Since their acquisition by e-commerce behemoth Amazon in 2017, we’ve been watching the progression of Blink, a brand of compact HD cameras that make self-monitoring and installation a breeze for almost anyone.
With their latest releases1 – Blink Outdoor, Blink Indoor, and Blink Mini – the brand reminds us they’re here to stay, remaining a popular pick for low-maintenance home security and energy efficiency.
Indeed, we were pleased to see that Blink is still putting out solid battery-operated cameras that provide up to two years of continuous use and affordable video storage, keeping both upfront and monthly costs low. They’ve also added a few neat upgrades over their previously released XT2 indoor/outdoor camera to round out the system, which we’ll dig into shortly.
We took Blink’s three cameras for a spin recently, noting how they worked for us in the nooks and crannies of our modest single-family home. We had a few questions in mind as we began our series of tests, including whether we could actually count on this camera system to alert us to potential danger in the nick of time – arguably the most vital function of any home security device. And, as always, we’ll share any drawbacks we found, comparisons to other brands, and tips on choosing home security equipment.
That said, let’s take a deeper look at all that a Blink system has to offer.
With equipment that’s ready to use practically right out of the box, we knew Blink wouldn’t give us a difficult installation. As we began our tests, we opened our Blink boxes to find a very simple configuration: one camera, one sync module (this is required in every Blink camera except the Blink Mini), two screws for mounting, one plastic mount, and a handy tool to open and close the back of the camera to replace the batteries.
Not handy around the house? No problem. Like a multitude of DIY cameras in this market, the Blink cameras follow an intuitive setup that mostly consists of scanning a QR code, naming the cameras, and following in-app instructions to sync the camera to our smartphone via the Blink Home Monitoring app. The only cameras we recall that had an easier setup were from Wyze, since they don’t need a module; we noted this simplicity as well as Wyze’s physical resemblance to Blink in our full Wyze Cam review, for comparison’s sake.
But as far as setting up a Blink camera, it’s pretty hard to mess this part up, since we are talking about a relatively simple piece of tech and an equally simple, intuitive app (we snapped some Blink app images for you below). But we do think it’s worth emphasizing not to rush through this process. The setup process, in our view, is a really good time to get to know your camera and make it work for your space.
It’s not just about entering Wi-Fi passwords and allowing your phone (or Alexa device)2 to pair with the cameras; we’re talking about things like motion sensitivity, which is a key tool in making sure you don’t get false or unwanted alerts; or adjusting the infrared LEDs to make sure the camera’s night vision is clear and glare-free.
Those are adjustments we generally won’t know we need to make until we set up the whole system and see it in action. But once we do, we see a much better performing camera, and more insightful alerts.
As for installing Blink, the cameras all echoed pretty much the same installation and setup process. The only exception is the Blink Mini, which is essentially a miniature of the Blink Indoor but with wired installation instead of a battery. We’ll comb through each camera’s nuances and quirks in just a moment, but for now we’ll just say this: It’s not every day we can say we installed a whole system of security cameras in under 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for home security with a lot of customization, Blink might not be the best fit. Instead, you might prefer Vivint, a professionally monitored system with alarms, sensors, cameras, and a touchscreen keypad. If that sounds ideal, check out our hands-on Vivint system review.
Now, let’s dive into the Blink system a bit more, camera by camera.
It might not look like much, but Blink Mini is a powerful tool in our home security toolbox. It did a great job taking care of the basics, and we have to say, we couldn’t really expect more than the basics out of a camera that’s only $35.
Our tests of Blink Mini centered around the entryway of our home. Like all Blink cams, Blink Mini runs on fluid video, meaning it regularly fluctuates from higher (1080p)3 to lower video resolutions to allow it to run more smoothly and without gaps in our timeline.
When we did our in-depth Blink Mini camera review, we relied heavily on the sensitivity slider in the app, where we chose a lower setting to reduce the barrage of alerts we were getting. Initially, many of those alerts were telling us about motion we didn’t need to worry about, like when a car shined its headlights through our front door window. Those are generally a nuisance to us and tend to detract from the real reason we’re testing these cameras, which is to determine whether they’ll keep your home safe.
