The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell has a huge field of view and is our favorite battery-powered smart doorbell yet

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Arlo Essential Video Doorbell

  • The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell offers a very wide, 180-degree, head-to-toe view of your front porch.
  • It can capture high-resolution video with HDR, and the picture clarity is impressive.
  • The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell has a rechargeable battery and doesn’t require a hub.
  • You can find this doorbell and some alternatives in our guide to the best smart doorbells.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEssential Wireless Video Doorbell (small)

Deservedly a big name in home security, Arlo cameras offer high-quality video and impressive reliability. The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is the company’s first doorbell that doesn’t have to be wired in for power (though that is an option). With a rechargeable battery and the ability to connect directly to your Wi-Fi, this video doorbell can be fitted in minutes.

The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell has the widest field-of-view of any video doorbell we’ve tested, as well as a square video format that ensures you get the complete picture of your front porch, including a head-to-toe look at any visitors. With a very smart alert system, multiple customizable detection zones, and some of the clearest two-way audio we’ve encountered, this is a compelling option.

The catch is the relatively high price coupled with the need for a monthly subscription if you want to record video and use the smart features. I’ve been using the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell for more than a month now, and I’m convinced it’s the best battery-powered video doorbell on the market.

Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell Specifications

Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

Specifications

Dimensions:

143 x 47 x 37 mm (5.63 x 1.85 x 1.45 inches)

Video:

Up to 1536 x 1536 pixels (also supports 1080 x 1080, 720 x 720)

Field of View:

180 degrees

Audio:

Two-way

Power:

Wired or rechargeable battery

Connectivity:

802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 2.4GHz

Storage:

Cloud only (30 days video history starts from $2.99 per month)

Extras:

HDR, IR night vision, Alexa and Google Assistant support, and person, vehicle, animal, or package detection.

Design

The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is tall, but it’s not as wide as many other video doorbells, so it should fit comfortably on most door frames. As is the case with doorbells that have a battery inside, this is a chunky device. An LED ring around the outer edge of the button pulses gently when it senses someone approaching.

While the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is unobtrusive and finished in plastic, it’s better looking than many of its competitors. There aren’t faceplate options here like you get with Ring’s video doorbells.

By default, the LED ring pulses when it senses motion, which is handy in low light. You can turn the LED off if you want to squeeze as much life as possible from the rechargeable battery. This video doorbell can also be hooked up to your existing doorbell wiring, provided the voltage is between 8V AC and 24V AC.

Setup

It took maybe ten minutes to set up the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell. Simply install the Arlo app on your phone, and grab a screwdriver to fix the mount. Everything else you need is included in the box, including screws, a flat bracket, and an angled bracket. I tested it as a completely wire-free device, but the kit and instructions for wiring it in are there. To charge the battery, you simply stick the provided pin tool into the top of the doorbell, and it pops out.

The setup process for the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

It feels secure once fitted, but it wouldn’t be difficult to steal the doorbell. If you live in the US and have an Arlo subscription plan, there is an Arlo Theft Replacement program, though you will have to file a police report before you can make a claim.

The only potential difficulty with the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is that you need a strong Wi-Fi connection at your front door, though this is true of every smart doorbell. It connects directly to your router via the 2.4GHz frequency. If you already have an Arlo camera system, you should be able to connect the doorbell to your Arlo SmartHub.

Performance and features

Picture quality is crucial for a video doorbell, and the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell excels in this department. The 1536 x 1536 pixel resolution ensures sharp and detailed video, and HDR compensates for extreme bright spots and dark areas losing detail. There is a little distortion with the fisheye effect warping the corners, but I haven’t had any issues recognizing who is at the door.

The most noticeable thing about the video from the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell compared to other video doorbells I’ve tested is the 180-degree field of view and the 1:1 aspect ratio. This provides enough width to take in my whole porch and the surrounding area, and it provides a complete head-to-toe look at visitors, and allows me to see packages on the ground.

Another strength of the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell compared to some competitors is the quality of the two-way audio. Audio in recordings and live conversations are clear and relatively lag-free. The siren is surprisingly loud, too.

Unlike most smart doorbells, when someone presses the doorbell, your phone rings as if a regular call is coming in. Lag can be a big problem for smart doorbells, but the Arlo is generally a bit quicker to ring my phone and more reliable to talk through. If I’m at home, my phone will ring within five seconds, and answering is immediate. It can take a little longer if I have a weaker signal, but on the whole, it compares favorably to doorbells from Ring and Eufy.

Night vision kicks in automatically when darkness falls to give you black and white footage. It’s a little tougher to see, but generally still sharp and detailed. You can stick with color video if you turn night vision off, but your outdoor lighting must be bright enough.

Motion detection and smart notifications

Interface that accompanies the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

With a short driveway, passing traffic on the street, and cats, I appreciate Arlo’s customizable recording and motion detection zones. Importantly, there’s support for multiple activity zones, so you can get precise about the areas where motion should trigger an alert. The video recording area is slightly less flexible, as it has to retain the 1:1 aspect ratio, so it’s a square that you can resize by dragging the corners.

After setting my zones and tweaking the alert system to only notify me when it detects people, the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell never sends false alerts, which is great. I also love that the rich notifications on my phone or smartwatch include a screenshot with the person highlighted in a green box. You can see who’s at the door at a glance without having to load the app.

As much as I like the smart notifications and the categorization system, it’s frustrating that you can’t adjust whether they trigger a cloud recording. My library of videos is mostly cats, and I wonder how much battery life all these moggies are chewing through.

Response times and cloud video

When I’m sitting at home with a strong WiFi connection, I can tap into the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell live view in around three or four seconds, and answering a doorbell ring or tapping a notification is even faster. It can take a lot longer with a weaker internet or data connection.

While it’s annoying that you need a subscription to record video in the cloud, I do find that playback is impressively swift. Videos play within one to two seconds, which is consistently faster than doorbells from Eufy and Ring that I tested recently.

Subscription

Without a subscription, you still get notifications when motion is detected, it will still ring when pressed, and you can still jump into a live view and have a two-way conversation, but that’s it. To get the best from it, you need a subscription for cloud storage, rich notifications with screenshots, activity zones, and the ability to detect people, vehicles, animals, and packages.

Plans start from $2.99 per month with the Premier Plan which supports up to 2K video and up to 30 days of recorded video events. If you have a larger system, then you can pay $9.99 per month for up to five cameras. Either way, the Premier Plan is enough to get the best from the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell. The Elite $4.99 per month plan is only worth considering for 4K cameras.

Smart home integration

It’s easy to add your Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell to Google’s Home app or Amazon’s Alexa app. I had no issues setting up the connection and now my Amazon Echo, Google Home Mini, and Nest Hub all announce when someone is at the door, which is handy since there’s no chime included.

I can also ask Google Assistant to bring up a live feed on the Nest Hub or my TV via Chromecast. It only takes around six seconds to load up, which is relatively quick, but on the Nest Hub, the picture appears rotated as if the doorbell is lying on its side. Thankfully, it appears the right way up on the Chromecast.

Security and privacy

There’s no local storage, so you are uploading videos to the cloud with the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell. Arlo claims strong security and has a privacy pledge that includes the promise not to monetize your personal data and to delete videos permanently when you want them deleted or leave the service. While Arlo hasn’t suffered any high-profile breaches, security researchers have found vulnerabilities in the past.

Should you buy it?

Up close photos of the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

Yes, the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is the best battery-powered smart doorbell I’ve tested.

What are your alternatives?

The closest competitor in terms of features and design is the Nest Hello. It’s very reliable and similarly smart, even offering facial detection, but it requires a wired connection, and you need a subscription, which starts from $6 per month.

If you want a doorbell that you don’t have to wire in, the Eufy 2K Video Doorbell is worth checking out. It doesn’t have quite as wide or tall a field of view, and we encountered issues with the audio, but the video quality is excellent and you can record videos locally, so there’s no need to spring for a subscription. Find out more in our Eufy 2K Video Doorbell review.

The bottom line

The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is reliable and offers clear video and audio with lots of smart features and the best notification system around. Unfortunately, you need that monthly subscription to get the best from it.

Pros: High-resolution HDR video, expansive field-of-view, no hub required, Alexa and Google Assistant support, wired or rechargeable battery, clear two-way audio

Cons: Video recording and smart features require subscription, bulky body

Essential Wireless Video Doorbell (button)

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Amazon Prime Day is almost over – don’t miss these under-$25 deals that’ll only be live for a few more hours

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Amazon Prime Day 2021 Deals under $25 4x3
We found the best Prime Day deals under $25 that are still available as the sale wraps up today, June 22.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The Prime Day sales are almost over, so it’s time to get those items you’ve been thinking about. Big sales on robot vacuums and laptops are still live, but you can also make last-minute purchases on a budget. Everything on this list is under $25 through the end of Prime Day at midnight PDT.

