I’m what you could call an early adopter of Arlo cameras. The first generation of Arlo Wire Free cameras was the first set of security cameras we added to our property when we moved here almost 4 years ago. I’ve always said they were the reason I slept peacefully after a serious break-in that first year, and since that time we’ve added other Arlo cameras including the Arlo Go to our security lineup.
While the latest rendition of Arlo cameras also has that familiar Arlo camera design, the Arlo Ultra Wire Free 4K HDR Security Camera is light years ahead of its predecessors. I don’t say that lightly. For sheer connectivity, gorgeous 4K stream, motion tracking options, and smart features, the Arlo Ultra is a winner.
Here’s my look at the Arlo Ultra Wire Free 4K HDR Security Cameras.
Appearance and Features of Arlo Ultra
As I mentioned, Arlo Ultra looks just like Arlo or Arlo Pro. All Arlo cameras are wire free. The first generation had replaceable batteries, but every other generation of Arlo cameras has had a rechargeable battery.
While the Arlo Ultra looks just like its counterparts, with a weatherproof white casing and lithium-ion battery, this camera feels quite a bit heavier. That might be because there’s a lot going on under the hood.
- 100% wire free security camera that recharges via USB
- Weather resistant, and you can use your camera indoors or outdoors
- Stores video clips and offers live streaming via your phone or tablet
- 4K UHD resolution with 180-degree field of view. You can change your field of view from Super Wide 180 degrees to Wide 155 degrees or Full 120 degrees
- Comes with a 1-year subscription to Arlo Smart Premier. You can use all of your Arlo cameras on this plan, and it stores video for 30 days
- Detects sound and motion, and labels that motion as a person, vehicle, or animal
- Arlo Smart Hub will work with all of your Arlo cameras and has a MicroSD slot to back up your videos
- Schedule your monitoring via the Arlo App
- Colour night vision gives accurate colour and quality in dark settings
- 2-way audio and siren built into camera
- Spotlight on camera warns intruders you’re watching
- Long lasting rechargeable battery
- Comes with a very strong magnet mount so you can place it anywhere
Testing Out Arlo Ultra Wire Free
There’s a lot to dig into with this camera. It has so many new great features, but it’s very simple to set up and use.
Setting Up the Arlo Ultra Camera and Smart Hub
Arlo Ultra comes with a brand new base station. The Smart Hub plugs into your router (or connects wirelessly), and setting up the base station and adding it to the app is your first step in setting up your Arlo Ultra Camera.
You can use the new base station with all of your Arlo cameras, and I was glad to hear that. I didn’t want to have two base stations running on an already cluttered shelf of connected devices.
Once your base station is installed, you can expect a firmware update. It took a few minutes, and I was ready to add the camera. Although the camera comes half-charged, I plugged it in to get a full charge before testing it out. I wanted to see exactly how long the battery life would be. I let it charge for 2 hours, and it was at 100%.
To connect the cameras to your base station, you’ll have to install the battery, press sync on the side of the camera, and press sync on the base station. It should pair pretty quickly, and you’ll be ready to use your camera.
Tips for Placing Your Smart Hub
I’ve never had trouble connecting any Arlo camera to the base station. With Arlo Pro, I placed the camera 100 feet away in a field and still maintained a two bar connection. I rarely lost a connection to the camera, either, and I had my base station placed near my router in the living room.
With the new Smart Hub, things are a bit different. I read up on the Arlo website that they recommend you place your base station away from your router to limit possible interference that could cause you issues with range.
I originally had the Smart Hub right beside my router, and it was plugged in via Ethernet. I didn’t have a problem connecting, but after reading the Arlo website, I moved it into my bedroom window and connected it to my 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi network.
The Arlo Ultra was placed on the outside of my house by my front porch, then I moved it to my shed about 50 feet away from the house. I maintained two to three bars of Wi-Fi in both locations. The only time I saw the Wi-Fi drop to one bar was when I streamed directly to my Apple TV.
