Blink Review

Blink Security Home Monitor Camera Review

Hardware6.8
Software Criteria7.4
Video Storage8.2
Hands-on Authority and User Reviews9.2
Home Automation5
Encryption, Encoding, and Care6.3
7.1
Reader Rating: (39 Rates)6.1

Blink is a cordless home monitoring system. The system got its start on Kickstarter with a successful campaign raising over $1,000,000 in pledges from more than 6,800 backers and has since expanded to include the Blink XT, Sensors, and Services.

I've been using Blink for about a year. And so far, it's a system I would recommend to others.

GOOD

  • Cordless Design
  • 2 Year Battery Life
  • Price

BAD

  • Power is Required
  • Missing Some Promised Features
  • Cannot Automatically Arm or Disarm
  • Notification Sent After Motion Ends

Image and Video Quality with Blink

Blink XT vs. Blink

Blink XT and Blink at CES

Blink uses an HD camera, which is an advantage over other cordless cameras. The quality of the video does appear to be comparable to other 720p cameras and is surprisingly clear and bold. This is not only true when viewing video at home, but also when live streaming video remotely.

The camera itself cannot pan, tilt, or zoom, but it does have built-in sensors and does include a form of night vision. Most home security cameras use IR night vision. This is probably what you think of when you think of night vision. It's the type of night vision that turns everything black and white and makes eyes creepy and glowy. Blink's night vision uses an LED illuminator and advanced low-light performance. Basically, it uses a light. Yes, like a night light. When motion is detected, the light turns on and the camera records. The nighttime video quality using this method is good. In fact, if trying to recognize someone, it's easier to recognize them using this form of night vision. With an illuminator, you see in color. You can view hair color, skin tone, eye color, and clothing color. The downside is that it's a very bright light, which draws a significant amount of attention, something you may not want. Another downside is that live streaming at night isn't possible. There is no way to trigger the light to allow you to see; it is motion activated only. If you want true night vision, check out the Blink XT, Blink's newest home security camera.

Blink to Enhance Home Security

Blink ReviewBlink both wins and loses when it comes to home security.

Blink offers an integrated motion sensor that can trigger alerts when motion is detected = win. However, notifications are not instant. They are sent after a clip is done recording = lose. Blink also has integrated sensors that will send alerts to let you know if your home's temperature swings too high or low = win. Blink also loses in that it requires a Sync Module to work. The Sync Module must remain plugged into the wall and within range of the camera. It's a yin and yang situation. The camera is battery operated with a two-year battery life. But does a long battery life matter considering your camera will fail if your power fails? Here's the answer, wait until Q2 of 2017 to buy your Blink system.

Blink plans on launching new sensors (water sensor, entry sensor, and a keypad), services, and a new sync module soon. The new sync module will include both battery backup and cellular backup. Of course, you'll have to pay if you want to use cellular backup. However, Blink allows you to add up to 10 cameras to one monthly plan. This is something that sets them apart from other camera companies that charge per camera.

 $9.99/month$19.99/month
4G Cellular ConnectionYES
YES
Supports Siren, Keypad, Motion Sensors, Water SensorsYES
YES
Monitoring ServiceSelf24/7 Professional
Support for Multiple CamerasUp to 10Up to 10
Contract LengthMonth-to-MonthMonth-to-Month

With the right plan, you will not only activate the 4G chip, but you'll also be able to expand your system with sensors and even professional monitoring. There are other benefits to using a Sync module as well. For one, it does a lot of the heavy lifting. And compared to other cordless cameras, Blink is feature packed. The inventors didn't have to sacrifice resolution or even audio to get the battery life they wanted. Second, it helps tie all the cameras together, so they work as one cohesive solution.

Another way Blink keeps you safe is through alerts. Alerts are included to all users for free and can be sent via email or push notification and are backed by a technology called "Instant On". Instant On starts recording within a fraction of a second so that you don't miss a beat. (We'll get more into the recording details in a second.) This is vastly different from the Arlo cordless camera setup and even Canary Flex. Both cameras sleep and often take a moment to wake up, causing the camera to miss important events.

When armed, the system detects motion and captures and delivers brief video clips of the trigger event via Wi-Fi® to connected iOS and Android™ devices. Blink’s Live View mode also allows users to check in on their connected home anytime at their convenience.

