In our view, the best outdoor security cameras are the ones we can set up and basically forget about, assured that the technology will work when we need it and that the camera will hold up in all kinds of weather, without loss of power or performance.
Blink Outdoor checked all those boxes for us. This sturdy, wire-free device from Amazon-owned Blink1 hit the shelves in late summer 2020, and has since become a popular pick in the DIY camera space. When we got our hands on the camera and began our thorough battery of tests, we paid special attention to the most essential features, like video quality, motion detection, DIY installation, and dual video storage.
Knowing that choosing security products can be complicated, we’re getting to know all the things that make the $100 Blink Outdoor a top competitor in the home security market – even the not-so-flattering things – to help you make the best choice.
Stay with us as we get this camera up and running, run our tests, and share our full experience to help you decide if the versatile Blink Outdoor makes sense for you and your home.
But first, a few key things to note about the camera:
Our initial impression of Blink Outdoor is that it’s a big improvement over the Blink XT2. As you might recall in our overall Blink camera review, XT2 was Blink’s wire-free indoor/outdoor model released before Blink Indoor and Outdoor hit the scene. There, we noted their versatility and appeal in small spaces, as well as a wire-free design that allowed us to install the cameras basically anywhere.
With the latter Indoor and Outdoor releases, however, we’d essentially replaced our Blink XT2 2-pack camera system with two better, stronger cameras and an adjoining Sync Module 2.
Typically, sync modules and hubs are paired with security cameras to ensure a smoother connection in homes with standard Wi-Fi. In the case of Blink, you’ll need a sync module to use the cameras, which, as we know, can be a turnoff for some users who would rather not have yet another static electronic device taking up space around the house.
But we do want to note that Blink’s Sync Module is much smaller than the hub you’d get in a Swann camera system, with their bulky recorder boxes that resemble circa-1990s laptop computers. Instead, Blink brings the same subtle, minimalistic design to their Sync Module 2 that they bring to their cameras, allowing for easy, discreet placement. (Just make sure it’s close enough to your router to get a strong signal.)
FYI: Clunky base station aside, Swann still makes nice cameras. They did a great job alerting us to activity and even helped us keep a few unwanted critters from leaving presents in our flower beds. Our Swann camera review has lots of insight from our experience, if you’re interested.
We’ve done setups on security cameras of all stripes and shared plenty of takeaways and tips over the years. In our tests of Blink Outdoor, we have to say that we encountered one of the easiest setup experiences yet in an outdoor camera. (Its kid sister, Blink Mini, is even easier because it doesn’t need a sync module. Read more on that in our full Blink Mini review.)
One key reason for that is that it doesn’t pack layers of A.I. technology or ultra-high resolution to work. Instead, Blink Outdoor’s simple functionality was meant to communicate over the Internet seamlessly. In more high-tech cameras, we always expect a longer setup time. See our review of Canary Flex for more insight on dealing with setup problems.
But we didn’t have any trouble getting this or any other Blink camera to pair with our home Wi-Fi. Adding it to the Blink camera system we were already testing took no longer than 5 minutes, but do keep in mind it’ll take longer than that – up to 10 minutes – to pair the camera if you’re using Blink for the first time.
Once we’d scanned our QR code2 to the Blink Home Monitoring app, the rest was self-explanatory, allowing us to follow in-app prompts and simply wait and watch for the camera and the app to sync up. This simplicity is par for the course in DIY cameras; the technology is strong and powerful, but still easy to use for almost anyone.
Clearly, if you’re looking for easy installation, you’ll get that and more with Blink Outdoor. (Rhyming not intended.)
Since it’s a Blink camera, we knew Blink Outdoor would be reliable and effective even before we opened the box. Having the backing of a global e-commerce giant like Amazon3 sure doesn’t hurt, either.
But as far as aesthetics, it’s important to remember that this is a pretty simple camera that’s meant to be discreet. At 2.7 inches tall, it’s the same size as Blink Indoor. We also want to note that Blink Indoor is available only in white, while Outdoor comes in black. You can read more about Blink’s indoor device in our hands-on Blink Indoor review here.
As far as the camera itself, you’ll get a 110-degree diagonal field of view, which tells us Blink uses a standard-angle lens rather than a wide-angle lens. This strikes us as a bit narrow when compared to, say, the ultra-wide lenses we observed when reviewing Lorex cameras. Those, you’ll note, gave us up to 160 degrees, so if you’re partial to wide-angle lens cameras, Lorex might be a good alternative.
