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Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 vs. Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2

Arlo recently refreshed its popular Essential Indoor Camera, offering a new design, lower price, and a few other premium perks. The original Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 was one of the best indoor cameras around — is the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2 a worthy successor?

Here’s a closer look at the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 and Gen 2 to help you decide if you should upgrade or look elsewhere for your security needs.

Pricing and monthly fees

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2 on a countertop.

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 costs $100, though it’s regularly on sale for $60 following the launch of the Gen 2. The Gen 2 camera is available in two formats. The HD version costs $40, while the 2K version costs $80 (though this is often on sale for $60).

Both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 cameras are supported by Arlo Secure. This monthly subscription plan starts at $5 per month for a single camera on the Secure plan and maxes out at $25 per month for unlimited cameras on the Safe & Secure Pro plan. Opting for the entry-level Secure plan is almost a necessity, as it unlocks 30 days of cloud video history, animated preview notifications, smart activity zones, and audio detection of alarms, among other perks.

Design and installation

Arlo Essential Indoor Security Camera on table
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 and Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2 share a lot of similarities in their design. Both feature a black front-facing camera, a white external frame, and a stand that can be pivoted and rotated to find an optimal viewing angle.

The Gen 1 product is a bit larger, due to a longer neck connecting the camera to its base. The Gen 1 also features the Arlo logo on its front, whereas the Gen 2 has no identifiers. Aside from those tweaks, these two look remarkably similar.

Installation is the same for both devices. If you’re placing it on a flat surface, you’ll just need to plug it in and get it synced with your smartphone. If you’re mounting it to a wall, you can use the included kit.

Resolution and night vision

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera (Gen 2) with the Privacy Shield enabled.

The Arlo Essential Indoor Gen 1 films in 1080p and uses black-and-white night vision. Things are a bit different for Gen 2, as you can purchase either an HD or 2K model. The HD model films in the same 1080p resolution as the old Gen 1, while the 2K model films in a resolution of up to 2560 x 1440. Regardless of model, both Gen 2 cameras capture black-and-white nighttime footage. A major perk of the 2K model is that zoomed images retain more clarity than on the old Gen 1. And while the 2K footage certainly looks better, the difference isn’t too dramatic when viewed on the small screen of your smartphone.

Features and spec list

Arlo Essential Indoor Security Camera privacy shutter
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Beyond its new look, availability of 2K, and lower price, there’s not a whole lot new about the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2. Here’s a look at some of the key specs it shares with its predecessor:

  • Two-way audio
  • 130-degree viewing angle
  • 12x digital zoom
  • Wired connection
  • Indoor use only
  • Infrared LED (850nm) for night vision

Which is the better security camera?

Though it’s not a radical leap forward, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 2 is the better security camera. Not only did it pick up new features like 2K support and a more compact design, but its price tag got slashed in the process. This combination of improved features and lower price means there’s little reason to pick up the Gen 1 — unless you manage to get it on sale for less than the 2K Gen 2.

If you already own the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Gen 1 or a similar product, there’s no reason to rush out and upgrade. The changes made to the Gen 2 are minimal, and unless your current camera is on the fritz, the new features on the Gen 2 aren’t worth ditching your current setup for.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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