Arlo Ultra, hands-on: A premium security camera with expansion potential

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Netgear's Arlo range of security cameras has proved so successful in recent years that Netgear decided to spin the Arlo division off as a new publicly traded company last year. Arlo Technologies Inc. announced a number of new products at CES, but the new company stumbled with the launch of its new flagship product as it entered 2019.

The Arlo Ultra is a high-end camera that's designed to work on its own, and can also form the basis of a wider security system. But, after going on sale in the US in January, some owners of the new camera reported a variety of problems that affected battery life and the ability to stream video at 4K resolution.

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The battery-powered, wireless 4K Arlo Ultra comes with a power adapter, a magnetic charge cable, a magnetic mount and a wall-mount kit.

Image: Arlo Technologies

Arlo has since issued a series of software updates to address those issues, and some users now appear to be satisfied with the performance of their Arlo Ultra cameras. However, the company has suspended online sales of the Arlo Ultra on Amazon and Best Buy in the US, with Amazon now indicating a new release date of March 17 in the US and April 1 in the UK.

That will obviously be a blow to the newly spun-off Arlo Technologies, especially as the Arlo Ultra and other forthcoming products were intended to mark a new focus on business users that would allow the company to expand beyond its traditional base in the consumer market.

The Arlo Ultra is available in a number of kits that include up to four separate cameras, and which also include a SmartHub control unit that needs to be connected to a broadband router in order to provide remote access to the cameras via smartphones and other mobile devices. 

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A kit with a single camera and SmartHub costs £450 (inc. VAT; £375 ex.VAT, or $400)  

Image: Arlo Technologies

A kit with a single camera and SmartHub costs £450 (inc. VAT; £375 ex. VAT, or $400), rising to £1,150 (inc. VAT) for a kit with four cameras (£958.33.33 ex. VAT, or $1,000). Those are top-of-the-range prices, but the Arlo Ultra provides features to match, including 4K video capture with HDR to enhance image quality, and 180-degree viewing angles. The Arlo app can also track motion detected by the camera, following the movement of people or vehicles, and provides a zoom function to pick out details such as vehicle licence numbers.

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The camera casing is weather-proof and includes a rechargeable battery so you can use it either indoors or outdoors. Each bundle also includes a wall-mount kit, making it easy to set up the camera in outdoor locations such as car parks, warehouses or public venues. Like most security cameras, the Arlo Ultra has a night-vision mode for low-light conditions, but it also includes a motion-activated spotlight to enhance visibility and scare away intruders, as well as a siren that can be triggered automatically, or remotely via the Arlo app for mobile devices.

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The Arlo Ultra is weather-proof and features a motion-activated spotlight, a siren and two-way audio support.

Images: Arlo Technologies

As well as providing remote access, the Arlo SmartHub allows you to add extra cameras in the future, as well as accessories such as the forthcoming Arlo Security System, which contains a smoke alarm and other security sensors. This allows you to buy a single Arlo Ultra kit and then gradually expand it to create a wider security system that can cover larger homes or business premises. Arlo Technologies has also announced that it plans to add support for Apple's HomeKit software to the Arlo Ultra — as well as the existing Arlo Pro 2 camera — via a software update later in Q1 2019.

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Like most security cameras, the Arlo cameras store their video footage online, with this service requiring an additional monthly subscription. However, the price of the Arlo Ultra includes a 12-month subscription to the company's Smart Premier service, which allows you to store video from up to 10 separate cameras for 30 days at a time. This subscription also unlocks additional features such as the ability to create 'activity zones' that tell the Arlo app to focus on a specific area, such as a doorway or window. At the end of 12 months this subscription will cost $99 per year, although there are less expensive subscriptions also available for smaller systems that only use 1-5 cameras.

Conclusions

The Arlo Ultra is one of the more expensive security cameras currently available, but its high-quality video recording and added features such as the integrated siren and spotlight provide comprehensive security features for both home and business users. And, with the SmartHub also included, you have the option of expanding the Arlo Ultra into a wider security system in the future.

But, clearly, the initial bugs may deter many potential customers, and we'll wait to see how the re-released camera performs before reaching a final verdict.

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Where To Buy

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Where To Buy

Arlo Ultra

Part Number: VMS5140-100NAS