Arlo Ultra 4K Review – One Year Later – Is this home security camera worth $600?

Arlo Ultra 4K Review – One Year Later – Is this home security camera worth $600?


Last year Arlo Ultra had a groundbreaking release. Not only because it was the first battery-powered
4K camera on the market, but because it was also one
of the worst product releases I have ever seen. Now a little over a year later we are going to revisit this camera and see if it is worth its
hefty price tag, so stay tuned. (upbeat techno music) Hey everyone, welcome to another video, my name is Steve and I want to thank you for joining me here at Reviews.org. So as I mentioned in the
beginning of this video Arlo Ultra had a pretty rough start, so bad in fact that they
actually pulled it from shelves and had to re-release
it a few months later. Some of the issues was that the cameras wouldn’t connect
to the Base Stations, and when they finally got that fixed the camera quality was just as good, if not worse than 1080p which the Arlo Pro 2 was offering. But there had been a lot
of tweaks and improvements over the last few months. So let’s see if they
have fixed those issues and if the Ultra is really ultra. First let’s take a look at
what they promised on the box. We’ve got 4K video with HDR, auto-zoom and tracking, magnetic charging, an integrated spotlight that allows for colored night vision, we’ve got custom activity zones, 180-degree viewing angle, crystal clear two-way audio, and the advanced Smart Hub. Now the advanced Smart Hub is where things started
breaking down with this camera. When I initially purchased this camera and tried to set it up, I had so many issues trying to connect my cameras to the Base Station. Sometimes they would connect,
sometimes they wouldn’t, they were always dropping off. When I could get them to connect, the video quality was horrible. It probably wasn’t even as good as the 1080p Arlo Pro 2 cameras. I eventually boxed everything up, returned this thing to Best Buy, as I walked into the store customer service yelled out,
“Oh, here comes another one.” When I asked them about it they said that these
things were coming back as fast as they went out. Everyone was returning these things. Shortly after that is when
Arlo pulled them from shelves and scheduled the re-release
a few months later. And I’m happy to say that after a few months
of software updates they were able to fix these issues. My cameras are now able to
connect to the Base Station fine with no issues, and the 4K quality is what I expected. It is a lot better than
the previous Pro 2 version. Alright, now that we’ve talked about some of the features of this camera, let’s see what comes in the box. So with the Arlo Ultra they
redesigned the Base Station and they now call it the new Smart Base. With the new Smart Base it has connections for
a LAN port, power port, it’s got a sync button on the back, and then a reset button. But if you notice with this one it no longer has a USB port
on the back for local storage. Instead on the bottom of the Base Station they now have a slot for a micro SD card. I’m not sure why they got
rid of the USB port on here and chose to go with the micro SD. The micro SD can hold a
max of 250 gigs of storage. So taking a look at the cameras we can see some of the features
that I mentioned before. We’ve got the new spotlight on the front, we’ve got the larger lens for
the 4K sensor built inside. We have got the microphones
and the speaker on here. If we take a look at
the bottom of the camera we see the new magnetic port for charging. This thing has a nice strong magnet that holds to the camera really nice and does not fall off easily. Pushing the button on the
bottom will release the camera. Another feature that this camera provides is that when you’re releasing the camera it has what its calling a catch. So when you push that button and the camera comes out of the shell, it will come out part of the way so the camera does not fall out. You can then grab the camera, pull it out, replace that battery and
then just pop it back in without having to adjust the
angle of the camera itself so you don’t mess that angle up. If we take a look at
the back of the camera it has the same threading
as previous cameras. So if you do have older mounts you’re gonna be able to use
these on this camera too. Installation is really easy to do. If you’re new to Arlo you’re
just gonna install the app and create a new account. Once you’ve created the
account and logged in, you just need to click
on add device, from there you’re just gonna follow
the onscreen instructions. Okay, so once you have your
devices set up and installed, this is what they are going
to look like in the app. I’ve got all of my cameras set up here, if you click on the play
button in the middle of a shot it is gonna bring up live view. Once you have live view set up, tapping on it you can see
the different options. We can either go full-screen
up in the corner here, you can hit the microphone
to do a two-way talk to somebody on the other side, and then it also has the speaker so you can mute the speaker
if you wanna do that. In the bottom-right corner
we have the gear icon. So if you click on the gear icon you can see the settings for this camera. Turn it on and off,
battery, stuff like that. If we go down to look at some of the stuff like video settings, here is where you can
adjust your settings. Local 4K live streaming, we’ve also got the auto zoom-in tracking, you can change video modes, so if you wanna change that field of view from the lowest setting of
120 all the way up to the 180 you can do that in those settings there, and then we also have
the low-light settings. This is where you would
adjust your spotlight if you want the spotlight on. If you do turn that off you
still have night vision, it just has infrared night vision, but turning the spotlight on will allow you to do the
colored night vision. Backing out of all of that, if we look at the tab at the very bottom it says Library, so if we tap on Library
this is going to show you the clips that have been recorded. Now Arlo came out with
a feature not long ago where you can access your
local clips from the app. It used to be before we
could only view your clips from the cloud, now that you
can do it on local storage, here is what it looks like
if you look at the top, it has my Base Station
listed with a down arrow, I’m gonna click on that. I’ve got the option of
cloud storage or not. If we take a look at cloud storage you can see all the different clips here. It shows the thumbnails, currently with the local storage it is not loading up thumbnails. Arlo said that they are working on this and they are gonna get it fixed, but right now you cannot
see what those are gonna be. Jumping over to the
next tab we have modes. So if you take a look at modes, you can see all of your different devices, or your Smart Hubs. I’m gonna click on the top one here and it’s gonna give me the options for the different modes that I can have. You can either arm or disarm your system, set up a schedule for
when you want cameras to say be turned on or off. We’ve also got geofencing, so if you leave an area it can
arm your system, or disarm, and then below that we
have some custom modes that you can add. Jumping over to the settings tab, this is where you can either