We’ve found some hidden gems this year, and we’re especially excited about the discounted Tile Pro, Dash Deluxe Egg Cooker, and Mario Badescu facial spray set.

These are the best Amazon Prime Day 2021 deals under $25 still available on day two. Keep an eye on this list as the deal day wraps up – we’ll keep updating it with new deals we uncover.

For more on Prime Day, check out our explainer on all you need to know about the event and how to shop to your fullest potential. Also be sure to follow along with our liveblog for the latest deals.

Here are the best Prime Day deals under $25:

Tech deals

PowerCore Slim (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Galaxy SmartTag (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Smart Plug (medium)All-New Echo Dot (4th Generation) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire TV Stick 4K (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Beauty deals

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Home deals

New York City Candle (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Honeycomb Wine Rack (medium)Satin Pillowcase (medium, Preferred: Amazon)myQ Smart Garage Door Opener (G0401) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Wireless Mini Dehumidifier (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kitchen deals

Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker (medium, Preferred: Amazon)4-in-1 Cordless Electric Wine Opener Set (medium)Reusable Silicone Sandwich Bag (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Nonstick 9″ Round (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pre-Seasoned 12 Inch. Cast Iron Skillet (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Baby Nessie the Loch Ness Monster Tea Infuser (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Health deals

No-Touch Forehead Thermometer PT3 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Mouthwash (2-pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Personal Water Filter (2-Pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Style deals

Women’s Active Tank (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Women’s High-Waisted Biker Shorts (medium)Women’s Classic Fit Gathered Long Sleeve Crewneck Sweatshirt (medium)Carousel Racerback Bralette (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kid deals

Earth Science Kit (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Pet deals

Cat Condo (medium)Plush Dog Pet Bed (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Service and subscription deals

Music Unlimited (medium)Plus (Monthly Subscription) (medium)Subscription (medium)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Prime Day deals under $25 that you can still get on Day 2 of the sale

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Deals under $25 4x3
We found the best Prime Day deals under $25.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Sure, you can save big on that robot vacuum or that laptop this Prime Day, but if you’re looking to spend less and save more, there are plenty of deals to be found on a budget. Everything on this list is under $25 during Prime Day, which ends today, June 22.

We’ve found some hidden gems this year, and we’re especially excited about the discounted Tile Pro, Colgate Hum electric toothbrush, and Mario Badescu facial spray set.

These are the best Amazon Prime Day deals under $25 in 2021. Keep an eye on this list as the deal day continues -we’ll keep updating it with new deals we uncover.

For more on Prime Day, check out our explainer on all you need to know about the event and how to shop to your fullest potential. Also be sure to follow along with our liveblog for the latest deals.

Here are the best Prime Day deals under $25:

Tech deals

10-inch LED Ring Light (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Smart Plug (medium)Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (medium)All-New Echo Dot (4th Generation) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire TV Stick 4K (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Beauty deals

Rosewater Toner (medium)Jade Roller and Gua Sha Set (medium)Makeup Sponge Set (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Spritz Mist and Glow Facial Spray Collection Trio, Lavender, Cucumber, Rose (medium)

Home deals

Honeycomb Wine Rack (medium)Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser (medium)Satin Pillowcase (medium, Preferred: Amazon)myQ Smart Garage Door Opener (G0401) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Wireless Mini Dehumidifier (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kitchen deals

4-in-1 Cordless Electric Wine Opener Set (medium)Burke Deluxe Cold BrewMaker (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Reusable Silicone Sandwich Bag (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pre-Seasoned 12 Inch. Cast Iron Skillet (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Baby Nessie the Loch Ness Monster Tea Infuser (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Health deals

Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Mouthwash (2-pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Personal Water Filter (2-Pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Hum Toothbrush (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Style deals

Women’s Classic Fit Gathered Long Sleeve Crewneck Sweatshirt (medium)Blue Light Blocking Glasses, 3-Pack (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Carousel Racerback Bralette (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kid deals

Super Art Coloring Kit (medium)Lazy River Pool with Sunshade (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Earth Science Kit (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Pet deals

Cat Condo (medium)Plush Dog Pet Bed (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Service and subscription deals

Music Unlimited (medium)Plus (Monthly Subscription) (medium)Subscription (medium)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon’s newest Ring Video Doorbell is 25% off for Prime Day 2021

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Amazon Ring Video Doorbell - Prime Day 2021 Deals on Ring Video Doorbell

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Amazon Prime Day 2021 ends at the end of the day today, and there are still huge deals for a huge range of products, devices, and services across almost every category you can think of. One of the big products that get tempting deals on Prime Day 2021 are Amazon’s own Ring smart home devices, like smart video doorbell and home monitoring cameras.

Just remember that, if you’re trying to get a Prime Day deal through Amazon, you’ll need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber or start a free trial. Also, be sure to follow our Prime Day liveblog for all of the latest deals as they come in.

The Best Amazon Prime Day Ring Video Doorbell deals

Ring’s Video Doorbells can be easily added to almost any front door, even those that don’t have an existing doorbell or those that aren’t wired to power a doorbells, as some models come with a rechargeable battery option. With a Ring Video Doorbell, you can monitor what’s going on outside your front door at anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a data or internet connection. You also get alerts when someone rings your doorbell, and you can see and communicate with that person through the Ring mobile app.

On Prime Day, we’re only seeing one deal for a new Ring video doorbell – the newest Wired model released in 2021. It comes with everything you’d need or want in a video doorbell, but users who want higher resolution and more advanced features may feel a little left out here. Otherwise, there are some bundled options that come with Ring cameras or the Chime that extends the doorbell chime to your home, rather than just your smartphone.

Video Doorbell Wired (2021) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Video Doorbell Wired with Ring Chime (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Video Doorbell Wired bundle with Ring Indoor Cam (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

The top Amazon Prime Day Ring Camera deals

Ring’s indoor and outdoor cameras let you check in on your home from anywhere, as long as you have a data or internet connection, even when you’re away from home. For indoor use, the best option is the standard wired Ring Indoor Cam. If you’re looking for a battery-powered camera that doesn’t need wired power, inside or outside, the Ring Stick Up Cam is a great choice.

Stick Up Cam (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Spotlight Cam (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Floodlight Cam Wired Plus (2021) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Which Ring Video Doorbell should you buy? We break down the models.

The newest Wired Ring Video Doorbell is the cheapest and simplest option you can buy, but it still comes with pretty much everything you’d want in a smart video doorbell, including streaming at a sharp 1080p resolution, night vision, two-way communication, and alerting you to motion via your phone. It uses the existing power wiring from your old doorbell if your home is already wired for that, so it’s a better value buy than the standard Ring Video Doorbell or the Ring Video Doorbell 4 that include rechargeable batteries (as well as the option for using existing doorbell power wiring). Regardless, the standard Ring Video Doorbells don’t have deals so far on Prime Day 2021.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is a tough sell at its high price tag, especially since it’s not getting the Prime Day treatment. The camera has a wider field of view, but it’s tough to justify its cost when the non-Pro models are so good and inexpensive.

Remember that you’ll need to subscribe to the Ring Protect Plan to record and keep captured video for up to 60 days.

Are smart doorbell cameras worth it?

Speaking from my own experience, I personally questioned whether I really needed a smart video doorbell when I installed one a few years ago. Since then, I’ve found my smart video doorbell to be an invaluable and essential part of my house. The ability to see what’s going on outside my front door when someone rings my doorbell, or when it detects movement outside, is priceless.

It’s been especially reassuring while I’m away from my house. I’ve been able to check in to my home’s primary point of entry from anywhere at any time, even overseas, as long as I have an internet connection. If a smart video doorbell camera is within your budget, it’s a worthwhile purchase.

More Prime Day Amazon device deals

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Prime Day deals under $25 to add to your shopping cart

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Deals under $25 4x3

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Sure, you can save big on that robot vacuum or that laptop this Prime Day, but if you’re looking to spend less and save more, there are plenty of deals to be found on a budget. Everything on this list is under $25 while on sale during Prime Day, which continues through June 22. We’ve found some hidden gems this year, and we’re especially excited about the discounted Tile Pro, Colgate Hum electric toothbrush, and Mario Badescu facial spray set.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in July like Hallmark or looking to treat yourself to something special, these are the best Amazon Prime Day deals under $25 in 2021. Keep an eye on this list as the two-day shopping event progresses – we’ll keep updating it with new deals we uncover.