As experts, we know that some people want their cameras to look tough and intimidating rather than sleek and stylish. In our view, that can really help with peace of mind, plus it’s a logical way to display security equipment that shows you mean business.
We’ve reviewed lots of cameras that fall into this category. Chief among them is the Ezviz CN3, a bullet-style device that lets intruders know that their dirty deeds aren’t going undetected. While Ezviz4 isn’t the most illustrious brand when it comes to features, it still has a foreboding look that will surely make the crooks think twice. For more stats and insights on the brand, see our full Ezviz review.
So while we wouldn’t exactly call Blink Outdoor intimidating, we do tend to favor cameras that blend into our home’s decor, rather than stand out from it. Blink, with its simple cubic face and only a small plastic stand for mounting, does that in spades.
Here’s something that’s important to remember about DIY cameras: they might claim to record in 1080p, but that doesn’t mean they do so all the time.
Let us explain. Blink Outdoor is built for up to 1080p HD video resolution, but it’s also built to be fluid. As our home Wi-Fi signal tends to fluctuate throughout the day, the camera essentially solves for this by reducing the video quality automatically, and bumping it up again when the network is stronger. This is key for folks with standard Wi-Fi connections, us included.
Of course, this also means the quality suffers, but in our tests, the difference was negligible. It’s far more important for us to have a camera that conforms to our home and sends us prompt motion alerts than a camera that takes flawless pictures.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a camera with continuous 1080p video quality and seamless communication at the same time, you’re better off looking into a whole-home security system that will run smoothly in 1080p HD without Wi-Fi. Our Frontpoint system review has much more on that, if you’re curious.
On cool, clear Ohio afternoons, though, we were happy to watch that bright-yellow school bus pull into the neighborhood and prepare to drop off our kids in full HD. Check out the short video we made of Blink Outdoor…
Cameras without two-way audio are becoming more rare as the security industry evolves. Personally, we really like this feature because there’s nothing like using our own “outside voice” to spook potential burglars.
It’s especially helpful for times when you want said burglar to think you’re home … when maybe you’re not. Now, we don’t go around recommending this strategy for every situation, because it can be risky. But in testing this camera’s two-way talk, we did conclude that a simple “May we help you?” could go a long way toward letting the bad guys know they’ve picked the wrong property.
Since when do two AA batteries provide two years of battery life? Since now, with Blink Outdoor. While we haven’t been testing our Blink cameras for two straight years yet, we do know that the long-lasting batteries included in the cameras are meant for just this use. Of course, battery life is always going to vary according to how often the camera is in use, so it’s important to keep that in mind with wire-free cameras.
Speaking of wire-free, the majority of cameras we test that claim to be “wire-free” are powered by a rechargeable battery pack, rather than the disposable AA batteries Blink uses. When we tested a battery-powered Ring Spotlight camera as part of a recent review of Ring cameras, for instance, we did like being able to pop the battery pack right out of the camera’s housing to recharge it without having to take the whole camera down.
Indeed, this is the tradeoff with wire-free devices. Either way, you’re going to have some basic legwork to do. But with Blink, the difference is that the cameras are so lightweight and easy to install, taking the camera down to replace two AA batteries every two years really isn’t a hard sell. In fact, it’s something we prefer.
But beyond operation time, we found that adjusting the camera’s settings can have a big impact on battery life, too. For instance, we went into Activity Zones in the Blink Outdoor’s motion settings and drew a horizontal line across the midsection of the feed to block out the street. This way, we would stop receiving alerts every time a car passed by our house. Not only did this make our lives generally less annoying, it also kept the battery from running down too fast. A win-win, we like to say.
It couldn’t quite match the clarity of a camera with colorized night vision, but Blink Outdoor’s infrared night vision technology was still strong enough to keep the camera running smoothly in black and white each night of our testing period.
Without the colorization or additional lighting built into the camera, though, you’re not going to get a spectacular nighttime picture with the Blink Outdoor. If you do want to see how your yard looks in full color at night, though, we suggest checking out our review of Reolink’s Argus Eco, a functional outdoor camera with dazzling color night vision.
