Which is better for home security: Ring Spotlight Cam Battery or Arlo Ultra?
In today’s lineup, we have two battery-operated home security cameras—the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery and the Arlo Ultra. Both feature a siren, spotlight, infrared night vision and two-way audio with noise cancellation, but don’t come at the same price point. The Arlo Ultra is a cool US$200 pricier at $US399.99, while the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is priced at US$199. What are the differences between the two? What justifies the price difference? Today we are going to lay them out for you, so you may make the right choice for yourself.
In terms of size, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is slightly bigger than the Arlo Ultra, being 4.96 x 2.72 x 2.99” (12.6 x 6.91 x 7.59 cm) versus 3.5 x 2 x 3” (8.9 x 5.2 x 7.84cm). It comes in both black and white but could be dressed and protected in other colors with skins accessories. With mounts, it is incredibly easy to install onto walls, ceilings, and even gutters. In comparison, the Arlo Ultra is widely available in white (black version is restricted to certain vendors) but can be dressed in different colors, given a hat, or even camouflaged with protective skin accessories. Like the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, the Arlo Ultra can be easily mounted onto walls, ceilings, gutters and additionally, shelves, pipings, and glass surfaces. The Arlo Ultra requires a hub to function while the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery does not.
The Arlo Ultra has a wider operating temperature range, being able to function from -4 to 140°F (-20 to 60 °C) instead of just -5 to 120°F (-20.5 to 48.5°C). It also has a better weatherproof rating (IP65 versus IP55)—both cameras are protected from low-pressure jets, but the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is only protected from limited dust ingress, while the Arlo Ultra is protected totally.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery runs only on battery (although Ring has also released a wired version). Each of its batteries has a life of 6 to 12 months between charge, and the camera can hold two. When one battery is drained, the camera switches to the second one. Alternatively, you can power it with the help of solar panels.
The Arlo Ultra can be powered by a battery or power outlet (via a charging cable). Battery life is considerably lower than its counterpart, at 3 to 6 months, and it holds only one battery. Of course, you can prolong your camera’s battery life with a solar panel.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery has a horizontal field of view of 140° while the Arlo Ultra’s is better at 180°. The best quality in which the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery can stream or record is 1080p, but the Arlo Ultra can, under certain circumstances, do it in 4k.
Consequently, the two have different WiFi requirements. The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery requires a minimum upload speed of 1Mbps but 2Mbps is recommended. The Arlo Ultra, on the other hand, requires at least 2Mbps but 4Mbps is recommended. WiFi requirements should not be ignored as it can greatly affect the basic functionalities of your camera. There have been numerous customer-reported issues that were simply solved with the adjustment of their WiFi system. One way you could strengthen your home network is with a mesh WiFi system.
With the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, recorded videos can only be stored in the cloud. For the Arlo Ultra, they may be on the cloud or on a microSD card. In both, cloud storage requires subscription, and video clips may be saved or shared.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery comes with a free 30-day trial of the Ring Protect Plus plan (US$10 per month). Ring’s lower-tier plan, the Protect Basic Plan, comes at US$3 per month. Both plans grant access to recorded videos for up to 60 days in the US or 30 days for most European countries.
On the other hand, the Arlo Ultra comes with a longer free subscription—one-year of the Smart Premier plan with a 30-day video history. The Smart Premier plan comes at US$9.99 per month. The lower-tier plan, Arlo Smart is priced at US$2.99 per month (also 30-day video history) and the higher tier plan, Arlo Smart Elite costs US$14.99 per month (60-day video history).
One major thing to note is that the video recordings are clips recorded after the camera is triggered. For the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, recordings start after motion detection. For this battery version, the camera stops recording after 20 seconds, even if the event is still going on. For the Arlo Ultra, the camera may be configured to record after detection of motion and/or sound. You can specify how long the camera records after activity detection or until the activity stops (up to 5 minutes).
The Arlo Ultra is superior in that it has pre-buffered recording when plugged in, which the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery does not. With this feature, you can view the three seconds prior to a motion-triggered event in your camera’s recordings. The Arlo Ultra does this by recording video continuously and discarding it after no motion has been detected for three seconds.
Another negative of the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is its lack of support for 24/7 continuous video recordings, even with a subscription. The Arlo Ultra has continuous video recording capabilities if it is plugged in and a CVR plan is purchased. CVR plans come at either 14 or 30 days, but currently, continuous recordings may not be downloaded.
The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery’s horizontal motion detection angle is 180° while the Arlo Ultra’s is less at 150°. However, customization of motion detection zones is better in the Arlo Ultra. The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery can only adjust motion sensitivity in terms of “minimum to maximum” distance range and can only switch detection on/off between three zones that are divided by default. The Arlo Ultra, on the other hand, has the capability of setting up “Activity Zones,” in which zones can be adjusted to different sizes and shapes, including irregular ones. Do note though, that the camera must be plugged for this feature if the Arlo Ultra has no subscription.
Both cameras may send push notifications of triggers via their respective apps. Only alerts on motion detection can be sent by the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, while on the Arlo Ultra it is both motion and sound. With a subscription, the Arlo Ultra can send specific alerts on detection of people, vehicles, animals, and packages (still in beta). The Arlo Ultra offers email notifications, which may also be sent to another contact—e.g. your neighbor checking in on your home for you.
In addition to the Arlo Ultra is a feature not included in the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery—Auto Zoom and Tracking. Pretty self-explanatory, the camera automatically zooms in on a moving object and pans to follow their movement.
Built-in Security Enhancing Features
We mentioned early in the article that both cameras have a built-in spotlight and siren. Both are security-enhancing features, but each camera’s is not equal.
The spotlight of both may be triggered manually via their app or automatically with motion detection (during nighttime). The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery’s spotlight consists of two strips on either side of its lens, providing 300 lumens. Do note that if the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery’s spotlight is motion-triggered, it will only stay on for about 30 seconds max. The Arlo Ultra’s is brighter at 400 lumens. The spotlight’s brightness is adjustable and can be set to emit constantly, in flashes or in pulses.
The sirens of both may be manually activated, but for the Arlo Ultra, it may also be set to go off with motion detection. Yet the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery’s siren is louder at 110dB, while the Arlo Ultra’s is 80dB.
A benefit to Arlo Technologies not being in either Amazon, Apple or Google’s camp is its wider practical integration possibilities. While both cameras can be integrated with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, the Arlo Ultra can be additionally integrated with the Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.
It is clear that, with its higher price tag, the Arlo Ultra comes with more features and fewer restrictions. Notably, it has:
- A wider operating temperature and stronger weatherproof rating
- Two power source options
- Pre-buffered, longer clip, 4k, and continuous recording capabilities
- Motion and sound detection
- Push, email and object-specified notification capabilities
- Auto Zoom and Tracking
- A brighter spotlight with brightness adjustment and three different emit modes
- Automatic siren-trigger capabilities
- Wider integration possibilities
That said, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery has its strengths too, such as:
- No hub requirement to function
- Two battery storage space and longer battery life
- Lower WiFi requirements
- A wider motion detection angle
- A louder siren
Ultimately, you have to decide if the Arlo Ultra’s added features are worth the added price tag. If you are ready to invest more into your home security, we recommend another article which compares the Arlo Ultra to a more likened camera, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. We hope this article has helped, and we wish you good luck on your hunt!