Blink security cameras Archives

Blink security cameras Archives

Blink security cameras Archives

Blink security cameras Archives

Blink XT2 review

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When the Blink XT wireless security camera debuted, we praised it for its low price, ease of use and free cloud storage. Since then, Amazon acquired the company, which has come out with a successor: the Blink XT2. 

This capable little camera works both indoors and out, costs less than $100, has full 1080p resolution and double the battery life of its predecessor. While it lacks several features found in other security cameras, the Blink XT2 is one of the best home security cameras for outdoors, especially for those on a budget. 

Blink XT2 : Design

Unlike most security cameras, which have circular designs, the XT2 is square, with rounded edges. At 2.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 inches, it's about the size of a coaster and should be pretty inconspicuous wherever you decide to mount it. The XT2's Blink Sync module, needed to connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network, is roughly the same size and shape.

The XT2's flat sides and bottom also mean you can rest it on a shelf easily. Included with the camera are a mounting kit and screws, so you can attach the camera to the side of your house. However, there's no way to secure the XT2 against theft; it's best to just mount it up high. 

The XT2 is rated for outdoor use and has an IP65 rating, which means it should stand up to rain, hail and snowstorms. The camera I set up on the outside of my house made it through a number of pretty intense thunderstorms without a problem.

Blink XT2: Setup

Similar to Arlo's security cameras, the Blink XT does not connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network. Rather, it communicates via a proprietary wireless link to the Blink Sync module, which connects to your Wi-Fi. That way, the Blink XT camera can run on battery power; the Sync module needs to be plugged into an outlet.

Blink says that the XT2, which runs on two AA batteries, can last up to two years without replacement batteries. This estimate assumes that you use the camera for roughly 900 minutes of video events, including Live View, motion-activated recording and two-way talk. The more the camera records video, and the more you use two-way talk and live video, the less uptime the camera will have.

Fortunately, the Blink XT2 kit comes with both the camera and the sync module; extra cameras cost $89 each.

MORE: Best Home Security Systems

Setup takes about 20 minutes. You have to first connect the sync module to your Wi-Fi and then connect the camera to the sync module. Blink makes this easy. From within the Blink app (Android and iOS), you scan a QR code on the back of each device to link it to your account. 

The biggest decision you'll have to make is where to mount the camera, which you can do with the included mounting bracket and two screws.

Blink XT2 : Video and audio quality

The XT2's 1080p camera has a 110-degree field of view, the same as the Wyze Cam but narrower than the 145-degree FOV of the Samsung SmartThings Cam and the 130 degrees for the Arlo Q. Still, neither of those cameras is designed to be used outdoors, and when I mounted the XT2 on the side of my house, its view was wide enough that I could see most of my backyard.

While not as crisp as Arlo's cameras, the XT2's had good enough quality that I could make out individual faces and details in both day and night videos. While the yellow fur of a Labrador retriever looked blotchy, the colors of a green shirt and red dog bowl were accurate.

Also, the Blink XT2's microphone was sensitive enough to pick up the sounds of crickets chirping at night. In fact, they were surprisingly loud when I reviewed the video.

Blink XT2: App

Blink's app has a good, but not great set of features, including customizable activity zones, motion sensitivity and video quality. The app also lets you set the length of each recording (from 15 to 60 seconds), as well as how long the camera's motion sensor should wait before reactivating.

Activity zones are set by selecting squares on a grid. The basic grid is 5 x 5, while an advanced setting divides each square into a 4 x 3 grid, giving you 300 squares in total. It's pretty easy to set up.

Less intuitive is the camera's scheduling feature. You can set the XT2 to arm and disarm multiple times per day, and you can set custom schedules for each day. But the method to add or change these settings is confusing, requiring you to go back and forth between two screens, one showing a clock with the days of the week below and one showing a grid of the entire week. It would be far easier to simply drag your finger over the time(s) when you want the camera to be armed.

The camera has a built-in thermometer, too, so the device can alert you if the temperature falls below or exceeds thresholds you set. You can also schedule times for when motion detection is activated.

Unlike with other security cameras, including the $20 Wyze Cam, you can't set the Blink XT2 to recognize only people, so you'll get alerts for any motion it senses, from any source. 

Because Amazon owns both Blink and Ring, you can also link the XT2 to the Ring app to use its Neighborhood Watch feature. This shows you police, fire and other incidents from Ring cameras (from those who opt in) around your area. 

Blink XT2: Free cloud storage

One of the best things about Blink's cameras is that there's no fee for storing videos. That said, you have only a limited amount of cloud storage, about 2 hours in total, and clip length is limited to 60 seconds.