But don’t count Blink out just yet for nighttime viewing. While we can’t say whether our Blink Outdoor picked up every possible activity in our dimly lit yard in the wee hours, it did manage to capture this rotund visitor:
Coming in at right under $100, Blink Outdoor is a solid middle-of-the-road option when it comes to equipment costs. But it is still a basic camera, with features that won’t exactly blow you away. That’s important to remember when comparing costs in this industry: You get what you pay for, so choose wisely.
From what we’ve seen, Blink cameras are priced just right, and Blink Outdoor is no different. They’re also slightly less than the industry average. An Arlo Pro 3 camera, for instance, is as easy to set up and use as Blink Indoor, but with more automation options and upgraded features, it might make it worth the extra money (Arlo Pro 3 costs $169.99 as an add-on and about $300 as a 2-camera system with a hub).
Here’s a breakdown of Blink’s costs, but we also suggest checking out our Blink pricing guide for more detail on how much you’ll pay for equipment, package and bundling options, cloud storage fees, and other features.
When it comes to storing the camera’s video history, no two brands are exactly alike. Some offer low equipment costs and pricey video storage; others offer everything upfront and no monthly subscriptions; and still others prefer to keep both equipment and storage costs low. We’ve found advantages and disadvantages in all of those formats, so we can’t really say that one is better than the other.
In the case of Blink Outdoor, we now have a USB port in our sync module to add a flash drive for local storage – something we didn’t have in our first go-round with Blink cameras.
We did find a catch, though. When Blink released the indoor/outdoor XT2 cameras (now discontinued), they came with a basic cloud-based storage plan, so we could store some of our video history at no extra charge. Now, to our slight dismay, Blink is no longer offering that plan. But including an updated sync module, with a port for local storage, appears to be the compromise Blink offered to users who’d grown accustomed to Blink’s free plan.
Either way, we’re seeing flexible options here for storing video both locally (via a micro SD card or flash drive) and through the cloud that make Blink Outdoor a worthwhile choice, despite the loss of some free storage.
|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 Outdoor, we found a powerful camera with minimalist design principles. Video quality remained strong through each of our tests, and we felt secure and confident with a Blink Outdoor camera keeping an eye on our home’s exterior.
While far from a flawless experience, we love the customization Blink offers through the app. We can add or remove activity zones, adjust video resolution and sensitivity, and schedule alerts for certain times of the day. We can even set the camera to connect with our Amazon Echo Show for a more integrated smart home security That’s a lot of control at our fingertips, and who doesn’t love that?
All in all, Blink Outdoor gets our recommendation as a top pick for securing small spaces. For more ways to keep your small space safe, check out our renter’s guide to apartment security.
Yes. You can buy Blink in package form, in 2, 3, or 5-camera packages with an included sync module.
The camera has a weather rating of IP65, meaning it’ll handle most storms and bad weather. It’s Blink’s only outdoor camera, but of course you can also use it indoors as well.
No. If you signed up for a Blink account before April 15, 2020, you’ll still have some basic storage to use for free for as long as you own the cameras. If you signed up after that, you’ll have to store your video history either locally, by attaching a hard drive to the sync module, or to the cloud, through a Blink subscription.
The quality of our audio conversations on the Blink Outdoor was mostly smooth. We did encounter some trouble with ambient noise, which we’ve run into in basically every outdoor camera when we test their audio. It made it slightly harder to hear each other at certain times, but it didn’t harm the experience.
At $100, Blink Outdoor is not overly expensive. It’s pretty well-aligned with DIY cameras, and for what it offers, we consider it a fair price.
Business Wire. (2020, Sept. 2). Amazon’s Blink Unveils New Wireless Security Cameras with HD Video, Flexible Storage Options, and New Battery Expansion Pack. Amazon Inc.
Kelleher, S. (2020, June 5). Why QR Codes Are Popping Up Everywhere During the Pandemic – and How to Read Them in a Snap. Forbes.
Tannam, E. (2018, Feb. 12). Why did Amazon pay $90m to acquire Blink camera technology? Silicon Republic.
Ezvizlife. (2020, June 23). Ezviz launches its Outdoor Security Cam, with Color Night Vision and A.I. Active Defense. Ezviz Inc.
Molla, R. (2019, Dec. 18). Amazon, Apple, and Google are working together so that your smart home works better. Vox.com.