Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras
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zincyellowcobra
Luminary
Luminary

01/25/2019 Updated review: Update on my experience and decision to keep my Ultra 4-camera system

 

4 days into this experience and all I can say is THIS IS A JOKE! I have been a huge proponent of Arlo since the very first cams hit the market. I’m a loyal customer having owned the original cams, Pro and Pro 2. Prior to the Ultra 4 camera purchase, I had a 20 camera Pro 2 system and a Smart Elite paid subscription. I even bought a set of Arlo cameras for my mother and sister’s homes as Christmas presents 2 years ago.

 

Today, I feel CHEATED. These Ultra cams aren’t cheap, the accessories you get in the box seem stripped down/scaled back, the additional accessories (yet to be released) are incredibly expensive for what they are and an obvious way to generate additional revenue for Arlo as they likely cut margins in the cam itself to keep consumer costs down. In addition to Arlo cutting corners with accessories out of the box which incurs additional “hidden” costs to the consumer, there are more hidden costs to have your 4K cams actually record to the cloud in 4K. I could overlook these very disappointing facts IF THE CAMERAS ACTUALLY WORKED! Over the course of the last 4 days, it had gone from bad to worse. As I mentioned already, I’m a loyal Arlo customer, historically a major fan —- but can say I have now been let down in a big way. I feel deflated. I feel cheated. I’m going to continue to test the Ultra cams up until the end of the Best Buy return period - then I will likely return the Ultra cams to Best Buy. 

 

I’ve already invested a ton of money for my Arlo Pro 2 system and that system works great. Why change if the Pro 2 cams worked so well? I wanted 4K, the newest camera technology from Arlo naively thinking Arlo wouldn’t let me down. Boy was I wrong. 

 

I couldn’t have been more excited to pre order the cams and anxiously waited for the box to arrive. I was like a little kid at Christmas barely able to sleep the night before thinking about Santa dropping down the chimney with my shiny new toy. Santa (FedEx) even came early delivering the cams on Saturday in advance of the Jan 14th release date. Like a kid at Christmas, I was overly excited as I opened the box unveiling the newest Arlo technology. Just days later, I feel like someone just told me Santa wasn’t real.  Why? Bait and switch - I feel lied to! In all of the pre release info, I did not see that I would have to pay nearly $100 annually for my four 4K cameras to actually record 4K to the cloud. As mentioned, I’m a paying customer with the highest priced subscription, Smart Elite. I have 15 Pro 2 cams + 5 more on a free account that I ultimately wanted to upgrade by merging into a single account now that the Smart Elite subscription allowed up to 20 cams. And ultimately, I wanted to now upgrade a majority, if not all cams, to the new Ultras.  Now, it’s doubtful I will even keep the 4 Ultra cams. 

 

SUBSCRIPTION COSTS

To have 4K cloud recordings, it is 1.99 per camera, per month. In order to have the four 4K cams I purchased to actually record to the cloud in 4K, my monthly subscription cost goes up to 34.90/mo from 14.99/mo. Really?! This is more than disappointing, however, sucked it up and paid for the 4K upgrade despite the feeling of a total bait & switch by Arlo.  

 

As I mentioned above, I had planned to upgrade most, if not all, of my Pro 2 cams to the new Arlo Ultra. That is cost prohibitive. Let’s say I only upgrade 10 of the 20 Pro 2 cams to the new Ultra and keep my Smart Elite subscription. That’s an additional 19.99/mo totaling 238.80 in a year if you pay monthly. This is in addition to my Smart Elite subscription which is 14.99/mo totaling 180 in a year.  That’s a whopping 418.80 a year, paying monthly. There’s a slight discount if you pay for the year upfront. 

 

The additional cost is a game changer - IF I DECIDE TO KEEP THE ARLO ULTRA CAMS - I would most likely not upgrade more than the 4 Ultra cams I just purchased. 