For more on Prime Day, check out our explainer on all you need to know about the event and how to shop to your fullest potential.

Here are the best Prime Day deals under $25:

Tech deals

Smart Plug (medium)Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (medium)All-New Echo Dot (4th Generation) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire TV Stick 4K (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Beauty deals

Spritz Mist and Glow Facial Spray Collection Trio, Lavender, Cucumber, Rose (medium)Makeup Sponge Set (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Home deals

Satin Pillowcase (medium, Preferred: Amazon)myQ Smart Garage Door Opener (G0401) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Wireless Mini Dehumidifier (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kitchen deals

Reusable Silicone Sandwich Bag (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pre-Seasoned 12 Inch. Cast Iron Skillet (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Health deals

Mouthwash (2-pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Personal Water Filter (2-Pack) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Hum Toothbrush (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Style deals

Blue Light Blocking Glasses, 3-Pack (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Kid deals

Earth Science Kit (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Pet deals

Plush Dog Pet Bed (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Service and subscription deals

Music Unlimited (medium)Plus (Monthly Subscription) (medium)Subscription (medium)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple is rolling out Siri to some non-Apple devices – but you might need a HomePod to use the digital assistant

Apple HomePod
A HomePod smart speaker.

  • Apple said smart home device makers can work with Apple to integrate Siri into their devices.
  • However, the devices need to already be compatible with HomeKit, Apple’s universal remote-like app.
  • It’s unclear if customers will be able to use iPhones or will need a HomePod to make Siri requests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple said Monday that it would start allowing customers to make requests via Siri through non-Apple devices.

The company made the announcement at its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, where it also unveiled its iOS 15 software update.

Apple said in a press release that starting immediately, smart home device makers can work with Apple to integrate Siri into their products.

Apple said Siri can be enabled on accessories that are compatible with HomeKit, Apple’s universal remote-like app that you can use to control smart home devices.

Third-party accessory makers will be able to “relay requests through HomePod or HomePod mini and will support features such as Personal Requests, Intercom, timers, and alarms.”

Read more: Apple’s new major iOS change lets you decide if you want brands to track you across apps. Most people are opting out, and it’s already crushing advertisers.

It’s unclear if customers will be able to use iPhones to make requests via Siri on their third-party devices, or if the service is only available through HomePod and HomePod mini. Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Apple said in March that it was discontinuing its original $350 HomePod smart speaker, but it will still focus on its $99 HomePod Mini, which is launched in fall 2020.

As Tom’s Guide notes, Apple’s HomeKit isn’t compatible with as many third-party devices as Amazon and Google’s digital assistants are.

And when Apple launched its original HomePod in 2018, it competed with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home but fell flat with consumers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best outdoor security cameras of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Outdoor security cameras can help you to safeguard your property.
  • The most important features to look for are high-quality video and reliable connectivity.
  • After extensive testing, we recommend the Arlo Pro 4 as the best outdoor security camera.

A good outdoor security camera system helps you to keep tabs on your property from anywhere and can act as a deterrent to unwelcome visitors. Motion detection will trigger the camera to start recording and send a notification to your smartphone so that you can review any activity around your home.

When choosing a camera, it’s important to consider video quality, audio quality, and connectivity. Your budget will also factor in, and some security cameras require subscriptions if you want access to additional features.

After testing several devices and researching expert reviews, we’ve selected the best outdoor security cameras you can buy in 2021. Our picks fall into a few different categories so that you can find something with the features you need at a price that works for you.

Here are the best outdoor security cameras of 2021

The best outdoor security camera overall

Photo of the Arlo Pro 4, the best outdoor security camera overall

The Arlo Pro 4 captures high-quality video and audio, performs reliably, and has the best notification system.

Pros: Excellent video quality, smart motion detection, great alert system, easy to install, reliable performance

Cons: Requires subscription for cloud storage and smart features

The Arlo Pro 4 is an elegant wireless security camera that’s easy to set up and install. There’s a choice of magnetic or screw-in mounts and a charging cable in the box. It connects directly to your Wi-Fi router, but that’s the only thing that sets it apart from the excellent Arlo Pro 3, which connects to a SmartHub. 

Video footage is sharp and clear, with HDR ensuring that bright areas don’t get blown out and darker areas retain detail. Color night vision and a spotlight ensure you don’t miss anything at night. The two-way audio allows for easy conversation and there’s a siren should you want to scare off any unwelcome visitors. The Arlo Pro 4 does the basics very well, and the app is easy to use. It connects swiftly and reliably and quickly recovers its connection after power or Wi-Fi outages.

False positives can be a big issue for security cameras, so Arlo’s array of fine-tuning options is a big bonus. You can limit the area to record for privacy and draw multiple activity zones to dictate precisely where motion should trigger a recording. Videos are accurately categorized as people, animals, vehicles, packages, and other motion. What I like best about Arlo cameras is the rich notification system. It shows a screenshot thumbnail with the subject highlighted, so you can see at a glance if you need to load the app to investigate further. 

Expect to get between three and six months of battery life from a fully charged camera, with plenty of warning when it’s running low. There’s comprehensive smart-home integration, and it’s relatively quick to bring up a live feed on a smart display. The big drawback with the Arlo Pro 4 is the need for an Arlo Smart subscription to get 30 days of cloud video history and all the smart features that make this the best outdoor security camera for most people.

The best budget outdoor security camera

Best outdoor security camera of 2021 Wyze Cam Outdoor_1

The Wyze Cam Outdoor is a bargain, with a competitive set of features, local video storage, and free cloud storage.

Pros: Very affordable, good video quality, local storage, free cloud storage, easy to install

Cons: Requires a subscription for smart detection and unlimited recording, requires a hub, app can be slow

Bargain hunters will love the Wyze Cam Outdoor. Quick and easy to set up, this boxy camera connects to a small hub that plugs into your router. There’s a base with a foldout frame and screws for mounting. The camera attaches magnetically and has a MicroSD card slot for local storage, as does the hub, though you’ll have to buy cards separately. 

The picture quality is generally good and provides enough clarity to recognize subjects quickly, but it can’t match more expensive cameras. The resolution is fine, but the frame rate is lower than the other cameras on our list, which can make videos appear a little jerky. The infrared night vision works well, but videos are much noisier. The audio quality is passable, though it occasionally sounds distorted. You can have a two-way conversation provided that you are patient about the slight lag. 

While the connection is reliable and recovers gracefully from outages, it takes a little longer to connect to the app than cameras like the Arlo Pro 4. The app is easy to use and offers a customizable detection zone with a grid system and a sensitivity slider. You can review recorded videos saved on a MicroSD card or via the free cloud storage. If you stick with the basic free plan, videos are limited to 12 seconds, with a five-minute cooldown before it starts recording again. 

Battery life is a standard three to six months. There’s a good range of smart-home integration, but loading live feeds on smart displays is relatively slow. If you want motion detection to recognize people, packages, and vehicles, with the promise of pet detection and face recognition to come, then you have to sign up for the Wyze’s subscription, which also removes the limit on video length and the cooldown period. At this price, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is unmatched, and paired with a MicroSD card it’s your best budget option.

The best wired outdoor security camera

Google Nest Cam Outdoor

Elegant design and reliable performance make the Nest Cam Outdoor a tempting option if you want to plug in.

Pros: Very good video quality, smart motion detection, well-designed app, reliable performance, no charging required 

Cons: Requires expensive subscription for cloud storage and smart features, installation can be tricky

If you’d prefer not to have to worry about charging batteries, the Nest Cam Outdoor is a solid pick. Installation may be trickier if you don’t have an outdoor outlet, because you have to run a power cable into your home. With no battery inside, this is the smallest camera on the list.

Even with a lower resolution than some other cameras, the Nest Cam Outdoor produces impressively high-quality video. Night vision is equally good thanks to multiple infrared sensors, and there’s an 8x digital zoom to help you track and identify subjects. The audio is clear enough to carry on a conversation, but it works like a walkie-talkie so when you press to talk there’s no incoming sound.

Reliability is good and connections are established swiftly with the straightforward app. You can customize activity zones, set up smart alerts, and there’s even face recognition. There’s also support for 24/7 recording for those that need it. The more expensive Nest Cam IQ Outdoor offers higher image quality and lots of small improvements, including proper two-way audio, but it’s currently unavailable and a refresh of the line-up is imminent.

