Blink Mini Review
Pros: Inexpensive, user friendly
Cons: Real time viewing is sometimes laggy, limited cloud storage options
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Blink Mini is a perfect indoor addition to Blink's current suite of relatively inexpensive and wireless outdoor cameras. If you don't already own some of those cameras the Blink Mini is still a good budget option, but there are some other inexpensive models on that market that function slightly better as standalone cameras.
Like the company's other offerings, the Blink Mini offers somewhat spartan but useful monitoring services. Unlike the models that have come before it, this camera requires you pay a subscription fee to access those services.
Like most cameras on the market, the Blink Mini can send you alerts when the camera sees motion. The camera also splits its view into 25 different squares, and you can tell the camera to ignore motion in any or all of those squares. This allows you to do things like tell the camera to look for motion in a doorway, but not out the adjacent window. These "motion zones" are slightly less customizable than those of some other models, but generally get the job done. Perhaps the biggest feature we missed when using this camera is the ability to send a different notification when the camera sees a human versus when it sees generic motion.
The Blink Mini's video recording is slightly different than many of the other models on the market. The camera begins recording the moment it sees motion. It then records for a set time (anything from 5 to 60 seconds can be selected). Once its finished recording, it goes to sleep for a 'retrigger' period that can be set to last anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. Upon completion of the retrigger period it starts to look for motion again. The resulting clips are saved to the cloud. Each user gets 2 hours of cloud storage per camera, with the oldest clips automatically getting deleted when new ones come in. As long as you access a clip before it is deleted, you can save those clips to your phone for safekeeping.
It is important to note that, unlike with the previous cameras Blink has released, the Blink Mini requires that you pay a subscription fee in order to save video clips to the cloud. These fees are relatively low — $3/month or $30 upfront for a full year for a single camera, and $10/month or $100/year for an unlimited number of cameras. However, this is still a departure from the norm for a company that previously offered these services for free. If you buy a Mini you get a free trial through the end of the year, so these fees don't kick in until January 2021. Based on statements made by Blink it seems these services will still remain free for the company's older cameras.
Also in the new year the company will be releasing a Sync Module 2 that will add the option to store clips locally on a flash drive, allowing you to circumvent subscription fees and record as much video as your flash drive can fit. However, this unit costs as much as the camera itself, and presents the problem of a savvy intruder being able to steal all of your stored footage.
The Blink Mini's daytime footage is quite good, with the 1080p resolution shining through and the colors looking fairy accurate. If you compare this footage with some of the upper-tier models there is slightly more noticeable pixelation, but overall the image looks great. The 110˚ field of view is a bit narrower than the 130˚ average, but in most cases does not feel limiting.
Once it gets dark and the Blink Mini has to rely on its infrared sensor, the image quality degrades a bit. When compared to the night vision of some other cameras, the image is relatively washed out, to the point where it can be hard to recognize faces. Otherwise the night images produced by this camera are quite crisp.
We had no trouble understanding what people in front of the camera were saying when reviewing the Blink Mini's footage. However, there was always an audible background hiss in the footage we captured, even when the room the camera was placed in was completely silent.
App Ease of Use
The Blink app is generally well designed and intuitive. We had no issues setting schedules, saving video clips, and adjusting motion zones without consulting a manual. If you're not familiar with the somewhat uniques recording system used by Blink the advanced camera settings may seem a bit arcane, but once you wrap your head around the recording style they make complete sense.
Real Time Viewing
In general, the real time view feed of the Blink Mini is smooth and offers the same kind of video quality of the camera's recorded clips. However, we occasionally ran into issues where the real time video feed would not load. On those occasions we had to quit and restart the app multiple times before the feed would actually load. Though this was an infrequent occurrence, when it did happen it was quite an annoyance.
One slightly annoying thing about the Blink Mini's real time viewing is that you're limited to 30-second chunks. After 30 seconds of viewing you'll have to restart the feed.
The Blink Mini provides good all-around performance at a low price. If you already have an outdoor Blink camera and want to extend that coverage inside, the Mini is a great value. However, if you're looking for a standalone budget camera, we think there are some other models on the market that offer similar performance for slightly less, or that don't require subscription fees in the long term.
The Blink Mini is a great budget camera, particularly if you already have other Blink cameras. Just remember, unlike other Blink cameras, its cloud recording will require a subscription service from 2021 and beyond.
— Max Mutter