Blink Home Security Review

4.5 stars from 1 reviews
Everything you need to know about Blink home security cameras.

Features
• Games & Software: Android • Technology: App / Software
• Technology: Audio • Technology: Cell Phone
• Technology: DIY • Technology: Hardware
• Technology: How-To • Games & Software: iOS
• Technology: Review • Technology: Tablet
• Technology: Video

Matt Anderson's Take
The Blink Home Security camera system is a DIY security camera system for your home. In this review we'll cover everything that is good and bad about these tiny little cameras so you can see if they're a fit for your needs or not.

The Good


The Blink cameras have a lot going for them, so let's start with all of the good things about them.

No Wires
Many cameras claim to be "wireless" but still have a power cord. This is not wireless! Blink is one of the few options for truly wireless security as the cameras run on batteries. The batteries are included and are of the non-rechargeable, Lithium Ion AA variety. They are the same size as any normal AA battery but Lithium Ion batteries last a lot longer but can still be purchased in stores and online (around $1-2 per battery).

Two Year Batteries
This is a tough one to test without waiting 2 years but supposedly they will last for up to 2 years in many "common scenarios". In reality, I expect this to be more like 6-18 months depending on use and weather conditions. Still, that's really not bad compared to other battery operated systems that require new batteries (or a charge) every 1-3 months.

Price
A Blink camera can be had for around $70 when purchased in a 5 camera pack. In a smaller 2 camera kit you can expect to pay closer to $85 per camera. The XT (outdoor) version can be had for around $119 per camera. Consider the technology and what it can do, this feels fair.

Easy Install
What good is a DIY security system if you spend days getting it all setup? The good news here is that you can literally be up and running in minutes. You connect a "sync" module to your WiFi (this gets plugged into power and is not a camera). The cameras then connect to the sync module through a fast setup procedure on their free app for your smartphone or tablet. Camera mounting requires a single screw, and in some cases can even be done with double sided tape (not included).

Nice App

The free app (for iOS and Android) is very easy to use and works well. You can view recordings (which you can save or share), set arm and disarm schedules, and even see a live view of any camera at any time. While it may lack some features which I'll cover later, it works very well overall.

Not Laggy
Many motion detection cameras have too much lag in them. Meaning, from the time they detect motion to the time they start recording takes too long and you may miss what caused the motion. With Blink, there is a very short delay before the recording starts and in all of my tests it wasn't enough to let anyone sneak up on the camera without it being recorded. You can also adjust the motion sensitivity to detect motion closer or further away from the camera as needed.

Nighttime Video
The regular cameras do not have any night vision mode but instead have a surprisingly bright LED light that illuminates a large area when motion is detected and it's dark out. This works well and gives a full color video rather than a black and white (or shades of green) video but does let people know there is a camera recording them. The outdoor XT cameras offer actual night vision via infrared lighting which records black and white video but those aren't part of this review.

Super Tiny

The overall size of the regular cameras is 2.75 inches square and just over an inch thick (about 1.5" with mounting bracket on). They're easy to conceal in many places and easy to mount. Since they are also lightweight it may be possible to mount them with double sided tape (which worked fine for me on some).

High Quality Audio & Video
The cameras record HD video at 720p resolution. This isn't as high as a 1080p resolution like your TV but far higher than old school cameras that recorded close to half of that resolution. The audio is surprisingly good as well in terms of hearing conversations, etc.

External Support
The Blink cameras now work with external options like Amazon Echo (see Amazon Echo Review) and the popular IFTTT site. It's possible more 3rd party support and integration will show up as well but what's there isn't too bad already if you're into that sort of thing. For me, telling Alexa (aka, Amazon Echo) to arm or disarm the cameras is pointless. On the other hand, people are using the ITTT site to arm their system when they (well, their smartphone via GPS) leaves their house area and to disarm it when they come back home.

Upgradeable
The newer Blink systems and sync modules are said to be upgradeable with extra features. Such features will supposedly include more monitoring options for your home, water leak protection, sirens, and even a 4G data system with battery backup (in case your wifi power or Internet connection go out as all recordings are stored online only).

The Bad


As with the good, there are plenty of places where Blink really falls short. Many are minor complaints, others are in the "how on earth did they not add this feature" level of common sense.

Outdoor Units Not Standard
As mentioned in The Good, the main cameras are not weatherproof. Seems like just making them all weatherproof from the start was the path of common sense here. Afterall, most people want recordings outside their home and not inside yet this system is clearly designed for being indoors first. Getting those outdoor XT models also took a really, really long time and even as of this review they're still on pre-order.

Live View Issues
It's neat that I can tap a button to see a live view of any camera. I even understand why I can only view one at a time and that the live view isn't meant to be used often (runs batteries down). What I can't understand is why it takes several seconds from the time I tap for a live view until the video feed comes up. It's possible that it's streaming to a server and back down (rather than direct to the app) which could explain the delay. Either way, it's annoying and you likely will now never use live view because of it. You also can't record live view which is another fail.

