“Arlo’s doorbell is missing a camera, but makes up for it in style and ease of use”
- Compact and stylish
- Versatile wired or wireless configuration
- Easy installation
- Two-way chat and pre-recorded messages
- Nifty silent mode feature with voicemail
- No integrated video camera
- Requires existing Arlo camera system
- Not compatible with all Arlo cameras
While Arlo is best known for its eponymous smart cameras, the company has been steadily building a range of accompanying products and accessories to position the company as a smart home platform.
So, it’s no surprise to see Arlo join the likes of Ring, Nest, August and others in developing a smart doorbell. However, the $80 Arlo Audio Doorbell, as its name suggests, lacks the integrated video camera commonly found in leading smart doorbells – it’s an add-on to an existing Arlo camera system with Base Station or SmartHub (but not Arlo Go, Arlo Q or Arlo Baby cameras).
Powered by two AA batteries, the doorbell is wireless and weather-resistant. The lack of a camera means that it’s dinky enough to fit on your door frame with easy installation in just a few minutes. If you have a wired door chime, Arlo Audio can be hooked up to many popular models, but the batteries are still required for power and should last up to a year with regular use. Alternatively, the company sells the $50 Arlo Chime, which neatly plugs into an available electrical outlet and provides additional audio notification of callers.
On the design front, the Arlo Audio looks similar to Nest Hello, with an onyx black front face and rounded white base. It’s stylish yet understated. It’s conveniently packaged with a screwdriver, screws and wall anchors plus the optional extension cables required to connect to a wired chime. An internal switch allows you to configure the doorbell for use with mechanical or digital chimes.
Installation is mostly simple – particularly if you opt for a wireless installation. The screws neatly secure the doorbell’s rear plate to your door frame (or other surface) and the main body slides on easily. A small security screw on the underside of the bell locks the device in place.
[pullqupte]We found that its integrated speaker and microphone performed reasonably well.[/pullquote]
Fire up the Arlo smartphone app and you’ll connect the doorbell to your system in less than a minute. The same is true of the cute and compact Arlo Chime, which is the same shape and size as the doorbell with a cloth front similar to the base of a Google Home. Plug into an outlet, a few taps on your smartphone, and you’re done.
While it may look from the outside like a standard door dinger, the Arlo Audio Doorbell has a few smart features that elevate it over basic models. An integrated motion sensor can be configured to send alerts to your phone or emails when callers approach. The lack of an integrated camera means that you’ll need to configure a rule to activate camera recording or trigger an alarm, but it’s a reasonably simple job.
When the button is pressed, you and your callers will hear one of a selection of thirteen traditional, modern or “luxurious” melodies with adjustable volume via the app. If you’ve linked the doorbell to an Arlo camera, you’ll find a live feed pops up with the caller notification and you can start a two-way conversation. A range of polite – if robotic – canned messages can be selected from the app for common expressions like, “We’ll be right there,” or “Can I help you?”
Considering the Arlo Audio Doorbell is a small device, we found that its integrated speaker and microphone performed reasonably well. Conversations were clear enough in both directions although captured audio sounded a little compressed.
A silent mode is thoughtfully provided, which mutes the doorbell at times you wish not to be disturbed. Better still, the doorbell invites callers to leave a recorded message, which is made available as an audio clip in the Arlo Library for later listening. We’d have liked to be able to set a recurring schedule for silent mode, but only a manual toggle is available.
Arlo Audio Doorbell is supported by a 1-year limited warranty.
The lack of an integrated camera means that the Arlo Audio Doorbell isn’t as convenient or versatile as competing smart doorbells But, if you’re invested in the company’s ecosystem and can spare a camera to point at your doorstep, you’ll find it to be a simple, low-cost addition to your smart home that can add a lot of value.
Is there a better alternative?
At this price point, few smart doorbells can offer the style, seamless integration and friendly features offered by the Arlo Audio Doorbell, which slots so neatly into an existing Arlo camera setup. But most will add integrated video, making them a more versatile pick. The $99 Ring Video Doorbell is a cheap, if chunky wireless contender, while the more stylish August View ($230) and Nest Hello are significantly more expensive.
How long will it last?
Well-constructed, weather-resistant and backed by a leading smart home brand, you should have no concerns about the Arlo Audio Doorbell lasting the course. Expect the included AA batteries to last up to a year with regular use after which you can simply replace them.
Should you buy it?
We’d love to see an Arlo Doorbell with an integrated camera. After all, it’s the company’s bread and butter. In the meantime, if you can spare a camera or are happy to invest in an additional model for your doorstep, the Arlo Audio Doorbell is a simple, good-value add-on for Arlo camera setups.
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