Arlo Essential Spotlight Wi-Fi camera review: Security made simple


Smart home security is constantly advancing, packing more features into smaller, neater packages that are increasingly affordable.

Arlo’s Essential Spotlight Camera is one such device, combining the kind of features you’d have spent a lot on a few years ago—a spotlight, two-way audio, and a siren—into a compact wireless camera that takes about 15 minutes to configure and install.

Design and build

  • Wireless
  • weather resistant
  • Projector

What’s immediately noticeable once the Essential Spotlight camera is installed is how unobtrusive it is, with a thick design that’s both practical and stylish. At just over 11cm high and 5cm wide, the camera itself is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and light at 122g, while the stand is equally unobtrusive.

It’s built to withstand the elements – its USB charging port sits underneath and it’s covered with a protective flap.

One would assume that it is a security light and nothing more. A glossy white or black plastic exterior with subtle branding and a black fascia do nothing to dispel that assumption. The camera’s spotlight, which lights up at night so you can see in color, is located just above the lens.

Arlo Spotlight camera in position on a wall

Perhaps the only problem was with fitting the bracket – the plugs supplied did not bite into a brick wall properly so they had to be replaced with suitable fixings.

Performance and features

  • User-friendly app
  • Battery won’t last six months with heavy use
  • Subscription differentiation person, vehicle & animal only

A quick start guide comes with the Essential Spotlight Camera, but all it does is tell you to load your camera and head to the app.

We found connecting to the app straightforward: setting up the long-range 2.4GHz bandwidth needed to get it working properly took longer.

There are some thoughtful touches to the setup, such as the ability to override certain settings until later and a section to name your camera – useful if you add more in the future.

The app’s user-friendly interface shines; you’re rarely more than a few clicks away from finding various settings, which include toggling the video quality (choosing the best battery life will reduce this, while the best video quality means you’ll charge more often) , change activity zones and decide which notifications you want to receive.

This last option is vital if you only want to know when people have been spotted, rather than being alerted to vehicles and other movement.

When setting up activity zones, flexible shapes would have been useful – the only choice is vision squares, which means you’ll have to draw lots if you want to avoid particular movements triggering notifications.

Screenshots of the Arlo app

It is also possible to adjust the sensitivity of the camera to movement. We found ours to be inconsistent in capturing animals (cats, nocturnal fox) until we increased the sensitivity. This will have an effect on battery life.

If you’re wondering how long the battery will last, Arlo estimates six months between charges. But it seems to be based on minimal events, low video quality and low sensitivity. If, as we did, you switch the video quality to high and increase the sensitivity to maximum, it will deteriorate much faster.

In our test, it went from 100% to 50% in about 10 days, although there was a lot of back and forth, which again impacts battery life.

Another inconsistency was two-way audio. It’s not obvious how to use it – it requires putting the video live before you have the option. Even then it rarely worked, although that could be due to a bad connection. However, the siren worked well and without fail.

The video provided by the camera was crisp and clear, day or night, thanks to the projector. We found that the 130° view covered most of the front of the house.

Price and availability

In the US, the Arlo Essential Spotlight Wi-Fi Security Camera is available direct from Arlo for $129.99 but the best option is to buy it on Amazon, where it’s $99.99.

In the UK it is available from Arlo for £130from Curries at £129.99or of Amazon for £127.96. For its feature set, its price compares favorably with the Netatmo Smart Outdoor Cameraalthough no subscription is required for Netatmo products.

There are two subscription levels, Secure and Secure Plus. UK, the Secure subscription costs £2.79 per month for a single camera or £8.99 for unlimited cameras. Secure Plus will cost you £12.99 per month, but you can have as many cameras as you want.

In the USA, the Secure subscription costs $2.99 ​​per month for a single camera or $9.99 per month for unlimited cameras. The Secure Plus subscription costs $14.99 per month for unlimited cameras.


While Arlo’s Essential Spotlight camera isn’t for everyone (those who want features to fine-tune surveillance, for example), as an easy-to-use device, it’s ideal for anyone who have previously avoided smart home products out of fear. that they are complicated to configure or use.

It does the basics of home security, and does it well.

However, there are trade-offs to be made. Cloud-based video history, enriched notifications, and detection of the difference between vehicles, people, and animals are only available by subscription after an initial trial period. This means that you will either have to register or be prepared for a number of false alarm notifications.

But if you’re happy with general motion notifications and live video streaming, it’ll still work as a better-than-basic security camera.

The other issue is that if your camera is used a lot, you may need to recharge the battery much more often than every six months. That may mean it’s best suited to a home that already has smart home security, where it’ll make a handy extra to keep tabs on an outbuilding, back garden or garage.

For more security camera options and to see how Arlo’s offering compares to the competition, check out our roundup of best indoor and outdoor security cameras.


Arlo Essential Spotlight Wi-Fi Security Camera: Specifications

  • Product dimensions: 8.88 x 5.2 x 7.74 cm
  • Weight: 350g
  • Color night vision
  • 1080p camera
  • Two-way audio
  • Wireless
  • weatherproof
  • Compatible with: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and Stringify
  • 130 degree diagonal field of view
  • 12x digital zoom

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