Arlo unveils its Ultra 4K smart-home security camera

It's the first 4K camera from a major smart-home brand

Arlo has the first smart-home security camera to capture and stream footage in 4K and TechHive got a chance to check it out at CES in Las Vegas.

At four times the resolution of existing high-definition cameras, the new Arlo Ultra 4K holds the potential to see additional information in captured footage, such as a car license plate or a clearer look at someone who’s on your property but shouldn’t be.

It’s slightly larger than Arlo’s existing outdoor camera. It has several new features, in addition to the 4K image sensor, such as an integrated spotlight and dual microphones for better audio, but like the current model it still runs on a battery and installation is as easy as snapping it onto a magnetic mount.

Martyn Williams/IDG

Arlo Ultra 4K cameras on show at CES

Arlo said the battery life for the Ultra 4K will be equivalent to its current outdoor camera, which in TechHive tests easily lasted several months between recharges.

The spotlight enables color nightvision and the camera also features HDR (high dynamic range), which should help even out the image so that dark areas appear a bit brighter and bright areas are darker.

The 4K streaming requires a new base station: The Arlo SmartHub will be bundled with a camera and a year’s subscription to Arlo’s cloud service for $399. A two-camera package will cost $599 and both will be available in late January.

The Arlo cloud service, called Smart Premier, attempts to analyze video clips to provide better alerts to users. For example, it is capable of telling the difference between a person, an animal, or cars, so you might set alerts for only people and ignore others.

Unfortunately, it appears that Arlo will be ending its free cloud video storage option with the Ultra 4K. Current Arlo cameras get a generous seven days of free storage, making them great for consumers who don’t want to pay a monthly video storage plan. With the Ultra 4K, users will have to choose a subscription plan when the bundled 1-year subscription ends, an Arlo representative said.

Martyn Williams/IDG

Arlo Ultra 4K cameras and the Arlo SmartHub on show at CES

Arlo said the 4K stream will require about 4Mbps of upload bandwidth but that’s only when the camera detects motion and starts streaming. Most of the time, it’s not feeding video to the cloud.

The Ultra 4K will likely be compared to Nest’s Outdoor Cam IQ, which features a 4K image sensor. However, the Nest camera doesn’t stream in 4K. The additional resolution in the image sensor is used for a zoom function that can be preset by the user to focus on a particular area of the image, but all streaming is in high-definition. The Nest camera also continuously streams video.

The new SmartHub base station is backwards compatible with other Arlo products and includes an ethernet socket and MicroSD card slot for local storage of video. The hub will also work with a new range of security products that Arlo plans to begin selling in the second half of 2019.