 

 

TESTING 

I’ve been running my Pro2’s cams and Ultra cams virtually side by side to compare video quality, night vision, viewing angle, motion detection, sound quality, etc. As of last night, I was only slightly impressed with daytime video quality @ 4K (see comments in viewing angle), hugely disappointed in the motion detection and extremely annoyed that the signal strength isn’t as advertised and a mere fraction of all prior models. Connectivity issues are ongoing despite the firmware upgrade. I experienced pixelation issues once I upgraded to 4K. Ultra cams are slow to start up once triggered. 

 

Motion detection is terrible, sometimes nonexistent. Even worse, I woke up this morning to check the overnight recordings only to find that all 4 of the Ultras stopped recording at 9PM last night. Only my Pro 2 cams were recording overnight.  SERIOUSLY?!? This may be the straw that breaks this camel’s back with the Ultra cams. 

 

 

THOUGHTS ON ACCESSORIES INCLUDED IN THE ULTRA BOX

You only get 2 magnetic mounts in a set of 4 cams where my original Arlo cam multipacks included and the same # of magnetic mounts as the # of cams in a package. Check out the cost for additional magnetic mounts - 39.99 for two.  Seriously? The Ultra 4 cam system I purchased also included two Quarter Twenty Mounts which is an outdoor security mount. These mounts are worthless and cheap. Arlo should be ashamed to have included these flimsy mounts. Give me four magnetic mounts and drop the outdoor security mounts! Now onto my beef with the change to the magnetic mounting capabilities. 

 

What I LOVED about all prior Arlo cams was the flexibility to mount cams anywhere. I have several cams attached to metal doors and metal patio furniture b/c the back of the camera is a magnet. Now that has changed. The Ultra system magnetic mounting is different than all prior cams reversing the magnet side and the metal side. Now the mount is magnetic and the camera has a metal lining to attach to the magnetic mount.  All prior cameras were the reverse of this. WHY DID ARLO CHANGE THIS? I want this flexibility. 

 

One short charging cable is included making it impossible to replace the Pro 2 cams I have plugged in. I need a longer cable. Wait, Arlo will have two options! Uh oh, price? 49.99 for a 25’ power cord! Ok, maybe the 8’ indoor cord could be utilized. That’s still 24.99! Why not sell an adapter that would convert the end of a mini USB cable into the magnetic charging cable? I have a ton of Pro 2 power cables/adapters I’d pay to buy a simple adapter for the mini USB end. 

 

 

CONNECTIVITY

Signal strength is terrible and only a fraction of the advertised 300’.  There were connectivity issues right out of the box that appeared to be corrected by a firmware update. I say APPEARED as I awoke today to find all four Ultra cams offline this AM.  I’ve reset the base, power cycled the base, power cycled the cameras - NOTHING! Ultras remain offline. Pro 2’s are just fine! 

 

 

VIEWING ANGLE 

Wider viewing angle is nice to have but think it impairs clarity as objects are now, in effect, much farther away. Faces and license plates are still blurred and unclear. Why?The field of view is so wide that as soon as you get even a little bit of distance from the camera, the object such as a car or a person,  now fits into a teeny-tiny portion of the recording.  Zoom in on the object and the 4K view is just as blurry as my Pro 2 cams with a narrower viewing angle. 

 

 

NIGHT VISION

I wanted to start off without the color night vision fearing the battery drain could be significant and current placement of Ultra cams is a high traffic area with cars, dog walkers and joggers. I have landscape lighting around my home with several spot lights pointing up the walls of my home. A little light splash.  My Pro 2 cams were totally unaffected by these lights. The Ultra cams “see” the light and think it’s dusk, all night long. As a result, the Ultra cams will not changeover to night vision. Side note - none of the spotlights are directly underneath my cameras. I even moved the spotlights further away to see if I could trick the cameras into night vision to no avail. No matter the location, it’s too much light therefore I have cameras operating like it is dusk. The supposed 4K in “perma dusk” of night, is absolutely horrible! Grainy. The Pro 2 cam video quality at dusk was grainy two, as most any camera is in low light situations.  At least with the Pro 2 cams, night vision would trigger at nightfall. The Ultra cams just will not change over to night vision. I am not going to trash my investment in landscape lighting not going JUST to have regular black/white night vision on my newest cams. 

