Arlo Ultra 2 review

Arlo Ultra 2 review

The Arlo Ultra 2 is a home security camera that’s super easy to install and is one of the only wireless home security cameras that records in crisp 4K resolution. It also comes with an easy to use app and can be outside in all weather.

It’s the most expensive device in the Arlo range, and while it doesn’t offer more features than the other cheaper cameras Arlo has to offer – like the Arlo Pro 3 – it provides a more crisp image and a broader 180-degree angle.

Annoyingly, you will need to subscribe to Arlo Smart to use the most advanced features the Ultra has to offer, like saving recordings in the cloud. This adds to the already relatively high price of the Arlo Ultra 2. I’ve been struggling to decide if I think it represents good value, or not. For me, it’s a little too pricey, but ultimately, the value for money depends on your budget and how badly you want a 4K wireless home security system.

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Expensive but worthwhile security camera

The Arlo Ultra 2 is a top-of-the-range home security camera, and it comes at a high, top-of-the-range price, costing NZ$500 (USD$399.99; £449) for a single camera.

Note: you can buy the Arlo Ultra 2 (2 Pack), with a base station bundled for NZD$1,199.

It’s one of the only cameras in New Zealand that records in 4K, and this makes it more expensive than lower-resolution home security cameras, like the Swann WIFI Wire-Free Indoor/Outdoor 1080p Smart Security Camera, which costs NZD$269(USD$72; £149). 

The 4K recording isn’t the only advantage the Ultra brings; there are other features that the Swann doesn’t have like geofencing, where the camera turns on when you leave the house and off when you arrive, and a 2 way audio microphone.

The Ultra is the flagship home security camera in the Arlo range, which includes the Arlo Pro 3, which costs NZD$419(USD$199.99; £279.99) and the Arlo Essential, which costs NZD$249 (USD$130; £129.99).

The differences between the Arlo Ultra 2 and the Arlo Pro 3 are that the Ultra films in 4K while the Pro 3 is in 2K, and the Ultra has a 180-degree lens that allows for a larger area to be monitored than the Pro 3’s 160-degree lens. The Arlo Essential films in 1080p and has a 130-degree viewing angle.

The 4K resolution of the Ultra provides a more detailed image that can be useful for reading number plates or getting a good look at faces, but I’m not sure it is worth an extra NZD$100 when a 2K image is still pretty good. It’s also important to consider that both the Ultra 2 and the Pro 3 require an Arlo hub to function, which costs NZD$210 (USD$100; £180).

There is also a subscription service, Arlo Smart, that you can opt-in for with your Arlo device. The subscription varies in price based on how many cameras you have and the tier of subscription you opt for. The Premier plan costs NZD$4.99/month for a single camera and NZD$14.99/month for up to 5 cameras. The Elite plan costs NZD$7.99/month for a single camera and NZD$23.99/month for up to 5 cameras. 

Some essential features are locked behind this subscription, which I will go into detail about further in the article. Still, it’s important to know that to get the absolute best out of your Arlo home security system, you need to subscribe to Arlo Smart.

No need for instructions

I found the Arlo Ultra 2 very easy to set up and navigate. After downloading the app, a step-by-step guide goes through everything you need to know: setting up the Arlo Hub, installing the battery and mounting the camera. 

The magnetic mount that comes with the camera is easily screwed onto any surface (that will hold a screw) and is strong enough that I never felt like the camera would fall off, even in extreme weather. The camera can be pulled off the magnetic mount with relative ease, though – so you will want to install it in a place where a stranger can’t grab it and walk off with it.

If the magnetic mount wasn’t suitable, I also had the option of screwing the camera into place via the mount connector on the back of the unit.

You also need to consider where you are mounting the cameras in relation to the Arlo Hub. The hub’s signal range is good – it uses a long-range 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal – allowing you to place the cameras a reasonable distance away from the unit still function. But you need to make sure they are within a strong signal range as the performance of the unit will decline the further it gets away from the hub.

Arlo Ultra review 1

The Arlo Smart Subscription

The 2K Premier plan costs NZD$4.99/month for a single camera and NZD$14.99/month for up to 5 cameras. The 4K Elite plan costs NZD$7.99/month for a single camera and NZD$23.99/month for up to 5 cameras.

1 camera5 cameras
Premier plan (2K)$4.99/monthNZD$14.99/month
Elite (4K)$7.99/month$23.99/month

To unlock all of the features the Arlo Ultra 2 offers, you need to subscribe to Arlo Smart. Without a subscription, functionality is limited. You can: watch your camera’s live feed; receive movement notifications; and use the two-way microphone.

