Arlo’s privacy-minded Essential Indoor Camera goes on sale

First unveiled at CES, Arlo’s new indoor camera has a lens that automatically turns opaque when it’s disarmed.

arlo essential indoor camera
Arlo

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Arlo’s latest security camera, an indoor-only model with a privacy shield that can automatically block the lens when you’re home, is now available following its debut at CES in January.

On sale for $99—a price that makes it the least expensive of Arlo’s various smart security cameras—the 1080p Arlo Essential Indoor Camera connects directly to Wi-Fi and boasts a 130-degree field of view; black-and-white night vision; motion detection; two-way voice chat; a siren; and Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT support. 

Chief among the Essential Indoor Camera’s features is its privacy shield, which makes the camera’s lens turn opaque when the camera is disarmed.

While the privacy shield is engaged, the camera won’t record video or detect motion, similar to how Arlo’s other security cams behave while they’re disarmed. Once the Essential Indoor Camera is armed or if you start a live stream using the camera, the lens will become transparent again and recording will resume.

arlo essential indoor camera opaque Arlo

The lens on the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera turns opaque when the camera is disarmed, which also turns off video recording and motion detection.

Arlo hasn’t described exactly how its privacy shield functions, but it sounds similar to the lens on Kangaroo’s Privacy Camera. On the Kangaroo cam, liquid crystals in the lens change their shape when charged by an electrical field, which allows light to pass through. GE Lighting also announced a security camera with a privacy lens at CES, but the brand’s Cync Indoor Camera uses a mechanical shutter to block its lens. It’s not clear exactly how Arlo’s privacy shield operates; we’ve reached out for more details.

For people detection or video storage using the Essential Indoor Camera, you’ll need to sign up for an Arlo Smart plan, which offers a 30-day rolling video history; rich mobile notifications; and person, pet, vehicle, and package detection. Arlo says it will throw in three free months of Arlo Smart service, which normally costs $3 a month for one camera or $10 a month for up to five camera, for those who buy the Essential Indoor Camera.

Arlo’s new indoor cam wasn’t the only security camera that the company unveiled at CES. It also unwrapped the Touchless Video Doorbell, which uses a proximity sensor to detect visitors approaching your doorstep. The touchless doorbell hasn’t gone on sale yet.

We’ll have a full review of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera once we’ve tried a sample unit.

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