Arlo has yet to release a truly budget-minded security camera such as the $20 Wyze Cam or the $30 Blink Mini, but at just $130, the just-unveiled Essential camera is considerably more affordable than Arlo’s other wireless outdoor cameras, and you won’t need a hub to use it.
Available now for pre-order and slated to ship in July, the Arlo Essential is the first of Arlo’s battery-operated outdoor cams that connects directly to Wi-Fi networks. The 1080p Arlo Pro 2, the 2K-enabled Arlo Pro 3, and the 4K Arlo Ultra all require one of Arlo’s various SmartHubs or base stations to work.
While you don’t need a hub to use the Arlo Essential, you can use the Essential with a hub if you want to, handy for users who want to add an Essential camera to their existing Arlo setups. Using the Essential with a hub also enables local video storage for the camera.
As far as the basics go, the weather-resistant Arlo Essential supports 1080p video recording, a 130-degree field of view, color night vision, an integrated spotlight, and IR-enabled night vision. Other features include two-way audio, dual motion detection sensors, and a built-in siren.
The Arlo Essential comes with a three-month trial of Arlo Smart, a subscription service that offers 30 days of rolling video storage, AI-enabled detection of people, vehicles, pets, and packages, customizable motion zones, and “intelligent” alerts with embedded video previews and shortcuts to various camera functions. After the three-month trial, the Arlo Smart “Premier” plan costs $3 a month for a single camera or $10 a month for up to five cameras. (A pricier “Elite” plan is for Arlo’s 4K security cameras only.)
Like most of Arlo’s other security cameras, the Essential boasts support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. No word on Apple’s HomeKit platform, however.
Arlo hasn’t released an estimate on how long the Essential’s integrated battery will last between charges, but it did say that you can charge the battery using an optional solar panel or with the included charging cable.
We’ve been fans of Arlo’s cameras in the past, and we even singled out the recent Arlo 3 outdoor camera (our reviewer called it “one of the absolute best”) as an Editors’ Choice. We’ll see how the Arlo Essential measures up once we check out a review unit.
Updated on June 17, 2020 to correct the list price for the Arlo Essential; it is $130, not $150. Our apologies for the error.