The Blink system also supports a Panic Siren. This siren will work with the new Sync Module, but it also works with the current Sync Module. A Panic Siren is different from a traditional security siren in that it can't trigger itself. Instead, you will be responsible for triggering the siren when it's needed. For example, if you get a motion alert and find someone in your home, you can press to trigger the siren.

Finally, Blink is still missing many of the features they originally promised, even a year later. First of all, they promised the option to automatically arm and disarm your system based on presence. They did respond by launching the option to create an arm and disarm schedule. Though an improvement, this is not the same as automation. Dissapointly, they've decided to charge for geofencing. You will gain access to this feature only if you subscribe to one of the plans mentioned above. Second, though the Panic Siren is here, it is not here in its promised form. Blink promised that the siren would trigger based on motion events, it can't.

Blink Software Behavior

Blink has an iOS and Android app. Through the existing app, you can set up alerts and stream video. Though only one user at a time can view live video, you can set up as many users as you like.

In general, the app is very simple to use. The primary interface will let you view all of your connected Blink cameras. You can then click to view the live stream (during the day at least), customize settings, and of course arm or disarm the camera. The cameras can be armed as a group or individually. One word of caution, if Blink loses internet connection, there is no way to resolve this remotely. My camera once lost connection while I was on vacation, and I was out of luck the entire trip until I was able to unplug the sync module and reboot the cameras. Of course, this would be resolved by activating the 4G chip inside the new Sync Module. Finally, you can control temperature alerts and view your room's temperature.

Video Storage in the Cloud

Back of Blink Camera

If an event is detected, Blink will capture footage and store it on cloud servers. Blink will record a clip up to 60 seconds in length. Also, when you get a push notification, you can click on the notification to open up the app and view the clip right away. If you feel that the clip is worth saving, simply download the clip to your phone for safe keeping. It's not necessary to download clips right away, as Blink includes some cloud storage for free. They will save up to 7,200 seconds of video for camera owners. Once your storage limit of 7,200 seconds is reached, they will delete your oldest alert clip to make room for new clips.

For those who want total control, you can customize clip length by camera. Clip lengths can be set anywhere between 5 and 60 seconds. So, for example, you could set camera A to record 10-second clips and camera B to record 45-second clips. You can also enable a feature Blink calls auto-stop. This feature tells the camera to stop recording when motion is no longer detected.

If cloud storage isn't your thing, the Sync Module includes a USB port that can accommodate a flash drive for local storage; however, this feature is not yet active.

A Quick Summary

Blink missed the mark by requiring the Sync Module, but the Blink team nailed the price point. Finding an HD camera for under $100 is rare, and the fact that the individual cameras are completely cordless is a huge advantage. It is by far the best camera I've tested in the sub-$100 price point and is honestly worth more money.

Blink offers an open API and works with Amazon Echo. Through its connection with Echo, you can arm and disarm your camera using your voice or ask Alexa to provide you with information on events. While disarming your camera with your voice might sound scary, Blink has implemented the use of numerical pins that you must provide when using voice disarm. If you are willing to wait to buy your camera, you can buy the new Sync module which will support sensors and a 4G cellular connection.

If you want to get started, you can purchase one camera with a Sync for $99.00. The two camera kit sells for $149, the three camera kit for $199, and the five camera kit for $299.00.

Starting in Q2, Blink will sell kits. The Starter Seecurity™ Kit ($339) for new customers includes 1 Blink Camera, 1 Blink XT Camera, 1 4G Cellular Sync Module, 1 Siren, 2 Entry Sensors and 1 Keypad. The Upgrade Seecurity™ Kit ($149) for existing customers includes 1 4G Cellular Sync Module, 1 Siren, 2 Entry Sensors and 1 Keypad

10/30/2017 Panic Siren Launched
6/3/2016 Updated, Blink allows an arm and disarm schedule.
9/29/2016 Updated, Blink improved battery life from one year to two.
10/06/2016 Amazon Echo Integration
11/16/2016 Increased clip length maximum from 10 seconds to 60 seconds & launched auto-stop
1/2/2017 Blink XT, New Sync Module, Sensors, Professional Monitoring

