Arlo is finally joining the ranks of Ring and Nest with the launch of a doorbell. But before you assume that it’s another video doorbell made by a camera company, let us make it clear that it’s not. In fact, it’s not a video doorbell at all, but an audio doorbell aptly named the Arlo Audio Doorbell.
Why Not Launch A Video Doorbell Instead?
It seems ironic that a camera brand as good as Arlo plans to launch a smart doorbell without video features. Plus we're pretty sure there are people out there who have been waiting for Arlo to make a video doorbell. So why an audio doorbell?
Arlo has compelling reasons to opt for an audio doorbell over a video one. For one, removing the camera from the equation allowed them to create a battery-powered smart doorbell that can last up to a year on a single charge. They’re also betting that most of those who buy Arlo Audio Doorbell have already invested in Arlo cameras. And though the Audio Doorbell isn’t equipped with a camera, it can pair with Arlo’s wire-free cameras so that when someone’s at your door, the doorbell uses two-way audio while your Arlo camera offers one-way video. In fact, Audio Doorbell is labeled as an accessory instead of as a standalone product. Finally, Arlo believes that using a separate camera is better than integrating a camera into a smart doorbell. According to Arlo,
"The freedom to mount Arlo wire-free cameras anywhere around the front porch enables Arlo Doorbell users to keep watch over their entry with a more complete view as opposed to conventional smart doorbell solutions which integrate a camera in a fixed position next to the doorbell button."1
How The Audio Doorbell Works
Setup & Installation
The doorbell is weather-resistant (but not weatherproof). It’s also battery-powered, which means you can use it whether you have an existing doorbell setup or not. If you have an existing doorbell chime, whether it’s mechanical or digital, it will connect to Audio Doorbell. If you don’t have an existing door chime, you can buy Arlo Chime, a wireless chime that plugs directly into any standard power outlet. It offers volume control, a selection of chimes and melodies, and a speaker loud enough to pass as an 80dB siren. It can also enter Silent Mode.
Perhaps the biggest setback when it comes to setup and installation for non-Arlo users is the fact that Audio Doorbell requires an Arlo base station to work. If you don’t have an Arlo base station yet, you’ll have to purchase one.
Interacting With Guests
Once the doorbell is up and running, you can use it to interact with guests, assuming they ring the doorbell. If they do, you’ll get an alert on your smartphone in the form of a phone call. Answering the call takes you to the app where you can initiate two-way audio or watch live security camera feeds from your Arlo cameras. There’s also an option to play pre-recorded voice messages instead of using two-way voice. For example, Arlo Audio Doorbell can say “sorry, not interested” or “please leave the package outside.”
You can also choose not to answer the call. If you ignore it for more than 15 seconds, a pre-recorded message will play saying, “To leave a message, please press the doorbell again. Thank you.” You can listen to the voice message via the app.
If your visitors don’t ring the doorbell, you’ll still get alerts thanks to the built-in motion sensor, but not in the form of a phone call. Audio Doorbell alerts triggered by its motion sensor are sent as push notifications. In addition, Audio Doorbell’s motion sensor can trigger your Arlo cameras to start recording.
You read that right. Although the Audio Doorbell isn’t camera-equipped, Arlo offers cloud storage for it…well, cloud audio storage. Calls made through the audio doorbell and voice messages left by guests are recorded and saved to the cloud for 7 days. You can listen to past recordings using the Arlo app.
While Arlo offers free cloud storage, the offer is limited to 5 cameras per account. The doorbell does not count against this limit. Unfortunately, there is a limit on how many audio doorbells and chimes you can add to your base station. Each base station can only support up to two audio doorbells and up to five chimes.
Chime + Arlo Cameras
If you’re not interested in the Arlo Audio Doorbell, you can choose to purchase just the Arlo Chime and integrate it with your Arlo security cameras so that it chimes when the cameras detect motion. This isn’t a per camera setting, but based on modes. For example, you can program the Chime to sound only when your front door Arlo camera detects motion while in Armed mode. Aside from playing melodies, the Arlo Chime can sound a loud siren or simulate home presence by playing noises.
Pricing & Availability
But should you buy Arlo Audio Doorbell? If you’re an existing Arlo user, it could be a good addition to your system. The doorbell and the chime are a bit pricey, considering the fact that they lack video features, but they integrate well with Arlo cameras.
On the other hand, if you’re not an Arlo user and you don’t plan on using Arlo cameras in the near future, Audio Doorbell is a pass. It’s simply not worth it, as it requires an Arlo base station to work. If you need an inexpensive doorbell with two-way audio, We recommend Ring, which has dropped their original video doorbell to a sub-$100 price. It offers two-way audio plus video features and alerts triggered by its built-in motion sensor.