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Choosing the best Arlo security camera seems hard because they look so similar, but there are a lot of differences once you look under the hood. Today we’re comparing Arlo Pro 4 vs Essential to see which is right for your home security network.
We’re going to compare Arlo Essential vs Pro 4 based on installation, video quality, motion detection, and other differences that we find.
Read on and find the right Arlo portable camera for your home.
What is Arlo Pro 4?
This is one of the newest models in the Arlo lineup, and it’s a magnificent camera. As we detailed in our Arlo Pro 4 vs Pro 3 review, these two cameras are very similar. They both have 2K video, 160 degrees of view, have great batteries, and many other similar features.
The thing that really sets Pro 4 apart from every other Arlo model (even Ultra 2) is that it doesn’t need a SmartHub Arlo connection. Every other camera needs this in order to save the footage, but that’s not the case with this model.
That aside, this is a sophisticated camera that has lots of features and great video resolution.
What is Arlo Essential?
The essential line is Arlo’s budget security camera. Like we said before, every camera looks nearly identical, so you wouldn’t even tell it’s a budget model. Even looking at the specs, it doesn’t read like a cheap security camera, but it has a good price tag along with good features.
This video camera streams and records in 1080p quality, has 130 degrees of view, a strong battery for wireless installation, and other great features. It does require an Arlo SmartHub in order to record video, but that comes with most starter packages.
While the price is low, this is a great camera for your home security needs.
Arlo Pro 4 vs Essential: Installation
Every Arlo camera is easy to install. Unlike most other wired cameras that must be near an outlet or limited by the length of your power cords, these cameras are completely wireless. While you can buy a power cord if you want (more about this in the battery section), this is a wireless camera by default.
Simply install the mounting bracket wherever you want on your home and fit the camera within that. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to have the camera installed.
That being said, is one better than the other in terms of Pro 4 vs Essential? We would give the win to Pro 4, but only by a small margin. Installing the camera itself is the same for both models. However, Pro 4 is a little more flexible on the software side.
You must connect the camera to a router in order to see the video and save footage. Essential Arlo needs the SmartHub. Pro 4 can connect to a SmartHub if you have one already, but you don’t need to do this. We find this is better for new owners because you don’t need to get an extra piece of hardware.
It’s slim, but Pro 4 wins this battle. However, if you already own an Arlo SmartHub, then it’s a tie.
Arlo Essential vs Pro 4: Video Quality
Both cameras are good in this regard as well. They have excellent video quality, can capture essential details (faces, clothes, actions, etc) and give you a wide field of view so that you can see what’s going on.
Not only that, but the Arlo night vision is some of the best available. Arlo color nightvision allows you to see everything in full color even if it’s pitch black. The spotlight found on every model is able to give you color vision so that you can better make out details and movement.
But what are the differences?
Essential offers 1080p video and 130 degrees of vision while Pro 4 offers 2K video and 160 degrees of vision.
This means that you can see more with Pro 4 and in better quality. The 1080p with Essential is good, but there is a chance of some blurring if there’s lots of movement.
While both are good, we would say that Essential is best to supplement your security network with Pro 4 is best as the main camera for your security network (such as by the front door and backyard).
This is essential with security cameras. You want to know when someone or something is moving in range of your camera. Plus, this helps to preserve battery life as the camera can turn off until motion is detected.
Both cameras offer motion detection. Plus, if you join Arlo Secure Plan, then you even get custom notification based on the type of movement. For example, the notifications will say vehicle, person, or animal. You can also get special delivery notifications, which are differentiated from normal person notifications.
That being said, Pro 4 does win here by a small margin once again. While both cameras have motion detection and subscribing to an Arlo plan gives you custom motion zones, the major difference is field of vision.
Essential can detect motion within 110 degrees while Pro 4 can do so within 130 degrees. This makes it easier for Pro 4 to capture a wider view and makes it less likely to miss motion.
These are wireless cameras, and that gives you the flexibility to install them anywhere. At the same time, they remain wireless by having rechargeable batteries (otherwise they would need a power cord to keep them active).
The good news is that Arlo batteries usually last around six months. Some people might get less battery life if their camera is always on and constantly detecting motion, but six months is the average. Not only that, but recharging the battery doesn’t take that long at all.
What if you don’t want to recharge it? Both models are compatible with the Solar Panel by Arlo. This can be installed right next to the camera and provides it an endless source of power.
If you choose Pro 4, then you can also get the Arlo power cable. There is an indoor and outdoor version, so be sure to pick the right one based on your installation. This also gives you endless battery life.
What’s the Difference Between Arlo Pro 4 and Essential?
Curious about what’s the difference between Arlo Essential and Pro 4? Not only is Pro 4 a new model, but it’s also a higher tier camera. Essential is their budget model and it does very well compared to similarly priced cameras. However, Pro 4 is a little better in every area.
Pro 4 offers better video resolution, more field of vision, better motion detection, more flexible installation, another power source with the Alro power cable, and it doesn’t need SmartHub access.
That being said, the margin of difference isn’t that huge. Essential is a good camera and at a much better price point. While not quite as good, many people will be satisfied with it. When it comes down to Arlo Pro 4 or Essential, it’s a matter of price vs features.
So, should you get Arlo Essential or Pro 4? It’s a tough question. We found that Pro 4 is better in every regard except one: price. We think you get more value from it and it’s one of our favorite security cameras, but some people may want a budget camera and Essential is right for that need.