Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger review: elite smart security

Arlo is the Apple of smart cameras, and its Ultra 2 is impressive

T3 Platinum Award
Arlo Ultra 2 smart security camera
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Arlo Ultra 2 system is one of the best smart home security systems you can buy, but it’s also one of the most expensive. It’s beautifully made, comes with everything you need and integrates very well with key smart home platforms, but if you’re already an Ultra user you probably don’t need to upgrade.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Stylish design

  • +

    4K image quality and excellent clarity

  • +

    Colour night vision

  • +

    Excellent connectivity

  • +

    Easy-to-use app

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Very expensive

  • -

    No free video storage

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Arlo makes some of the best wireless cameras around, and it currently occupies three positions in our best security cameras guide – including the top two. The Arlo Ultra 2 is its most precise camera yet, with 4K HDR, 12x digital zoom and dual-band Wi-Fi. Like its predecessor its cameras connect to Arlo’s Smarthub (included), which in turn connects to your router and enables you to control it with the Arlo app or your preferred smart home assistant: Google, Alexa or HomeKit. 

Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger: price and availability

The Arlo Ultra 2 is available in black or white designs, and it’s available now from Arlo.com and online retailers. The 2 camera kit, which includes the Arlo Smarthub as well as the cameras, is £629.99 / $599.99 / AU$1,049. The 3-camera kit is £799.99 / $899.98 / AU$1,449 and the 4-camera kit is £979.99 / $1,109.96. You can also buy cameras separately for £319.99 / $299.99 / AU$449 apiece.

The Solar Panel Charger for Ultra Cameras is $59.99 / £59.99 / AU$119.

Each of the camera kits includes a free three-month trial of Arlo Secure. Subscriptions start at $2.99 / £2.79 / AU$4.49 for a single camera, rising to $9.99 / £12.99 / AU$14.99 for unlimited cameras. In the US and Australia there’s an additional tier, Secure Plus, which offers extra features and costs $14.99 / AU$21.99 monthly for unlimited cameras. US customers can sign up for the Safe and Secure Pro bundle ($19.99) which combines Secure Plus with the Arlo Safe app for personal safety.

Arlo Ultra 2

Design-wise, the Ultra 2 stick with Arlo's family design. They're impressively compact considering the tech inside

(Image credit: Future)

Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger: design

The Ultra 2 cameras stick with a winning formula Arlo has been using for some time. They’re solidly built and pretty discreet, especially in black, and there’s an integrated spotlight above the 180-degree wide angle camera lens. 

The batteries are removable and swappable for easy charging and there’s also a magnetic fast charge cable. The kit continues useful magnetic mounts that enable you to put the cameras pretty much anywhere. 

The cameras look smaller than they actually are: they’re 3.5 x 2 x 3 inches (89 x 52 x 78.4mm).

Arlo solar panel

The solar panel and camera are waterproof and can handle terrible weather, but the panel doesn't charge below 0ºC

(Image credit: Future)

Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger: installation and setup

Setting up the system doesn’t take long. The Arlo Smarthub connects via the supplied Ethernet cable to your router, and you then use the Arlo app on phone or tablet to connect it and add your cameras. The package includes both UK and EU plug connectors for the Smarthub power supply and magnetic camera chargers. The solar panel also has a magnetic connector for your chosen camera, and its 8-foot length means you don’t need to choose between the best position for your camera and the best position for the solar panel.

In addition to Arlo’s own app you can use Apple’s Home app, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. That makes the cameras even more useful: for example in Apple’s Home app, you can set your Hue lights to come on when a specific camera detects motion.

Arlo Ultra 2 in Apple Home

Arlo's integration with key smart home platforms including Apple Home (pictured) is excellent.

(Image credit: Future)

Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger: features

The specification here is very impressive, with better wireless connectivity and range than the original Ultra. The Smarthub supports live streaming from five cameras simultaneously, although there’s no limit to how many cameras you can connect.

The camera sensor is 1/2” with 4K resolution, 12x digital zoom, 180 degree diagonal field of view with automatic image correction to reduce the fish-eye effect, HDR and auto track and zoom. It has twin motion detectors with 150 degree horizontal coverage and high powered infra-red LEDs with an IR cut filter for colour night vision. The twin microphones for two-way audio have built-in noise and wind cancellation, and there’s dual-band Wi-Fi rather than just the standard 2.4GHz band that many wireless security cameras are limited to. The Ultra 2 supports 802.11b/g/n but not 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 6.

Battery life is six months, and recharging takes just 3.5 hours. Alternatively you can use the Solar Panel Charger to deliver constant power, although for safety reasons the solar panel cannot charge the camera battery at temperatures below 0ºC.

The app is easy to use and makes it simple to set up features such as geofencing, where you can automatically arm and disarm security features based on your phone or tablet’s location. 

Some of the key features here require an Arlo Smart subscription: 4K resolution cloud recording; person, vehicle, animal and package detection; notification filtering; custom activity zones; rich phone notifications with preview images and live streaming; and in the US, contacting emergency response services. 

Without a subscription you’ll still be able to take advantage of live streaming, two way audio, push notifications and auto zoom and tracking, but you’ll need to store your video locally by inserting an SD card or connecting a USB device to the Smarthub.

Arlo ultra 2 night vision

The Arlo Ultra 2's LED spotlight is impressively bright, enabling crisp and clear colour night vision with good range

(Image credit: Future)

Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera with Solar Panel Charger: verdict

The Arlo Ultra 2 system is one of the best smart home security systems we’ve tested. It’s not the cheapest, and there’s a subscription on top if you want to make the most of it, but the smart home integration is superb, the build quality is first class and both the picture quality and the object recognition are excellent.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).