video to an Alexa-powered smart display, such as the Echo Hub, or a Google smart display.

Recorded video is available in the app, either by tapping an individual camera or going to the Feed section, which shows a thumbnail list for all devices. This list can be filtered by date, device, and event type (person, animal, vehicle, or other motion). All clips can be viewed or downloaded.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera feed
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Video quality

  • Sharp video during the day
  • A little noisy at night
  • Colour night vision

The Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera has a 130-degree field of view, which is slightly less than the 160-degree field on the Arlo Pro 5. I found that with the camera mounted on my garden office, pointing towards the house, I could capture a lot of my garden; certainly, enough to see what’s happening.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera lens and spotlight
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Recording at 2560×1440, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera is capable of shooting sharp images, particularly during the day. Compared to the Pro 5, the daytime footage wasn’t quite as vibrant and a touch softer, but it’s easy to make out individuals and see what’s going on.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera day sample
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

At night, the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera can turn on its spotlight and shoot full-colour night vision. The image sensor used isn’t quite as good as the one on the Pro 5, so there’s quite a bit of noise introduced into the image and finer details, such as lawns, are eradicated. It’s also hard to find a still frame that shows someone in sharp detail, although I could clearly see what was happening.

Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera night sample
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Battery life

Battery life is quoted at between four and six months, although a lot of this depends on how often the camera has to wake up to record video.

In my experience with the camera, I found that it lost around 1% a day, so that’s just over three months. If you place the camera somewhere busier, then expect it to drain faster.

Latest deals

Should you buy it?

You want a quality experience at a lower initial price

Taking everything great about Arlo, including the app and powerful cloud service, and distilling it into a cheaper device, these cameras are a great budget alternative to the main range.

You want the best image quality or no subscription fees

If you want the best night-time video quality, then the Pro 5 camera is a better choice. Those who don’t want to be saddled with monthly subscription costs should opt for an alternative camera, too.

Final Thoughts

The price of these cameras makes the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera quite an attractive proposition. For the most part, the cameras are good: sharp daytime video, an excellent app and simple controls for setting what the camera can and can’t notify you about, plus when recording can or can’t happen.

Night-time vision lags behind that of the Pro 5, and the relatively high price of the cloud subscription may put some people off. For alternatives, see my guide to the best outdoor security cameras.

How we test

Unlike other sites, we test every security camera we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main security camera for the review period

We test compatibility with the main smart systems (HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT and more) to see how easy each camera is to automate.

We take samples during the day and night to see how clear each camera’s video is.

FAQs

Do you need a cloud subscription to use the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera?

No, but without an Arlo Secure subscription, you can’t record video, and you get more basic motion detection.

Can you change the Arlo Essential 2K Outdoor Camera’s battery?

No, this camera has an integrated battery.

UK RRP

USA RRP

Manufacturer

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Model Number

Resolution

Voice Assistant

Battery Length

Smart assistants

App Control

IFTTT

Camera Type

Mounting option

View Field

Recording option

Two-way audio

Night vision

Light

Motion detection

Activity zones

Object detection

Audio detection

Power source



Source link

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