14 comments

  1. Giles 19 March, 2017 at 06:52 Reply

    The key attraction for me of Blink is the integration of PIR motion detector with camera. I am amazed this is not more widely available because camera only motion detection sucks – way to many false positives e.g. shadows, sunrise etc.However the current line up does not include a siren – which for home security for me is a must. Its all fine seeing an intruder and calling the police – but even better if the intruder is instantly turned back by a siren so nothing is lost or broken other than the forced entry. I see that a siren and sim card backup will be included in the next release, which sounds excellent, but I am very wary of mention of ‘monthly plan’. I have no need of a system that will gouge me for unnecessary fees. Recordings can be saved on a home server, sim backup can and should operate via any mobile sim card separate to Blink. I suspect if they go down the monthly lan path, they will fail. There are other technical solutions e.g. via Vera, that do not require this

  2. Greg 4 March, 2017 at 19:24 Reply

    Set up my 3 camera Blink system and so far so good. Also have the Arlo Pro system 1 camera but the Blink looks so nice I picked up a kit. The Arlo system just seems more refined. I can zoom in on the clips, a desktop app, audio is nice, love the local storage option, schedule of individual cameras, and more. But I picked up a 3 camera Blink system for the price of a 1 camera Arlo Pro system, not sure on battery life on the Arlo system but the Blink looks good so far. Even if I get half of the claimed battery life of the Blink I’ll be happy. Arlo Pro seems to average around a month.

  3. Bruce D 16 January, 2017 at 16:21 Reply

    You said that if Blink loses its internet connection, there is no way to resolve this remotely. That’s not correct. All I’ve ever had to do to restore internet connectivity to my Blink cameras is make sure that my router is connected to the internet and if it is, power cycle my sync module. I can do that remotely by connecting the sync module to a smart plug. I’ve tested it several times using a TP-LINK HS100 Smart Plug and it’s worked every time.

  4. Mario Cabello 27 December, 2016 at 09:40 Reply

    Hello I am considering purchasing Blink to help monitor my house and baby (which is due in August 2017) but Im not sure if the night vision LED light will allow me to do that. It looks like the Blink outdoor camera uses IR for night vision which may be useful for this purpose. Would you recommend the blink xt outdoor camera as baby monitor?

    • Vanessa Stanley 29 December, 2016 at 18:23 Reply

      I do think the night vision LED would be a poor choice for a baby monitor, making the IR LED found on the Blink XT superior. I haven’t tested the XT yet, though I have one on order. In theory, it should be the same with true night vision, which would make it a better baby camera.

  5. Donnelle 14 December, 2016 at 22:09 Reply

    I set up my blink security cameras 2 months ago, and they are already dead. They say “with regular use” the cameras battery will last for 2 years. However within 2 months my batteries are already dead. If you plan to use them to watch your kids get home from school and monitor them they will die within 2 months. If you want to monitor a baby sitter watching your kids they will the battery will drain within 2 months. It’s a great concept, however the battery simply does not last. You simply have to set them up and hope they there is rarely motion detected in order to preserve the battery.

    • Vanessa Stanley 15 December, 2016 at 20:09 Reply

      My cameras are still going on the original batteries. However, I don’t use them a ton which probably increases the battery life. Did you use your cameras outdoors? I would try Blink support too, 2 months is crazy.

      • Ron 30 December, 2016 at 07:51 Reply

        Aren’t the batteries just off the shelf? It shouldn’t be a big deal to replace them unless other actions are required(such as reconfiguration). Is there a low battery warning?

        • Vanessa Stanley 30 December, 2016 at 09:22 Reply

          Yes, Blink uses two AAs. There should be a low battery warning, but I can’t say if the feature works or not as my battery is still going.

  6. Werner Minshall 2 November, 2016 at 10:31 Reply

    If you are monitoring a 2nd home and want to have motion detection images, beware the Blink camera motion activation does not work thru glass. So you cannot put it in a window and have images outside activate the camera, this sucks.

    • Vanessa Stanley 9 April, 2016 at 17:57 Reply

      I hear you and I’ve been on the fence about it. On one hand, traditional night vision doesn’t always give a clear picture, but on the other hand it seems more reliable. With Blink, if the light doesn’t flash in time, you’re screwed. And it’s definitely obvious, no argument there.

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