Just a note: Arlo recommends your Internet connection have an average upload bandwidth speed of 4Mbps.
Mounting Your Arlo Ultra
The Arlo Ultra comes with a very strong magnetic mount. This magnet feels much stronger on this camera than any other Arlo, and I felt comfortable mounting it anywhere outside without worrying about it slipping off the mount.
The mount will give you full articulation and different mounting angles. Because it’s so strong, you can mount it at angles you couldn’t with the original mount. You can even mount it from the ceiling and won’t have to worry about it falling.
See Your Security Feed in Vivid 4K HDR
The best part of this camera is the beautiful 4K HDR feed. I put the live stream up on my Apple TV connected to my Roku 4K HDR TV. It was amazing. The video quality on these cameras just continues to improve.
Video Settings, Auto Zoom, and Tracking on Arlo Ultra
You can choose a few options for capturing video on the Arlo Ultra. You can set the camera for Auto HDR and Local 4K Live Streaming. When you do that, you’ll get the best possible video quality for your stream. If you’d like to use Auto Zoom and Tracking, it will leave Auto HDR on but turn off 4K Live Streaming. To achieve the best quality video stream, you should also set your power management to Best Video instead of Optimized or Best Battery Life.
The 10 to 30-second video clips captured by Arlo Ultra are crystal clear and lag-free during playback when viewing on your phone or tablet. You can really see the detail in your surroundings, especially when you’ve got 4K live stream set as an option.
When you have the camera set to zoom in and track objects, it really gets the job done. I was surprised at how it followed my dog or my son as they walked in front of the camera.
I could see the tracking and zoom very clearly when watching the Arlo stream on my Apple TV. The video quality wasn’t as great when using tracking and zoom, but it picked up my Boston Terrier by my back door, and she was at least 40 feet away. I’m not sure if it would clearly pick up something like a license plate from that distance, but you can pinch and zoom in on your clips and live streams. Given that it’s captured in 4K, I would think you’d be able to see it fairly well.
Wide Field of View on Arlo Ultra
The field of view on this camera is extra wide. It really captures everything around it. In video mode, you can choose between Super Wide (at 180 degrees), Wide (at 155 degrees), or Full (at 120 degrees).
Super Wide really is super wide. I was shocked at how much I could see from one angle of this camera, but the other field of view options are pretty wide too.
Motion Activation, Detection and Identification
This is my favourite feature on this camera. When Arlo Ultra detects motion, it also identifies what that motion is. Because I live on a farm, I have been so impressed with this option.
Arlo Ultra will tell you if the motion you detect is a vehicle, person, or animal. It will tell you right in the notification that there was an animal detected on the camera, so if you didn’t realize your dog, cat, or (in my case), donkey was out of the house and/or gate, you’ll know when you get the notification.
For security, it’s fantastic that it detects vehicles and people individually. If you aren’t home and no one should be in your yard, you’d be very interested in a notification that tells you a person is in your yard. For deliveries, I was grateful for the vehicle notification so I could call in my dogs before the delivery driver got out of the truck.
This motion activation camera will also allow you to set up package detection. If you position the camera near where you have packages delivered, it will detect the package and let you know via a notification that it’s there.
Spotlight, Audio, and Siren on Arlo Ultra
The spotlight on the Arlo was a feature well worth the wait. When the camera detects motion at night, the spotlight turns on. It’s bright and blinding up close, and it’s a very good deterrent if someone is in your yard.
Using a potential intruder as an example, the Arlo Ultra offers you a few great options for dealing with them. If the camera spots them, the spotlight will start shining and you’ll receive a notification that they are in your home/yard. When you open the app and tap live view, you’ll see whoever is there. You can tap the microphone to talk to that person and ask them why they are there, and you can have a conversation with them.
The audio is pretty clear. There are two microphones on this camera, and because of that it can filter sound. If you’ve received sound notifications because of wind or white noise, you can cancel those out and only listen to sound from a single area or person.
