When we set out to review the XT2 two-camera kit – the newest release from Amazon-owned Blink1 – we assumed it would be similar to what we’ve seen from Ring’s Indoor Cam. You know, fast and easy to set up, almost no learning curve, and just enough features to make us feel safe in our home.
We figured we’d have no problem grasping the technology and getting to know the product. And thankfully, we figured right. With that said, if you’re considering this wireless security camera, there are some things you should know — both good and bad. We’re putting it all on the table for you here.
Before we ever even unboxed Blink’s cameras, we knew a handful of things were true:
When the Blink XT2 system arrived, we mounted the cameras around our home. And we spent several days interacting with the devices and the Blink companion app.
We immediately felt that this system was a great entry-level option that provides flexible video monitoring and motion detection. But what we also discovered is that it’s not for someone who wants seamless, glitch-free communication and home monitoring.
Here’s what we found, starting with the pros & cons:
From the jump, we could tell this wasn’t going to be a difficult setup. Each camera comes with a couple of screws and some plastic mounting hardware. We attached the hardware simply by popping the parts in and turning them clockwise. How did we know to do that? Well, thankfully there are stickers on the back of each camera with step-by-step instructions. In other words, you can’t mess up even if you tried (but don’t try!).
Then, following the Blink instruction manual, we plugged in the sync module – the small device that serves as a hub for both cameras – and downloaded the accompanying app onto our mobile phones. So far, so easy.
Note that each of our XT2 cameras took about two minutes to sync with the module. Then our Blink app began a firmware update, which took another three minutes. Finally, the system took another couple minutes to pair with our Wi-Fi. It all happens pretty fast, but patience is a virtue.
Pro Tip: Each camera needs two AA batteries, which are included in the box but not inserted into the XT2 cameras. You can do this easily and quickly without tools. Trying to sync the cameras without batteries inserted is not recommended. It probably means you need more coffee.
Once we paired our cameras to our Wi-Fi network, we were then able to name them. Blink automatically displays them by serial number, but c’mon, you can be a little more creative. We recommend calling your cams “living room,” or “backyard,” or whatever makes sense depending on where you’re mounting them. Trust us, this step is important, as you’ll want to know exactly where motion is detected in your home, before you even open the app to view footage! Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about this in a bit.
Once we decided where we were going to mount the cameras for the first day – our stairwell and our backyard – we named them accordingly. The next day, when we moved them, we were able to rename them in the app to “front-right yard” and “Logan’s room” (sorry, we’re strictly forbidden to talk about what happens in Logan’s room).
Another important thing to remember is that the sync module must be placed less than 100 feet from wherever you mount the cameras. So we perched the little module on our fireplace mantel in our living room, equidistant between our stairway and our backyard, which is where we mounted the cams with just a couple of screws (included in the box) and a screwdriver.
FYI: Unfortunately, Blink XT2 cameras require a sync module, which is why the two-camera kit works better in small spaces. No one wants to constantly be moving the sync module around to make sure it picks up both cameras. We think this a weakness of the Blink camera system.
And that’s it for setup and installation. The entire installation process took about 25 to 30 minutes. Now mind you, we’ve come to expect this kind of fast and easy setup. Whether we’re dealing with Ring, Arlo, or Blink — we don’t want to spend all afternoon getting our cameras working (and neither do you). It’s called DIY for a reason!
Before we dive into our favorite things about Blink XT2, it’s worth mentioning again that this camera system doesn’t really have any fancy features or cutting-edge technology. But then again, that’s what makes it affordable.
If you’re looking for slick features like custom motion zones, person detection, or AI-powered facial recognition, you should check out our in-depth look at the Nest Cam IQ lineup, or Vivint’s Ping Indoor Camera and Outdoor Camera Pro. Sure, these options are more expensive, but we’ve found that you get what you pay for with home security equipment.
