Amazon's Blink Mini is one of the most affordable home security cameras, but the cloud storage subscription fee makes it less of a bargain
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- The Amazon Blink Mini home security camera is very affordable and easy to set up and use, making it a solid entry-level option for indoor security.
- Camera footage quality is good at 1080p in full color and it has a black-and-white night mode.
- Amazon Blink Mini cameras also offer clear two-way audio, but they do need to be plugged into an outlet.
- At $34.99 for a single Amazon Blink Mini camera, it's an affordable option, but you must factor in the cost of a cloud storage subscription or purchase of a separate local storage device.
Whether you're worried about intruders or you want to check on kids and pets when you're away from home, it's worth considering an indoor security camera system. The technology has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and competition has driven prices down.
At just $34.99 for a single camera, the Amazon Blink Mini is an enticing entry-level option for indoor coverage. Compact and easy to set up, the Amazon Blink Mini camera offers color 1080p video, two-way audio, and configurable activity zones. As you'd expect with an Amazon product, there's also support for Alexa.
Unfortunately, the Amazon Blink Mini has some strings attached, quite literally, as it must be plugged into an outlet. You'll also have to subscribe to cloud storage, which is free until the end of the year but will cost $3 per camera per month thereafter. The local storage option, via the forthcoming Sync Module 2, must be purchased separately and will also cost $34.99, driving the total price up to about $70 total.
I tested a single Amazon Blink Mini camera in my home to find out how it performs. There's no doubt it's a solid entry-level option, but the prospect of extra costs dents its ambitions as a budget security camera.
- 1080p resolution
- 110-degree field of view
- Night vision with infrared
- Two-way audio
- USB storage (not included)
- 60-day cloud storage $3 per month or $30 per year per camera
- Activity zones
You can buy a single Amazon Blink Mini for $34.99 or get two cameras for $64.99. The box includes a camera, already attached to a mount with a ball joint, which means you can simply place it on a shelf, table, or counter and position it how you want. You also have the option of mounting it on a wall or ceiling, and the two necessary screws are supplied. The need to plug it into an outlet limits your placement options. The Amazon Blink Mini is not a wireless camera, and it comes with a 2-meter USB-to-Micro-USB cable and a power adapter.
The camera is small at around 2 inches square and very lightweight at just 1.7 ounces. It has a black face containing the camera lens, sensors, microphone, and a tiny blue LED that lights up when it's recording. There's a speaker on top of the curved white plastic enclosure. The power cable plugs securely into the back.
The Amazon Blink Mini is an indoor camera, so there's no water resistance. It feels quite cheap, but then again, it is cheap. It's designed to be placed somewhere and forgotten, so durability shouldn't be a problem.
Setup is easy
The Amazon Blink Mini is very quick and easy to set up. The difficult part is deciding where you're going to place it since you need a free power outlet to plug it into.
Once it's plugged in, you simply download the Blink Home Monitor app for Android or iOS and tap the plus icon at the top right to add a camera. There's a QR code on the back of each camera that you can scan to connect it to your network.
If you have a shelf or table to sit the Amazon Blink Mini on, then it's simply a case of adjusting the angle, and you're done. You can also mount the camera on a wall or ceiling. I found the mount a little fiddly to open, but there are two mount options and the necessary screws are provided. You also have the option to flip the camera image in the app for ceiling mounts.
This is probably the quickest home security camera setup process I've experienced. Out of the box, it was ready to go in five to 10 minutes.
The mobile app
The Blink Home Monitor app is very straightforward. The default home tab shows your cameras, and you can tap the video icon to jump into a live view or tap the camera icon to grab a single frame. There's also a "Disarmed" or "Armed" toggle at the bottom for quickly turning your system on or off.
At the top right, there's a settings icon that takes you to the settings page for the camera. This is where you name the camera, enable or disable motion detection, set activity zones, decide on retrigger time, sensitivity, and clip length. The activity zone is a grid system, where you can pick which grids you want motion to be detected in, rather than a box you draw.
Other options include night vision settings, audio, video quality, and the option to turn that blue recording LED off.
The next tab along the bottom shows recorded videos in a chronological list. There's a very basic filter to help you sort videos. Remaining cloud storage is shown at the top and you can choose how long to keep clips for.
The final tab is a settings cog at the bottom right that enables you to configure your Blink account. If you look under "System Settings," you'll find the option to schedule your camera system. There's no built-in geofencing, but you can use IFTTT to automatically arm your system when your phone leaves home.
As an entry-level camera, there's nothing fancy here in terms of person recognition, or smart alerts, but you do get Alexa support. By enabling the Blink SmartHome skill in my Alexa app, adding the Blink Mini, and setting a security PIN, I was able to tell my Echo "Alexa, tell Blink to arm the Office Cam" and it worked just fine. The command to disarm prompted a request for my PIN. If you have a Fire TV or Echo Show, you can also ask Alexa to display the live feed on it.
