Arlo Ultra 2 Review
More range, same high-quality footage
Better range than the original and at a similar price, the Arlo Ultra 2 is the most advanced wireless camera I’ve reviewed, recording at 4K. Quality software and excellent modes that control when the cameras can and can’t record make this system stand out against rival products. However, cloud storage for 4K video is expensive, and most people will find the cheaper Arlo Pro 4 more suited to their needs.
- Excellent video
- Wide field of view
- Smart mode control
- Expensive cloud storage
- UKRRP: £449.99
- TypeA wireless camera for use both indoors and outdoors
- ConnectionThis camera uses Wi-Fi, but it has to be connected through the Arlo SmartHub
With the launch of the original Arlo Ultra, the company showed the power of 4K video for home surveillance. Today, Arlo is back with the Arlo Ultra 2, a tweaked version of the original. While more recent Arlo cameras have ditched the need for a hub, the Arlo Ultra 2 still requires one, which adds to the cost.
Backed by Arlo’s excellent software, the Arlo Ultra 2 is still capable of shooting some of the best-quality video available, but the camera is expensive to buy and run.
Design and Installation
- Requires a SmartHub
- Wireless installation indoor or out
With more recent cameras, such as the Arlo Pro 4, Arlo ditched the requirement to have a SmartHub, with cameras connecting directly to your Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, the Arlo Ultra 2 goes back to needing a compatible SmartHub; it can’t connect directly to Wi-Fi. The need for more bandwidth for a 4K camera is likely to be the reason for this.
As with the previous generation, you can buy the Ultra 2 as a standalone camera or as part of a package with a SmartHub. Kits cost considerably more than the standalone and start with a pack that contains two cameras and the hub.
Externally, the Ultra 2 looks very much like the Ultra and, indeed, the other cameras in Arlo’s lineup. The smooth, curved body finished in white plastic (a black version is also available) looks great.
The differences are on the inside, with the Ultra 2 now including a longer-range wireless chip, so you can place the camera further from the base station. It’s also dual-band Wi-Fi, and the camera will switch from 5GHz to 2.4GHz, if the signal isn’t strong enough.
As with Arlo’s other models, the Ultra 2 runs on battery power. You can either take out the battery to charge it (if you have a compatible battery charger), or you can bring the camera in and use the magnetic charging dock underneath.
Arlo has two mounting methods. The magnetic mount is the simplest; once this is fitted to a wall, the Arlo Ultra 2 attaches on to it. There’s also a tripod mount at the rear, which provides a more secure connection.
Once in place, the Arlo Ultra 2 has to be paired with a SmartHub, which is a straightforward process.
- Excellent mode control
- Customisable detection options
- 4K recording costs more
Once in the app, the Ultra 2 appears like any other camera in the Arlo lineup, with a thumbnail showing a recent still photo from the camera. Tap the Play button and you can live-stream the camera, fire up the two-way talk feature, or activate the siren. The siren is loud enough to attract attention and maybe good enough to scare away a prospective thief.
For the most part, the way you’ll use the camera is to have it record footage automatically when motion is detected. For that, you’ll need an Arlo Secure plan. Since the Ultra 2 is a 4K camera, if you want to record at the highest resolution then you’ll need to go with Arlo Secure Plus. This costs £12.99 a month and covers every camera you own, with 60 days of video history.
The standard Secure plan costs just £2.79 a month for one camera, or £8.99 a month for unlimited cameras, recording at a maximum resolution of 2K and giving up to 30 days of video history. Based on those prices, Arlo Secure Plus only begins to make sense if you have multiple cameras.
Even then, Secure Plus is expensive: it’s more than four times the cost of the standard Secure’s single-camera price. Fortunately, you get a three-month trial of Arlo Secure Plus with the Ultra 2 cameras, so you can test whether or not it’s worth paying more for the higher-resolution video.
As well as recording to the cloud, you can insert a microSD card into the SmartHub and record video locally. However, there’s no way to view this footage through the Arlo app, and you have to physically remove the storage to view it. Think of this option as a back up only, particularly since Arlo cameras can record to backup storage when there’s no internet connection.