All Or Nothing Alerts
I want cameras all around the outside of my house. This is great except that many things will set the motion off throughout the day or night. Cats. Giant moths. Birds. Plants and trees blowing around on windy days. You can avoid some of false alarms by positioning the units a certain way but you can't avoid all of them. That means, when armed, you'll get tons of alerts on your smartphone.

The only option is to disarm the cameras but then they're not recording. Why doesn't the app just have a way to not notify me or to only notify me at certain hours I choose? Mind boggling that they haven't thought of this. For now, I have to go into Android and manually tell it to not let the Blink app notify me (so it mutes notify sound at least).

All Or Nothing Arming
You can set a schedule for when the cameras are to arm (record motion) or disarm (ignore motion) but it's all or nothing for all cameras. Why can't I just arm my 3 outdoor cameras but not the inside 2 during the day and then at night arm all 5? I should be able to pick and choose. This is super easy programming work and yet the feature does not exist. This is probably the biggest design flaw.

Storage Limits
Video clips default to being 5 seconds long but you can adjust this up to 60 seconds when motion is detected (which will use more battery power). Those clips are stored on Blink servers in the cloud where you can access them as needed. This is all free but they'll only store up to 7,200 seconds of video (and then overwrite the oldest items as needed). That comes out to 1,440 5 second clips which isn't bad and for my 4 camera setup gives me a month or so of files. If you have more cameras or record longer and/or have a lot of motion events this may end up only being a few days worth of video which isn't so great. I'd like to see 3k-6k seconds per camera on the system rather than a single number of seconds pooled together.

Re-recording Delays
Although the units are quick to record when motion is detected, they then have a reset cycle before they'll record again (all part of conserving battery power). This can be set as low as 10 seconds but even then you could miss an intruder who set off the motion with their back turned at first but later comes into frame again while the unit is doing it's battery-saving pause.

Easily Defeated
This really applies to most cameras of any kind but it's worth noting. These cameras are easily defeated by thieves. Put on a hoodie to hide your face. Cover it with cardboard. Walk in backwards. If you know a camera is there you can defeat it. These can be yanked off their mounts easily too (if in reach) even though the recording is likely to be uploaded by that point.

Motion Sensitivity
There is an adjustment for motion detection sensitivity for each camera (via the app) but I didn't find one setting much different from the next in my testing. The settings work to some degrees so you can avoid having a fly detector, but blowing plants still set mine off as do distant car lights at night when it's otherwise really dark.

App Only
Here's another one of those "I can't believe they did this" issues and that's requiring a smartphone and app. Not everyone has a smartphone and no matter how easy it is to use I don't know how well the older generation would do in setting this up OR using the app. Why isn't there a website to control all of my camera's, view footage, see live view, etc? This is Internet 101 stuff Blink, get with it!

Cloud Only
All recordings go into a cloud server. There is no way to locally record and store your videos. This is a major design flaw as well. There is even a USB port on each camera so why no mini-thumb drive support per camera? Better still, why can't I plug a USB drive into the sync module and record to that locally along with the cloud? How did they miss this very obvious feature? If I lose Internet I lose security and while their upcoming 4G module solves that, I should be able to store locally and avoid 4G fees. Plus, with anything online there are privacy concerns. Is my video of me grabbing a screwdriver from the garage in my underwear going to end up on YouTube because it was stolen from the Blink servers? Maybe. Maybe not.

App Issues
While the app is mostly good, when it does alert me to a motion event (which it does surprisingly fast) I click on the event and, if it just happened, come to a blank video. It's like a delay as the video hasn't finished uploading to the cloud. I can back up and try again 10 seconds later and it is fine. But it happens every time an event just occurred so clearly a bug that should be fixed this late in the game.

No Motion Through Glass
As is common with many motion detection systems, the Blink cameras cannot detect motion through glass. Mounting a camera inside and looking out isn't an option. I would love to see a better system where this worked.

The Conclusion


So there you have it, everything that is good or bad about the Blink Home Security camera systems. I've tried to cover it all in detail and most reviews I could find came from people who used early systems (which had more flaws) or from reviewers who tried them for a day and then gave an opinion with little detail. All of this information comes from many weeks of solid use so hopefully it helps you make a decision.

For me, these are the best cameras without wires that I've found yet. They have their limits and they are not perfect, but the things that they do are done very well. I'm very happy with my purchase and can give a strong "go buy these now" recommendation assuming none of The Bad items above have turned you off.

If you are looking to buy, Amazon offers the same prices as you get directly from Blink but I always prefer Amazon since they ship fast (and free with Prime) and have a great return system and policy. They have a 1 camera system, 2 camera system, 3 camera system, and a 5 camera system (which is what I bought). You can also purchase single camera add on units and the outdoor and weatherproof Blink XT camera.
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