We also realize that many folks value simplicity and DIY installation, and that sacrificing cutting-edge technology is a fair tradeoff. With Blink, we still enjoyed a handful of nice features, including:
We appreciate that Blink’s companion app is available on iOS and Android, but note that you can also get it from Amazon Fire OS. So yes, if you have an Amazon Fire TV, you can control your security cameras from your TV. Pretty slick! For this middle-aged couple, this alone is worthy of applause.
Once we had our Blink XT2 cameras armed, they began detecting motion right away. When a camera triggered, it sent an instant activity alert to our smartphones (one iPhone and one Android). This allowed us to quickly assess the situation and, if needed, alert neighbors or call the police. Now, remember when we said it’s important to name your cams? This is why: the mobile alerts came through with the specific camera name (see image below), allowing us to get our bearings before viewing the video. Every second counts!
Note that once the camera detected activity, it took about five seconds for the mobile alert to come through. This lag time slightly varied as more alerts were sent, with a few alerts taking as long as 10 seconds. Of course, this could be because our 400 bps Wifi signal has occasional glitches.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that we did experience two or three instances where the live video failed to load the first time. But we’ve never reviewed a security camera that didn’t occasionally do this, so we’ll chalk it up to Wi-Fi connectivity.
From anywhere in the world, we could open the Blink app, view our live-video feed, and get instant peace of mind. This isn’t exactly ground-breaking technology. In fact, you should expect to get live-streaming with any home security camera that’s worth its salt. But it’s still a nice feature to have.
With that said, we found something we didn’t love about Blink XT2’s live-streaming. That is, when we were viewing our live feed, we noticed a 5-second delay. So when we wanted to talk with someone in the camera’s view, we would press down the button in the app to talk, but the audio was always 5-seconds late! This made communicating with people via two-way talk pretty darn awkward.
FYI: Our Blink XT2’s audio delay was close to 10 seconds at one point – and we had to endure some slight interference and a popping sound before our conversations could resume. This will definitely make communicating with delivery drivers (or potential intruders!) cumbersome and downright frustrating.
Note that Blink’s default clip length for a motion alert is 5 seconds (it records for a full 5-seconds every time it senses motion). We kept it at 5 seconds to save battery life, but if you’d prefer longer recordings, you can opt for any recording interval up to 60 seconds. And if that’s not enough, you can sign up for a cloud storage plan for 60 days of video history. This will only set you back $3 per month per camera, or $30 per year (same price as Ring!).
The Amazon-owned Blink XT2 camera plays very well with Amazon’s Alexa, for obvious reasons. Without even picking up the app, you can control your camera using only your voice. It’s a nice feature, but note that it only works if you have Alexa devices, which can get pricey as far as smart home assistants go.
So, if you want to use voice commands to see your cameras, you have a couple of options. If you have an Echo Dot, you can say, for instance, “Alexa, show me my backyard camera.” We think this is a nice little feature. And if your Echo Dot is synced to a Fire TV, you can even use Alexa voice controls to display your Blink’s live-feed on your TV. If nothing else, this could be a neat party trick to raise some eyebrows.
FYI: It’s worth mentioning that we have a Google Home that does not play well with the Amazon-owned Blink XT2 (as you know, Google and Amazon are oil and water). Is it too much to ask for these two companies to start working together? Perhaps not! We’ve heard that soon we might enjoy cross-platform functionality.2
Before we could sit back and watch Blink do its thing, we had to make sure we had positioned the cameras correctly. We didn’t want the app keeping us awake all night, bombarding us with motion sensor alerts, so we knew we shouldn’t point our backyard camera directly at the tree behind our house.
After all, there was a slight breeze on the first day, and we’ve been doing this long enough to know that trees, breezes, and motion sensors don’t mix!
Thankfully, the Blink app walked us through positioning our XT2 cameras to only look for motion in the area that we wanted. We were able to control this through the motion detection settings, which are under camera settings. There, we could adjust activity zones and increase (or decrease) retrigger time, which is the delay between activity that the camera detects. We thought this was a nice touch.
