When we reviewed the original Blink Home Security Camera system back in 2016, we gave it high marks for its reasonable price, sharp 720p video quality, and free cloud storage, but dinged it for its lack of integrations and inability to provide on-demand video and two-way audio. The company is now owned by Amazon, and its new Blink Outdoor ($99.99) is a weatherproof camera that is once again reasonably priced, but this time around offers 1080p video and works with Alexa voice commands and IFTTT applets. Cloud storage requires a subscription, but you can store video locally, view video on demand, and use two-way audio to talk to visitors. It’s a solid deal, but our Editors’ Choice, the Wyze Cam Outdoor, is half the price and offers more features.
The Blink Outdoor system comes with a small 2.7-by-2.7-by-1.2-inch (HWD) camera and an even smaller 0.7-by-2.3-by-2.5 inch Sync Module (hub) that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. The camera is black, has an IP65 weather-resistance rating, and is powered by two AA batteries that are rated to last up to two years before needing to be replaced. To replace the batteries, just loosen the screw on the back of the camera and pop off the cover.
The camera offers video motion detection and captures 1080p footage at 30fps. It has a 110-degree field of view and uses an infrared LED for black-and-white night video, and it contains a speaker and microphone for two-way audio and a temperature sensor. A pair of status LEDs on the front of the enclosure let you know when the camera is active and when night vision is enabled.
The Sync Module is powered by a mini USB AC adapter and contains a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio for connecting to your home network and an RF radio for communicating with the camera. It has Wi-Fi and power status LEDs on the front, and a USB port on the side that can be used to connect to a USB storage device, such as a thumb drive (not included), to store event-triggered video clips.
If you prefer to store video in the cloud, you can subscribe to one of Blink’s Cloud Storage plans. The Basic plan will cost you $3 per month or $30 per year and gives you 60 days of rolling storage for one camera. It also gives you access to Blink’s Photo Capture feature, which has the camera take a still image every hour. The images are then assembled into a short video clip, allowing you to see what transpired right before a motion-triggered event. The $10 per month/$100 per year Plus plan also offers Photo Capture and provides 60 days of rolling storage for an unlimited number of cameras.
The Blink Outdoor uses the Blink Home Monitor mobile app for Android, Fire OS, and iOS devices. It opens to a home screen with panels for each installed camera. Each panel contains a still image of the camera’s field of view and has a button for taking a snapshot and a button for launching a live stream. You can view the live stream in full-screen mode by turning your phone sideways, and initiate two-way talk by pressing the Talk button. A motion icon appears in the upper right corner when motion detection is enabled, and next to that is a settings button.
The Camera Settings screen is where you go to check on the battery level, view the current outdoor temperature, and set temperature threshold alerts. Here you can also create motion zones, configure motion sensitivity settings, determine video clip length, configure video quality settings, enable/disable the microphone, edit Wi-Fi settings, and enable the Photo Capture feature.
Back at the home screen there are Home, Play, Settings, and Neighbors buttons positioned along the bottom edge of the screen. The Home button takes you back to the home screen and the Play button takes you to a screen with a list of triggered events and video thumbnails for each. Tap any thumbnail to view, share, or delete the video. The Settings button takes you to a screen where you can edit your account information, access camera settings, create recording schedules, and manage local storage. Finally, the Neighbors button takes you to a screen where you can download the Ring Neighbors app, which lets you receive safety alerts from your neighbors, local police, and the Ring News team.
Setting up and installing the Blink Outdoor camera was quick and painless. I downloaded the app, created an account, and followed the on-screen instructions to install the Sync Module. Using my phone’s camera, I scanned the QR code on the module, created a system name, and plugged in the module. After 15 seconds or so when the LEDs were blinking blue and solid green, I tapped Discover Device and connected the module to my Wi-Fi network. I entered my Wi-Fi password and the module was immediately connected to my network.
After a 30-second firmware upgrade, I was ready to add the camera. I tapped the plus icon in the upper right corner, selected the camera, and scanned the QR code located in its battery compartment. I added the camera to the system that I had just created and it was recognized within 15 seconds. After another 30-second firmware update, the camera was ready for mounting. I attached the mounting base to a post on my backyard deck, snapped the camera onto the base, and the installation was complete.
The Blink Outdoor delivered sharp, colorful daytime video in testing. There was a trace of barrel distortion, but it was minor and didn’t affect overall picture quality. Black-and-white nighttime video appeared relatively sharp out to around 10 feet or so, but became muddy beyond that point. Motion alerts arrived quickly and false alerts were few and far between. Additionally, I had no trouble viewing video on an Amazon Echo Show using Alexa voice commands.
Long battery life, 1080p video, and easy installation make the Blink Outdoor a good choice for anyone looking for an affordable outdoor camera. Although it requires a hub to connect to your network, it comes in the box and has a USB port for local video storage. The camera delivered sharp daytime video in testing, and motion alerts were accurate and arrived quickly. That said, our Editors’ Choice for affordable outdoor security cameras, the Wyze Cam Outdoor, is only $50 and offers sharper night vision and support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. It also supports third-party integrations via IFTTT applets and features a Travel Mode that allows you to take the camera on the road without the need for an internet connection.
As a Contributing Editor for PC Magazine, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, HDTVs, PCs, servers, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for more than 14 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine’s Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures.
Prior to joining Ziff Davis Publishing, John spent six years in retail operations for Federated Stores, Inc. before accepting a purchasing position with Morris Decision Systems, one of New York’s first value-added resellers of the original IBM PC. For …
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Blink Home, Security, Amazon Alexa
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