adjust your profile settings, or set up your Arlo Smart Subscriptions. All right, now that
we’ve gone through that let’s see what this camera is capable of. This is an audio and video
test of the Arlo Ultra. Now that it has been a year later here is what it looks and sounds like. I think it is so much more improved. I am about 10, 15 feet away
from the camera right now, and just the quality of
this looks fantastic. But now that we have a daytime test, let’s see what it looks like at night. So as I was doing the testing at night I wanted to see how the
colored night vision was gonna compare to say something like a Ring camera with their night vision. I did a test where I put
the cameras side-by-side next to the front door and I walked outside to see
what it was gonna look like. It was pretty dark outside, the streetlights were already on, here is a shot of what
the ring was picking up. Already has the infrared turned on, it is showing night vision, and then this is now what
the Arlo Ultra picked up. It looks like the sun is still up, and it is still daytime. I was shocked at how much different it was and how much light I was still getting using the colored night vision
that the Arlo Ultra offers. All right, so that demo that
you saw between ring and Arlo was from a while back before they actually cleaned
up the quality of the image. Now that they have done a bunch of updates and cleaned up the quality, what do you guys think
of the night vision now? Does it look a lot better? Does it, is it a lot less
blurry than it was before? Let me know in the comments below. And I’ll tell you right now, that light is really bright. For something that’s so small,
on a battery-powered camera, I (laughs) went blind
staring at this thing talking to you guys right now. All right, for those of you who do not want to use
spotlight on this camera in certain areas, here’s what it looks like
with the infrared turned on, no spotlight. This is what the night
vision quality looks like. What do you guys think of this? The next thing that I wanted
to revisit with this camera was the auto zoom-in tracking. Now when I used this when
the camera first came out I did not like it at all. It didn’t follow me, it was
going all over the place, and even though I’d be in one corner it would zoom in on the other corner to something that was not even moving. Revisiting this a year later, I’m still not that happy with it, and the biggest reason for that is that when you turn this feature on, you are no longer recording in 4K. Now you do get a pop up letting you know that it’s going to be disabling 4K, but to use this feature it actually converts the
camera to a 1080p image. That way the software can
zoom in where it wants to and keep the same quality, but you no longer have the
option of shooting in 4K. I don’t like that at all. I would much rather have that feature off, shoot in 4K, and then decide
later as I’m viewing the clip where I want to zoom in on. Talking about a few things
I was not happy with, I was hoping with this new
camera and Base Station that the clips were gonna load faster. That when I clicked on
play, view live stream, that they would just pop right up, and I would be able to see
everything that I wanted to, because with the Pro 2 version, it was kind of laggy and
it took a while to load up. Unfortunately with this new Base Station it’s not different at all. It still takes anywhere
from 5 to 10 seconds to load up a clip, and I’ve even had it on occasion where I click on live view and it sits there and
says connecting forever, and I have to close the
app and reload it again. Not something that you
want in a security camera if there’s an actual emergency. All right, so the last thing
that I wanted to mention was the Arlo subscription plans. They’ve got two subscription plans. One is called the Premier 2K plan, for $10 a month you get up to five cameras that will record with
2K quality to the cloud. The other option is the Elite 4K option. Now for $15 a month you can
have up to the same five cameras record 4K quality a month. Now this is only if the camera
records that 4K quality. With both of those packages, you get 30 days of video history
that you can look back on. It has rich notifications, so you can actually
have it only notify you if it detects people, or vehicles, packages, or animals,
or turn any of those off that it won’t notify you for those things. The last thing is that it
offers intelligent alerts. So when you do get an alert on your phone, you can push and hold on that alert and it will give you some quick options. Those options are that you can either mute that notification, you can sound the alarm, you
can have it call a friend if you have somebody that lives close, or you can actually hit e911, now that is an option that is
only available in the U.S., but what that does is that
it’ll call emergency services to go to your house to check it out. Now, Arlo does have one other option and that is called the
no subscription plan. Now with that all you get is the ability to look at local
storage on the Base Station. So for that you will have to
stick in that micro SD card, but now from the app, as
I talked about earlier, you can view the local clips. The only problem is that that feature almost seems to
still be in a beta test mode, as you saw I can see the clips, but I can’t see what the clip is of. There is no thumbnail for me to view. Arlo said they are working on that and they are going to be
fixing that in the future, but it’s been a few months and I am still waiting for that fix. Now having subscription services is kind of the norm out there. If you look at Arlo’s
competitors like Nest and Ring, they all have a subscription-based system that stores things to the cloud, but not everybody has that. If you wanna avoid the cloud altogether and manage your clips locally there are other options out there say like Wyze Cam or Eufy that are also doing a good job at providing a non-subscription
service to you. Okay, so here’s the bottom line, there are some things
that I am not a big fan of with their software, but that is software related stuff, and things that I hope that
Arlo can fix in the future or at least have the potential of fixing. I’ve compared this camera
to most of its competitors, even other Arlo cameras,
the Pro 2, the Pro 3, Blink, Eufy, Nest and Ring, out of all of these cameras not only is this the only 4K camera, but it stands out in image
quality above all the other ones. Out of all of the cameras that I test, whether it be ones that have
to be plugged in like Nest, or battery powered one, the quality of the 4K on this camera is much better than everything else, and it really shows when
you zoom in on anything. A couple other things that
I like with this camera is I love the 180-degree viewing angle, and the colored night vision. As you guys saw, the colored night vision
is really impressive, and something that really stood
out to me with this camera. So with all of that said,
I do recommend this camera, but what do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your feedback. Don’t forget to like and subscribe if you guys wanna see
more content like this, go ahead and check me out on
my personal channel Steve Does where I do more smart home
content and stuff like that. Anyway, hope you guys liked this video and I’ll see you in the next one.

