The Net Cam IQ Indoor may have been the first security camera with a 4K image sensor, but it could only record video in 1080p. The Arlo Ultra is actually the first camera that can record in 4K and brings you the best possible footage to protect your home. At least in theory, Arlo Ultra has limited 4K support for out-of-the-box, so cloud accounts
- Solution: 4K
- camera lens: 180 degree
- night vision: Yes
- Recording options: Cloud via subscription, local
- bidirectional talk via microSD card slot: Yes
- Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
Arlo Ultra is fully operated and controlled through the Arlo app. There is also a web version, but it uses Flash for live video, so it’s better to continue using the smartphone app.
Arlo Ultra can record directly to the microSD card installed on the base station, so no cloud subscription is required. However, the Arlo Smart cloud system offers more features such as advanced motion detection, cloud storage, and configurable activity zones. Arlo Ultra ships with a year of Arlo Smart Premier, which provides up to 10 cameras and a 30-day video history of e911 calls. This allows you to connect to an emergency responder near your home instead of your current location.
The monthly fee for Arlo Smart Premier is typically $ 9.99. You can also choose Arlo Smart for $ 2.99 per camera per month. It has all the same features as an e911 call. At the top is the Arlo Smart Elite, which has up to 20 cameras and a 60-day video history of e911 calls.
Troublesome, these packages don’t include support for 4K video recording, and you’ll have to pay an additional $ 1.99 per camera per month. Given the cost of purchasing an Arlo Ultra, this seems a bit free.
If you don’t want to pay too much, you can insert an SD card into the base station and record 4K video there. Still, if you want the highest quality livestream, you should turn on local 4K livestreaming. This will disable the auto-zoom and tracking options that follow the detected motion. Note that outside your home network, Arlo Ultra will only stream in 1080p.
Setting up the camera is assisted by two utilities. First, there is a video test that will help you align your cameras properly. The idea is to keep motion detection outside the shaded areas of the image. Second, there’s a motion detection test that flashes the camera yellow when triggered, so you can test if Arlo Ultra works the way you want.
Arlo Smart subscriptions allow you to set up activity zones to configure the parts of your image that require motion notification. This, for example, can prevent the camera from triggering every time someone passes by the garden in front of you, dramatically reducing false positives.
It’s a shame that you can’t set notifications for each zone. Instead, the smart notification feature can only be configured on a per-camera basis, allowing you to choose whether you want to be notified of people, vehicles, animals, or all other movements. The accuracy is so good that you can use these options to reduce the number of alerts you receive.
Beta’s new package detection feature tries to tell you if someone is trying to deliver something to your home. Arlo Ultra must be placed head-on in front of you for proper operation. Smart doorbells are probably a better option, so you can talk to the courier when they ring.
The audio is set to be recorded automatically, but Arlo Ultra cannot hear certain sounds, such as the bar bark of a talking person or dog. What you can do with your rival Nest Cam Outdoor. You can listen to loud sounds and set the sensitivity to be adjusted. The usefulness of this feature depends on the amount of ambient noise. You can turn on the wind noise reduction feature if the camera is particularly exposed. Nevertheless, the audio turned out to be clear enough
You can have a two-way chat with just a little delay in the app. This is a convenient way to scare suspicious people. The camera also has a built-in siren. The siren is big enough to get your attention, but not as big as a proper alarm system. The siren is triggered via the app.
The behavior of the camera is greatly controlled through the mode. You can manually set the camera to arm or disarm using the app, but you can also automate control via scheduling or geo-fencing. Properly, geo-fencing allows you to get back on schedule when you’re at home. For example, you can record with your camera when you go out and turn it on at night when you go to bed at night.
You can also set a custom mode to define the behavior of each camera. These rules can also be used in schedules. For example, you may want a night mode that turns on an external camera and not an internal camera.
There is an IFTTT channel that can trigger the device when Arlo Ultra detects motion, and you can use actions to arm or disarm the system. For example, pressing the smart button turns on the system. There are plans to allow the Arlo Ultra base station to automatically control other devices and support Zigbee smart home products. At the time of writing, these options are not enabled.
With the support of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can stream video from your camera to smart displays such as the Echo Show and Google Home Hub.
Design and construction
Arlo Ultra is a two-part system where the base station acts as a bridge between Arlo cameras (supporting Arlo Ultra, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Pro cameras). This updated bridge no longer includes sirens and adds this feature to Arlo Ultra. Like all smart home hubs, the Arlo Ultra is a simple white box that you’ll want to get out of the way.
Arlo Ultra charging
The Arlo Ultra camera is a neatly finished and very heavy kit. To install the battery, slide the back cover off and insert the rechargeable battery. There is a new magnetic connector for charging. This can be done in the field or with the Arlo Ultra inside.
If you can stream or view a 4K feed, the video quality is very good. With HDR and a 180-degree lens, Arlo Ultra was able to capture everything from bright sun to torrential rain, regardless of outdoor weather conditions.
As you can see from the sample image below, the 4K quality is very good and the details are displayed throughout the video, so you can easily identify what is happening and find the individual clearly.
If you stop up to 1080p and download the same footage from the cloud, the image will be noticeable software, lose sharpness and not very impressive. If you don’t pay for 4K cloud storage, Arlo Ultra loses many benefits, and 1080p cameras do the job.
At night, the colors of the night shot are helped by the spotlights, helping to see what’s going on, and while avoiding some softness issues with IR-only cameras, the footage remains excellent. Again, the 4K sample is better, and 1080p shots (above) lose some of the details that the camera can capture.
In the activity zone setup, Arlo Ultra did not attack with alerts, especially when using smart alerts to monitor only people. You need to carefully configure the zones, making sure you are not looking for anything at the top of the image. In that case, Arlo Ultra isn’t very sensitive and can either miss movement altogether or get incomplete video with very little motion captured. First, we experienced several incidents. ArloUltra just caught a person who disappeared from the bay window when he lost his leg. A readjustment of the camera and zones fixed these issues immediately.
The first problem was that Arlo Ultra would now notify you of out-of-zone movement, and the camera’s battery would run out in a few days. The latest updates and careful placement of the camera have fixed the issue, significantly reduced notifications, and reduced the number of incidents recorded in the library, but still how many events recorded motion outside the configured zone.
The position of the camera is important to save battery. Arlo Ultra uses a PIR motion sensor to detect motion and activate the camera to start recording. The cloud service analyzes the video and decides whether to alert based on where the motion occurred. So if you point your Arlo Ultra at a busy location, the camera will stay awake with few notifications, which can quickly drain your battery.
This isn’t a problem if you keep your camera powered all the time, but battery-powered keep your camera away from busy areas as much as possible and focus your Arlo Ultra on areas of interest. Tilt the camera Down so that the camera barely sees the road. With the camera in the new position, only a few people passed the house, but we reduced alerts and recordings to people on the premises to maintain battery life.
Arlo Ultra is a mix of incredibly annoying things. Despite its high cost, it is easy to install, so this camera can be used indoors or outdoors. It’s also part of a flexible and powerful security system that makes it easy to add cameras around your home. You can easily control when all cameras operate.
At its best, 4K footage is incredible and provides details that no other camera can create. However, the 4K option is severely restricted and requires a cheeky additional monthly fee or a microSD card that cannot be accessed without removal.
The cloud activity zone should be the highlight of the product, with less notifications, but the only way to make the battery last longer is to carefully position the camera.