 

With standard night vision non-functional in my Ultra cams, I decided to go ahead and change the setting to add the spotlight in low light situations.  I changed the setting before bed last night activating the spotlight feature, however, unable to see the outcome as the system went offline sometime after I changed the setting. The cameras remain offline now. 

 

 

SOUND QUALITY

Haven’t tested as I am dealing with all of the other problems. Why bother. 

 

 

MOTION DETECTION

At 100% sensitivity, the Ultra cams perform significantly worse than the Pro 2 cams set to 70-80% sensitivity.  

 

25% of the time, the Ultra misses the motion all together where the Pro 2 camera picked up the activity without issue. 

 
CONCLUSION SO FAR - Ultra cams aren’t ready for prime time as there are too many bugs from the onset, features do not operate as advertised not to mention there are hidden costs that really make the Ultra cams cost prohibitive for the average person. I’d wait for the next iteration of Arlo cameras with the hope that Arlo listens to its consumers, learns from this ULTRA-failure product launch. 
 
 
Offline this AMOffline this AMStill offlineStill offlinePixelation after 4K subscription upgrade. To think I PAID for this.Pixelation after 4K subscription upgrade. To think I PAID for this.
41 REPLIES 41
DRA_PA
Apprentice
Apprentice
If you are referring to the Live 4K Streaming option then yes, I still have the option and I turned it on and off. I don’t want to jeopardize anything as the system has been on-line for me for a full half day today. Not to mention I would bet that 4K would deplete the battery even faster then it has been.
Cwmmmm
Luminary
Luminary
Today is a new problem, ecerytime I load arlo app It kicks me out, can’t view live, can’t view recordings and cannot do anything because I just get kicked off all the time, running latest everything, please update the app!
DRA_PA
Apprentice
Apprentice
Have you tried the web browser and not the app? I’ve had much better luck using the browser today. Waiting on one battery to charge and then I will have all cameras loaded back on to the base.
Cwmmmm
Luminary
Luminary
The web browser works fine on my pc, but it’s a pain not being able to view on my phone.
EInce
Guide
Guide

How is the quality of the local or payed 4k recording? is it better than the pro 2? I also understand that the ultra dispalys a wider viewing angle but is the image quality beter?

ReturnUltraOrNo
Tutor
Tutor

Thank you for the detailed review.  I am considering the Arlo pro and will take back my Ultra.  Going to look for that 3 camera deal I saw over Xmas.  I may add the light.  I am very suspicious of this company and any recommendations to what box sets or add ons for an Arlo pro would be greatly appreciated.  Also, if you recommend I go with a different company, please let me know giving this is my first camera system.  I too was looking forward to this release...Man Frustrated

ReturnUltraOrNo
Tutor
Tutor

I am with you.  What options do you suggest?

BestBuyGuy
Apprentice
Apprentice

If you are looking at an indoor camera, look no further than the Wyze cam. It is incredible and performs near flawlessy and has really impacted the securiy camera market in a big way. They are working on an outside camera as we speak and that will be probably be mind blowing if it matches the success of their current offerings. Tons and tons of information for you to browse on it, but it's so inexpensive just buy one for fun to experiement with, you won't regret it.

 

For an outside system I absolutely love my 6 camera Pro 2 setup (yes all 6 cameras will have the free 7 day cloud recording, it is an exception to the 5 camera rule). It took half a year+ since I acquired it for them to work the major bugs out, but now it functions beautifully. They still need to fix the Live feature not recording from a trigger (only manual recording works), but at least they fixed the major original flaw of Live view of alerts stopping your recordings in progress. That bug alone almost made me return my purchase (even with a substantial employee discount). I seriously still recommend any Pro 2 package that fits your budget. The Pro camera picture quality may be sufficient but I highly recommend the Pro 2 instead.

