Arlo Ultra review: Security camera streams in 4K, has 180-degree field of view – CNET

The Ultra is Arlo’s most advanced security camera to date, closely rivaling the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor.

Assuming your home’s Wi-Fi meets Arlo’s minimum requirements for streaming 4K cameras, the Ultra is an awesome camera with video streaming crisp enough to make out even the finest details. 

It packs in other advanced capabilities, too, like customizable motion zones, person detection and auto-zooming and tracking, all of which worked well during my testing. The main downside is the price — $600 for two cameras and, after one free year of the Arlo Smart subscription service, you’ll have to start paying a monthly fee to keep Arlo Smart and continue to access the Ultra’s most appealing features.

Arlo also got rid of the seven-day free cloud storage service it offers on its other cameras, like the Arlo Pro 2. That means you’ll either have to pay for Arlo Smart when that year of free service is up, or opt for Arlo’s local storage option (we’ll get into that more later). 

Overall, the Ultra is a good camera with a wide field of view and prompt custom alerts, but ditching that seven-day free cloud storage will put off a lot of potential buyers. Still, Arlo’s 4K camera is worth considering if you don’t mind grabbing your footage off of a microSD card — or paying for Arlo Smart.

Arlo’s 4K camera

I specifically tested the $600 Ultra kit, complete with two 4K cameras, two rechargeable batteries and adapters, a base station, two stands and corresponding installation hardware. There’s also a $400 one-camera kit. Learn more about your options.  

Note: Previous-gen Arlo base stations won’t work with the Ultra — you’ll have to buy the new base station that comes with the kit. Older Arlo cameras will work with the Ultra base station, though. 

Arlo says its Ultra base station “enables 4K video, Auto Track and Zoom, local live streaming, and a simplified onboarding for Arlo Ultra,” according to this support page. It’s also supposed to help conserve camera battery life.

The cameras themselves are easy to set up: Simply download the Arlo app, create an account (if you don’t already have one) and follow the prompts to configure the base station and the Ultra camera(s). I particularly like the design of this Arlo unit — press a button on the bottom of the camera to separate the front of the camera from the back to either remove or replace the rechargeable battery.

I haven’t finished my long-term battery test yet (stay tuned for updates on that), but Arlo says its Ultra cameras should last from three to six months on one charge and will take between three to four hours to fully charge. I’ve had mine online for six days so far and both cameras show a 98% charge.

Because the Ultra is such a flexible camera that can go inside or outside — and doesn’t require a power adapter — its installation will vary for each customer. Fortunately, Arlo makes it easy with one magnetic mount and one more traditional swivel stand and hardware for attaching them to walls, fences, trees — wherever you want. Just make sure you test the quality of your Wi-Fi connection before you install your camera — two Ultra cameras need a minimum upload speed between 2 to 4 Mbps per second.

I tested the Wi-Fi speed at the CNET Smart Home four times and got an average upload speed of about 27 Mbps, so livestreaming two cameras at the same time wasn’t an issue. Neither was lag time. I got quick alerts that quickly appeared as saved clips in the app’s library for later review.

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It’s easy to view live video feeds and create motion zones in the Arlo app.


Screenshots by CNET

I did have some issues with the camera’s custom alerts, though. Person detection worked extremely well, but vehicle and package detection were problematic. I drove my car up and down the driveway within the camera’s field of view and it regularly returned the generic “motion” alert. The package detection never worked correctly, but the app says it’s in beta mode, so we’ll forgive it for now.

The Arlo Ultra is also supposed to send a custom alert when it sees an animal, but I didn’t have a pet on hand to test this out. 

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