Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blink Home Monitoring System Review

After researching a number of different options, I recently purchased the Blink surveillance system to monitor my home.  So far I like the system, but it does have some drawbacks.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Completely wireless
  • Easy to setup
  • Online and local storage
  • Decent camera quality


Cons:

  • Motion sensor won't see through glass
  • No night vision
  • No stealth mode
  • Phone App required to setup and use


PROS

Price: I paid $190 for 3 cameras and the sync module, including shipping.  For comparison, a single Dropcam cost roughly the same without shipping included.  In addition to the low startup price, Blink offers online storage and access at no additional cost.  The Dropcam charges $100 a year or $10/month for ten days of constant online storage.  The low cost and no monthly fees are a huge positive for the Blink.

Completely Wireless: If the price is the best part of the Blink, then it being wireless is the second best attribute.  The Blink operates on 2 AA batteries and is supposed to work for a year without having to change the batteries.  Because the batteries are standard, even if you have to change them every 6 months, it is not a big deal.  For comparisons, the ARLO wireless camera takes special CR 123 lithium batteries which can be much more expensive and do not last as long.
There are no wires for power or video, so you can place these cameras almost anywhere.  They come with a mounting base, screw and sticky pad to allow you to mount them how and where you want. The cameras have to be able to communicate with the sync module, which can sit up to 100 ft. away.  I have mine about 30 ft away past a thick wall and I still have good connectivity.

Easy to Setup: Setting up the cameras takes only 3 easy steps according to the directions.  Personally it took me a few extra steps, but it was still not that difficult. The hardest part was figuring out I had to connect my phone to the sync module at the beginning.  The sync module puts out a wifi signal and you have to connect to it with your phone app.  Once you have done this and setup the sync module, then adding cameras is easy and straight forward.  Because the cameras are wireless, setting them up where you want is easy as well.  It took me maybe 30 minutes to completely set it up and that was taking my time.

Online and Local Storage: The Blink stores video clips and pictures online on their own servers. This allows you to access the feeds from anywhere with your phone. It also has an option to plug in a hard drive and store images locally. I have not tried this option yet, so I don't know how well it works, but it is good to have the option.  There is plenty of free space online, but if your internet connection goes out for some reason then you'll still record.  For households like mine with busy network traffic and the occasional outage, this is very handy.

Decent Camera Quality: The Blink records at 720p hd, but not all 720p are created equally.  The quality of the lenses can make a big difference.  The Dropcam offers a superior picture in my opinion, but that doesn't mean the Blink is bad.  You can still make out details from a distance, just not as well.  But camera quality is like bandwidth, you can never have enough.


CONS

Motion sensor won't see through glass:  This is a con for me, but may not be a big deal for you.  I wanted to monitor activity outside through my glass doors. However the Blink uses a passive infrared sensor to determine motion.  This means it cannot see through glass.  In comparison the dropcam uses sophisticated software to monitor actual motion and will monitor through glass.  This and the fact the Blink isn't a weather proof camera is a major limitation for me.


No night vision: The Blink uses a low light sensor and an actual light to monitor in the dark. This means the image at night is not very clear and you can't see very far.  It also means a noticeable light comes on when the motion detection is activated.


No stealth mode: There could be a way to disable the blue light that comes on when the Blink is recording, but I have not found it yet.  When the Blink is active, a bright blue light shines letting people know it is recording.  This is fine unless you don't want to draw attention to the camera and the placement of the camera.  It's not a huge negative, but it does mean that any trespasser would know immediately they had been recorded and will probably hunt for the system.


Phone App required to setup and use: I have an iPhone so using apps isn't a big deal for me, but I did think it was odd that there was no way to setup the Blink with just a computer.  Neither can you use a computer to monitor the Blink or view video.


Summary:  Overall the Blink is a great system and one I would recommend.  The price and the convenience from it being completely wireless are huge advantages over other systems and outweigh the negatives.  I'm actually trying one of the cameras outside to see how well it holds up over time.  So far so good.  Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments and watch my videos on setup and un-boxing.






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