That’s one thing to remember about Blink cameras: they’re quite sensitive compared to their peers. In a recent review of Canary cameras, for instance, we recall that we actually had to turn the sensitivity up in the Canary app to start getting any alerts at all. Like we said, a little tweaking goes a long way in these cameras.
Once we’d made that simple tweak, there wasn’t much left to worry about with our Blink Mini. Self-monitoring is a breeze thanks to the app, so we could easily jump between checking our live view and looking back at our footage history. And, we learned that we didn’t even need the Blink sync module to control the camera via our phone; it worked just fine directly over the Internet.
FYI: Blink Mini is built to connect to local Wi-Fi without a sync module, which makes it a great pick for those who need add-on equipment for an existing Blink system. But keep in mind, this also means you’ll have to re-enter your Wi-Fi credentials if you want to move the Blink Mini to a different location.
Our only gripe about Blink Mini, for the most part, is that it’s wired. But that’s why it’s a cheaper camera than its siblings. To avoid a hassle, just plan on displaying it close to a wall outlet. You know, instead of standing on a ladder yelling, “Anyone got an extension cord?” for 10 minutes until someone answers. Don’t ask us how we know this.
Here’s our bottom line on Blink Mini: While it might be small and limited in features, it still packs the power and convenience of Blink’s other two devices thanks to a strong and intuitive app. That makes it a pretty worthwhile addition to the system.
FYI: If you’re looking for slick features like activity zones, person detection, or pan-and-tilt, our Google Nest Cam review is a great place to look. Sure, those are considerably pricier cameras, but you’re getting much more in features and tech. If you upgrade to the Nest Cam IQ devices, you’ll even get AI-powered facial recognition.
At less than 3 inches tall, Blink Indoor is as modest as it is discreet. But with the convenience of no wires, we’re getting more flexibility than we got when we reviewed the wired Ring Indoor Cam, another Amazon-branded camera.
This camera made a great hallway monitor for us when we reviewed the Blink Indoor camera one-on-one. We came away with high praise for video quality and motion detection. Night vision, however, isn’t as strong in Blink cameras as those in an Arlo camera system with its full-color night vision, for example, but we’ve found that this feature isn’t quite as important in indoor cameras as outdoor ones.
There is one thing we’d like to see at least somewhat stronger in future Blink cameras, and that’s field of view. At 110 degrees, Blink Indoor’s viewing angle is somewhat narrower than other cameras. We’re more accustomed to seeing cameras that stretch out up to 160 degrees, as we encountered in our review of Arlo cameras.
Now, as helpful as such an upgrade might be, we do want to point out that a wider field of view isn’t always better. We’ve found pros and cons to each configuration. Since Blink uses narrow-angle lenses in their cameras, we’ve found that they’re best suited for monitoring specific targets, such as doorways and entrances, because objects will appear larger and more detailed within the image. In cameras with wide-angle lenses,4 objects appear smaller, and we sometimes saw distortions along the edges of the frame during testing.
That said, if a wide-angle lens camera sounds appealing to you, take a peek at our Amcrest camera review, where we tested a pair of solid devices with much wider viewing angles, and better night vision, too.
Moving over to the camera’s video history, we noticed that Blink automatically produces a highlight reel of each day’s activity, which is really helpful in a pinch. This way, we can sit down at the end of the day and, rather than poring through hours of footage we missed when we were out of the house, we can pull up one of these highlight reels to get a frame-by-frame overview of the day.
This clip, which we included above, presents a feature we don’t recall in other cameras. We almost missed this little extra the first time we reviewed Blink; to us, it’s another effort on Blink’s part to make their cameras as convenient as possible – and an impressive addition, considering the low price.
And in another nod to Blink’s energy efficiency, the Blink Indoor has a low-power mode to conserve battery life. The only difference in using this mode, in our tests, was about 3-5 seconds of delay from the time motion began to the time the camera began recording. To us, it was a negligible delay.
At $79, Blink Indoor is priced competitively, especially when you consider all that’s included in a kit: One Blink Indoor camera, one Blink Sync Module 2, durable mounting hardware, and four long-lasting AA batteries.
