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Arlo Ultra Review: Smart 4K Capable Security Camera

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The Arlo Ultra is a wireless 4K security camera with HDR, night vision and an integrated spotlight. It’s on the pricey side, but you get very flexible installation options since you don’t need to run power or a video cable, and you can choose between 4K recording or smart zoom that will zoom in on a person or vehicle to get a better look at faces and license plates. Oh, and it’s waterproof and delivers a wide field of view without the typical distortion of wide-angle lenses.

I put the Arlo Ultra to the test on the front of my house, capturing my driveway where I park review vehicles and a pretty busy street. It’s been through several major storms and through a few battery recharges. I shared the access with my wife, who was able to login to her own app and set up her own notification settings. It joins a Ring Video Doorbell 2 and a Ring Floodlight Cam. Right off the bat, it’s an easier installation than the Ring Floodlight because it doesn’t need dedicated power.

Arlo offers a wide range of wireless security cameras with wireless connectivity and even some with LTE built-in. The Arlo Ultra is at the top of the pack and retails for $399. This includes a year of Arlo Premier that adds in advanced AI detection, 30 day video history and e911 service . If you want to take the recording to the 4K level, you need to add in a $2 a month or $19.99 a year upgraded subscription.

Here’s a look at how the Arlo Ultra security camera handles in the real world with neighbors, deliveries, a Sheriff visit and more than a few storms. I’ll help you decide if the Arlo Ultra is worth the price, and show you where to buy it.

What You'll Love
Easy to install with no wires needed
Good video quality in a variety of conditions.
Pan and Zoom offers impressive recording abilities
Great app and notification configurations.
What Needs Work
Would love to see a year of 4K recording included
Should come with a slightly longer charging cable
It's an expensive option
4.5

Arlo Ultra Setup & Installation

The Arlo Ultra setup and installation is incredibly easy. Simply plug the base station in to power and ethernet and open the Arlo app on your phone. This is a new base station compared to earlier models, but it still includes a Micro SD card slot that you can use to record videos to locally. If you have older Arlo cameras you can connect them to the new Arlo Smart Hub.

Once the base station is connected and online you can pair the camera to it. This will allow you to test the connection where you want to install it. I was able to install this in my garage across the house without any connection issues.

Attach the mount to your wall and then the Arlo Ultra attaches with a powerful magnet.

Attach the mount to your wall and then the Arlo Ultra attaches with a powerful magnet.

Since I didn’t need to run power or anything to the spot I simply found the area I wanted to install the camera and put one screw into the side of my house. Arlo includes a screw and a small anchor if you need to use it. It would be nice if the instructions mentioned the specific drill bit size to use, but ultimately that is easy to figure out.

The new mount allows for a wide range of angles without changing your mount and it is very strong. I have no worries about it coming down even in high wind. I really like how versatile this mount is, and I’ve been able to fine tune the camera after the installation.

While you don’t need a power cord, you can use the included magnetic mount charger to provide permanent power so that you don’t need to swap batteries or recharge. The mount includes some cable management for a tidy installation, but I went battery only for ease of installation.

Arlo Ultra Video Quality & Zoom

The Arlo Ultra records in 4K, or you can choose to use the Arlo Smart feature which will automatically pan and zoom. With the pan and zoom option the camera uses digital zoom to catch faces and license plates as well as follow a subject around the frame. Since it use using the 4K sensor it does this without the typical quality loss you get from zooming in. The result is a 1080P recording with the zoomed in footage.

You can see in the video above a sample of the zoom and tracking that takes place. I have it set up to look for people and cars, and it will track both. It’s very handy and it is a cool feature that keeps the action in frame.

If you turn off this setting in the app, the camera can record in 4K and live stream in 4K. In this mode you get a higher quality image, but the camera won’t zoom in automatically. You can see a Arlo Ultra 4K sample recording below, which shows you what that looks like.

The 4K recording looks very nice and it delivers a very crisp image. Ultimately I use the smart feature with pan and zoom more often, but it is easy to switch between the modes to find the one you like.

There are three options for recording with the wide-angle lens. You can go with the Super Wide 180 degree, Wide 155 degree or Full 120 degree. I chose the Super Wide since it allows me to see a very big area with one camera and Arlo is able to avoid the warping at the edges that is extreme on many other super wide-angle cameras.

Above, you can a night shot where the camera starts recording and what it looks like with the integrated spotlight. This is a nice option, and it can be configured to automatically come on when motion it detects motion. This provides better recording, and an additional deterrent layer.

Arlo Ultra Notifications & App

The Arlo app is easy to use and offers a lot of features.

The Arlo app is easy to use and offers a lot of features.

The Arlo app allows you to set notification options, set up zones to monitor for notifications and to live stream the camera. With the app you can choose what you want to get notified about including options for people, vehicles and animals. It is easy to share access with other users, and they can manage their own notifications.

With the app you can talk with someone through the camera, turn the spotlight on when you want it and you can sound an alarm from the camera. The app is easy to use and the streaming is high quality.

The library lets you view by date and each entry shows you what the trigger for the recording was, as well as the time stamp so it is easy to track down a specific event that you want to view.

Once you are watching a recording you can share it, download it or favorite it. You can also donate to Arlo so they can improve the detection or you can delete a recording.

Arlo Ultra Design

The Arlo Ultra looks nice and is weather resistant.

The Arlo Ultra looks nice and is weather resistant.

The Arlo Ultra camera looks nice, it is waterproof so you don’t need to worry about the rain, snow or other elements. With the new mount it’s easy to control the angle and direction of the camera without adjusting the actual mount.

Arlo includes an integrated spotlight and siren as well as microphones with noise cancelling. This lets you talk to people over the camera and hear them better even on a windy day.

There is a push button on the bottom to pop the camera apart to access the battery. This feels very solid and it’s never activated accidentally. The camera face is black and the sides are white. It blends in enough that it’s not screaming this is a camera, but if someone is looking for security they will know.

The new Smart Hub is a little smaller than the older model. You can still put a micro SD card in to record locally, but there are no USB ports for storage. There is also no built-in siren.

Arlo Ultra Battery Life and Range

My Arlo Ultra Battery life lasts about 10 days, recording in best with recording options turned way up. This includes triggers for cars that drive by, not just into my drive. With this dialed back during some of my testing battery life jumped up. If you set a smaller coverage area to trigger recordings, your battery life will last longer. I get an email when I need to change the battery, but a separate push notification on the iPhone would be nice.

The battery is different from older models and you can either connect the magnetic charger with the camera in place and an extension cord, or grab the camera down and plug it in to charge. If you don’t want to deal with the battery, you can install with the magnetic charger permanently in place, but you will likely need to buy a longer cable or get a long USB extension. Arlo offers a 25 foot magnetic charging cable for $49.99 and a few 8 foot option for $24.99. You can also buy a backup battery for $49.99, a solar charger or a battery charging station. Here’s a look at all the Arlo Ultra accessories.

My Arlo Ultra is installed about 40 feet from the base and it connects through more than four walls. The connection works great and there is no issue with live streaming locally or remotely.

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