Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras
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New 1-camera Ultra: low resolution, low bitrate...is this as good as it gets?

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Aspirant
Aspirant

Hi all.   First time caller etc.   

 

I've just this week installed a new single-camera Ultra with base.   I don't think the image quality is adequate and I may return it via Amazon.  Unfortunately I'm already near the 30-day return window as I had to leave town on a family emergency the day the system shipped.

 

I'm using the system a bit differently than most; I live in Chicago on a corner and am intending this to be a 'neighborhood watch' type thing as much as watching for 'porch pirates.'   Obviously that means the camera is going to get triggered a lot.

 

The system was easy to set up.  The one camera is mounted outside my office and is less than 15' from the Smart base.  I have the viewing angle set to 'wide.'   

 

But the picture quality is terrible.  Downloading a clip and looking at the properties, the video resolution is only 1760x992, which is slightly less than 1080, probably because the viewing angle crops into the camera sensor.  However the bitrate is only 1.077 Mb/s!   No wonder it's so pixelated!

 

I'm a pro cinematographer so know a little bit about video.   I am a bit pissed that this '4k' camera came with a year's subscription to the Smart cloud recording, which is only 1080, but I get how that works.  And I understand that this is slightly less than 1080 due to the narrower angle cropping in on the sensor.  However this is nowhere close to actual 1080 resolution.

 

The low bitrate means that no matter what quality the camera puts out, the recordings are likely to be near-useless.  

 

My internet connection is AT&T fiber, so I don't think that's the bottleneck.   

 

Any advice is welcome; right now I'm thinking this thing goes back.   

 

 

Model: VMC5040 | Arlo Ultra Wire-Free Camera
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Aspirant
Aspirant

I put a micro-SD card into the base, let it record for a while, and then removed it to check the quality.   It's far better, enough that I'd call it 'adequate.'   Still very compressed, and not quite 4K, but adequate.   I see that I (supposedly) shouldn't be able to record 4K locally while on a 'Smart' Plan which tops out at 2K, but that makes no sense, and at least for now it's working.   I think this is an okay solution; should I have an issue that needs a look, I can first check the cloud recording from my phone, and if need be, then check the card when at home.   

 

FWIW I put in a 256gb card which the base accepted with no issue.   

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Arlo Moderator
Arlo Moderator

With the Ultra cameras you can utilize the Local 4k Live Streaming. If you would like to record to the cloud in 4k you will need the Arlo Smart Elite subscription. You can find more info here: What are the available Arlo subscription plans and how much cloud recording is available?

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Aspirant
Aspirant

^ I suppose that is supposed to be a 'helpful' response, but it really isn't.   It's just a reiteration of *what I already posted* and frankly looks like something a bot would reply rather than a live person.

 

It's ridiculous that Arlo would sell a '4K' camera with a 'free year' of Cloud recording/storage...except that the recording is NOT 4K.   I'm sure that is notated somewhere in the fine print, but really it's bait and switch, and leaves me as a new customer with a bad impression right off the bat.  

 

However, I noted above, because of the local 4K storage, this is working adequately for me at present.   

 

The battery life is about what I expected, 2-3 days before a charge is needed.  This is because the camera is seeing sidewalks and street and is triggered a lot.  I can recharge the battery with a small juice pack that puts out 5V.  A solar panel might work but I'm doubtful it'll do enough, esp with cloudy weather.   

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