It’s a generous package, and with everything Blink has to offer, the camera handled exceptionally well for us.
As we turned our attention to Blink’s dedicated outdoor camera, we saw immediately that it was built to be discreet. It only comes in all-black, as opposed to the black-and-white indoor cam. As far as aesthetics, it’s got a sleek finish and takes the same minimalistic cues as Indoor. In fact, we’re pretty much talking about the same camera as Indoor, only with a tougher (IP65) weather rating.
At the risk of rehashing old grievances, night vision was pretty weak in our hands-on Blink Outdoor camera review. In an outdoor camera, this is a bit of a letdown, only because we’ve seen how much more detail we can get from a camera with better night vision. (To see for yourself, check out our Vivint camera review.)
We should also point out that folks with smart home devices5 might be somewhat disappointed by the options Blink offers to integrate their cameras. Since it’s an Amazon brand, Blink doesn’t integrate with Google Home devices, so you won’t be able to say, “OK Google, show me my patio” and similar voice commands to control the camera.
Options like this let us use our cameras as components of a larger system around our home, allowing us to manage many devices under one account so they communicate seamlessly with one another and with our smartphone. For instance, when we took an impromptu weekend trip out of state last month, we used our Alexa app to check the temperature in our home (via a Nest thermostat) and, at the same time, peek into the Blink Indoor camera to make sure the dog sitter had shown up. It was a quick, efficient way to get peace of mind when we weren’t home.
So, if you have an Alexa ecosystem like we do, you might not feel limited at all in terms of automation. Of course, you’ve got plenty of choices if you’re looking for cameras that do integrate with multiple platforms in addition to Alexa, like Google Home, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings. In our latest review of Reolink’s cameras, we saw how easy it was to set this up via a smart home tab in their mobile app. This way, almost every camera Reolink makes (and there are many) can be fed into a smart home ecosystem with little fuss, and we had plenty of cross-platform functionality to boot.
FYI: Affordable and simple as they may be, Blink cameras are pretty weak when it comes to automating with non-Amazon devices. Some brands don’t always play nice with each other; read our thorough home automation guide to learn more.
Smart home challenges aside, Blink Outdoor redeems itself in other areas, exhibiting the same strengths that made us fans of the brand in the first place: fluid video resolution at up to 1080p; seamless two-way talk; customizable motion detection; and that easy installation Blink is famous for.
Before Blink Indoor and Outdoor, there was Blink XT2, a camera kit that goes indoors or out. The brand has discontinued it and considers the two offshoots a suitable replacement – and we have to say we do, too. It looks, feels, and works just like the former two, which means we had no trouble getting it up and running and putting it through all sorts of tests and simulations.
When we reviewed XT2 last year, we had few complaints. It did a great job streamlining all of our data from multiple cameras and ensuring a smoother connection, but Blink’s previous sync module, which was included in our XT2 package, lacks ports for external storage, so we couldn’t store the video ourselves. Our only option, then, was to use Blink’s cloud service for storage. As we mentioned earlier in this review, Blink used to offer a free option to store video, but they’ve since discontinued it.
Blink’s Sync Module 2 has solved for that, thankfully, with a USB port. You’ll find more detail on Blink’s storage options a little later, but for now, we’ll say this: Blink XT2 is still a well-made device that delivers the same fuss-free experience as the other, newer Blink cameras we tested.
Beyond that, we’ve got one more word of warning before we pivot into pricing and storage options on Blink: these cameras are not ideal as pet monitors. While they’re pretty sensitive to most types of motion out of the box, we found that none of the Blink cameras in our tests were triggered by our family dog, as wiggly and rambunctious as he is. We figured we could have done some more fine-tuning in the app to remedy this, but it could also be that this $80 camera just isn’t strong in this way, and that’s totally okay.
Fortunately, we have met a camera or two that handles this much better. As we noted when we reviewed YI’s Home 3 camera, the camera seemed to enjoy sending us entertaining recordings of our pup in all sorts of precarious positions, and we didn’t need to do any app tinkering there. Keep in mind, too, this camera costs $20, so there wasn’t much tinkering to be done, anyway.