The Amazon Blink Mini comes with a free trial of the Basic Blink subscription plan that gives you 60 days rolling cloud storage or a total of 120 minutes of video until the end of 2020. After that point, it will cost you $3 per month or $30 per year for each camera or you can opt for the Plus plan at $10 per month or $100 per year for unlimited cameras.
Amazon also plans to release a Blink Sync Module 2 for $34.99. This will link to your Wi-Fi network wirelessly (there's no Ethernet port) and store video from up to 10 Blink cameras. However, it doesn't have any onboard storage, so you'll also need to supply your own USB flash drive, up to 64GB in size.
If you already have a Blink system, the good news is that you can add a Blink Mini to your Sync Module and retain your free cloud storage. Sadly, if the Blink Mini is your first camera from Blink, you will need a subscription for cloud storage. If you don't pony up when the trial runs out, you'll just have the live feed option with alerts.
Unless you have a Blink system already, you need to plan for the cost of the Sync Module 2 and USB flash drive or the Blink subscription.
How well does it work?
The full HD 1080p footage you get from the Amazon Blink Mini is good and in full color. By default, it records in standard quality, but you can set it to best in the app if this isn't good enough for you. I assume it uses more battery and bandwidth. I couldn't really see much difference in the resulting video.
While the daytime video is generally clear, I found that the window area would often be overexposed. This is a cheaper camera, so there's no HDR. The night vision footage isn't as crisp, and it's only offered in black and white.
During testing, the default sensitivity seemed to be spot on. The Blink Mini always captured the movement of a person or cat and I didn't get any false positives. The grid system is good for limiting motion triggers if you're covering a larger area.
There's a bit of a delay between the video recording and the alert on your phone. It can also take a few seconds to load the live feed, but for the most part, I was pleased with how quickly the Blink Mini responded. It generally caught a few seconds before the motion trigger, so I got the full view of what happened.
Clip length can be adjusted in five-second increments between five seconds and 30 seconds. You can also tweak retrigger time, which starts at 10 seconds and goes up to 60 seconds.
The Amazon Blink Mini also offers two-way audio. There's a talk button that you hold down in the live feed in the mobile app so you can talk. The audio quality is impressive, and I found voices came through loud and clear. There's a slight lag, but you can carry on a conversation quite easily.
Cons to consider
It would be nice if the Amazon Blink Mini could distinguish between pets and people, or recognize different individuals, but we don't expect those kinds of features at this price. It also lacks sound detection as a trigger option.
The lag between an event occurring and the alert being triggered on your phone can be annoying, but this is an issue that every security camera system we've tested so far has had.
The main problem with the Amazon Blink Mini is hidden costs because it is billed as a budget option. Just $34.99 for a single camera is reasonable, but the need to add a subscription for cloud storage is a turn-off. You can avoid the subscription route by buying the Sync Module 2 when it arrives and a USB flash drive, but that's going to more than double the price.
Having to plug the Blink Mini into a power outlet is going to be another issue for some people. This limits where you can place it and makes fitting a little tougher, though it's nice not to have to worry about battery life.
The bottom line
The Amazon Blink Mini is a solid, entry-level, indoor home security camera that captures good quality footage. It's very easy to set up and use.
While the mobile app works well, it's fairly basic in terms of functionality. You will also have to buy the Sync Module 2 when it comes out or sign up for a Blink subscription to get cloud storage for clips.
Should you buy it?
If you already have a Blink system, the Blink Mini is a cost-effective way to add more cameras. It's also a good pick if you have Alexa devices in your home, as it integrates easily. However, if this is your first Blink device, then you need to factor in the extra cost of a subscription or Sync Module 2 down the line. If you have a bit more money to spend or you're put off by the added cost of the storage subscription and/or module, you may want to consider another option from our guide.
Which model should you get?
The Amazon Blink Mini seems like the best bargain for $34.99. Even with the extra cost of a Sync Module 2 at $34.99 and a USB flash drive, it looks to be a better bet than the Blink Indoor Cam, which costs $79.99, comes with the original Sync module, but only offers 720p footage. The Blink XT2, at $99.99, is the one to pick for outdoor coverage.
What are your alternatives?
The obvious alternative is the Wyze Cam for about $25. It offers similar quality footage and comparable features, but can also take a MicroSD card for local storage and comes with free, rolling, 14-day cloud storage.
If you want top-quality footage and special features, the Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor is a popular alternative, but it's way more expensive at $300 for a camera, and you'll need a subscription on top.
Pros: Good quality 1080p video, two-way audio, motion detection, activity zones, easy to use, Alexa support
Cons: Requires subscription for cloud storage, Sync Module 2 sold separately, lacks smart featuresRead the original article on Business Insider
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