Blink's not new, I tested their indoor security camera last year and we've compared it to other cordless cameras. What is new is the Blink XT, an indoor/outdoor IP65 rated version of their popular wire-free camera. We were fortunate enough to go hands-on with the camera at CES 2017 and to test it in-house. Here's what we learned...
- Cordless Design
- 2-Year Battery Life
- Lacks Smart Motion Features (Zones, Learning, Etc.)
- Requires Sync Module
- Push Notifications Sent After Motion Ends
Blink XT Image and Video Quality
Blink XT is a Blink Clone. If you've read our original Blink review, be prepared to experience some boredom because there's not much new to say. Well, except for this...FHD video! That's right, where Blink original records in 720p, Blink XT records in 1080p. Like the original camera, Blink XT uses a static image position which it monitors using a 110-degree field of view.
Another upgrade Blink XT has over the original device is infrared night vision. The original camera uses a bright light to allow the camera to "see" at night. With the XT, the camera will automatically swap to night vision mode when lighting conditions are dim. According to Blink, XT's night vision allows it to see up to 20 feet.
Finally, though the camera boasts new and improved features, it will still retain its long battery life and the ability for smooth video transfer using H.264 encoding.
Blink XT for Home Security
While FHD recording and night vision are fresh additions, these features are not what makes this camera badass. What makes Blink special is its ability to run on a battery for up to two years. In the camera industry, that's an amazing feat. Of course, there is a catch or two. First of all, two years is assuming standard use. Blink defines standard use as "ten, five second video events per day." In our experience, the battery life was around one month due to the increase in events that occur outside.
Second, while the cameras are 100% wire-free, the system requires the use of a Sync Module. The Sync module must remain indoors connected to a power source. It communicates with the cameras and takes on a lot of the heavy lifting to ensure battery longevity. Though the XT can be placed outside, it must remain within range of the Sync module. According to Blink,
Assuming a fairly standard home (single building, no unusually dense construction materials), the Sync Module should be able to communicate with Blink units up to (and perhaps over) 100’ away in any direction.
If you own a current Blink system, you will be happy to know that Blink XT is compatible with your current Sync module. From a home security perspective, this cross-compatibility is important as one Sync can support ten cameras, including a mix of XTs and the original version. If you own a current Blink system, you'll be unhappy to know that there is a new Sync Module on the way and it's way better.
The New Sync Module, Sensors, and Monitoring
|4G Cellular Connection||YES||YES
|Supports Siren, Keypad, Motion Sensors, Water Sensors, Key Fob||YES||YES
|Monitoring Service||Self||24/7 Professional|
|Support for Multiple Cameras||Up to 10||Up to 10|
Blink plans to launch a whole new line of products under the name Blink Seecurity™. The new set up revolves around the new sync module and service plans. The new module includes 4G and Battery Backup and can operate without power or internet. To expand Blink's ability to protect your home, they will also launch a line of compatible sensors.
The first sensor is the Panic Siren, and it is the only one of the bunch that has already launched. While monitoring your Blink Cameras, you can trigger your Panic Siren manually. The Panic Siren is battery-powered and connects to the Sync Module just like a camera would. The Panic Siren can be used with our without a paid plan.
Second, they will sell an entry sensor that is designed to protect doors and windows and notify you when they are opened or closed. Third, the system will work with a keypad so you can arm and disarm it even without a smartphone. Finally, they plan to launch a water sensor to protect your home from floods and water damage.
The New Video Doorbell
Also on the way? A Blink Video Doorbell. While there are a lot of video doorbells to choose from, Blink once again differentiates their product by offering a low introductory price. Existing customers can snag the doorbell for as low as $99.00 where new customers will need a bundle that sells for $129.99. The bundle includes the sync module. And yes, the Blink Doorbell requires the sync module. In addition, you can purchase an add-on doorbell chime. Pricing on the chime is TBD.
The doorbell features live streaming abilities, Blink's famous instant-on motion detection, free cloud storage, a wire-free design, two-way audio, infrared night vision, an estimated 2-year battery life, and it records in HD 720p.
Free Security Features
Blink also does the obvious to keep you safe at no added cost. It can detect motion for one. Unfortunately, you will have to remember to arm and disarm it as you come and go, but you can create a schedule for the camera to follow. Using a schedule, the camera can automatically arm and disarm on certain days or during certain times. You can also customize motion detection to help make alerts more accurate. You can adjust the retrigger time so that you don't receive alerts over and over, you can adjust the detector's sensitivity, and you can adjust the clip length from 5 to 60 seconds. If motion is detected, the camera will not only let you know, it will record everything for you, but there is a catch. How fast the camera will notify you, depends on the clip length. Blink does not send a notification until the camera is done recording. So if you set the clip length to 60 seconds, you will not receive an alert for 60 seconds.
A final way Blink protects your home is through partnerships with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. Using Alexa voice services, you can arm your cameras, disarm them, and even check your event history. Through IFTTT, you can connect your camera to hundreds of other devices and services. Blink has one trigger (motion detected), but it has two actions (arm and disarm). So you could say, "If Blink detects motion, lock my doors." or "If I turn my bedroom light off, arm Blink."
But how does Blink XT fail in regards to home security? From where I sit it has three shortcomings. One, it lacks smart motion features. In an outdoor camera, these features become vitally important. Without them, a camera can't distinguish between a tree swaying in the wind and a burglar dancing on your front lawn. Second, it doesn't offer two-way audio, something other indoor/outdoor cameras, including Arlo Pro, offer. The third issue has already been addressed: delayed notifications.
Storing Video Footage
The Blink Sync Module is capable of supporting a flash drive for local storage. Unfortunately, this is another feature that Blink owners are STILL waiting for. However, the star of the show is free cloud storage. Blink can store up to 7,200 seconds of video or 1,440 five-second event clips. Once your storage limit is reached, the oldest clips are automatically deleted. Until that happens, they remain accessible for up to one year from your timeline within the camera's app. The Blink app is available for download from both iTunes and Google Play.
A Quick Summary and Pricing
Blink XT is a little more expensive than its brother, but at $119 it hardly breaks the bank. Furthermore, if you want to build out an army of cameras, you can mix and match it with the indoor only version which sells for $99 and the Panic Siren.
The indoor version records in 720p, Blink XT records in 1080p. The indoor version also uses White LEDs for night vision where the XT uses IR LEDs. Also, you can use Blink XT indoors or out. If you want to expand your setup by adding other compatible sensors or even professional monitoring, be prepared to pay monthly, and you'll need to invest in the new, coming soon Sync Module.
The Blink XT camera is 100% cordless but requires the use of a Sync Module, which must remain plugged into a power source. The new Sync Module has both battery and 4G backup. That said, the camera also needs to be within range of the Sync Module. The Sync Module improves the battery life which has an impressive 2-year lifespan though, in testing, our battery life was around the 1 month mark.
The XT Starter Kit currently sells for $127.99. You can customize the camera with skins. Skins sell for $24.99 and come in three colors: Trim White, Utility Gray, and Brick Red.
The Seecurity Sensors are coming soon. The Starter Seecurity™ Kit ($339) 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) is aimed at existing customers who want to upgrade their current Blink system. It includes 1 4G Cellular Sync Module, 1 Siren, 2 Entry Sensors and 1 Keypad