Author:

8 thoughts on “Arlo Ultra 4K Review – One Year Later – Is this home security camera worth $600?”

  • Steve went super in-depth on this one! Want to skip ahead somewhere? Here's the table of contents:
    0:00 – The disastrous initial release of the Arlo Ultra
    2:27 – What's in the box? Overview of the cameras and base
    4:07 – The Arlo app
    6:50 – Testing the camera, including color nightvision, motion tracking, and microphone
    9:35 – The slow app
    10:15 – The subscription plans
    12:35 – The bottom line

  • The big selling points arlo were wireless and no subscription. The no subscription is how I justified the high cost.
    The subscription does not offer enough to get to switch, especially with how much the initial cost of the cameras are. If they fix the local storage bugs, perhaps.

  • That camera is amazing. I have 4 Arlo Pro 2s and love them. I would love to get the Arlo Ultra, but that price is still way too much. For $600 I could get a complete low end security system!

  • Darren Fitzgerald says:

    DON'T BUY THIS PRODUCT!! Purchased these camera's new with 2 Arlo Solar Panels in December 2019. I installed them on December 10, 2019 and ran into issue immediately. Was getting alerts for everything even though I had setup zones for alerts. If there was movement on the camera even outside the zone it would alert me. Which had me contact support my first time, which seriously is a joke. I didn't realize it at first but since my multiple calls since then I have found that they don't really know their products at all. Here are a list of issues I have had after only owning this system for 4 months:

    1. Alerts and Video recording outside of alert zones (took about 12 days to be resolved).
    2. Upgraded to Elite subscription for 4K recordings and after 15 days all my videos were deleted. Called and said it was resolved.
    3. My videos started to have some loud cracking noises in the recordings when I called support they told me they would setup an RMA for the camera but it would cost me $35 to have it shipped to me next day. After about 3 days I had to call support to see what was going on since they didn't ship out yet. Long story short it took me about a week to get the replacement camera that I had to spend extra to get shipped to me quicker. Oh yea, FYI if you have an RMA you will have to pay shipping for their defective product. So $25 minimum to have a camera replaced even if it is just 60 days old.
    4. At the end of the month all my previous videos were deleted yet again, after going back and forth with support they tried to tell me that I didn't have a subscription.
    5. Yesterday out of the blue at around 2:05pm EST, my fiancee and I were getting alerts like crazy on the phone for motion. Yet when we looked into the Library to see what it was there were no recordings. My guess was I was getting alerts for movement anywhere on the camera even outside the designated zones. Called support they tried to tell me it was because I purchased the Elite subscription and I need to cancel that to have it work again. Yet today after having to disarm my cameras overnight the issue just went away.

    Some other points no one tells you. The camera batteries will not charge when the unit is below a certain temp. If you live anywhere in the north with a true winter be prepared for this. My Solar panels are worthless in the winter. After having to call support 4 times now in just 4 months I can say support is a joke. I have more luck on the Arlo community forum. That is where I was able to find I was not alone for my first issue.

    I have the Arlo Ultra 2 camera and 2 Arlo Solar Panels which set me back about $700. I did plenty of research on youtube to see what camera system was the best. All the youtubers gave good reviews of the Arlo system. But I had a different opinion. I want to throw these units in the trash since I have not even had 30 days straight without an issue for a brand new item.

    I will repeat… DO NOT BUY INTO THE ARLO SYSTEM!!!!

  • Jerome Bohman says:

    Had issues from day one. Have had 3 Ultras for 3 months now. Two of those months were me trying to aquire a RMA (replacement for a defective camera) HOLY SH*T was that a nightmare. Absolutely the worst customer service. I like the cams and the system. But pray you don't get a defective camera….

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