A quick search for home security cameras will show you that there is no shortage of options on the market these days. Standing out in this crowded space is not as easy as it once was, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
Blink, which was acquired by Amazon, has done a great job of maintaining cameras that people like, for both inside and outside of their home.
The Blink XT2 series was not met with the same initial love as previous generations, and Blink even stopped selling them for a short period of time after release to work on some kinks. Well, the cameras are back and I've been testing them for a few months and comparing them to some of the other options. There's a whole lot to like here with these cameras, as long as you're willing to overlook some minor annoyances along the way.
Blink XT2 Cameras What I like
From the time you start unboxing the cameras until you have things set up goes super quickly. Blink has done a great job of adding QR codes to each device so that it's as simple as scanning it into your app to get things started. I ran into some issues with my first bridge not wanting to connect to my Wi-Fi, and after some internet digging I discovered I wasn't alone in that.
The Blink XT2 handles the elements better than any camera I've seen to date, but changing the batteries is annoying.
Luckily, Blink got a new one out to me very quickly, and things were smooth sailing from there. It just takes a few taps inside the Blink app to get your devices connected, and you can add as many cameras to your system as you want.
The camera's build quality is solid, and I can see them holding up to the elements quite well. Mine have been outside for the past few months in 100+ degree heat and torrential downpours and I haven't seen any issues yet. The mounting hardware holds the camera extremely well and moves to almost any position you need when mounting.
The only real downside is that when it comes time to swap the batteries: I'll have to pull the cameras down, then put them back and do the repositioning jig all over again. Hopefully that won't be too often though (I'm banking on that battery life) but only time will tell.
Alerts and playback have been reliable, and I haven't missed any alerts (that I know of) aside from movement that falls inside my retrigger window. Quality is great as well, though I've lowered it to save on battery and bandwidth. For both of my cameras, I've gone with a sensitivity of 5, clip length of 5 seconds (with End Clip early if motion stops enabled) and a retrigger of 45 seconds. Keep in mind, though: these settings will greatly vary for your needs and placement.
One thing that does drive my anxiety crazy is the "High usage on" notification, which makes me think I'm killing my camera's battery much more quickly than I should be, but at the same time if I reduce the triggers or recording length any more they won't really be useful security cameras.
Blink's claim to fame is that it doesn't charge a monthly fee to access cloud recordings.
One of my big gripes about the Blink system was recently fixed. Blink added the ability to schedule the cameras so that they can arm / disarm at preset times each day. This means that while I am home working I don't have to be notified that I walked through a room, and instead I can set it to only alert me when it's really useful. Additionally, now you can schedule single cameras, so I can still have an outside one record while an inside one is disarmed.
Potentially one of the biggest selling points of the Blink system is that you don't have to pay a monthly fee to access previous footage. Other companies, like Ring and Nest, charge a few bucks a month per camera. When you add more than one or two cameras, this annual costs can really begin to grow and grow.
Blink XT2 Cameras What I don't like
Instead of only basing alerts on whether a camera is armed or disarmed, it would be great if Blink added the ability to mark yourself as away, so you could get alerts when out of the house. It would be even better if the system could intelligently detect that you (your phone) is no longer present and begin sending you alerts until you return home. Nest does this really well.
To save battery, the app's home screen doesn't update with the latest footage, which can be confusing if you have multiple cameras around the house and outside.
Some of the other gripes lay within the app itself and how it performs. If you add a few cameras, the main screen gets to be a little clunky. You can have the camera take a picture to show where it's located, but that doesn't update when motion is detected, or with a live view of what the camera sees. This creates some confusion when you launch the app, especially in the evening when the last picture was during the day. Countless times I have already freaked myself out and worried the system was not working, when in reality it was. Even if it auto-updated once an hour, or only when motion was detected, that would be a great start.
Removing the back from the camera is a bit difficult because it needs to be tight to maintain a waterproof seal, but I worry that when it comes time to change the batteries out it will be quite a task to get them down. It would be nice for Blink to include an extension bar, if even only a short one, that would allow you to mount the cameras in more locations. Sure, there are some third-party ones available, but for an outdoor camera it does have limited mounting options included.
Blink XT2 Cameras Should you buy them?
Overall, I'm a big fan of the Blink XT2. Setup is the only pain point, and until the batteries need swapping, I don't foresee any issues with my cameras. A few added settings within the app could help improve things greatly, but my experience has been great for the most part. I love that I can put these little guys in important places and have 24/7 monitoring without a ton of overhead.
The ability to add additional cameras as needed is a huge benefit, and I plan to do just that soon. I still wonder exactly how long I will get out of a set of AA batteries, but I guess even if it just lasts for 18 months that's pretty good. The fact that these cameras only require an initial investment in the hardware, and a pair of AA batteries each about once a year, makes them worth considering.
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