With strong reviews from TechRadar, CNET, and a recommendation from Wirecutter, this aging camera is still among the best. If Google is your preferred ecosystem, it will merge seamlessly with your smart home setup. The main downside is the pricey Nest Aware subscription, which is a necessity with this camera.

The best local-storage outdoor security camera

Photo of the Reolink Argus 3 Pro, the best local storage outdoor security camera

With no subscription necessary, the Reolink Argus 3 Pro boasts an impressively long feature list for the price.

Pros: Affordable, great video quality, local storage, free cloud storage, solar panel power option (sold separately) 

Cons: App can be confusing, limited battery life, no 2FA

The Reolink Argus 3 Pro has a familiar design and comes with a choice of ball socket screw-in mounts that make it easy to adjust the view. Set up is straightforward, and it connects directly to your Wi-Fi router wirelessly. Reolink offers free cloud storage, but there’s also a MicroSD card slot on the camera that supports large-capacity cards.

With a high resolution and reasonably good contrast, the Argus Pro 3 makes it easy to review the action in any video. There’s no HDR, so bright sunlight can blow areas out. The frame rate is limited to 15 frames-per-second which means action looks a little jerky at times, but there’s lots of good detail. A spotlight and night vision offer reasonably clear video at night. The two-way audio works well enough to have a conversation, but there is distortion on recordings sometimes. There’s also a siren.

Connectivity has been stellar for me. The Reolink Argus 3 Pro offers dual-band Wi-Fi, which is still quite rare in security cameras. It reconnects quickly after Wi-Fi or power outages. You can tweak the sensitivity, but it lacks customizable activity zones, and it sometimes misidentifies motion, like a swaying branch or cat, as a person. Notifications work well, and the live feed loads impressively swiftly as a default view. 

Battery life runs down quite quickly. With the spotlight and frequent alerts, my review unit was on course to last six weeks at the most, but you can buy a solar panel accessory for $25 and never have to worry about it. Even installed in partial shade, it keeps the camera powered up. 

One worry is that a thief could take this camera with the MicroSD card inside, though Reolink does offer free cloud storage as well. The lack of 2FA is also a security concern, so you’ll want to guard your login details and avoid using this camera indoors. On the other hand, some people will appreciate the ability to only use local storage without the need to upload anything to the cloud or even create a Reolink account. 

Ultimately, the swifter performance and affordable price are why the Reolink makes the list over the Eufy Cam 2C, which you’ll find in what else we considered. But if security is a bigger concern for you, the Eufy will suit you better.

The best video doorbell camera

Photo of the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell, the best doorbell camera

Smart alerts and reliable video calls make the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell the best way to watch your front door.

Pros: High-quality video, expansive field-of-view, no hub required, wired or rechargeable battery, clear two-way audio

Cons: Requires subscription for cloud storage and smart features, bulky body

The Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell is easy to install and offers a truly expansive view of your front porch that shows visitors from head to toe. If you’re willing to wire in a smart doorbell and you have a compatible setup, then save some cash and opt for the wired version. The wireless model has a battery inside that makes it a bit chunkier.

Video quality is top-notch, leaving you in no doubt about who is at the door. The HDR support is vital if your door gets a lot of sun or has a shaded porch, as it maintains the detail you need in mixed lighting. There’s an infrared mode for when it’s dark, though you can stick with color footage if there’s enough light on your porch. The audio quality is better than other video doorbells I’ve tested. When people ring the bell, the footage comes through to your phone swiftly and reliably as a video call.

If the internet or power goes out, the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell reconnects quickly without issues. It’s fast to connect to the live feed through the app. There are lots of useful features, including multiple activity zones, smart alerts, subject recognition, and a loud siren. As with the Arlo Pro 4, the rich notifications on your phone or smartwatch are excellent and clear enough to save you from having to open the app much of the time. This is the fastest doorbell I’ve tested at bringing up a live feed on a smart display, and both my Amazon Echo and Nest Mini speakers announce when someone is at the door.

Stated battery life is up to six months, but that’s optimistic. (Mine is at 48 percent after six weeks.) It’s quite easy to pop off the bracket to recharge, and it warns you when the power is getting low. The need for a subscription to enable cloud recordings and smart features is the main drawback.

Our methodology

Every outdoor security camera we test goes through a series of checks for at least a week but usually much longer. We assess how easy it is to set up and install the camera, how well it performs in different scenarios, how good the motion detection and notification system are, how easy the app is to use, and how useful any additional features are.

We install cameras and live with them to compare how they perform. This involves asking several questions:

Video quality: How clear is the video that the camera records? How does it perform at different resolutions? Does it support HDR or other features to enhance clarity? Does it have night vision or a spotlight for the dark, and how does the resulting footage look?

Audio quality: How clear is the sound that the camera records? Can you have a two-way conversation through the camera in real time? Are there additional features, like a siren?

Connectivity: Does the camera connect directly to a Wi-Fi router or does it have a hub? How reliable is the connection? How quickly can I connect to a live feed and is there any lag? How quickly can I play back recorded videos from the cloud or local storage? Does the camera reconnect swiftly if the Wi-Fi router or hub is turned off and on again?

Battery life: How long does it last between charges? How do you charge it? Can you use replacement batteries? Can you connect a power source or solar panel? Does it warn you when power is low?

App: How quickly does the app load on average? Can you set activity zones? How easy is it to find the settings you want? Can you configure the motion-detection settings?

Notifications: How quickly do notifications come through when you’re at home or away? How clear are the notifications? How long does it take to tap through to the live feed or recorded video when a notification comes in? Are there any false positives? Does it ever fail to notify you about a motion event? Does it categorize events correctly?

Smart home: Can you connect to smart home systems and voice assistants? Do voice commands work correctly? Can you trigger cameras with other devices and vice versa? How long does it take to load video feeds on devices like smart displays?

What else we considered

What else we considered outdoor cameras

Eufy Cam 2C: This camera wrestled with the Reolink in the best local storage category. It has to connect to a hub, where video is stored. This is both good and bad, as it makes it tougher for thieves to steal the footage but requires an outlet and a port on your router. It does have detection zones and a wider field of view and matches the two-way audio and spotlight, but the picture quality isn’t quite as good and the Reolink was faster to connect during testing.

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery: A solid option for the price, this camera delivers good quality 1080p footage at 15 frames-per-second and connects directly to your Wi-Fi router. You can set multiple motion zones, and notifications work well. There’s two-way audio, a siren, and reasonably good night vision. The app is feature-packed, and it works well with Alexa. On the downside, you need a subscription, and this is one of the slowest cameras to load the live feed. It’s also big and bulky.

Wyze Cam V3: Incredibly cheap but surprisingly good, the Wyze Cam V3 is IP65 rated, so it can serve as an outdoor camera. The big catch is that you have to plug it in, and you’ll end up spending more on a long cable than you did on the camera. It offers decent quality video, night vision, two-way audio, and detection zones. Read our full Wyze Cam V3 review to learn more.

Eufy 2K Video Doorbell: If you don’t want to sign up for a subscription, this is a great alternative smart doorbell. It connects to a hub, which doubles as a chime. The video quality is excellent, and there’s two-way audio, human detection, and customizable zones. It’s not as responsive as the Arlo and the app can be slow sometimes, but it’s an alternative worth considering. Read our Eufy 2K Video Doorbell review for more.

What we look forward to testing

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: The smarter version of Google’s security camera has proper two-way audio and a higher quality image sensor, but it’s sold out ahead of a new launch that will presumably replace it. Whatever camera that turns out to be, we’ll get it in for testing to find out what improvements Google has in store.

Blink Outdoor: We were quite impressed by the camera quality for the low price in our Blink Mini review, but the subscription cost made it much less of a bargain. The Blink Outdoor looks interesting, offering decent-quality video in a compact, weather-proof form, with the alluring promise of two-year battery life. We plan to put it through its paces soon.

Ezviz C3X: We have not tested anything from this manufacturer yet, but the Ezviz C3X has an impressive spec sheet and an interesting design. It’s a dual-lens camera with antennas for better connectivity and boasts color night vision, a spotlight and siren, two-way audio, and configurable motion detection.

How to choose an outdoor security camera

How many cameras do I need, and what’s the optimal placement?

The number of cameras you need depends on what you want to monitor. An Arlo representative told us that the top five most common locations for outdoor security cameras are as follows:

1). Front Door: The front door is the main point of entry to a home. Placing a camera near the front door is great for monitoring package deliveries, visitors, and guests. Unfortunately, crimes like package theft frequently occur. By placing a camera in this area, homeowners have full visibility into who visits their home, night or day. Having a security device visible may deter would-be package thieves.

