Arlo makes so many different surveillance cameras that it can be hard to keep track. From very cheap indoor cameras to comprehensive packages with home surveillance in UHD resolution.
The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera, despite its pro designation, is not the top model, but “only” the second most advanced. Which is not a bad thing, since the camera offers video surveillance in 2K resolution indoors and outdoors, the ability to record in total darkness, and built-in spotlight.
Externally, the Arlo Pro 4 is similar to the company’s other cameras: a curved unit in glossy white or black plastic that can be attached magnetically or with screw fittings, which are included in the package. The resemblance is so total that you have to go into the Arlo app (or read the packaging) to tell the difference between the Pro 4 and the Ultra 2 – or, for that matter, the older Pro 3 model.
Pro or Ultra?
Where the Arlo Pro 4 differs from the somewhat more expensive Arlo Ultra 2, is primarily on video quality. The Ultra model can record in 4K resolution, while the Pro edition makes do with 2K. As long as you don’t need to zoom in on details that are very far away, the difference in resolution is a luxury problem.
More relevantly, the Ultra camera has two microphones – and thus the ability to reduce wind noise electronically – while the Pro has to make do with a single mic. There’s also only one motion sensor in the Pro model instead of two. The number of microphones can be important in some locations – like windy house corners. If the camera is to be mounted indoors, that difference is probably irrelevant.
One point where the Arlo Pro 4 is ahead of the more expensive Ultra 2 is that it can connect directly to the household wireless network. No need to use a hub to connect the network to the camera(s). If you only need a single surveillance camera, this makes the package price lower. It also makes it easier to integrate Arlo Pro 4 into a smart home with cameras from multiple manufacturers. If you already have an Arlo camera hub in your house, the Arlo Pro 4 can also be connected to it if you wish.
The ability to connect directly to the wireless network is the only immediate difference from its predecessor, the Arlo Pro 3.
The Arlo Pro 4, like the company’s other cameras, can be controlled from Arlo’s own mobile app, which is also used during setup. But it can also be integrated into a smart home under Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa or Samsung SmartThings.
Spotlight and two-way communication
Colour Night Vision is promised on the package. That’s a truth with modifications, since it doesn’t film in colour in total darkness. When the camera streams video from a darkened room, it does so in black and white. Where colour comes in is when the motion sensor detects activity in front of the camera and turns on the LED spotlight.
There is a built-in microphone and speaker in the camera with full two-way communication, so you can ask the messenger to put the parcel in the garden shed or order the dog to get out of bed when you have been notified via your mobile phone that a parcel or an animal has been observed respectively. If neither the UPS nor the dog is on the move, the camera also has a built-in siren to scare off burglars.
Subscription is – almost – indispensable
The ability to identify people, animals, vehicles and packages isn’t automatically present like it is with the Google Nest Cam. To filter the relevant movements in front of the camera from the irrelevant ones, you need to subscribe to Arlo. As a “free” user, you get live notifications in the app when something is detected. And you can watch a live video feed. But the video isn’t stored in the cloud as evidence.
In practice, this means that a subscription is indispensable for the Arlo Pro 4 to function properly as a surveillance camera. It costs €2.99 per month to access online storage for one camera. If you have more than one camera, it costs €9.99 per month for online storage for up to 30 days in 2K video quality. Regardless of the number of cameras. The purchase includes a three-month free trial of the subscription.
Arlo’s app has a feature called Geofencing that activates the cameras when the owner leaves home, i.e. when the mobile phone is removed from the address. And turns them off again when you get home. You can register multiple mobile devices so the cameras are only active if all residents are out.
The Arlo Pro 4 is not a cheap surveillance camera, but the quality and features match the price. And thanks to the ability to connect the camera directly to Wi-Fi without a connection hub, it can also be a good starter camera for those who want to get started with monitoring their surroundings.
The video quality of 2K with HDR colour space provides an image quality that is higher than most models on the market. If you want even higher image quality, you can consider the Arlo Ultra 2, but then not only the resolution but also the price per camera will be twice as high.