Tue. Mar 5th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The Arlo Essential XL Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation) is an inexpensive outdoor security camera with extended battery life and HD or 2K resolution.
  • The camera offers a 130-degree field of view, a two-way audio system, and easy installation through the Arlo Secure app.
  • While a subscription is not required, it unlocks additional features and benefits such as 24/7 monitoring and customizable notifications.


The Arlo Essential XL Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation) is an excellent smart home security camera for a relatively low cost. It’s packed with lots of features and does a great job of monitoring what’s happening outside your home when you’re away.

arlo essential xl outdoor camera 2nd gen

Arlo Essential XL Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation)

$99 $150 Save $51

You can’t go wrong with the Arlo Essential XL (2nd Generation) when you want an inexpensive outdoor security camera with little maintenance. It offers many tools and features, including extended battery life, HD or 2K picture resolution, a 130-degree field of view, a two-way audio system, and much more. 

Brand
Arlo

Resolution
Up to 2560×1440 (2K)

Connectivity
2.4GHz Wi-Fi

App Compatibility
Yes

Night Vision
Yes

Internal or External
External

Power Source
Rechargeable battery

Integrations
Alexa, Google Assistant

Hub Required
No

Field of view
130° (diagonal)

Colors
White

Spotlight
Integrated Spotlight

Audio
Speaker and Microphone, 2-Way Audio

Storage
None, cloud-based

Weather resistance
Yes

Image sensor
4 Megapixels

Two-way speaker
Yes

Motion detection
Yes

Subscription required?
No

Privacy mode
Yes

Dimensions
3.25 x 2.25 x 3.8 inches (82.55mm x 57.15mm x 96.52mm)

Weight
1 pound

Pros

  • Exceptional battery life
  • Easy installation
  • Effective companion app
  • Smart home integrations
  • Great video quality
Cons

  • Narrow field of view
  • Cloud storage only
  • 2K version is expensive at regular price
  • Subscription needed to unlock every feature

An Arlo Essential XL second gen from an angled view.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Arlo XL was launched alongside the slightly smaller Arlo Essential Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation). As the XL name implies, things are bigger. In this case, the battery life and physical size are the most significant differences between the two products. The regular model promises four months of usage between charges, but this XL can last up to 16 months. This difference makes the Arlo XL a better choice for people using the camera in hard-to-reach or high-traffic areas. Otherwise, the cameras are basically the same, with the same resolution options and app features.

Comparison between the Arlo Essential XL and Arlo Essential security cameras (2nd generation)
Bryan M. Wolfe / How-To Geek

Like its little sister, this one is technically an outdoor camera (it’s right there in the name), although you can use it inside if you want. As an outdoor camera, it holds up very well in the elements, but Arlo hasn’t assigned it an IP rating. Through my testing, it survived in rain and snow—although it’s best to install the camera under a porch or somewhere else where there’s some protection.

The Arlo Essential XL is an excellent-looking device that is white on all sides except for the front, which is black, and where the camera is housed. On this panel, you’ll find sensors above and below the camera. On the bottom is a speaker for two-way audio use; on the top is a pairing button. The camera comes with a mounting plate connecting to the device’s back. Finally, on the bottom of the device is a port for USB-C charging. One thing that’s missing is a microSD slot, as there’s no onboard storage. Overall, the camera feels solid without being heavy.

Within the Arlo XL box, you’ll find the outdoor camera and charging cable, a wall mount with a screw kit unit, and a quick start guide. Arlo also sells extra accessories for the camera via its website, including a 25-foot outdoor cable for 24/7 charging.

Installation: It’s a Breeze

arlo essential xl camera 2nd gen showing accessories
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

Before physically installing the camera, download the Arlo Secure app for iPhone or Android. The app is necessary for installation and viewing content from the camera. The camera requires 2.4GHz Wi-Fi compatibility and won’t work with a newer 5GHz band. The installation process will take slightly longer than usual if there’s a firmware update, but overall it’s pretty quick.

Once you go through the process of pairing the camera with the app, you’ll be given instructions on installing it using the provided plates and screws. The instructions include easy-to-follow videos, making the process smooth and quick. As I noted above, the camera is water-resistant but not waterproof. It can operate at temperatures between -4 degrees Fahrenheit and 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Video Quality: No Significant Problems

Some outdoor cameras are better than others when it comes to picture quality with some not living up to their promises. The Arlo XL does live up to its expectations and then some. You can purchase this camera with HD or 2K resolution. My review unit offers the latter, and its 2,560 x 1,440 pixels is impressive. The camera produces all the colors during the daytime, assuming it’s not a dreary day outside.

