Blink Outdoor Camera
This is a decent camera if you must have something that integrates with the Alexa ecosystem seamlessly. But thanks to average video quality and some in-app quirks, some users may find this camera frustrating.
- Decent quality video
- Easy to set up
- Integrates with Alexa; view on Echo Show easily
- Weather resistant
- Getting recording enabled is not intuitive
- Camera only records when ‘Armed’
- Video quality is nothing special
- App can be laggy
- Pricier than it needs to be
- No multiple video download
Set up & installationThe two key items you get in the Blink Outdoor package are the Blink Outdoor camera itself and the Blink Sync Module 2 which serves as the central Wi-Fi hub for the Blink Outdoor camera and other Blink products you might have, or plan to buy. What you also get is a micro USB cable for powering the Blink Sync Module 2, a mount for the Blink Outdoor with mounting screws, a pair of AA lithium batteries and a special tool for ceiling mounting which doubles as a screw tool. You can access that battery compartment by using the tool to unscrew the back of the unit. The unit only accepts 1.5V lithium (not lithium ion) batteries so use the pair included. Unfortunately these batteries are not rechargeable and the camera is not designed to work with rechargeable AA batteries. The Blink Outdoor unit can also run on microUSB power which can be useful if you plan on mounting it near a wall outlet.
Blink Cloud recording & saved videoBefore we get too far it’s probably a good time to talk about cloud storage and recording options, since this is where any additional costs may come in to play. This is not the spot you want to cheap out on, since with most security cameras if you don’t pay for the cloud recording up front, getting access to videos that might become very important all of a sudden is impossible without a subscription, and most don’t allow you to pay and suddenly open up old recordings. You get a 30-day free trial to Blink’s Subscription Plus Plan which gives you storage, unlimited live view streaming, video sharing, motion detection recording and photo capturing. At the end of the trial period, you will be prompted to continue the Blink Subscription Plus plan from about 3 to $10 USD depending if you want one camera or multiple. This price is pretty much in line with what other companies charge for recording. The Blink Outdoor camera and other Blink devices you have connected to the sync module will continue to function even if you decide not to pay for a subscription but you can only view a livestream of your camera for up to five minutes. After that, you must manually open the stream again. It is possible to use a USB drive plugged into the Blink Sync Module 2 as a local storage for motion-detected clips too.
Video QualityLet’s get to video quality…This is an HD camera with night vision and overall the footage is okay. Most cameras these days use HD recording so that’s about standard. 4K would be better, but it would also cost a lot more for the camera and cloud storage, so a lot of users are perfectly happy with HD footage. Blink Outdoor camera can record 1080p video and it has an extremely wide angle lens that sees about 110 degrees across your space. Because it’s so wide, I did feel like it had difficulty getting at much detail. The video quality is kind of just okay, and using the app you can zoom in on footage, so you can improve your view to a small extent. It is equipped with an Infra Red sensor which you can configure at different intensities. So at night the footage is actually pretty good. The camera also has a built-in microphone and speaker so you can engage in two-way audio conversations from the Blink app. You can also adjust all kinds of settings including how sensitive the cameras motion detection is, how long of a clip it should record and save; anywhere from five seconds to 60 seconds, as well as setting a re-triggering time; meaning that it won’t trip every time your dog walks by it for example within the same period of time. One of the first things I noticed about the camera is that it doesn’t seem to record motion footage on its own. I used the camera for about a week then I went back to review my video clips, and realized the only ones that existed in my library were ones I had specifically told the app to save. Any other movement or motion was not stored. I double checked my motion Recording and my motion alert settings and though both were tuned on, I hadn’t been getting anything. So I reset that setting, turning it off and back on, updated the app, re-positioned the camera to a busier area and gave it some additional time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the camera to record or save any motion activated clips. Which is kind of annoying since if someone comes onto your property, if you’re not watching the camera, you’ll never know… Now I don’t know if this is an issue with the Blink camera, or the iPhone app integration, but this makes the camera a bit useless.
Why isn’t my Blink camera recording motion?Determined to figure out why I wasn’t getting any motion alerts, I did some reading and some fooling around with the system and the app. What I finally figured out is that in order for motion to be recorded, you must “arm” the camera. There’s a tiny button on the bottom of the app that lets you toggle this setting on or off. If it’s “armed” you’ll get both push notifications and the camera will record what’s happening. If it’s not armed, you get nothing. This seems to me to be a very needless extra step to get your camera to record. Once I figured it out, I just left it switched on, and from there I started getting proper alerts and recordings.
Blink app: slow is the name of the gameThe Blink app is nothing special if I’m being honest. It’s a simple portal to view your live or recorded videos and it can be quite slow to load. With only three tabs; Home, Clips and Settings, it’s easy enough to find what you need. At the same time there are some annoyances… like two different settings menus which isn’t intuitive when you’re looking to make changes. Annoyingly, there also doesn’t seem to be a way to save multiple clips to your phone at once; you need to open each on, load it then click on it to get the save feature. A tedious and time consuming process.
How to view Blink camera feed on Echo ShowAs an official Amazon product, the Blink Outdoor integrates with the Alexa ecosystem. If you have an Echo Show, you can just ask Alexa to show the Blink Outdoor camera you want referring to it by the name you set. Before you can access this you do need to enable the setting in the Blink app, and it will prompt you to sign into your Amaon account. From there’s it’s a simple ask: ‘Hey A-, show me Blink Camera”. My Echo Show 15 popped it up picture in picture style and you can tap it to expand the size. Helpfully, it seems I could leave my camera feed up for a lot longer than I could view it in the app, which cuts you off after just a few seconds unless you constantly click Continue. You can also configure the Blink Camera to make announcements on an Echo Device whenever a connected Blink camera detects motion. You set this up in the Alexa app.
How to turn on Motion Announcements on Echo Show
- Open the Alexa app and tap Devices in the bottom right-hand corner.
- Tap Cameras.
- Tap the Blink camera you wish to use for Alexa interaction.
- Tap in the upper right-hand corner.
- Turn on Motion Announcements.