2). Near the driveway: Some people like to monitor this area of their property. To ensure more details are seen and able to be captured at night, homeowners can consider selecting a camera with an integrated spotlight.  

3). In the backyard: Placing a camera in the backyard will give homeowners the ability to monitor the perimeter of their home. A backyard camera will help alert users if someone is trespassing onto your property, trying to jump the fence, or looking for another way to break and enter.

4). Side yard or near an outdoor fuse box: Angling a camera to capture the side yard or the area near an outdoor power fuse box can help alert homeowners if someone attempts to cut their power.

5). Aimed at the home – Aiming a camera at the home can provide a critical vantage point. Leveraging a tree or fence location to place a camera and point towards the home increases a homeowner’s chances of capturing a clear image of trespassers.

In terms of optimal camera placement, it’s important for homeowners to make sure their camera is within the range of their Wi-Fi router and spaced out from additional monitoring devices. Homeowners will also want to make sure their home security camera:

  • Isn’t looking through glass or other transparent objects.
  • Is positioned so the space they wish to monitor is within the camera’s field of view.
  • Is mounted approximately seven feet above the ground and angled slightly downward.
  • Is mounted so the motion-detection area is approximately five to 20 feet from the camera’s position.

What can I do about the risk of camera theft?

If you’re concerned about camera theft or vandalism, then you should also consider placing the camera out of reach of an intruder or buying a security camera cage to make it harder to access. Magnetic mounts may be convenient, but threaded mounts make it harder to remove security cameras.

Security camera manufacturers have various policies on camera theft and replacements, so look into them before you buy. Some subscription services include extra protections, but make sure you read the conditions. You will likely have to file a police report before you can claim on a camera theft. 

One last thing to consider if you’re concerned about camera theft is to make sure you don’t pick a camera that records on the device itself. If videos are recorded on a hub in the home or in the cloud, you will at least have some footage of the thief. 


Should I choose wired or wireless cameras?

Wireless solutions are ideal for simple installation. They provide added flexibility, allowing a camera to be placed anywhere around the property where the homeowner needs protection, and with no need to worry about a power source. Wired solutions are great for continuous power and may be ideal for locations that may be hard to reach when it comes time to replace/recharge the battery.


What kind of internet connection do I need?

For most security cameras, an internet connection on the 2.4Ghz frequency is a necessity for direct-to-Wi-Fi home router connectivity. Some systems come with their own hubs that typically plug into the back of your router with an ethernet cable. We are starting to see a few manufacturers add Wi-Fi connectivity on the 5Ghz frequency. While 5Ghz Wi-Fi is generally faster than 2.4Ghz, it’s not always ideal for security cameras because it has a shorter range.


Do I need a subscription?

While many outdoor security cameras offer local storage, either via a MicroSD card in the camera itself or in a hub in your home, some require a monthly subscription for cloud storage and smart features. Always check what you get without a subscription before you buy and factor in the ongoing cost if you decide it’s worth springing for.


What detection and notification features do I need?

Most camera systems offer some form of recognition, so they can tell the difference between a cat or a person, for example. This is vital if you don’t want to waste time reviewing videos of passing animals. Make sure that notifications can be configured, so you can dictate when alerts should come through to your phone. Notification systems that include a screenshot of the video are very useful in helping you decide quickly whether you need to open the app and check the live feed or review the video.


What about the risk of someone accessing my camera?

To reduce the risk of anyone hacking into your camera, look for two-factor authentication (2FA). Without 2FA, anyone with your username and password can log into your camera. It’s worth noting that you have to activate 2FA in your account with some camera systems.


What about privacy?

Sometimes an outdoor camera will overlook a neighbor’s property or another area that you’d prefer it didn’t monitor, so look for a system that allows you to set the area you want to record (this should be separate from the motion detection area). You should also read the manufacturer’s privacy policy, especially if you use its cloud storage.

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Amazon’s new Echo packs powerful sound and smarter features into a $100 speaker, signaling a big upgrade for the company’s popular smart home device

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Echo (4th generation)

  • Amazon’s newest Echo feels like the most meaningful upgrade in years.
  • The smart speaker has better sound, a new design, and an integrated smart home hub.
  • It’s the right balance of convenience and solid audio quality for most people.
  • Check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds for more audio product buying advice.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEcho (4th Gen) (small)

Amazon’s popular Echo speaker has finally gotten a makeover.

Nearly six years after Amazon quietly unveiled the original Echo, the company has completely changed the speaker’s look, marking a big departure from the glowing cylinder that we’ve come to associate with the Echo since late 2014.

But the latest Echo is far more than just a cosmetic upgrade. Amazon’s most recent entrant to the smart speaker space also features a boost in sound quality, its own dedicated Amazon-designed processor that should make Alexa more responsive, and other extras, like a temperature sensor and a built-in smart home hub.

Taken together, the improvements represent the most significant upgrade to the standard Echo we’ve seen in years, helping it stand out in Amazon’s lineup. It’s a much more notable update than 2019’s third-generation Echo, which didn’t add much to the speaker other than improved sound quality.

But the new Echo also launched as Google and Apple have been investing more heavily in their own smart home speakers. Just days after Amazon unveiled the new Echo in September 2020, Google introduced its $100 Nest Audio. Apple, meanwhile, announced a smaller and less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker for $100 called the HomePod Mini.

Here’s a closer look at what it’s been like to use the new Echo.

Amazon Echo 2020 specifications

Amazon Echo 2020 Specifications
Dimensions 5.7 inches x 5.7 inches x 5.2 inches
Weight 34.2 ounces
Colors Charcoal, white, and blue
Processor Amazon AZ1
Speaker 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch front-facing tweeters
Input/output 3.5mm line in/out
Other features Integrated smart home hub, temperature sensor

Design

New Amazon Echo vs. Old
The third-generation Amazon Echo (left) vs. the new Amazon Echo (right)

To say the new Amazon Echo looks different than its predecessor would be an understatement. Gone is the cylindrical shape that’s been a hallmark of the smart speaker series so far. Instead, the new Echo takes the form of a compact, fabric-laden orb that glows at its base when Alexa is listening.

The new Echo looks less like a traditional speaker than its predecessor, and that’s a good thing. It has more of a standout look that differentiates it from rivals, like the Nest Audio, and the spherical shape enables it to fit more naturally into my home decor. The placement of the glowing ring at the bottom of the speaker rather than at the top also feels less distracting.

But unlike the Nest Audio, which comes in black, white, green, pink, and blue, the Echo is only available in three colors: charcoal, white, and blue. For a device that most people will be prominently displaying in the living room or kitchen, it would have been nice to see a broader range of color options like those offered by Google.

Sound quality

Amazon Echo Top
The new Amazon Echo

Amazon’s new Echo has received a big boost when it comes to its most important job: serving as a home speaker. Amazon says its new speaker can now detect the acoustics of the room it’s in and adjust the audio accordingly, just like the $200 Echo Studio.

The new shape also gives the Echo better sound projection and richer bass thanks to its surface area to volume ratio, the company says.

The upgrade is certainly noticeable when compared alongside the third-generation Echo. Across the board, music sounds louder and much more open and full-bodied compared to its predecessor, with better bass as well.

The older Echo sounds a bit shallow in comparison, and isn’t able to fill the room with audio nearly as well as its successor. This is true whether I listen to pop, rock, or hip-hop on the new Echo.

It’s not quite as loud and clear as the $200 Sonos One, but it certainly comes a lot closer than the standard Echo ever has before.

Smart home hub

Phillips Hue Smart Lighting
Philips Hue light bulbs and connectivity bridges

If controlling smart home devices is one of the primary reasons you’re interested in Amazon’s smart speaker, the new Echo will feel like a step up.

Amazon has built a smart home hub into the device much like it did with the Echo Plus speaker it introduced in 2017. That means you can quickly set up devices that use Bluetooth low energy or the ZigBee protocol – one of the major protocols that allows smart home devices to communicate with one another – without requiring a separate hub or bridge. It will also support Amazon’s long-range Wi-Fi network called Sidewalk when the feature launches on June 8.

Getting a Philips Hue light bulb up and running with the new Echo requires virtually no set up since it’s compatible with Zigbee. I simply screwed the light bulb into my bedroom lamp and asked Alexa to discover new devices.

After a few short moments, Alexa confirmed that my Echo had discovered the new light and added it to the “My devices” section of the Alexa app.