Along with cloud storage, Arlo Secure also offers up some additional features, including Cloud Activity Zones. These let you select the areas of the picture you want to monitor; you’ll receive notifications only when movement takes place in these marked areas.
Every time the camera’s PIR sensor picks up movement, the camera wakes up and starts recording. If the motion is within an activity zone then the camera continues; otherwise, it shuts down. This method means you should still point your camera away from very busy areas – constantly waking and shutting down can drain the battery quickly.
To further cut down on notifications, you can select what you want to be notified about, including your choice of people, animals, vehicles and all motion. Object detection is super-powerful and extremely accurate. Set up properly, I found that I received few alerts from my camera, which is the way it should be.
I also think that Arlo has the best camera control options via Modes. Modes let you select how and when your cameras record. The default options are Armed (cameras record when they pick up motion) and Disarmed (cameras stop recording). You can also use geofencing to arm cameras when you go out, and either disarm when you return home or run a schedule. For example, your schedule could say that your downstairs indoor cameras should record at night, but not during the day; and geofencing turns on all cameras when you go out.
If that wasn’t enough, you can trigger mode changes via IFTTT (I have my cameras turn off when my Yale Linus lock unlocks), or you can attach cameras to Samsung SmartThings and toggle them on and off from there.
Recorded footage is available via the Library section in the app. You can filter by device and date, and by object detected (people, animals or vehicles). With a simple thumbnail view of events, I’ve found it very easy to find a specific clip and download it to my phone.
Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are supported, and you can stream footage from an Ultra 2 camera to a compatible smart display, such as an Amazon Echo Show 10.
- Super-sharp video during the day
- Full colour night vision
- Night footage loses a bit of sharpness
With its 180-degree field of view, the Ultra 2 can capture a great deal. Outside, it means that you can see what’s going all around the camera; indoors, the Ultra 2 can capture most of a room. This wide field of view means that the Ultra 2 can be put practically anywhere and still cover the areas that you want.
During the day, the Ultra 2 shoots some of the best video I’ve seen. Well exposed, sharp through the image, and with incredible detail – you can see the full detail in people’s faces, and even zoom in to see more.
At night, the Ultra 2 turns on its spotlight, shooting in full colour. The exposure and detail are generally good, but motion becomes a little blurry. As you can see from the test shot below, you can see exactly what’s going on, but I’m a little out of focus as I’m walking through the frame. This is a common night-time issue, although the Annke NC800 shoots much better video at night.
Battery life is quoted at around three to six months, although what you point the camera at and how much movement it picks up will all play a part on how long the battery lasts. Based on testing over a two-week period, I’d need to charge every six weeks to two months.
Should you buy it?
If you want the best image quality from a wireless camera and are happy to pay for it, this is the best you can buy.
If you don’t want to pay for the top-tier Arlo Secure subscription, the Arlo Pro 4 is a better choice.
A tweak on the original, the Arlo Ultra 2 is available for only a little more than the original Ultra. With the small price difference, I’d buy the newer system over the older for the better range; however, keep an eye out on original Ultra deals – if available for a lot less, that older system is still worth buying.
The bigger question is whether or not 4K video is worth the money, and the answer in part comes down to the price you’re willing to pay for cloud storage. If you’re happy to pay the full price for Arlo Secure Pro, then the Ultra 2 shoots some of the best-quality video around. However, it isn’t that much better than the Arlo Pro 4’s 2K video. With the Pro 4, you can get away with with the cheaper Arlo Secure subscription, plus you don’t need a hub. Unless you desperately need the higher resolution of the Ultra 2, then, the Pro 4 is a better option for most. For other alternatives, check out my guide to the best outdoor security cameras.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every security camera we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main security camera for the review period
We test compatibility with the main smart systems (HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT and more) to see how easy each camera is to automate.
We take samples during the day and night to see how clear each camera’s video is.
You might like…
Not much – the Ultra 2 offers better range and smarter wireless control, but both shoot at the same resolution and include the same features.
No, it has to connect through the Arlo SmartHub.
You need to take out the Arlo Secure Pro cloud subscription.