Since Blink XT2 cams work both indoors and outdoors, we decided to place one indoors and one outdoors. Now, we don’t have a fence surrounding our property, so there’s a trio of teenagers who like to cut through our yard. We wanted to catch them hot-footing it through our poppies, but more importantly, we wanted to see how well the Blink XT2’s night vision performed at night. We don’t have any lighting in our backyard, so we wondered how much we’d be able to see (spoiler alert: hello darkness my old friend).
As the sun set, we began to see the limitations at hand. Husband and dog made a brief cameo across the lawn around midnight (we captured that in a pic below), proving that Blink’s infrared night vision performed OK, but not great. Unfortunately, despite the 1080p HD resolution, their faces were not clear. This means that if a couple of burglars decide to target our home, the darkness will likely conceal their faces from view. Not good!
Sure, more lighting in our backyard would help, but at that point why not just get an outdoor camera with a built-in light — like the Ring Spotlight Cam or Floodlight Cam? Also, keep in mind there are other security cameras on the market (like the Arlo Pro 3 and Arlo Ultra) that offer full-color night vision. This was another sticking point for us regarding the XT2’s performance. But we digress.
Fortunately for us, nothing else went bump in the night. In fact, we saw no further activity on our outdoor camera until about 10:30 the next morning, when our dog had to go out again. We live pretty simply out here.
Which brings us back to the app. When Blink XT2 detects motion, you’ll remember that its default is to record a five-second video. Well, that morning we had 140 clips saved on our app from our indoor stairway camera, all five seconds long, all listed in order, starting with the most recent. And with all that data, we’d used 11% of our storage. We apparently love climbing stairs in this house. So just keep in mind that if you place your XT2 in a high-traffic area, you’ll use up your video storage pretty fast!
FYI: Sure, 11% doesn’t seem like much storage space, but remember, this was just one night of use! So we think the default setting on the motion sensor is a touch too sensitive. We recommend trying to adjust the XT2’s motion sensitivity within the app to see if you can find a sweet spot for the “traffic patterns” in and around your home.
Note also that Blink’s motion sensor never picked up our pup’s activity. On the first night, our dog proved too small for the Blink XT2, even with motion sensitivity set to the highest setting. We had it pointed a little past the bottom set of stairs to ensure it picked up humans, but the next day, we tilted it downward a bit, to see how much motion the XT2 would capture from a 12-pound puppy who never sits still.
It triggered when we humans traversed the stairs, but for smaller and faster activity, the alerts were sporadic. This might have been due to the 110-degree field of view, which isn’t great compared to other cameras on the market like Arlo and Ring, and therefore provides less coverage. We like to see at least a 120-degree field of view. But the wider the frame the better. Lorex, one of our top-rated camera systems, offers up to a 160-degree field of view! So Blink has some room for improvement here.
We found that the XT2 has a feature for real-time notifications that’s still in beta testing. When we activated this feature, we received a notification as soon as our cameras detected motion. We could then tap on the notification to open the app, allowing us to view our live video feed and use two-way communication (get off our lawn, you whippersnappers!). It worked pretty well, we’re just wondering why it’s still in beta testing. Most security camera companies have been offering instant notifications for years now.
The Neighbors app is where you’ll find activity reports; that is, when a person reports something suspicious, it shows up here. With Ring’s doorbell cameras, Neighbors is embedded into the Ring app, so you’ll see one column for your own camera’s feed, and another one for activity reports (this includes incident maps, crime reports, and an invite feature to invite your neighbors to join).
With Blink, that’s not the case. We had to download the Blink app and the Neighbors app separately. This means we could only see our own yard from the Blink app, and we had to go directly to Neighbors to see what’s going on around the ‘hood. This was disappointing for us, but understandable as this is truly a no-frills camera system.