With a subscription, you will have access to everything I mentioned above as well as you will be able to store 30 days worth of recordings in the cloud in 2K or 4K; have advanced object detection that can tell the difference between an animal, person or car, design your own activity zones for monitoring; and gain access to quick responses that give immediate access to emergency services.

It’s frustrating that one of the essential features for a home security system (storing recordings in the cloud) is locked behind the Arlo Smart subscription paywall. A home security system needs to be able to save recordings so you have a video of an intruder or an accident that you could give to the police. 

Unless you opt-in for Arlo Smart, you will not be able to do this. This isn’t unique to Arlo, though. Swann also offers a subscription service costing NZD$6.95/month and $19.95/month that you need to gain access to their 30-day cloud recording system. This is more expensive than Arlo’s subscription prices; however, Swann offers seven days of cloud storage without a subscription which Arlo does not.

Arlo does allow you to set up local storage backups using a USB device connected to your Smarthub. I found this to be less elegant than a cloud-based storage solution as my recordings were saved in 2K resolution. Firstly these files were large, and my USB device filled up quickly and also, If I wanted to save my files in 4K resolution, I needed an Elite tier subscription to Arlo Smart. 

The local storage solution also doesn’t stop the hypothetical situation of a home invader stealing the Arlo Hub. In that case, I wouldn’t have anything to show the police. 

Fortunately for me, I work from home. The Arlo Ultra 2 functions well as a way to tell if someone is at the door when I’m in a faraway room; however, for someone who consistently leaves the house unattended, an Arlo Smart subscription is a necessary addition for peace of mind.

Easy-to-use app

I found the Arlo app was intuitive and straightforward to use. Though at first, I found it a little challenging to work out where I had to go to access individual camera settings or change my preferences – but once I got used to it, navigating the app was a doddle.

It provided access to my camera feeds which I could easily view live, with quick access handy tools like using the microphone or turning the floodlight on.

With Arlo Smart, the app also gives you access to a 30-day library of recordings in a calendar format, giving access to past recordings, with the ability to view them in high definition. It all worked well, though access past recordings is a little on the slow side.

Battery

The battery life of the Arlo Ultra 2 is massive. Arlo claims it will last 3-to-6 months before needing a recharge, and we found that to be accurate; however, it is dependent on how much movement the Ultra is picking up. 

If the live view and the two-way microphone are used often, then the battery life will suffer. But the battery only takes 3.5 hours to fully charge, which is impressive for a 3- to 6-month duration. The magnetic charging cable is a nice touch too.

Verdict

The Arlo Ultra 2 is Arlo’s flagship home security camera that provides a quick-and-easy way to instal a wireless camera network to protect your home.

There are two main additions that make the Ultra 2 stand out from the rest of the Arlo cameras: 4K capture and the excellent 180-degree lens. Whether these features are worth the extra NZ$100 (compared to the Pro 3), or not, is an individual decision. Though, I’d suggest future-proofing your home with a 4K camera system is a worthwhile investment if you can afford it. The 180-degrees lens offers a significantly wider field-of-view too, which potentially means you need fewer cameras to monitor your home.

The upfront costs are only half the story too. Many of Arlo’s most advanced features – such as saving recordings in the cloud – are locked behind the Arlo Smart subscription. And this subscription cost soon adds up costing between NZD$59.88/year and NZD$287.88/year, depending on how many Arlo cameras you own (see above for more info).

In short, there are cheaper systems out there that will do a similar job like the Swann. But you’re compromising on quality and design quality.

1 COMMENT

  1. That’s a great review. I’ve recently installed a security camera (now on my second one). I’ve been quite frustrated how much research you have to do on the camera before buying and then the difference between what the camera can actually do to what’s written on the box (or hinted at on the box but cleverly not stated). I’ve tried 2 brands so far and both have been disappointing. It feels like some of these wireless products are still beta testing. Problems like taking too long from detection to recording and missing the event, detection range less than 20 feet, battery only lasting 6 days between chargers(which is annoying when you should keep it out of reach), WiFi signal is poor (2 meters from an Access Point), endless false alerts or no alerts at all, doesn’t work with smart home services although claimed it does, terrible app design, not able to even start the device without buying an SD Card first. Also have to be wary of misleading packaging where the photos shown are not what the recording looks like. So if it works, and works well, then yes it’s probably worth the money.

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