DRA_PA
Apprentice
Apprentice
I agree. The Arlo Pro 2 is a great product and from what I’ve seen is one of the best wireless outdoor camera options. I will also say I’m seeing a glimmer of hope with Arlo Ultra.. Seems all but one of my cameras stayed connected last night. and the base station is still a solid blue light. I’ve had issues with the one camera since day one. Now if Arlo fixes the battery drain and reconsiders the sales they are going to loose with doing away with the 7 day free cloud recording, I can see strong possibilities with the Ultra system.
Frenchyk
Guide
Guide
As an fan of the Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and security light I must admit I'm disappointed in hearing all the struggles of the new Arlo Ultra on here and on YouTube. I hope these major bugs get worked out soon and the product can begin working as advertised. Until I begin to see positive honest reviews of this product than I'm going to hold off on this and just wait. I hope the Arlo team is paying attention to what it's die hard consumers want from them. Also bring back the 7 day free cloud recording.
JamesC
Community Manager
Community Manager

A new camera firmware is available. Please make sure your camera has received the updated firmware and let us know if you're still experiencing issues.

 

The development team is continuing to closely monitor these reports. Thank you for the detailed information and we appreciate your patience while we work the resolve what you've reported here.

 

Firmware release notes: Arlo Ultra VMC5040 - 1.060.20.11_30389 - 20th January 2019

 

JamesC

LarryQwest
Star
Star

How about an update on screwing your customers and brand name by taking away the basic 7 day plan that earned you a loyal following?

JamesC
Community Manager
Community Manager

LarryQwest,

 

This hasn't changed for existing customers. If your Arlo camera came with 7 day cloud recording included, you will continue to have this feature.

 

JamesC

Ultimateboss
Tutor
Tutor

I have not had many issues with mines but as a first time customer i feel suckered with the 4k stuff. 99 per year was okay but after the math was all said and done almost 200 per year? No thank you. Ill be returning mines tomorrow. 

LarryQwest
Star
Star

@JamesC wrote:

LarryQwest,

 

This hasn't changed for existing customers. If your Arlo camera came with 7 day cloud recording included, you will continue to have this feature.

 

JamesC


Are you joking? You know darn well I was referring to the Ultra. 

ArloProOwner
Apprentice
Apprentice

Jan 24, 2019 (USA)

Everything that you are complaining about with your new Ultras are exactly what has been happening to me with my 10 Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 cameras.  If I were you, I'd take those Ultras back right away, and leave well enough alone, since you are very lucky you don't have any problems with your Pro's/Pro2's at all.  But I am very glad that you typed up a very in depth and helpful review.  Good luck with your older Pro cameras that seem to be working well for you, I wish I had that good luck with mine.

ArloProOwner
Apprentice
Apprentice

Jan 24, 2019 (USA)

Although I do not have the new Ultras, and certainly wouldn't at this point, many of the Ultra problems discussed, I have had with my Arlo Pro/Pro2 system/cameras (10 cameras)  I posted the below rant/complaint yesterday in other areas of the Community news:

 

1/23/19:  What in the hell is Arlo doing?!!!  For the past couple of weeks, the Activity Zone appears for Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 cameras on the iphone app, then it disappears, then it reappears, then it's gone again.  Today it happened again, there were only Activity Zones for the 1080p Arlo Pro cameras, now in the same day, it's back to being accessible to all the cameras, Arlo Pro & Arlo Pro 2 cameras.  I have noticed that sometimes into the Device and the Settings, and hit the Video Settings that some of the cameras views are zoomed all the way into  it's max, so it's very blurry and when you zoom out to regular view you can see that it was zoomed in to the top left corner of the camera…..this has happened on a few of my cameras over the past few weeks since they've been messing with the activity zones.   Very bizarre, and again, leaves the camera ineffective, as with lots of the crap that happens with this system on a daily/hourly basis.

