The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera was a pleasant surprise. Its low price is supported by a wide range of different security features, the most impressive of which being the very accurate and responsive motion alerts. First time Arlo users and those deeply integrated into the company’s ecosystem will have no trouble setting up this camera in their home, and apart from some issues with its construction, the Essential Indoor camera proves itself to be a strong and affordable contender for those looking to keep their homes safe.
- Low cost
- Strong image quality
- Integrates with other Arlo cameras
- Feels a bit cheap
- Arm not that flexible
- 1080p video capture:Can record video in Full HD for sharp imagery.
- Wide viewing angles:The camera has a 130-degree field of view to take in as much as possible.
- Built-in siren:Can emit a loud noise to scare off intruders.
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is an affordable indoor camera that is designed to be used with the Arlo mobile app to supervise your home or office from afar and make sure it’s safe.
Those who own businesses or who have lots of valuables in their home (such as electronics) will get a lot of value from this camera, as well as those who just want to keep a watchful eye on their home.
Design and Installation
- Remote privacy shield
- Bookshelf or wall mounting
- Wired power
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is compact and sleek, standing 4.5-inches tall and 2-inches wide. It comes in either black or white, with both versions made of plastic. This lends the camera a somewhat cheap feel in terms of build, but that makes perfect sense for its price.
The glossy black front panel features a privacy shield that can be remotely activated, providing you the option to turn off the camera view when needed. That’s a step up from the Ring Indoor Cam (2nd Gen), which only has a manually operated shield
The camera is supported by a thin mounting arm and a round base, allowing for flexible installation, with both freestanding and wall mounting options. While the arm provides a decent range of movement, I did wish it were a bit more flexible. I found that when trying to angle it, it would sometimes be a bit finicky and would take some convincing.
As this is a wired camera, unlike the rest of the line-up such as the Arlo Pro 5, the Essential Indoor Camera needs to be within reach of a wall outlet. Installation of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera turned out to be super simple and streamlined, which was a pleasant surprise. The Arlo app gave me an excellent guide, leading me through the setup process step by step. The only minor hiccup I encountered was that the app didn’t detect the camera when I pressed the sync button.
However, I simply pressed the button again and the camera was found quickly. I went through the process twice, and both times it was simple and straightforward. Physically mounting the camera was even easier.
- Integrates with other Arlo cameras
- Arlo Secure adds features and recording
The Arlo Secure app is where the magic happens with this camera. For $2.99 a month, you get full access to security features for one camera, or for $9.99, you can enjoy the same privileges for unlimited cameras. If you want even more security, the $15 Secure Plus plan gives you access to a 24/7 response center that can dispatch first responders to your camera’s location when needed.
One of the standout features of the app is the motion alerts, which worked very well in my testing. Throughout my use, I never received false alerts, nor did the motion alert miss any notifications. With an Arlo Secure subscription, I could choose what to be alerted by: people, animals or vehicles. Setting the camera to notify me about people and using activity zones reduced the number of alerts that I got.
The app integration was generally smooth, though I occasionally experienced some difficulty when trying to zoom in or load the camera feed. Whenever this happened, I would have to close and reopen the app to get it to load, sometimes multiple times in a row. Nevertheless, these issues were very infrequent and didn’t detract significantly from the overall experience.
The “Call a Friend” function allows you to add a contact that you can call with a single tap in case of an emergency. The app also allows you to set activity zones and remotely view, activate, or deactivate the camera. A library of recordings for up to 30 days is accessible, filterable by event type and device. It’s really easy to find a specific clip and download it to a phone to save forever.
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera integrates with other Arlo cameras, controllable via the three modes: Home, Away and Standby. In each mode, you can choose which cameras are active, and modes can be changed manually or by using the location aware feature.
The camera also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, streaming content to a compatible smart display.
I was really happy with the app overall. It felt easy to use, and had a depth of features which allowed for more control, which is essential for me when it comes to systems like this. The way the app is set up makes it easy to swap between multiple devices too, so having a full system setup is simple.
- Records video at 1080p
- Has a 130-degree field of view
- Performs reasonably in low light
The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera records at 1080p resolution, and has a 130-degree field of view, so it captures most of a room regardless of where you put it.
I recommend placing the camera carefully. When I pointed the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera towards a relatively bright window, the camera struggled and the image was blown out. Facing the camera away from a window improved things. During the day, I found that the camera produced sharp and detailed images.
In low-light conditions, the black and white night vision performs reasonably well, but the visibility is limited compared to daytime usage, obviously. In my testing, the cut-off for discerning details at night seemed to be around 12-15 feet.
Beyond that, it became near impossible to see anything particularly meaningful on the feed. It’s also important to keep the camera away from walls to the side, as these can reflect the IR lights and reduce viewing distance.
The Arlo Pro 5 shoots better night footage, as its spotlight and more sensitive camera sensor let it shoot full-colour footage. However, the Essential does alright during the night, and if you spot movement indoors, you know that there’s an issue and you need to call for help.
Should you buy it?
You want a cheaper way to boost your Arlo system: If you have Arlo already, this camera gives you indoor coverage at a lower price.
You don’t want monthly subscription fees: There are other cameras that don’t have any ongoing fees such as the Eufy S330 eufyCam.
If you want to expand an Arlo system, the Essential Indoor Camera offers a cheaper way of getting coverage inside. It’s good to see that it supports all of the features of Arlo Secure, including object detection and the 24/7 response center.
This camera does need to be carefully placed to get the best image quality, avoiding windows. If you don’t have an Arlo system already, then the even cheaper Ring Indoor Camera is worth a look, while the Eufy S330 eufyCam gives wire-free coverage with no security plans. Our guide to the best indoor security cameras will help with alternatives.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every security camera we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main security camera for the review period
We test compatibility with the main smart systems (HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT and more) to see how easy each camera is to automate.
We take samples during the day and night to see how clear each camera’s video is.
Without an Arlo Secure subscription the camera has limited motion detection and it can’t save video.