Like many other security camera brands we’ve reviewed, Blink’s customer service is pretty solid. Online at Blink’s website, or directly in our Blink app, we had several ways to find tech help, ask questions, watch videos, and more. We also appreciated the user community where we could ask questions to fellow XT2 users.
We did have to call the company’s support line to help us find the setting to adjust the video length (it’s not exactly easy to find!). The representative was helpful and thorough when we called one evening after a brief five-minute hold and pointed us in the right direction within minutes.
Blink offers a one-year limited warranty for its products,3 which is pretty much the industry average. If we were to encounter a problem within that time period, the company would either repair the camera, replace it, or give us a full refund.
Frankly, though, we doubt you’ll ever need to cash in on the warranty, as these security cams are well-built and have very few moving parts. The only real issue you might experience is if any of the electronic components on the inside of the device stop working.
We knew from the get-go that Blink is competitively priced. The XT2 two-camera kit costs $179.99, but they have other camera options, too. Look out for the Blink Indoor and the affordable Blink Mini. Below is a snapshot of their overall pricing, but also check out our in-depth pricing page for more info.
|Blink Indoor||$79.99||– Built-in motion sensor alarm|
– Battery powered security system
– Live-view streaming
– Free cloud storage
– One-way audio
– 720p HD video quality
|Blink XT2||$99.99||– Extended battery life|
– Two-way audio
– Custom motion detection
– Compatible with Alexa
– Use indoors or outdoors
– 1080p HD video quality
|Blink Mini||$34.99||– Smartphone controls via app|
– Instant notifications
– Live-video streaming
– Two-way talk
– HD video quality
– Indoor use only
We can definitely say that the XT2 is a huge improvement over other Blink models. They upgraded from illuminated to infrared night vision, and each camera is embedded with IP-65 weatherproofing, meaning the indoor/outdoor camera can stand up to harsh weather like rain, sleet, and snow.4
We also appreciated the two-way audio (even though it was a little delayed and buggy when we tried it). It allowed us to give instructions to delivery drivers and communicate with neighbors. Thankfully, we didn’t have to use it to scare away bad guys, but we’re confident that Blink would prove helpful in telling a would-be intruder to shove off. Note that most home security cameras offer two-way talk as a standard feature these days.
Pro Tip: If you need more than one camera to protect your home, you’ll like that the XT2 model comes in 2-camera packs, 3-camera packs, or 5-camera packs.
Let’s be honest: wireless cameras are the new standard for DIY home security. And there are several brands out there that have been doing this really well for years. We think Blink is proving that they’re ready to compete with the XT2.
We enjoyed the no-frills approach to home protection, and we like to see an affordable DIY system like the XT2 with just enough solid features, like 1080p HD resolution, two-way talk, infrared night vision, etc. We do wish, though, that it offered a better field of view, better night vision, and more control over the motion sensing. Perhaps subsequent generations of the XT2 will iron out these kinks. We can only hope.
That said, we’re still fairly pleased with this little wireless camera. So with all things considered, we’d recommend Blink XT2 as a simple and affordable security camera setup for the tech-averse folks out there.
Yes, the Blink XT2 is 100% wireless. However, it needs to be placed within 100 ft. of the included sync module.
No, like most home security cameras, Blink does not require a contract.
Yes and no. The Blink XT2 works with Alexa, but it, unfortunately, does not work with Google Assistant.
No, Blink offers infrared night vision, but the picture quality is black and white and we found it to be quite grainy.
Yes, Blink offers free basic cloud storage for the XT2, and you can upgrade to 60-days of video storage for only $3 per month or $30 per year.
Bloomberg. (2019, May 8). Press Release: Introducing All-New Blink XT2.
Molla, R. (2019, December 18). Amazon, Apple, and Google are working together so that your smart home works better. Vox.com. https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/12/18/21028232/amazon-apple-google-connectivity-standard-project-connected-home
Blink.com. (2020). Home Security Camera Provider.
The Enclosure Company. (2020). IP Rated Enclosures Explained.