The Wyze Cam also limits you to 14 days of free cloud storage (and 14-second clips), but you can insert a microSD card into the camera should you want continuous recording and longer clips. However, I wouldn't expect continuous recording with the XT2, as that feature would drain the camera's batteries in no time. Blink does not offer any paid storage plans either. 

Blink XT2: Smart home

Not surprisingly, the Amazon-owned Blink XT2 works with Amazon's virtual assistant, Alexa. If you have a Fire TV device or an Alexa-enabled display, you can ask the voice assistant to show you a live view from the camera. You can also ask Alexa to arm and disarm the XT2's monitoring. However, you currently can't incorporate the XT2 into any Alexa routines, which is unfortunate. 

MORE: Which Security Camera Has the Best Storage Plan?

The XT2 also works with IFTTT, which allows you to set up functions such as geofencing and disarming via Google Home, two features not natively supported by the camera. 

Blink XT2: Verdict

While plenty of indoor security cameras sell for under $100, there are relatively few that are both wireless and rated for outdoor use. The Canary Flex ($138) is probably the closest competitor. That camera has a slightly wider field of view, as well as person detection, and works with both Alexa and Google Assistant. The Flex comes with 24 hours of rolling storage and the option for 30 days of cloud storage. Furthermore, it connects directly to your Wi-Fi, without the need for a bridge. 

But if you're looking for a truly wireless and weatherproof camera for less than $100, you'll be hard-pressed to find something as good as the Blink XT2.

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Security: Secure your things in a blink

Q. Can you recommend a good, low-cost (under a few hundred dollars), wireless security camera system that automatically records and notifies you when motion is detected?

A. You can find dozens of security camera systems on the market, priced from very low to extremely high, to meet virtually any level of digital security you desire. As a low-cost alternative, I have several Blink cameras installed at my homes and offices. When those security cameras detect motion, they not only capture and save videos to Blink's free cloud-based storage, but they also send notifications with hyperlinks to the newly recorded videos to my smartphone. As I receive video notifications, I can either watch the recorded security videos or view a live camera feed. I can also see, hear, and speak remotely to any person(s) in the room through the Blink camera system. Some of the advantages of the Blink camera security system are as follows:

  • Lower cost. As of July 2016, a single Blink camera and sync module sold for $99, and additional cameras could be purchased for $60 each. Several other pricing options are available, and there are no additional or recurring fees.
  • Easy setup. Setup was fairly easy. First, I connected/synced the base module to my Wi-Fi router, using my Wi-Fi router's password. Next, I installed two batteries in each camera and entered each camera's unique ID number into the downloaded Blink app on my smartphone. The system automatically synced the base module to the cameras and was ready to use in about 30 seconds (per camera). I then positioned each camera strategically to cover major entryways.
  • Multiple remote devices. My cameras and the videos they capture can be remotely viewed from my various desktop computers and smartphone, and also from my wife's smartphone. Users can install and operate the Blink app on as many devices as they desire (although live feed for a given camera is limited to one remote device at a time).
  • Camera quality. The camera records full-color, 720-pixel, high-definition video (which is fairly good given the price range) and automatically turns on an LED-illuminating flash to brighten the room as needed. You can connect as many as 10 cameras to a single sync unit. According to the company, the included lithium batteries should last about one year with normal use.
  • Activation. I can turn the Blink system on or off from my smartphone manually, or, for more convenience, I can set a schedule for automatic activation and deactivation. For example, I might set all cameras in my home to activate automatically at midnight and deactivate automatically at 6 a.m., but I manually turn on all cameras when we take a trip.

Some of the disadvantages and limitations of the Blink system are as follows:

  • Wireless range limitations. The Blink security cameras connect to your Wi-Fi network, hence the sync unit must be positioned in range of your Wi-Fi router or Wi-Fi repeaters (if any) (my sync units are located about 98 feet from my Wi-Fi router), and the cameras must be positioned in range of the sync unit (my cameras are all positioned about 30 to 40 feet from my sync unit). Based on signal strength readings provided by the devices, I think my sync modules and cameras are set at just about the maximum range possible.
  • Limited video clips length. Recorded video clips are limited to 10 seconds each, with a maximum of two video clips recorded each minute. Further, Blink does not capture video when viewing a remote camera in Live View mode—you can either see what's going on remotely or record what's going on remotely, but you cannot do both at the same time.
  • Mainly for indoor use. Blink cameras are not waterproof and should be used only in dry areas, such as under a covered front doorway.
  • Limited storage capacity. The Blink cloud-based servers automatically store up to 1,440 videos (roughly); thereafter, newer videos overwrite older videos.
  • Motion detection limitation. I initially installed a Blink camera inside my home pointing out through a window onto my driveway, but I discovered the type of motion detection Blink employs does not work through glass.
  • No remote pan and tilt. My older security cameras could remotely pan, tilt, and zoom, which allowed me to look around; Blink cameras do not offer this functionality. (However, my older camera system was more expensive and more difficult to set up, and the captured videos were not automatically saved to the internet, so if a burglar stole the camera system and connected computer, the captured security video clips would also be lost.)