Who knows, maybe we fed the dog jumping beans that day. But it’s just something we pick up from time to time when comparing home security companies; motion sensors sometimes work in mysterious ways.
When comparing pricing in security cameras, we always like to start with a disclaimer: You do get what you pay for, so choose wisely. Blink is far from the cheapest camera brand you’ll find out there, as the industry is brimming with low-cost cameras these days. Some folks might bristle at paying $100 for a Blink camera, but keep in mind that this is a solid battery-powered camera, the likes of which usually isn’t available for under $100.
Of course, you could always go with the Blink Mini if you’d rather save on equipment costs – for $35, Mini is an all-around good camera.
Below is a snapshot of pricing for Blink cameras, keeping in mind that the cameras also come in 2, 3, and 5-pack systems, if you choose. Feel free to check out our Blink Camera pricing page for more info, and while you’re at it, we recommend reading our rundown of Blink deals, discounts, and promotions.
Since Blink has discontinued their free cloud storage option, we’re now left with two options to store video history with Blink: A basic plan, for $3 per month, and a premium option for $10 per month.
These costs, in our view, are pretty well aligned with Blink’s close competitors. Swann’s $5-per-month plan, for example, offers basic storage but not too many of the extras Blink includes in their subscriptions. With everything we got in our affordable Blink system, paying $3 per month to store videos (or $30 for the whole year) was a decent bargain.
Here’s a breakdown of Blink’s storage costs, keeping in mind that you also have the option to attach a hard drive to your Blink sync module to store video on your own:
|Video History||60 Days||60 Days|
|10% off Blink Products||No||Yes|
|Warranty||1 year||As long as subscription is active|
|Number of Cameras||1||Unlimited|
|Price||$3 per month||$10 per month|
With Blink, we were promised a hassle-free experience, and we got one – in every camera we tested. Indeed, these cameras are nothing if not consistent. For folks who don’t feel comfortable around security equipment or just don’t have the time to learn and interact with technology, Blink is a consistent leader.
As a basic system for video surveillance, Blink handles like a charm, delivering the kind of low-maintenance experience more and more users crave. We enjoyed the no-frills approach, having lots of flexibility to adjust and tweak our settings to conform our cameras to our space. It’s clear to us that Blink understands this, but with a limited viewing angle and poor night vision, it’s still worth remembering that these are, by and large, “budget” cameras. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Check out our best “cheap” security camera roundup for more on that.)
That said, Blink cameras get our wholehearted recommendation as an ideal pick for the tech-averse crowd.
With the extended-life batteries included in every Blink camera (except Blink Mini), you’ll get about two years of battery life with typical use. From what we’ve seen, that’s a whole lot of battery life in one charge.
Since they’re owned by the same company, Blink and Alexa play well together. You can set up your Blink cameras to use voice commands through an Amazon Echo. It does not work with Google Assistant, though.
No. Blink cameras use standard infrared night vision that is not colorized, so you’ll get a pretty grainy picture at night.
Yes. The cameras have USB ports, and a power cord is included in the box, in case you’d rather wire the cameras for continuous use.
While not the cheapest camera on the market, Blink is generally considered an affordable brand. Their most expensive camera is $100, which isn’t bad for a battery-powered camera.
Yes. You can attach a hard drive or flash drive to your Blink system via the Blink Sync Module 2 to store your video clips locally (not in the cloud).
The Sync Module is a small, shallow box that comes with the Blink Indoor and Blink Outdoor cameras. The module receives information from Blink servers through your home Wi-Fi, and sends notifications to our phone. Cameras receive information from the Sync Module, then send images and notifications through your Wi-Fi. You can also use the Sync Module to attach an external hard drive via USB.
Amazon. (2020, Sept. 2). Amazon’s Blink Unveils New Wireless Security Cameras with HD Video, Flexible Storage Options, and New Battery Expansion Pack.
Martin, A. (2018, May 4). Blink Now Works With Alexa – Voice and Video. Blinkforhome.
Video Surveillance. (2021). What is High Definition?
Lorex Technology. (2021). Guide to Field of View & Lens Types.
Abent, E. (2019, Dec. 8). Google, Apple and Amazon team up to fix the smart home. Slashgear.