The third-generation Echo, on the other hand, requires a bridge in order to connect to the same Philips Hue light bulb. The Echo also has a leg up over Google in this regard since Google devices don’t offer voice setup for smart home devices and require you to connect through the company’s app.

Other features

Amazon Echo New

The Echo series may be nearly six years old, but Amazon is only just introducing its own custom processor for its smart speaker line. Amazon’s new AZ1 processor promises to make Alexa faster and more responsive when processing requests. This functionality wasn’t available at launch but has since begun rolling out to the fourth-generation Echo and Echo Show 10.

However, the fourth-generation Echo is only slightly faster than the third-generation Echo at answering basic questions in my experience, often only beating it by less than a second.

The new Echo also comes with another unexpected addition: a temperature sensor. This makes it possible to not only ask Alexa for the weather outside, but also the temperature indoors.

For many, the decision to side with an Echo device or Google Nest device will largely depend on what ecosystem best suits your needs.

Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant can both handle many of the same tasks, but also offer their respective perks. Alexa, for example, supports a wider variety of smart home devices, as the company says there are more than 140,000 gadgets that work with Alexa. Google, on the other hand, supports more than 50,000 internet-of-things devices.

Alexa also has some extra skills, including the ability to detect sounds, like breaking glass and alarms, when you’re not home. Google requires a Nest Aware subscription for this, whereas Amazon offers these features as part of the free tier of its Alexa Guard service. And of course, Alexa makes it incredibly easy to shop on Amazon via your voice.

The Google Assistant, however, has generally performed better when it comes to answering general knowledge questions, which should come as no surprise considering it has the world’s most popular search engine at its disposal.

In a 2019 test conducted by Loup Ventures that involved asking the Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri 800 questions, Google answered 93% of those queries correctly. Alexa answered 80% of them correctly while Siri correctly responded to 83%.

Google’s smart speakers also have extra features, like an interpreter mode that translates full conversations into another language, which is more sophisticated than Alexa’s ability to translate individual phrases and words.

Privacy

Amazon Echo Light

Privacy is also crucial for a microphone-equipped device meant to sit in your living room or bedroom. Amazon, Google, and Apple have all come under scrutiny in the past over their previous policies when it comes to sharing saved recordings with human annotators for the purposes of improving their voice assistants.

Both the new Echo and Google’s Nest Audio include a physical button for turning off the microphone.

But unlike Google and Apple, you must opt out if you don’t want your voice recordings to be used by Amazon to help improve Alexa’s functionality. You can do this from the Alexa app under the Alexa Privacy section in the settings menu.

Google doesn’t retain audio by default, and announced last September that users would have to opt in to a setting that enables the search giant to share recordings with human reviewers to improve the Google Assistant.

That said, both Amazon and Google have announced privacy updates over the course of the past year. Amazon now allows you to choose to automatically delete your voice recordings after Alexa has processed your request.

You can also delete all of your previously saved voice recordings just by asking Alexa, or you can ask Alexa to send you a link to privacy settings for your device in the Alexa app.

Google also launched new features earlier this year for telling its voice assistant to forget an utterance that was detected by accident and asking the Google Assistant for more information about Google’s data collection policies.

Google recently announced a Guest Mode for the Google Assistant as well, which, like Incognito Mode, prevents Google from saving queries to your account or offering personalized responses.

The bottom line

Amazon Echo New

With improved sound, a sleek new design, and a built-in hub for setting up smart home devices, the new Echo feels like a significant upgrade for Amazon’s smart speaker.

The standard Echo model has inherited some features from its more premium predecessors, such as the $200 Echo Studio’s ability to adjust audio to match a room’s acoustics, and the integrated smart home hub that debuted on the $150 Echo Plus from 2017.

As a result, the new Echo feels like the right balance of quality audio and convenience for most people in need of a basic smart home speaker that’s not quite as high-end as the Studio, but more powerful than the $50 Echo Dot.

That could make it more difficult for rivals, like Apple and Sonos, that specialize in offering superior sound quality to compete with Amazon’s latest Echo. It also feels like an execution of the vision that Amazon has been working toward for a while when it comes to the Echo: a home speaker that doesn’t make big compromises when it comes to audio quality or smart home features.

If you have a third-generation Echo, you probably don’t need to upgrade immediately. But if you have an older model or were thinking about purchasing a second Echo anyway, you’ll certainly appreciate the upgrades.

Pros: Improved sound, attractive new design, built-in smart home hub makes it easy to set up devices

Cons: Not as much choice when it comes to color selection compared to Google, Amazon still saves and uses your voice recordings by default

Echo (4th Gen) (button)

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The best Google Assistant-enabled products

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Hundreds of smart home devices are compatible with Google’s voice assistant, Google Assistant.
  • You can control these devices with voice commands or automated routines in the Google Home app.
  • Look for the “Works with Google Assistant” logo to find devices certified by Google.

A voice-controlled smart home lets you turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, and more with a few simple commands. Google Assistant has consistently led the smart-home field in terms of voice recognition, depth of features, and regular updates. It’s a natural choice for Android phone owners and anyone who uses a lot of Google services.

Some smart-home devices have Google Assistant built-in. Others require a separate device, like a phone or a smart speaker. The Google Home app offers deeper control, with the option to set up routines that can be automated or triggered by specific phrases.

This guide to the best Google Assistant-enabled devices is based on extensive testing, supported by in-depth research of reputable reviews covering trusted brands. All come highly recommended and work seamlessly with Google Assistant.

Here are the best Google Home devices you can buy:

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart display

The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) can measure your sleep quality.

Compact and clever, the Google Nest Hub is a great control center for any Google Assistant-led smart home.

The affordable Google Nest Hub is a versatile smart display that fits neatly into any home. It has a 7-inch touchscreen and a speaker that’s powerful enough to fill most rooms. It can display your calendar or a weather report, stream movies or TV shows, and play music or podcasts. If you use Google Photos, it doubles as a digital photo frame. It also works well as a simple control hub for smart-home devices, offering touch controls and live camera feeds. 

The second-generation Nest Hub has ultrasound technology built-in so that it can sense your presence and respond to gesture controls. This means you can wave to stop a morning alarm or to skip a music track, for example. If you use it as a bedside display, then it can sense and analyze your movement and breathing during the night, though our reviewer found it can’t replace a wearable sleep tracker. 

With Google Assistant built in, you can ask the Nest Hub to provide recipes, read the latest news, or give you a breakdown of your day. There are three far-field microphones to pick up any voice commands or questions you have for Google Assistant. There’s a mic-off switch for when you want privacy. Any linked smart-home devices added via the Google Home app can be controlled on the touchscreen or with voice commands.

The Google Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, which is good from a privacy point of view, but means you can’t use it for video calls. The screen also has a relatively low resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, so it’s not the best device for watching movies. 

Read our full second-generation Nest Hub review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart speaker

Nest Audio

Featuring a new design and improved audio quality, the Google Nest Audio has a highly responsive Google Assistant inside.

While Google’s smart speakers have always been smart, you could argue that the design and audio quality have lagged behind the best smart speakers. That changed with the Nest Audio, which is 75 percent louder than the original Google Home speaker and offers much deeper bass. There’s also a new rounded rectangular shape with a choice of cloth finishes that blend in nicely with any décor. 

Google Assistant is ready and waiting for your music or podcast selections. You can also set timers, check your calendar, or issue smart-home commands to any devices linked to your Google Home app. The Nest Audio packs three far-field microphones to ensure Google Assistant always picks up your voice, and there’s a switch on the back that allows you to turn the microphone off when you want privacy.

If sound quality is your top priority, something like the Sonos One may be a better pick, but it is far more expensive. The Nest Audio also lacks a few extras that Amazon’s latest Echo offers, such as a 3.5mm port or smart-hub connectivity. Ultimately, the Nest Audio is a solid smart speaker offering good sound, and there’s nothing better for Google Assistant access. 

Read our full Google Nest Audio review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible streaming stick

Chromecast with remote 2

With app support and a remote that supports voice controls, the Chromecast streaming stick serves up 4K and HDR content.

The Google Chromecast fits into an HDMI port on your TV and allows you to stream all sorts of content in up to 4K resolution. It also supports other high-dynamic-range formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. You can install apps for streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video. It’s also ideal for YouTube TV subscribers and offers easy access to your Google Play library. 

A compact remote control makes navigation easy and features a dedicated Google Assistant button to help you find content. You can search by genre, actor, mood, and more. You can also ask Google Assistant questions, get the latest weather, or bring up a live feed of any security cameras you have added in the Google Home app.