 

So many flaws with this Arlo Pro camera system.  Here goes what I can think of, and I'm sure I'm going to forget to add several of them, but here it goes, in no particular order: 

 

  • I have 10 Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro2 cameras, and not one of them is reliable even half the time. PATHETIC AND A COMPLETE DISAPPOINTMENT, and as everyone knows, these Arlo Pro/Pro2 cameras are NOT cheap, nor are their rechargeable batteries
  • The entire system/cameras work or don't work with no rhyme or reason. There is no one answer that will fix your problem that day, because you think a particular setting or mode change got it to work, and then it doesn't anymore
  • most of my cameras do not record for the length of time I have them set to (if they even detect motion at all in the first place), if it's the full 120 seconds, it may only record for 10 seconds, or 30 seconds, or who knows what, sometimes it will work properly, most of the time NOT, and this goes for every single camera I have, not one of them works as it should. The base is constantly going off line several times a day
  • Every single one of my cameras is plugged in to electrical power, a couple of indoor ones with the power cord that came with the camera, and the rest are outdoors, and all the cameras inconsistently work and don't work, more so though consistently do not work, yes even the ones plugged in-doors.
  • False "incompatible charger detected" comes up several times a day on all cameras plugged in outdoors even with the requested Arlo charger.
  • Arlo outdoor weatherproof AC adapter needs to be made longer than 8 feet, or at least more choices, although I see the new Ultra has a magnetic power cord, so I doubt Arlo will be helping Arlo Pro/2 customers with making more choices in accessories. A RELIABLE outdoor weatherproof power cord/adapter is absolutely necessary because these rechargeable batteries do not last and are $50 a pop!
  • Activity Zones come and go
  • Devices fail to connect constantly several times a day
  • The rechargeable batteries do not last more than a year, eventually will not hold a charge
  • False detections, motion and audio
  • Misses things it should have detected many times a day, therefore not a very reliable "security" camera in the least
  • Arlo cannot seem to truly "Solve" any of the issues, it ends up being a temporary fluke that works for a short time at best and Arlo wants to put a "solved" on the issue when it is most likely NOT solved, because I have plenty of issues with things that have been listed as "Solved"
  • Too many places to make changes that can conflict with another selection/setting in the mode vs. settings.
  • Very unreliable, undependable, system at best, certainly would not recommend for security purposes.
  • Sound is lacking on several recordings randomly, when they do decide to record something, usually the sound of wind blowing or a bird chirping.
  • Smart detection is practically useless (for me), you need to be able to reset and/or correct the detector when it's wrong.
  • Each of my cameras are set up at different levels, distances, etc, and still each camera might work today, then not tomorrow, or I should say this morning, and not later the same day. So it's not the viewing height, distance, side to side movement, yada yada yada, it's the system or camera flaw, because if the height, distance, side to side movement was the reason, then it could be corrected, but it's not true, it may work for the people in the lab who created these programs, but it doesn't work consistently in real life.  I have cameras that pick up cars going " side to side" out at the street that is about 100 feet away from the camera, yet won't pick up something coming into the driveway…Other times cameras will do the complete opposite, none of which consistently work, more like consistently don't work.
  • Motion test is a waste, doesn't really work, and should be removed.
  • There should be a retrigger time choice so when the camera does stop recording when there is still motion going on, it will automatically restart in another clip, but I'm sure that would be unreliable too if there were such a selection/choice, because none of my cameras consistently or reliable record the amount of time that I have it set for.
  • Mostly Records a bunch of nonsense, either as motion, or audio but doesn't detect real movement/audio even around the same time…..it could record every 2 minutes, then miss something that actually happened for a 10 minutes span, and then start recording again after that 10 minutes where it should have caught something, but didn't, then it will start up again and go back to a bunch of nonsense recordings.
  • I would love if all of my cameras recorded maximum length clips all day (since they are plugged in to electricity and no depending on the battery), rather than missing something important.
  • Not even one of my 10 cameras is reliable on a daily basis, you can always find something that it blatantly missed (several times in a day)
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