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Blink XT Review
Price: $130 List | $129.99 at Amazon
Pros: Inexpensive, decent video quality
Cons: Poor real time viewing, limited storage, no subscription options to expand storage
Bottom line: A good budget option if you're looking for an outdoor camera and don't need much video storage
Power Source: Battery
With 1080p resolution, water resistance construction, and decent night vision, The Blink XT is a good budget option for outdoor tasks like monitoring the driveway and monitoring the front door. Its video and real time viewing quality is noticeably inferior to that of the other outdoor models we tested, the Nest Cam Outdoor and the Canary Flex, but it's good enough to let you see what cars pulled into your driveway throughout the day. It also runs on standard AA batteries, so you can mount it literally anywhere. If you want an inexpensive way to see who's been knocking over your trash cans, this is the camera for you. If you're looking for a budget indoor camera, we feel the YI Dome is better value.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Blink XT is not a stand out performer in any capacity, but it does offer decent quality video in a weatherproof package, making it great for those on a budget that want to monitor the front yard.
The Blink XT was on the low end of our final score sheet, as you can see in the table above. In the sections that follow we discuss how it performed in each of the various tests we conducted to find the best home security camera.
The Blink XT earned the lowest score of 4 out of 10 in our monitoring performance testing, mostly due to the lack of subscription services to expand functionality.
Monitoring Services With/Without a Subscription
Blink does not offer any sort of subscription service. I stead it offers a revolving 2 hours of motion activated video clips saved on the cloud (revolving in the sense that once you hit 2 hours the oldest clips will automatically be deleted to make room for the newest ones).
The one problem with this is that the Blink XT does just record clips while something is moving in front of the camera, which would be great. Instead it starts recording when it first sees motion, and then records for a predetermined amount of time (you can set this clip length in the settings). You must also set a reset time, or the amount of time the camera stays asleep after recording a clip before it will start looking for motion again. If you set the clip time too short you run the risk of missing the action you were hoping to record, and if you set it too long you run the risk of filling all your cloud storage space with clips of a squirrel running by and then 30 seconds of nothing. We think a simple start recording when motion is detected and stop recording when no motion is detected function would greatly improve the Blink XT's usefulness.
However, this model frees you from subscription fees. Considering the other two outdoor cameras, the Nest Cam Outdoor requires $10 a month for any real video history, and the Canary Flex offers only a 24-hour history of 10-second motion activated clips without a subscription. Depending on how much activity occurs in front of the Blink XT, that free 2 hours on the cloud can span days or weeks, and is completely free.
The Blink XT has a fairly good microphone. Conversations had in front of the camera sounded a bit echoey, but we were able to understand most of what was said.
The Blink XT and its 1080p resolution earned a fairly average score of 6 out of 1 in our video quality testing.
The clarity of the video it produces is quite good, but it tends to be a bit darker than that of other cameras. The 110˚ field of view also feels somewhat cramped when compared to the 130˚ offered by most other cameras.
The XT's night infrared is quite good for an inexpensive camera, comparable to the of the Nest Cam Indoor. This again makes it great for monitoring yards and driveways. It is also noticeably better than the night vision of the YI Dome Camera, the main competitor in the low budget arena.
App Ease of Use
Blink clearly put a lot of effort into its app design, which earned a high score of 8 out of 10 in our testing.
It offers a clear user interface that makes setting schedules, changing recording settings, and entering live view mode easy and intuitive. However, the Nest app felt just a bit more streamlined, which kept the Blink app from earning the top score.
Real Time Viewing
Real time viewing is one area where the Blink XT really struggled, earning the worst score of 4 out of 10 in the metric.
The measured latency of 5 seconds is quite low, but the feed was choppy enough that we missed a lot of the action (how did the cat knock over the ficus?). This was noticeably worse than live viewing on the YI Dome, which was relatively smooth if not slightly pixelated.
The Blink XT can sit on and horizontal surface or be mounted to a vertical surface with an adhesive or the included mounting plate that installs with a single screw. The camera itself runs off of 2 AA batteries, so you don't need to be tethered by wires. The camera communicates wirelessly with a base unit that must be plugged into a standard outlet.
The Blink XT lists for $130 with a base unit, or $120 if you already have a blink base unit. Getting a better outdoor camera requires either spending $200 on a Canary Flex and settle for a 24-hour video history of 10-second clips, or spending $200 on a Nest Cam Outdoor and then spending another $100 a year on subscription services. This makes the Blink a great value overall for outdoor monitoring. If you're looking for an indoor camera, we think the YI Dome is still the best budget option.
The Blink XT provides decent video quality and reasonable cloud storage in a weatherproof package, making it a good budget option for those looking for an outdoor monitoring camera.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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