I only noticed a lag within the app as it would cut off my own voice when it was playing, but the audio that came out of the camera was good quality. I could hear talking and other sounds very easily.
Now imagine you’re having a conversation with the person in your yard and they aren’t being very receptive to your requests to leave. At this point you can turn on the siren. The siren is a deterrent like the spotlight, and it can be used instead of you talking to that person (or as an additional strong request for them to get out of your home/yard).
The siren itself isn’t excessively loud, but it’s loud enough to hear from a distance. You can hear it in my review video, but I would liken it to listening to a car alarm from a house or two over.
If your deterrents don’t work and you call the police, you’ll have the footage from your Arlo Ultra to show them when they get there. Because you can pinch and zoom in on details of the video, it might be able to help with identification.
Colour Night Vision
Another of my favourite features on this camera is colour night vision. You can adjust your night vision options in the settings for the camera, but if you want a clear view in low light, be sure to tap colour night vision on.
It’s very clear, and it makes such a difference being able to see colour in the dark. My first thought about colour night vision was that if someone broke into my house or was in my yard, I’d be able to tell the police exactly what the intruder was wearing.
Battery Life on Arlo Ultra
I’m on Day 10 of using the Arlo Ultra and my battery percentage is 70%. I’ve been live streaming in 4K and have had motion on and sending me notifications at least 20 to 30 times a day. I also have the best video quality selected.
At this rate, I believe the camera would last a month or more without charging.
Range on the Arlo Ultra
The only issue I’ve come across is that the camera doesn’t have the range my other Arlo cameras have. With the first generation Arlo, we were able to place the camera about 200 feet away and (with the help of a range extender) receive a signal at all times.
I have this camera about 50 feet away and am limited to two bars. According to Arlo documentation, you should be able to place this camera about 300 feet (or 90 meters) from the base station. That range will decrease with each wall, ceiling, or obstruction the camera has to go through to reach the base station.
I haven’t dropped the connection at this range so far, but given my history with Arlo, I would have expected the signal to be stronger from that distance. I’m happy with where the camera is and with the coverage, so I won’t be moving it any further out.
I’ve read about the range on this camera in the Arlo forums. From what I understand, the difference between the Arlo Ultra and other Arlo cameras comes down to the fact that previous Arlo cameras were only streaming in 720p or 1080p, while this one is streaming in 4K. The quality of the stream could be affected by Wi-Fi interference and signal strength, so if you don’t get great Wi-Fi in some corners of your yard, you may have trouble connecting your Arlo Ultra in that spot.
One user also suggested that if you are having trouble with streaming speed, you can change your 2.4Ghz band from 20 to 40MHz. If you connect to the 5G band, you can set it to 80MHz. You can find these settings in your router admin page.
In my case, I have mesh Wi-Fi. If I wanted to move the camera further out, I’d put another pod out in my shed. That way it can bounce the signal at a greater distance.
One Year of Arlo Smart Premier Subscription Included
Included with your camera is a one-year subscription to Arlo Smart Premier. With this plan, you can add up to 10 cameras to your plan and store video clips for 30 days. The documentation on Arlo Smart Premier states that storing 24/7 continuous video is an option, and you can add that for an extra fee per month.
Even without the CVR, this is a great plan for capturing clips or watching live and manually capturing your own clips. After one year of the free subscription plan, Arlo Smart Premier will cost you $9.99 per month. For the quality of the clips and 30-day storage, I think it’s a great plan.
Should You Buy the Arlo Ultra 4K Security Camera?
The photos I captured and video clips I shared in my review video can’t even begin to touch the quality of the live video stream on this camera. I have been blown away by the quality of the Arlo Ultra 4K: It’s crisp, clear, and vivid. The field of view is enormous, and features like colour night vision, motion detection and identification, and tracking make this one of the best cameras I’ve tried.
You can find the Arlo Ultra on Best Buy right now.