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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.


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