While it does support a wide selection of streaming services, 4K HDR support is currently missing from a few of them and there’s no Apple TV app. We also ran into a few minor glitches in our testing, but this is Google’s best Chromecast yet and your best bet if you want a streaming stick with Google Assistant built in.

Read our Google Chromecast with Google TV review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light bulbs

Philips hue

The reliable Philips Hue range has some of the smartest lighting around and works seamlessly with Google Assistant.

There are plenty of good reasons that the Philips Hue range tops our smart-lighting guides. Its bulbs, strips, and fixtures support all kinds of colors, adjustable color temperature, and easy dimming via the Philips Hue app. There’s a wide choice of scenes, which serve as shortcuts to the mood you want to achieve, whether you’re relaxing in front of the TV or throwing a party. 

Using Google Assistant voice commands, you can turn lights on or off; select specific scenes; and change the brightness, color, or color temperature. If you set up a routine in the Home app, then you can say “Hey, Google, Good Morning” and have specific Hue lights turn on. You can also have lights turn on or off automatically based on who is at home.

The Bluetooth and hub-connected Philips Hue lights work with Google Assistant, but the Bluetooth bulbs are often slower to respond and support fewer voice commands. The main drawback to Philips Hue lighting is the relatively high price. We recommend the Philips Hue Starter Kits, which come with two or three bulbs and the Hue Bridge.

Read our Philips Hue Smart Lights review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible thermostat

Nest

The Nest Learning Thermostat learns over time to keep the temperature just the way you like it.

The big selling point of the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is its ability to learn about your behaviors and routines. It can balance your temperature preferences with the need to save energy wherever possible. The app is excellent and very easy to use. There’s support for geofencing, so it knows when you’re at home or away, and it works with a wide variety of HVAC systems. 

You can issue voice commands through Google Assistant on your phone, smart speaker, or smart display to check on and change the temperature or to switch the heating off. You can simply ask to make it warmer or cooler, or you can get specific with a request to raise or lower by 2 degrees, for example, or set the temperature to 72 degrees.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is quite pricey, and you’ll want to check compatibility with your HVAC system. The more basic Google Nest Thermostat is cheaper, but it doesn’t have this model’s learning capability.

Read more about the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The best Google Assistant-compatible security camera

Best security camera for smart homes Nest Cam IQ

Google’s Nest Cam IQ captures high-quality video day or night, tracks motion, and can recognize faces.

The Nest Cam IQ comes in outdoor and indoor models, both in a minimal design that’s easy to install. The cameras support two-way audio, activity zones, intelligent alerts, motion tracking, and facial recognition. HDR enhances the video quality, there’s a 4K-image sensor for zooming in on people’s faces, and there’s infrared for when night falls. 

You can bring up live feeds on a smart display or on a TV with a Chromecast using Google Assistant voice commands. You can also set up routines in the Google Home app to automate your cameras and have them turn on automatically when you leave home. While both Nest Cam IQ models work with Google Assistant, only the indoor version has Google Assistant built in. 

The Nest Cam IQ is expensive and requires a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $5 per month for 30 days of cloud storage. It’s also worth noting that Google is set to revamp its security camera lineup this year, replacing the Nest Cam IQ with something new. For now, though, this is the best security camera with Google Assistant. 

Read our guide to the best home security cameras.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart plug

best smart plug tp link kasa

TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Plug can make any device smarter and allows remote control through Google Assistant voice commands.

You can make older devices smarter by plugging them into a smart outlet or plug. The Kasa Smart Plug supports automation, remote control, and voice control. The compact design ensures that it doesn’t block adjacent outlets. The Kasa app is very easy to use. This is also one of the most affordable smart plugs on the market, so you can put them all over your home for a low price.

By naming individual Kasa plugs (for example, “hall lamp” or “living room fan”) and adding them to the Google Home app, you can use voice commands through Google Assistant to turn devices on or off. You can also schedule them to turn on and off automatically in the app. Google Assistant routines also automate them. You might set the hall lamp to turn off when you say, “Hey Google, Goodnight,” for example.

These basic smart plugs have the features most people want, and they work reliably with Google Assistant. The only caveat is that you need a good Wi-Fi connection, and they only work on the 2.4GHz band. They also lack built-in surge protection. 

Read our guide to the best smart plugs and outlets.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light switch

best alexa enabled light switch belkin wemo dimmer

Remote control, dim, and schedule almost any kind of light with the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer.

You can add voice controls to your existing lights with the Belkin WeMo range of switches. A direct Wi-Fi connection means there’s no need for a hub. The app allows you to schedule lights, set timers, and dim your lights. You can also change the brightness with your finger by running it along the channel in the middle of the switch. You can always find the switch in the dark thanks to the backlight, and there’s a clever night mode that dims the light appropriately, so you aren’t blinded if you get up in the night.

Add the WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch in the Google Home app, and you can use Google Assistant voice commands to turn the switch on or off or to dim or brighten your lights. According to Belkin the switch automatically adjusts the dimming range to suit your bulbs. Use routines in the Home app to automate the switch, so a voice command like “Hey, Google, Goodnight” turns the lights off. 

While it’s fairly straightforward, the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer does have to be wired in. It only works with one-way connection switches and requires a neutral wire. Belkin also has a WeMo Smart 3-Way Light Switch which works with Google Assistant, but it doesn’t support dimming.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart lock

best alexa enabled smart lock august

Easy to install and offering Google Assistant support, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock allows you to set up secure keyless access.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock works with some existing deadbolts. You simply replace the interior portion, which means you can still use your keys outside. Installation is quick and easy, but you need a reliable Wi-Fi connection on the 2.4 GHz band. With the app, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere, track people coming and going, and receive alerts when the door is left open. There’s also geofencing support for automatic locking and unlocking when you leave and return. 

The support for Google Assistant means you can lock or unlock the door with voice commands. You can also ask if the door is closed and locked. If you add a routine in the Google Home app, you could have a particular Google Assistant voice command lock your door. 

This fourth-generation device features a more compact design than previous versions, and August continues to release new features, such as optional biometric verification using the fingerprint or face unlock on your smartphone. However, This is a relatively expensive smart lock, and the battery life isn’t the greatest. Both Tom’s Guide and PC Mag gave it 4.5 out of 5.

Read our guide to the best smart locks.

The best Google Assistant-compatible robot vacuum

best alexa enabled robot vacuum irobot roomba s9+

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is a clever robot vacuum that performs well on carpet and hard floors, supports lots of Google Assistant voice commands, and can even empty itself.

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is our pick for the best robot vacuum for hard floors and performed impressively in testing. The Roomba S9+ rarely gets trapped and has good path-finding skills. It has a large dustbin built into the charging cradle, so it can empty itself when it returns to charge. You won’t have to empty the bin often, which is great because emptying the dust is an unpleasant necessity after every clean with most robot vacuums.

Add your iRobot account to the Google Home app for a wide array of potential voice commands through Google Assistant. You can ask the Roomba S9+ to start, stop, pause, resume, return to home base, clean by room, and more. 

The high price is an obvious downside, and this is quite a loud robot vacuum when cleaning. We also found the corner cleaning performance a bit lacking. There are some additional ongoing expenses, too; you must replace filters every couple of months, the side brush every three months, and the dirt disposal bag every month or so. You may also consider the slightly cheaper Roomba i7+ which supports the same Google Assistant voice commands.

Read our full iRobot Roomba S9+ review.

Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind when you go shopping for new Google Assistant-enabled devices. 

Works with the Google Assistant: The first thing to look for when buying a smart-home device is the “Works with the Google Assistant” logo. This is Google’s official certification program, and the presence of this logo on the box means you can add it via the Google Home app and control it with voice commands through Google Assistant.

Google Assistant built in: While a device may work with Google Assistant, you may not be able to talk to it directly. Devices like smart speakers and displays have Google Assistant inside, with microphones to pick up your voice commands. The majority of products that work with Google Assistant need a phone, smart speaker, smart display, or another device capable of hearing your voice commands.

Google Home app: To gain voice control of a device through Google Assistant, you will need to link your account via the Google Home app. The procedure is pretty straightforward, and Google Home can often automatically detect devices on your home network. You will usually need login details, and you will have to agree to share access and some data with Google. 

Internet connectivity: Smart-home devices require a strong internet connection for Google Assistant to work well. Think about where in your home the device will live and whether it can get a good wired or Wi-Fi connection in that spot. 

What else we considered

Here are a few options that may still work well for your smart-home setup.

