Arlo, the smart home company and former Netgear sub-brand, is back with a new outdoor security camera — the Ultra. Arlo says the Ultra is its most powerful model to date with a bunch of promising specs and features we haven’t seen on any other Arlo camera:
180-degree field of view
Automatic zooming and tracking
Built-in 100-lumen LED spotlight
Color night vision via the LED spotlightBuilt-in sirenTwo microphonesUpdated magnetic mount design
New magnetic charging cableRedesigned base station
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I’m intrigued by the Arlo Ultra because it’s technically the first DIY home security camera to playback video at 4K resolution. Nest’s IQ Indoor and Outdoor cameras have 4K image sensors, but not 4K playback.
1080p HD resolution has long been considered the gold standard for security camera livestreaming (that’s what Nest’s IQ cameras have), but as with TVs, 4K resolution has around four times as many pixels as a 1080p image, which translates to a crisper live feed with richer detail (assuming you have the bandwidth to handle the higher resolution).
A 4K image sensor makes it possible to zoom in closer on a person’s face to see fine details that might otherwise be missed. Nest cameras have the ability to automatically zoom to follow activity as it’s happening via its Supersight feature, but it doesn’t stream the un-zoomed image in 4K. Arlo claims that the Ultra will. Facebook’s Portal and Portal Plus displays have similar tracking capabilities.
Like other weatherproof Arlo cams, the Ultra is battery-powered, but you can also keep it tethered with the newly-designed magnetic cable. The only Arlo feature that requires the cable is 24/7 continuous recording, which is an additional add-on available via the Arlo Smart cloud video recording service. It costs $10 for 14 days of 24/7 recording and $20 for 30 days of 24/7 recording. Learn more about Arlo Smart here.
We’ve reviewed a variety of Arlo security cameras, from the original Arlo to the Arlo Pro, the Pro 2, the Arlo Q and the Arlo Go LTE camera. But the Ultra is the first device for Arlo since it spun off from Netgear into a separate company that now trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange.
Arlo also introduced a smart doorbell earlier this year, the Arlo Audio Doorbell with an optional chime accessory.
I got a chance to look at the Arlo Ultra during a demo. While it has a lot of similarities to previous outdoor Arlo cams, the Ultra feels heftier. I like the new magnetic cable, too, and the redesigned magnetic mount seems to offer more opportunities to rotate your camera to reach the optimal angle. They’ve also changed how you remove the battery. Instead of pressing a button on the top of the camera to release the battery, there’s a button on the bottom that releases the entire back of the camera for a more seamless design.
The Ultra’s redesigned base station ditched the built-in siren and added local storage. Now the Ultra outdoor cameras themselves have built-in sirens rather than the base stations sitting in your home. Importantly, existing Arlo customers do not have to buy the new base station to use the Ultra. It will be sold in standalone packs and can work alongside older Arlo cams and base stations. Similarly, older Arlo cams are supposed to work with the new Ultra base station, too.
Arlo claims the base station helps with the Ultra’s battery life, which is expected to last for roughly six months on a single charge. Of course, that estimate can vary depending on your usage. Larger batteries designed to last for up to a year are sold separately, along with a battery charging station, a solar panel accessory and more.
In addition to all of the new features, every Arlo Ultra will include a free year of access to the Arlo Smart cloud service plans. Here’s an overview of Arlo Smart:
Arlo Smart Add-on: $3 per month (per camera) for person detection, motion zones and rich notifications. Rich notifications let you view an event on your phone’s lock screen without having to navigate to the app. You get seven days of motion-activated video clip storage.
Arlo Smart Premier: $10 per month for person detection, motion zones, rich notifications and e911. e911 is a service that connects you to local emergency services. The Premier service also extends the video storage period from one week to 30 days of motion-activated video clip storage. It works with up to 10 Arlo cameras.
Arlo Smart Elite: $15 per month for person detection, motion zones, rich notifications and e911. The Elite service extends the video storage period from 30 days to 60 days of motion-activated video clip storage and it works with up to 20 Arlo cameras.
Arlo Smart also supports vehicle, animal and package detection, features I’m very interested in testing out.
Arlo has not yet released pricing information for the Ultra. That makes me a touch nervous, since the 1080p HD Arlo Pro 2 ($170 at Amazon) two-camera kit with base station costs $480. The Arlo Ultra is scheduled to hit stores in the first quarter of 2019.
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