Arlo Essential XL (2nd Gen) – Upgraded Version

Designed for fast and easy installation, the second-generation Arlo Essential XL is a rugged, battery-powered security camera that delivers sharp 1080p or 2K video and more than a year of battery life on a charge. Starting at $99.99, it’s relatively affordable and it offers several useful features including color night vision, voice control support, and lots of third-party integrations. The Arlo Essential XL lasts longer between charges compared to the similar Ring Stick Up Cam Battery ($99.99) and adds Google Assistant support, making it equally worthy of our Editors’ Choice award.

With its rounded edges, white plastic enclosure, and glossy black camera face, the Essential XL Outdoor looks like any other Arlo camera. It measures 3.7 by 2.1 by 3.2 inches (HWD) and is powered by a built-in (non-removable) battery that, according to Arlo, will last up to 16 months between charges depending on Wi-Fi signal strength and overall usage. The 1080p model uses a 2MP image sensor that captures 1080p video, with a 2K model also available for $149.99. The HD lens has a 12x digital zoom and a 130-degree diagonal field of view. It can capture full-color night video with the built-in spotlight and uses infrared LEDs for black-and-white night vision.

The camera face holds a PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor, a microphone, a speaker, a spotlight, and a status LED. Under the hood, there’s a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio and a siren. The top of the camera has a pairing button for Wi-Fi configuration, and the bottom has a USB-C charging port protected by a rubber cover. A threaded mounting hole for use with the included bracket is in the back of the enclosure. The Essential XL works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands and supports IFTTT applets for integration with third-party smart home devices. However, it doesn’t offer Apple HomeKit or Matter integrations.

The camera records video upon detecting motion. An Arlo Secure plan subscription is required to view recorded videos. For $4.99 per month, you get 30 days of video history for a single camera, intelligent motion detection, smart activity zones, and interactive notifications. A $12.99 per month plan covers an unlimited number of cameras, and the $17.99 per month Arlo Secure Plus plan adds a 24/7 Emergency Response feature.

Competitor Ring also requires a subscription for recordings, with plans starting at $3.99 a month for up to 180 days of recorded video history for a single device. Alternatively, the TP-Link Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Home Security Wi-Fi Camera C120 offers 2K video, local and cloud storage options, and similar features for $39.99.

The Essential XL uses the Arlo Secure mobile app, which opens to a dashboard with customizable Arm Away, Arm Home, and Standby buttons. The app features a live stream with various controls, a feed button for recorded videos, and settings for various configurations such as power management and motion sensitivity.

The Essential XL is easy to install. It requires charging the battery, using the Arlo Secure app for setup, and mounting the device with the included hardware. In testing, the Essential XL delivered solid HD video, with sharp and contrast-rich black-and-white night video, and good color night video with the spotlight active. Motion alerts were prompt and accurate, and the spotlight and siren effectively deterred nocturnal animals. It also worked well with third-party devices and voice commands.

In conclusion, the Arlo Essential XL is a top choice among outdoor security cameras for its wireless installation, long battery life, and reasonable price. It offers clear video with color night vision and is compatible with many third-party devices. While it requires a subscription for recorded video access, it stands out for its long battery life and Google Assistant support, earning the Editors’ Choice award for battery-powered security cameras.