Protecting your home and family is important. Fortunately, the “internet of things” and smart home technology make it easier than ever before. However, getting the most out of a home security system requires an outdoor camera that you can count on. This brings us to the latest camera from Arlo. The Arlo Ultra raises the bar in terms of what to expect from an outdoor security camera. At the same time, its high price of $345 might put this fully loaded security camera out of reach for some homeowners. Are the features worth the price? Find out in our Arlo Ultra review.

The Arlo Ultra Review

What’s in the Box

The Arlo Ultra outdoor camera comes with everything that you need to start protecting your house right away. It has a free, one-year subscription for the Smart Premier plan, which you can read more about below. Inside the box, you’ll find:

  • Arlo Ultra Camera
  • Arlo SmartHub base station
  • USB charger
  • Battery pack
  • Charging cable
  • Magnetic mount
  • Mounting arm with mounting hardware

If you’ve used the Arlo Pro 2, you’ll notice right away that the Arlo Ultra is bigger at 3.5 inches high, 2 inches wide and 3 inches deep. For more information on the Arlo Pro 2, check out our review.

Mounting and Recharging

In this Arlo Ultra outdoor review, I would like to focus a bit on mounting and recharging the camera itself. One of its big selling points is that you don’t have to wire it into your home’s electrical system. The camera features a rechargeable battery pack that Arlo says will last between three and six months depending on use.

Charging the camera is fairly easy. The included USB adapter has a magnetic end that easily attaches to the charging port on the bottom of the Arlo Ultra and takes roughly 3.5 hours fully charge. There’s also a screw that you can remove from the bottom of the camera to replace the battery if necessary.

In terms of mounting the Arlo Ultra outdoor camera, you have a couple of options. The easiest option is to attach it with the included magnetic mount. During my review of the Arlo Ultra, I found the magnetic mount to be strong enough for a secure hold.

The second is to use the mounting bracket that’s included. While this method is a bit more time-consuming to install, it does a better job of securing the camera to your home. It’s the only option, though, if you don’t have a metal surface on the outside of our home to attach the magnetic mount.

mounted arlo ultra
Photo cred: Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

Setup

Setting up the Arlo Ultra outdoor camera is fairly easy. Before you get started, you’ll need to download the Arlo mobile app for your smartphone. If this is the first time that you’re using one of these products, you’ll have to create a new account too. During this step, you should charge the camera’s battery.

With the app installed, it’s time to plug in the SmartHub and connect it to your router. If you wish, you can hook up the base station using a LAN cable, which I recommend. After a few seconds, the LED on the base unit should start flashing blue.

Now, open your app, and select Add New Device. At this point, you should see the SmartHub. Once you click on it, the app will look for any new firmware updates for your device.

With the SmartHub up to date, it’s time to add the camera. After you install the battery (You were charging it right?), you can click Start Adding Camera in the app. Once I clicked on the button, my new camera was found right away. I was able to give it a name, like front yard camera, and choose its location. With the location found, I clicked Finished, and the setup was done.

Features and Performance

It’s not an Arlo Ultra outdoor review if I don’t talk about the camera features and performance. The Arlo Ultra itself uses high-dynamic-range technology to give you a crystal-clear image. In fact, it features an 8-megapixel, 4K sensor to stream.

It also records in 4K, giving you the clearest image possible and making it easier to pick out the small details in the pictures and videos. The 4K ability puts it ahead of other outdoor cameras that top out at only 1080p, such as the Nest Cam IQ. You can find a full review of the Nest Cam IQ here. It’s also worth pointing out that the Ultra offers a 180-degree field of view with 12X zoom as well.

While doing this Arlo Ultra review, I liked the noise-canceling microphone that the camera offers. It had very clear and non-distorted sound in all the videos that it recorded. The camera also features a front-facing speaker that allows for two-way audio.

In terms of motion detection, I found that the camera lived up to claims of having 180 degrees of motion detection. This wide range is made possible thanks to the dual-motion sensors in the camera. During my Arlo Ultra outdoor review, anything that triggered the sensor sent a push notification to my phone so that I could watch the video. In addition, the camera stores the video to a MicroSD card or in maximum resolution in the cloud. One thing to keep in mind is that a MicroSD card is not included.

Furthermore, I put the camera’s motion tracking to the test during my review. Shockingly, the camera did a great job of auto zooming and following whatever triggered its motion sensor. Despite that, this feature is diminished by one of the negatives in my Arlo Ultra review. You can’t enable auto-zoom with motion tracking if you enable 4K streaming. Instead, you have to settle for 1080p. In either case, the device records in 4K.

Arlo Ultra - 9to5mac
Photo Credit: 9to5mac

During my review, I was very pleased with the embedded spotlight in the camera too. If enabled, the spotlight comes on to allow for full-color night recording. The camera features infrared LEDs too, so you can take black-and-white night videos if you wish to leave the spotlight off.

Another feature that I like about this outdoor camera is that it works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. As a result, it’s easy to control integrate the device with your other smart home devices, regardless of which Voice Assistant you’re using.

Subscription Plans

Like with most home security systems, simply paying for the Arlo Ultra outdoor camera isn’t enough. If you want ongoing access to cloud storage and Smart Notifications, you need to sign up for the Smart Premier plan.

Buying the camera gives you one year of free access to this plan. After that, you can enjoy the service for $2.99 a month for one camera or $9.99 a month for up to five cameras. While you might not want to pay for a subscription, at least it’s affordable.

Keep in mind, the Smart Premier plan only allows you to store 2K videos in the cloud. If you want to take full advantage of the 4K Arlo Ultra outdoor camera, you need the Elite Plan, which costs $4.99 a month for one camera or $14.99 a month for up to five cameras.

Do you want your outdoor camera to offer continuous video recording? If so, consider subscribing to the Continuous Video Recording service. This costs $9.99 for 15 days or $19.99 for 30 days.

Is the Arlo Ultra worth it?

My experience with the Arlo Ultra demonstrated that this camera is well worth the money. While it’s more expensive compared to others on the market, you get a lot for the price. Also, the Smart Premier plan is affordable and good enough for the average homeowner. But, what I really like about the Arlo Ultra is that there are no wires to deal with. Simply place the camera where you want it, and charge it every few months.

The camera is completely weatherproof and picks up even the smallest details thanks to 4K video recording and streaming. The auto-zoom, motion tracking and integrated spotlight are just icing on the cake. You even get night vision without the spotlight. While there are plenty of cheaper home security cameras on the market, it’s worth paying a little extra to enjoy all of these features.

Buying the Arlo Ultra

Editors’ Recommendations

Did you enjoy our Arlo Ultra review? If so, read some of our other reviews to learn how to turn your home into a smart home.

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