Privacy is a key selling point of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera. Smart home firm Arlo — known for its battery-powered wire-free cameras — has taken a standard home security camera and added an automated privacy shutter that blocks the camera lens. This feature, which is also seen in Web cameras in laptops, is not that prevalent in security cameras yet. I think it’s simple and effective at giving users peace of mind. For instance, the Arlo’s privacy shield is a white opaque shutter that is apparent to users, even from a distance.
- Physical camera privacy shutter
- 2MP camera (1080p) with 130-degree field of view
- Night vision and motion detection
The camera’s microphone is disabled when the privacy shutter is activated. Turning off or disarming the camera using the companion Arlo app (available for iOS and Android) also puts the shield up. Notifications about the status of the privacy shutter (open or closed) are promptly sent to my smartphone. This app also has a privacy shield test section which lets you toggle the shutter to verify that it’s working properly.
Setting up the camera is a simple process that takes less than 10 minutes. You basically point it at the QR code generated by the Arlo app. The app offers a step-by-step guide, including instructions on wall-mounting the camera. It also performs a firmware check and updates the camera automatically, which is good security practice. Other useful tools: one that tests your Wi-Fi connection (affects video quality), and another to test and adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection feature.
The Arlo camera is small and lightweight. You can twist and adjust it to change the camera angle — useful when it’s mounted to the wall or ceiling. The camera offers decent quality (up to 1080p) and a relatively wide 130-degree field of view. It has the features you’d expect of a home security camera, such as two-way audio, night vision and a siren. Unlike Arlo’s higher-end cameras, there are no extras such as HDR or colour night vision. In my testing, there was an acceptable delay of around 4 seconds when viewing the live video feed. Notifications to my smartphone also pop up around 3 seconds after an event, such as the camera detecting a person.
Like other Arlo cameras, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera works best when users subscribe to an Arlo Smart plan (from S$4.49/month). This subscription service adds key features such as 30-day cloud recording, and the ability to distinguish between people, animal and vehicles. There’s also a package detection feature that is probably unnecessary for an indoor camera. At S$199, the Arlo camera is pricey for a home security camera. And that’s not including the cost of the Arlo Smart plan. Are the privacy shutter and the excellent user experience worth paying more? If you say yes, get the Arlo camera at Amazon, Lazada and Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Arlo.