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Arlo Audio Doorbell review: Smart doorbell doesn't have everything I want

The $80 Audio Doorbell seems like a great deal at first glance, but you'll need a separate Arlo camera to stream live video.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton covers renewable energy, climate change and other environmental topics for CNET. Before starting at CNET in 2013, she wrote for NBC Universal's DVICE (now SYFY). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

Expertise Science, Home Credentials Society of Professional Journalists 2022 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Feature Writing, Society of Professional Journalists 2022 Ohio Journalism Award for Science Writing
4 min read

The Arlo Audio Doorbell costs $80. I know it sounds like a steal since most smart doorbells cost about $200, but limited features and some unexpected extra costs ultimately make it hard to recommend to most. 

arlo-audio-doorbell-product-photos-5
6.7

Arlo Audio Doorbell

The Good

The $80 Arlo Audio Doorbell is easy to set up and use. Get prompt motion alerts and view a live video feed from your phone (if you add an Arlo cam to the kit separately).

The Bad

This doorbell is audio-only. It requires an $80 Base Station to work, meaning the kit costs $160 total. Given its limited features and functionality, $160 is a lot to spend.

The Bottom Line

The Audio Doorbell is a fine add-on if you already use Arlo cams at home, but it isn't the right option for folks wanting a live-streaming buzzer.

As its name suggests, the Audio Doorbell is an audio-only device; there's no built-in camera. You'll still get a push alert when the doorbell's motion sensor detects activity -- or if someone rings the bell -- but you can only speak to them. You can't see them.

You have to buy a separate Arlo, Arlo Pro or Arlo Pro 2 cam to add that video component and one Pro 2 camera costs $220. And, even if you don't want an Arlo camera to accompany your Audio Doorbell, the $80 Arlo Base Station is required for the buzzer to work. The doorbell and the Base Station alone take the price up to $160; add in the camera and it's a whopping $380.

The price gets even higher if you decide to run your doorbell on two AA batteries rather than the hardwired option, since you'd need the $50 Arlo Chime to hear your doorbell ring like it would if you had a mechanical or digital doorbell chime already in your home. The Chime accessory moves the price tag over $400 to get the functionality of one regular smart doorbell. (Again, most connected buzzers cost about $200 total.)

If you already use Arlo cameras and the base station that comes with them, you'd only need the doorbell (and possibly the Chime accessory) to have a fully functioning smart doorbell. That might be worthwhile, especially since the doorbell itself and the related Arlo app perform just fine. 

Everyone else should look for an all-in-one smart doorbell from competitors like Nest, Ring, August or SkyBell.

Arlo's smart doorbell doesn't have a security camera

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The Arlo Audio Doorbell in action

Setting up the Arlo Audio Doorbell is very simple. First download the Arlo app on your Android or iOS device and create an account. Click on the "Add New Device" button and follow the tutorial. 

At minimum you'll need the $80 Arlo Audio Doorbell and the $80 Arlo Base Station to use this smart buzzer. As you can see in the screenshot below, the app takes you from one step to the next fairly seamlessly. In addition to the doorbell and the Base Station, I also added in an Arlo Pro 2 camera and an Arlo Chime accessory.

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Configuring the Audio Doorbell in the app is simple.

Screenshots by CNET
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Configure your Alexa speaker to announce someone's at the door in the Alexa app whenever someone rings the Arlo Audio Doorbell. I enabled this feature, but it never worked for me.

Screenshot by CNET

Note: This device can run on AA batteries -- or you can hardwire it (be sure to reach out to a professional electrician if you have any questions about the electrical wiring). I opted for the battery-powered route to see how the Chime accessory interacted with the doorbell.

The whole app set up took roughly 10 minutes from start to finish. 

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Watch this: 9 smart doorbells to try now

I positioned the Pro 2 camera so that I could see the door where the doorbell was installed and plugged in the Chime accessory in the living room -- a spot where I could easily hear the doorbell throughout the house. 

Everything worked as expected. I received prompt alerts on my phone after the doorbell detected activity -- or after I rang the doorbell. I also was able to see the door with the Arlo Pro 2 cam. Talking to someone via the Audio Doorbell's two-way audio worked well for me too. I didn't experience any significant lags and had no trouble hearing the person on the other end, both from my phone and from the doorbell.  

Again, everything worked fine, but the Nest Hello, the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and many other devices I've tested come with their own cameras (in addition to selling other outdoor security cameras for other monitoring needs). The Arlo Audio Doorbell, by direct comparison, is seriously limited, given that adding an Arlo cam is entirely optional. 

The Audio Doorbell is also supposed to work with Alexa. Enable the Arlo Alexa skill in the Alexa app and your Alexa-enabled smart speaker should let you know if there's someone at the door. I tried this with a second-gen Amazon Echo Show and it unfortunately didn't work for me. I've reached out to Arlo to troubleshoot and will update this review when I hear back. 

16 smart doorbells to watch over your front stoop

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The verdict

The Audio Doorbell is a decent buzzer worth considering if you're invested in the Arlo system. Folks who already own an Arlo camera and a Base Station will find this doorbell a particularly good value. Just buy the doorbell for 80 bucks and you have everything you need.

Everyone else should strongly consider their home security needs. If you want an all-in-one smart video doorbell, this is not the product for you. I'd instead suggest the Nest Hello or the Ring Video Doorbell 2.  

Want to read more about smart doorbells on CNET? Here's a list of our favorite buzzers for 2019.

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6.7

Arlo Audio Doorbell

Score Breakdown

Features 6Usability 6Design 7Performance 8
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