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Arlo Ultra home security system
4.4Overall Score
Name: Arlo Ultra
Price (RRP): $from $1049 plus a range of accessories and plans
Manufacturer: Arlo

Arlo Ultra is the latest offering from Arlo – now a separate company from its parent NETGEAR. Perhaps that is a good thing. It can focus on the Ultra system as a security system and down the track, as part of the burgeoning smart home systems market.

The following review is for the new Arlo Ultra system comprising the SmartHub base station, Ultra 4K cameras, Pro 2 cameras, lights, doorbell and chime. Warning – it is over 4000 words and is the most comprehensive review by far that we have seen anywhere. We invite Arlo Ultra users to contribute via the comments section at the end of this article about their experiences with home security systems – as we’d love to hear from you.

We reviewed the Arlo Pro in 2017 and the Arlo Pro 2 in April 2018 – both were good gear but in our opinion, the they didn’t quite meet some of the loftier marketing claims.

What is the Arlo Ultra System?

The Arlo Ultra system is essentially a 4th generation system that has addressed many of the past shortcomings. It has new 4K cameras and backwards compatibility with Arlo Pro/Pro 2 cameras (great to keep that investment). It is also compatible with the Arlo Doorbell and Chime, Arlo Security lights and some earlier products like the Arlo Q/Plus and Baby cameras. You can even have an Ultra SmartHub and the older Base Station sharing the same app.

It uses a cloud-based app that makes everything just that little easier to set up and use. The one App supports all products and makes it easy to see what is going on in one place. And that is important – there is much pain using multiple brand cameras as they all require separate apps. Arlo is one of the few suppliers that can cover most bases in one app.

It now comes with the first year of Arlo Smart Premier cloud (value $12.99 per month) for up to 10 cameras (Pro/Pro2 owners take note), and 30 days (rolling) cloud recordings. The cloud records in 1K (1920 x 1080) unless you upgrade to Arlo’s premium PVR 4K (3840 x 2160) package at extra cost. 4K is possible for live streaming over the local Wi-Fi network and to the microSD card in the SmartHub.

The endgame of the Arlo Ultra is to harness its SmartHub capabilities. The SmartHub has Zigbee, Z-Wave, ArloRF and should have HomeKit support for many more IoT devices. Let’s just say Arlo’s ambitions are along the lines of  “Works with Arlo” starting in H2, 2019. In the interim, it has an Alexa skill (not tested) and is Google Home compatible (flawless setup).

Arlo Ultra system – SmartHub and two Ultra 4K cameras

We will update this review as battery life settles down (based on the number of events) and we get more familiar with the system. A review over a few weeks does not quite get to the nitty-gritty that we like. To that end, Arlo has supplied the equipment for a long-term review.

Arlo Ultra kit

The Arlo Ultra System comes in a variety of different configurations, and there are some accessories as well. Here’s a quick list: (Prices from JB Hi-Fi)

  • An Arlo Ultra SmartHub and one or more Arlo 4K wire-free security cameras (website here). Two/three camera and SmartHub packs are $1049/1499. A single additional camera is $449.

In addition you can connect other Arlo products

  • Pro 2 camera (website here) Single camera $319
  • Security Light and Light hub (website here) – Two lights and bridge $399
  • Doorbell and Chime (website here) Pair is $129/99 = $228

Out of the lots of boxes

Arlo packs everything in nice retail style boxes. The Arlo two Ultra camera kit has

  • Two cameras (model VMC5040)
  • Two batteries A-4a (4800mAh, 3.85V/4.8A, 18W) not compatible with existing Arlo cameras
  • One USB-A charger 5V/2A (10W)
  • One magnetic charge base cable to USB-A charger port (ditto)
  • 2 x Magnetic mount screws for wall mount
  • Ultra SmartHub station, Ethernet cable and charger

Ultra camera charging

Initially, it is a pain to have to charge two cameras with only one charger and a proprietary magnetic base to USB-A cable (meaning you cannot use a standard USB cable). I guess that after that it will not be so much of an issue but remember that these cameras have a proprietary charge base so do not lose the cable.

Arlo Ultra charger

You can buy a spare 2.4m magnetic charge cable (VMA500C – about $50) and a spare A-4a battery (VMA5400 – about $100). A dual battery charging station (VMA5400C – about $100) is an option. Or an Arlo Ultra Solar Panel (VMA5600 – around $130) that we have not tested.

Arlo Ultra solar

The charger delivers 10W, but the battery is 18W, so using the supplied charger it took over five hours from 0-100%.

We charged the second camera using a 5V/3A (15W) third-party charger, and it took just over three hours. The camera battery does not support USB-PD, but it will happily charge at a higher amperage.