Arlo Essential Spotlight XL

"It's ideal when you don't have to constantly micromanage home security."

  • Intelligent recognition functions

  • Colored night vision adds more detail

  • Direct Wi-Fi connection digs the hub

  • Robust weatherproof construction

  • 3 second live feed delay

  • No replaceable battery

Arlo continues to be a leader in security cameras, offering exceptional cameras with premium features that produce great results. They rightly get a premium price tag, but with the launch of the new Essential series of cameras, the company aims to appeal to a wider audience without sacrificing its core philosophies.

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The Arlo Essential XL headlight camera is one of the cameras coming out of this new line. It has a year of battery life, color night vision and the outstanding quality of the Essential line – a direct Wi-Fi connection that does not require a bridge. Can it live up to expectations?

Annual battery? Not as much

Let's talk about the camera's most intriguing spec, its battery life. Arlo claims it can offer a year of battery life, but for a battery-powered camera with a grain of salt you have to make such an exorbitant claim. Although it's an outdoor camera with a weatherproof, sturdy plastic housing, I used the Arlo Essential XL indoors in a high-traffic area – right outside the front door – to capture everything that came and went.

Arlo Essential XL headlight cameraJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

Note that the annual rating is based on 4,000 seconds of recording per month, which equates to a little over two minutes per day. Previously, an average of seven minutes per day was recorded. This is way above the expected usage, but it is the realistic number for my particular situation. After charging, the battery life has dropped to 70% after 14 days – a power loss of approx. 2.1% per day. If this trend continues, the battery will be empty after 47 days, which is nowhere near the range of its rating. On the other hand, I admit it is better than average compared to the outdoor cameras I used. In that regard, it's nice that it doesn't need to be charged as often.

I really enjoy how color night vision adds color to the footage.

Unlike Arlo's Pro line, the Essential XL doesn't have replaceable batteries. This means that it has to be removed from its holder so that you are without any security for a certain period of time.

Color night vision clarity

The Arlo Essential XL spotlight camera has everything you need to deliver usable footage. There is a 130-degree field of view that captures clips at 1080p resolution which are then stored in the cloud. A trial for Arlo Smart is included, but you'd like to subscribe to the $ 3 monthly plan for continued cloud storage and advanced discovery. The quality is good enough to see some detail, but there are some artifact elements that appear during the shot that affect the quality. These are most evident when the scene is moving a lot. The dynamic range is weak, which can be seen from the fact that the highlights are faded in contrast to the neutral exposure of the scene.

Arlo Essential XL headlight cameraJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

With a pair of dual 850nm LEDs, the night vision range easily covers about 25 feet. Performance is good, but I really enjoy how color night vision adds color to the footage. It is obviously extremely useful for distinguishing colors from traditional black and white photography, but the spotlight is required for this feature to work. The more ambient light there is in the shot, the more colors are represented precisely – and that's why the spotlight is necessary. It would be great if the camera could bypass this, especially if there is already some kind of ambient light source in place, but it's a useful deterrent nonetheless.

Intelligent security without the second guess

One of the most overlooked aspects of Arlo security is the intelligence of Arlo Smart. It helps reduce some of the excessive notifications other cameras send out due to triggers. With the app you can see what triggered the recordings. You can also choose what to detect. I set it up to recognize people, which will help clear my cats' triggers.

Two-way audio is available when you need to talk to someone in the frame. The speaker is loud enough for people to hear, while the sound on my end is audible enough to detect and send a response. However, there is about a three second delay between what happens and what you see on the app. Therefore, conversations are usually one-sided affairs that require a brief pause.

However, the extended security functions available here cannot be overlooked. It even offers parcel detection for the precious deliveries left on your doorstep, an e911 feature that lets you get help right through the Arlo app, and a siren good enough to get attention.

Our opinion

The Arlo Essential XL spotlight camera is a good camera that offers excellent security for the home and is combined with above-average battery life. While it has some unique features like advanced detection and color night vision, the $ 150 cost might still be a little on the high side given some of the recent options in this space. If you can cough up that amount, you won't regret the smarter security coverage.

How long it will take?

Thanks to its weatherproof construction, it can withstand a temperature range of 4 to 113 degrees Celsius. It is unlikely that there will be any problems. In this case, however, there is a one-year limited warranty that covers defects in material and workmanship.

Is there a better alternative?

You can keep the same performance while saving money with the $ 130 Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera. It has the same features and performance, but with a shorter battery life of 6 months.

For those looking for significant savings, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is a phenomenal $ 60 value with its local storage option, sharp footage, and offline mode.

Should you buy it?

Yes, especially if you don't want to be bothered by constant false notifications.

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