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Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen vs. Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell: Which is best?

Arlo is best known for its security cameras, though it has also produced a few popular video doorbells. The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell has long been a staple of its catalog, but with the launch of the new Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen, is it worth upgrading your doorbell? Here’s a look at these two similar devices — from resolution and battery life to field-of-view and more — to help you decide.

Price and subscriptions

The Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen in the rain.
Arlo

The new Video Doorbell 2nd Gen is offered in two models. The one that films in 2K costs $130 and the one that films in HD costs just $80. The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is only offered in one format and costs $150 — though, as an older product, it’s often on sale for just under $100.

Since both products are made by Arlo, they’re both supported by Arlo Secure. This is a monthly subscription service that unlocks key features such as video history and cloud saves. The cheapest plan costs $5 per month, though you’ll find more expensive options if you’d like to bundle in professional monitoring and other premium features. At the very least, owners of either camera should spring for the basic subscription plan.

Design

Arlo Essential Wireless Doorbell mounted on brick
Digital Trends

Arlo loves to use black-and-white color schemes for its products, and neither of these video doorbells stray far from that philosophy. The new Video Doorbell 2nd Gen looks a bit more compact than the Arlo Essential, with a front-facing camera and faceplate that’s almost entirely black. At the bottom, you’ll find the doorbell button, which can flash white when activated. The older Essential Video Doorbell arguably looks better, however, as its slim shape has a few more contours and bevels that catch your eye. They’re both, however, among the best-looking video doorbells and both should look great on your porch.

Installation

The Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen installed on a white wall.
Arlo

The Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen and Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell both support wireless and wired connections. If you want a streamlined installation process, you can run them without dealing with any wires. But if you want the perks of a continuous power supply, they can be hardwired into your home.

Regardless of which installation format you use, you’ll need to use the Arlo smartphone app to guide you through the process and interact with your device. The app is easy to use and intuitive — and if you opt for the fast wireless power option, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to be up and running with either video doorbell.

Features and specs

Arlo Essential Doorbell installed near a door.
Arlo

Both video doorbells work with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. They also both film with a 180-degree field of view, allowing you to capture packages at the foot of your door without putting the faces of tall guests out of frame. Other useful features include two-way audio, weatherproofing, and black-and-white night vision. The Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen films in either 1080p (for the HD version) or 1944 x 1944 (for the 2K version). The Arlo Essential is offered in one format that films in 1536 x 1536.

Verdict

The new Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen 2K is arguably the best video doorbell in Arlo’s lineup. However, it shares many of the same specs as the Essential, so if you’re looking to save a bit of cash, consider looking for the Essential when it goes on sale. Its resolution isn’t quite as premium as that of the Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen 2K, but it’s much better than the Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen HD and can often be purchased for just an extra $20.

Frugal shoppers, meanwhile, can simply pick up the Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen HD. The only difference with this version is its resolution, which is still vibrant enough to pick out details and offers the same 180-degree field-of-view.

The cameras share a tremendous amount of features, but there’s no denying the new Arlo Video Doorbell 2nd Gen 2K is the video doorbell to beat. Don’t feel like you need to rush out and upgrade your existing video doorbell, but if you’re new to the market and want the best, you can’t go wrong with the latest from Arlo.

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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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