Hundreds of good wired security camera systems are available on the market with very sophisticated features, but until recently, the wireless security options priced under a few hundred dollars seem to have been complicated to set up and delivered mixed results. The Blink camera system seems to offer a fairly simple, low-cost solution that works.

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Blink security cameras Archives

This $35 Security Camera Is Almost As Good As Its $300 Rivals

Brand: Amazon
Product: Blink Mini
Release Date: April 2020
Price: $35

When it comes to indoor home security cameras, you have two basic options. There are higher-end camera like the Nest Cam IQ Indoor ($299) that cost hundreds of dollars, or options like the new Blink Mini ($35) are a literal fraction of the price. These cheaper newcomers, lead by the $20 Wyze Cam that shook up the industry in 2017, can still compete with the best on most main features like motion sensing, night vision, two-way talk and access to a 24/7 live feed with caveats in areas like video quality, object tracking and identification and video storage capabilities.

Amazon’s new Blink Mini is perhaps the final form of that second trend. After acquiring Blink in late 2017, Amazon has released its most affordable home security camera to date, and one of the best options out there. With a catch: you have to be bought into Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem, or be willing to buy into it.

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The Blink Mini is simple, in a good way.

The Blink Mini is cheap and gleefully adequate. Setup is as simple as plugging it in and pairing it to the Blink app, after which it will offer you a 1080p window into your home, with the option to engage motion alerts, turn on night vision in the dark or use two-way talk. It’s a great and affordable option for people who just want to check in on things while out of the house. It covers all the basics, though at a price slightly higher than the rock-bottom $20 Wyze Cam, but with the promise of a cheap subscription plan l cloud-based capabilities and deep integration with Amazon’s Alexa.

The Blink subscription plan is pretty cheap, and it’s free for the rest of the year.

Like the Wyze Cam, the Blink Mini leans on a paid subscription plan as a gateway to advanced features. Without a plan, the Mini can really only show you a live feed and send you alerts when motion is detected, but you aren’t able to watch recorded clips from throughout the day, which is a bummer. If you want to watch recorded clips, there’s the $3/month (or $30/year) “Basic” plan, which gets you 60 days of rolling video storage for a single camera, and a “Plus” plan ($10 per month or $100 per year) which does the same for unlimited Blink Mini cameras. Wyze’s Complete Motion Capture plan, by comparison, costs $1.49 per month per camera, and only holds archives for 14 days.

Every new Blink Mini owner gets a 30-day free trial of the Plus plan — a standard pack-in with every new Blink Mini — but for a limited time that trial will be extended through the end of 2020. Part of the reason is because the local storage module for the Blink Mini which will let you save video without paying for a cloud service, the Blink Sync Module 2 ($35), isn’t available yet. That, and of course Amazon would prefer if you try cloud storage and never go back. Either way, it is a good deal, especially if you buy your camera sooner rather than later.

Alexa support is the main, if not the only real draw.

The Blink Mini was designed as a direct rival to the Wyze Cam, which has been the go-to option for most people, and probably will stay that way for now. At $20, the Wyze Cam is cheaper, and is also compatible with voice control through Google Assistant, where the Amazon-owned Blink camera can only support Alexa. What’s more, both cameras cooperate with Amazon’s voice assistant basically identically. If you own an Echo Show, Echo Spot or the Fire TV, you can easily summon a live feed from either camera by voice, or disable the camera’s watching eyes with a voice command as well.

For now, at least! The Wyze Cam’s Alexa powers are, of course, conditional on Amazon’s support. Now that the shopping juggernaut has its own hardware competitor in the space, it is not too hard to imagine a world where that compatibility disappears. Or, alternatively, perhaps Amazon’s Blink Mini will gain additional, specific Alexa-specific superpowers. Either way, for those comfortably invested in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem, the Blink is probably the safer long-term bet.

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Amazon provided this product for review.

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