Blink and Blink XT Camera ReviewBy - 01/27/2017
I’ve been a Blink owner for over a year, and the device has been good to me. The original camera was given to me for a review, but I’ve since purchased the Blink XT on my own. With a new camera on the way and lots of updates coming out of CES, I think it’s time to take a fresh look at this battery-operated security camera.
Blink vs. Blink XT
Blink XT is the newest Blink Camera. Shipping soon, it’s not a replacement for Blink, but rather a supplement. In so many ways, it appears superior. And in so many ways, it’s still the same.
|Night Vision||Illuminator||IR LEDs|
|Field of View||110°||110°|
|Promised Battery Life||2 Years||2 Years|
|Sensors||Motion and Temperature||Motion and Temperature|
|Buy Now||Buy Now|
The two cameras can work alone or together, but either way, you’ll need to connect them to a Sync Module, a separate device that remains plugged into a power source. If you’re planning to buy a Blink camera, wait. The new Sync Module, launching soon, is superior to the existing module. First of all, it includes a 4G chip. Though you must pay to activate the chip, having the option is worth the wait. When the chip is activated, the Sync Module, and thus the cameras, will work if your internet is down and even if the power is out thanks to battery backup. Second, the new Sync is compatible with both professional monitoring and a fresh line of security sensors. If you choose to stick with the original Sync Module, it can support both the original Blink and Blink XT, but not the company’s new line of products and services.
Professional Monitoring vs. Self-Monitoring vs. Free
Blink can be monitored one of three ways: for free, self-monitored with cellular backup, or professionally monitored. Currently, the only option is free, but the other services should launch Q217.
|Support for Siren, Keypad, Motion Sensors, Water Sensor|
|Monitoring||Self||Self||24/7 Third-Party Professional Monitoring|
|Motion Alerts||PIR Motion Detection||PIR & Advanced Cloud Based Motion Analytics||PIR & Advanced Cloud Based Motion Analytics|
|Notifications||Push, IFTTT||Push, IFTTT||Push & Calls via Monitoring Center, IFTTT|
|Manual and Scheduled Arming/Disarming|
|Geofencing||via IFTTT Only|
|Camera Support||Up to 10 Cameras||Up to 10 Cameras||Up to 10 Cameras|
|Multi-tier User Accounts|
|Local 9-1-1 Alerts|
|Compatible With||Old and New Sync Module||New Sync Module||New Sync Module|
The new sensors will also roll out in Q2 of 2017 under the name Blink Seecurity™. Going beyond security cameras, Blink is starting to look like a no contract home security system, competing with companies like Scout and SimpliSafe. In fact, Blink plans to use the same monitoring company, COPS.
The first sensor that will connect to the new Blink Sync is an Entry Sensor. Also known as a contact sensor or door/window sensor, the Entry Sensor will monitor doors, windows, and other things that open and close. Second, they are still promising a siren, something for which Blink owners have been waiting at least a year. The siren includes a 105dB alarm that can be manually or motion triggered. The siren is built to be used indoors. Third, they will sell a keypad so that you or your trusted loved ones can arm and disarm the system using a passcode. Unfortunately, everyone you entrust with the arm/disarm function will need to share the same passcode as the device only supports one. Finally, Blink will add a Water Sensor which will monitor for moisture and notify you if it detects a leak or flood.
Blink plans to sell the new sensors in kits. One for new users (Starter Seecurity) and one for existing users (Upgrade Seecurity). The Starter Kit will include a Blink, Blink XT, 4G Cellular Sync Module, Siren, 2 Entry Sensors, and a Keypad for $339. The Upgrade Kit is meant to supplement and upgrade an existing Blink system by adding the new 4G Sync Module, 1 Siren, 2 Entry Sensors, and a Keypad for $149. Of course, you can also add additional cameras and hardware a la carte.
Motion Alerts and Video Storage
Even if you don’t expand your system with service and sensors, you can still protect your home. All Blink cameras include motion detection that is sensitivity adjustable. From the app (iOS and Android) you can:
- Enable/Disable Motion
- Set the Retrigger Time Between 10 and 60 Seconds
- Adjust the Sensitivity
- Adjust the Recorded Clip Length (5 and 60 Seconds)
- Set the Clip to End Early if Motion Stops
And what I like most about Blink’s motion is that it’s “always-on”. You might not realize how important this is until you test other battery-powered cameras. I recently tested Canary Flex, as an example, and was disappointed to find the camera often misses important events because it sleeps through them. Blink doesn’t have that problem. In fact, I looked through a year’s worth of recorded footage (yes, it can potentially keep footage for a year) and found that Blink captured the action effectively.
Is Blink limited to just a year’s worth of storage? Not quite. It keeps footage until your storage limit is reached. Footage is stored on Blink’s server where you are allowed to store up to 7,200 seconds of video. If you decide to keep the clip length at five seconds, you can save 1,440 clips. Once you run out of space, your older events are automatically overwritten by newer events. If there is a clip you want to save, simply download the video or email it to yourself from the mobile app. If you prefer to take charge of your allotted storage, you can also delete saved clips manually. Finally, though the Sync Module supports a Flash Drive, the ability to use it for local storage is still not available.
Of course, Blink isn’t perfect. It’s missing a few key features.
- You can’t record on-demand.
- Geofencing is a premium feature, though you set this up indirectly though IFTTT.
- It lacks two-way audio.
- Temperature Sensors Record Temps, But Don’t Send Alerts
- As a company, they haven’t always delivered promised features/products.
Though Blink has decided to charge for geofencing (the ability to automatically ask the camera to arm and disarm based on your presence), they have left us with three new freemium features.
First, you can create a schedule. If you wake up and come and go around the same time every day, this might work for you.
Second, they offer integration with Amazon Alexa. By enabling the “Blink for Home” skill, you can arm and disarm your system using your voice. You can also ask it to name your last recorded motion events. While disarming a camera with your voice might sound like a security risk, Blink has added protection by requiring a verbal, 4-digit pin.
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) October 5, 2016
Third, they’ve launched their own IFTTT channel. Through IFTTT, you can connect Blink to hundreds of other devices and services. You can also create geofencing rules to arm and disarm your cameras based on your presence via Life360.
Currently, Blink only sells the original camera though you can pre-order the XT. The other devices, including the new Sync Module, will launch in Q2. I suggest you wait to buy until that happens. Once my XT arrives, I plan to update this review with hands-on information and a video.