However, the camera’s color night vision is less impressive, especially as it gets darker. The pictures below show screenshots taken with the camera during the day and night. During the latter, the colors are clearly washed out. Is this a big deal? It’s probably not, and given the camera’s price point, it’s more than acceptable. Also noted: though narrower than other cameras, the 130-degree field of view is more than enough to see a large swath of real estate.

This camera also includes a spotlight feature that works very well. It automatically illuminates an area when motion is detected, potentially startling or discouraging unwanted visitors. This can help prevent crime or vandalism and alert you to someone’s presence on your property. The spotlight can also be manually activated through the app, allowing you to remotely check on something or someone.

Audio Quality: A Crystal Clear Result

The Arlo XL includes a two-way audio system with a microphone and speaker for two purposes. First, it makes it possible to view a video with surrounding sounds. Second, you can use the system to communicate directly with someone in front of the camera via the app. I didn’t notice any audio issues with this camera, with the sounds mostly crystal clear. Best of all, I detected no echoes, unlike other security cameras, regardless of outside conditions.

The following audio clip exemplifies how the camera (to the app) sounds.

Using the Arlo Security App: It’s the Best

The companion Arlo Security app is the most impressive security-based app I’ve ever used. Once you select the camera in the app, you can watch a live feed or view previous clips vertically or horizontally with the phone. When flipped horizontally, the video takes over the entire screen. You can record videos or photos from the main app screen or adjust or mute the sound. You can also speak through the app using two-way audio.

Camera Arming Process

The Arlo app allows you to adjust what happens with the camera depending on whether you’re home. It offers three default modes, which you can change. Think of these as three levels of protection.

When the camera is set to the “Arm Away” mode, for example, it will automatically record video and audio whenever there’s movement, send you a notification, and even activate a siren to scare off an intruder. When “Arm Home” gets selected, you can have the same settings or deactivate the Siren. Finally, with “Standby” mode, you can turn the camera off and have it not detect movement or record video.

Do You Need a Subscription?

One drawback of the Arlo XL camera—and many home security systems, is the subscription component. In this case, you don’t technically need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription for 24/7 monitoring. However, the free version is so limited that it probably doesn’t make sense to go this route.

Luckily, you receive a free three-month subscription to the Arlo Security package when you activate the camera. This membership gives you 30 days of video and event recording and the ability to document the type of object being recorded. For example, whether it’s a person, vehicle, animal, or package. An Arlo Security subscription also unlocks an alert system for police, fire, or medical personnel and more customizable notifications. You also get priority care and support and a theft replacement plan.

Without a subscription, the Arlo camera will only give you live-view video footage, not recordings. You still get two-way audio, basic motion detection alerts, battery life warnings, and other minor things. You’ll also qualify for software updates whenever they’re released.

The basic Secure plan costs $4.99 monthly for one camera or $12.99 for all your Arlo cameras. There’s also an advanced Arlo Secure Plus plan called Arlo Safe & Secure Pro. These plans most benefit folks with more than one Arlo product. These plans include tools such as 24/7 emergency response professional monitoring and family check-ins. These start at $17.99 per month.

Using Alexa With the Arlo Camera: It Works

The Arlo is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. During my testing, I used the camera with the former. After performing a few setup steps, you can view real-time video from your camera through the Alexa app and also exchange in a conversation using its audio system. You can also perform the same tasks via a supported Alexa-compatible smart display. The video and sound were good through the app and my Echo Show.

Should You Buy the Arlo XL Essential Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation)?

Arlo Essential XL outdoor security camera 2nd gen in box.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

I enjoyed reviewing the regular Arlo Essential (2nd Generation) outdoor security camera. However, I loved reviewing the Arlo XL Essential (2nd Generation) model more. If you’re looking for a powerful security camera for your home that gives you impressive images and video, along with a lot of battery life between charges, you can’t go wrong with this purchase. Better still, it’s often on sale so that you can get one (or two, or three) for much less than retail. Just plan on paying a subscription to receive all the camera benefits.

arlo essential xl outdoor camera 2nd gen

Arlo Essential XL Outdoor Camera (2nd Generation)

$99 $150 Save $51

You can’t go wrong with the Arlo Essential XL (2nd Generation) when you want an inexpensive outdoor security camera with little maintenance. It offers many tools and features, including extended battery life, HD or 2K picture resolution, a 130-degree field of view, a two-way audio system, and much more. 



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By John P.

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