Google Nest Hub Max: This smart display offers everything that the smaller Nest Hub does but adds a bigger and better screen, louder audio, and a camera for video calls. Read our Google Nest Hub Max review for more information.

Roku Ultra: This versatile streaming device supports just about every service you can think of, works reliably, and has Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair it with Google Assistant to control it with voice commands. Read our Roku Ultra review for more information.

Sonos One: For such a small speaker, the Sonos One offers a fantastically rich sound and can get very loud when you need it to. It also has Google Assistant built in for questions, commands, calls, and more.

Wyze Bulb: Wyze offers a basic white smart bulb that’s very affordable and works well with Google Assistant. You can ask Google Assistant to turn bulbs on or off, tweak the brightness, and change the color temperature.

Google Nest Thermostat: This affordable smart thermostat offers remote control of your HVAC system, geofencing, and support for Google Assistant.

Wyze Cam v3: Perhaps the most affordable camera on the market the Wyze Cam v3 offers full-color 1080p footage and has an IP65 rating, two-way audio, and night vision. You can also turn it on or off and access a live feed with a Google Assistant command. Read our Wyze Cam v3 review for more information.

Wyze Smart Home Plug: You can remotely control this compact smart plug, and it supports scheduling and automation. You can also turn it on or off by asking Google Assistant. 

C by GE Smart Dimmer Switch: This versatile smart light switch brings remote control to your regular lights, and you can tweak the brightness from the app or via a Google Assistant voice command. The functionality is good, but the design isn’t as attractive as our top pick.

Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt: You can remotely lock and unlock this smart lock with the app. It has a number pad for setting up to 100 access codes. Google Assistant voice commands enable you to lock or unlock your door and check its status.

Roborock S6: This was the best-performing robot vacuum in our testing and it’s a lot cheaper than the Roomba S9+. But the Google Assistant integration is very basic, simply allowing you to start or stop cleaning with voice commands. Read our Roborock S6 review for more information.

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I tested a dual inverter window air conditioner and was blown away by how well it cooled and how inexpensive it was to run

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LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner Image

  • I tested 10 ACs for our guide to the best air conditioners and named this model from LG the “best for large rooms.”
  • It’s one of the few ACs that uses ultra-efficient inverter technology, so it’s very inexpensive to run.
  • It did the best job cooling my home and has useful smart functions.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

You don’t need me to tell you how hard it is to get anything done when you’re sweating away in a hot, humid room. A good window air conditioner is a must in these situations. Fortunately, most of today’s units are Energy Star-certified to not only cool your room but to also do it efficiently and economically.

One of the most efficient ACs available is the LG Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner, which uses state-of-the-art inverter technology to keep your energy costs down while keeping your room at a comfortable temperature.

I recently tested 10 ACs for our guide to the best air conditioners, and this one took home the title of “best for large rooms” after our rigorous evaluation. I’ve also used this unit for more than a year now in my own home; below are my experiences with it.

Design and specs

The LG Window Air Conditioner (model number LW1517IVSM) has a 14,000 Btu capacity, which makes it ideal for rooms of about 800 square feet. It’s Energy Star-certified with a Department of Energy-tested combined energy efficiency ratio (CEER) of 14.7, which makes it one of the most efficient air conditioners available. The estimated yearly energy cost is $68.

The appliance has four modes of operation: standard (with four cooling speeds), energy saver, fan, and dehumidifying. It can be controlled via a smartphone app or the included remote control, though the app offers more functionality.

Setup process

LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner Control Panel

Everything you need for installation is in the box, including window security brackets and insulating foam to provide a good seal. You’ll need to use your own tools for the installation. In particular, it’s helpful to have Phillips-head and flat-blade screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a level, a tape measure, a knife, scissors, and a pencil on hand.

Installation was a major pain and took me two hours. Here are the steps:

  1. Unscrew the cabinet from the AC and remove the innards.
  2. Put window sash seals on the window.
  3. Attach the curtains to the unit, which involves awkwardly screwing in eight screws that don’t line up well.
  4. Put the cabinet in the window.
  5. Install the sill brackets.
  6. Screw the cabinet into the sill brackets.
  7. Stretch the curtains out to fit the window and screw them in.
  8. Reinstall the AC’s innards.
  9. Add the foam strip to the gap between the window panes.
  10. Install the window security bracket.
  11. Install the heatproof foam insulation over the curtains.
  12. Attach the face, which involves holding it awkwardly and making sure the vent and cord stuck through and that and everything was lined up just right.

All this to say, I recommend having a friend help you with the heavy lifting.

After the grueling installation process, I was relieved to find that connecting the AC to the LG SmartThinQ app was seamless. It paired with my Android phone in no time, and I found the controls useful. You can set a schedule for when your AC runs, adjust the thermostat, and more.

Review of the LG Dual Inverter Air Conditioner

The LG LW1517IVSM is special because it utilizes dual inverter technology. Most air conditioners turn the compressor on or off to regulate the temperature. Inverter ACs feature variable-speed compressors that make micro-adjustments to the temperature. In Department of Energy’s tests, this LG model achieved efficiency scores 25% better than the minimum Energy Star requirement.

But, how does it perform? When I test ACs, I set the heat in my house to 75 degrees and then blast the AC on high to see how much it reduces the heat in a 650-square-foot room. This LG model performed better than any other AC I’ve tested, reducing the temp by 3.3 degrees in an hour.

Additionally, I used the LG LW1517IVSM all summer in our family room, where we spend most of our time. It kept us perfectly cool in the humid Michigan heat. We typically use “energy saver” mode, which takes full advantage of the inverter technology.

Another reason why this model is excellent for our family room is its quiet operation. On high it registered 53 decibels, which is only slightly louder than your average home or quiet office. Plus, the transition between motor speeds was smooth. I never noticed any jolting, obnoxious sounds during my months of use.

LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner straight on

Cons to consider

The biggest negative with the LG LW1517IVSM Window Air Conditioner is the installation process. And, in Michigan, it gets so cold you can’t leave window ACs in place during the winter. So, I have to relive the trauma of moving this 100+ pound behemoth each fall and spring.

I appreciate how the unit connects easily to my phone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to connect to Amazon Alexa. I also wish I could sync the unit with my ecobee SmartThermostat, but without Alexa as an intermediary, I wasn’t able to get that to work either.

You’ll also have to make sure you have windows large enough to accommodate this beast. Measure and make sure you have a width of at least 27 inches but no more than 39 inches. The window should also open to a height of 16 inches.

What are your alternatives?

I’ve tested dozens of ACs over the years, and despite the above cons, I still think the LG Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner is among the best. That’s why I made it a top pick in our guide to the best air conditioners. That said, it’s best if you have large windows, a large space to cool, and are willing to front-load the cost of an expensive air conditioner (though it will save you money in the long run).

If you’re looking for similar energy efficiency that works for smaller rooms and windows, the only unit I think comes close to achieving the energy efficiency of the LG model is the Midea U Inverter. It’s a lot easier to install and has a unique design that allows you to open and close your window as needed while it’s installed.

If you don’t want the added upfront costs of an inverter AC, we recommend the GE 8,000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner as a good budget option.

The bottom line

The LG LW1517IVSM is one of the best window air conditioners you can buy. It’s efficient, powerful, quiet, and easy to use.

LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner Side view

If you have a room you want to cool that’s 800 square feet or so and that has a double-hung window at least 27 inches wide, the LG Dual Inverter AC is your best option for getting the job done. There are several ACs out there that cost less than this LG unit, but long-term, you will save on energy costs with this model.

If you don’t have $550 available to purchase an AC, many sellers offer plans with affordable monthly payments and 0% APR for those who qualify.

What model should you get?

While it might be tempting to pick the most powerful model, we recommend choosing the right air conditioner for your room size. If the room is too big, the AC will constantly run on top speed, which will cause your utility bills to skyrocket. If the room is too small, it will feel cold and clammy as the room cools faster than the AC can wick the moisture away.

Fortunately, the LG Dual Inverter is available in several sizes:

  • The LG LW1019IVSM is ideal for 450-square-foot rooms.
  • The LG LW1517IVSM is best for 800-square-foot rooms. (This is the model we tested.)
  • The LW1817IVSM is suited for 1,000 square feet.
  • The LW2217IVSM is best for rooms of 1,300 square feet.

Pros: Smartphone app and remote control, uses energy-efficient dual-inverter technology, quiet operation, did the best job of cooling my home of any AC I’ve tested

Cons: Can only be installed in windows that are at least 27 inches wide, underwhelming warranty, pain to install

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