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Hands-on review: Blink Outdoor 4 camera

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Erin L

Erin L

Blink Outdoor 4 camera

Chances are you’re looking at a wireless home camera system for security reasons, to keep tabs on kids or pets. Or maybe just to capture cool stuff… Whatever your reasons, you want a camera that’s affordable, easy to use and —most importantly—one that provides good video and easy-to-access recordings. That’s where Amazon’s Blink cameras come in. Blink has recently launched its new Blink Outdoor 4, so in this review I’ll try the system out, let you know if it checks those three boxes I mentioned….

But an early heads up… some of its new features like person detection and motion alerts are a bit… squirrely. Find out why…

Blink Outdoor 4 Camera
2.5

Summary

While the small size, person detect and night vision features are nice, it’s quality and performance leave something to be desired in a competitive market space.

Pros

  • Small camera
  • Withstands most weather
  • Night vision
  • Person detection
  • Works with Amazon devices
  • 2 year battery life (stated, not verified)
  • Smartphone app works with Apple, Android

Cons

  • Average resolution (1080 HD)
  • Average video quality
  • Confusing app interface
  • Camera must be “armed” to record (even if you don’t have alarm)
  • Alerts never come
  • Voice control didn’t work for me
  • Smart home integration limited to Amazon Alexa
  • Needs Sync module to work

What is Blink Outdoor 4?

Blink outdoor 4 is a compact, battery-powered video camera, so you can put it literally anywhere, which is part of the appeal. And through some software and hardware magic, Amazon says you wouldn’t have to replace these batteries for two years.

Blink’s Outdoor line is made to withstand everything the outdoor environment throws at it, from the sun’s heat to the cold of winter. Plus, they’re waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about rain or snow damaging them.

What you get

In the box is the camera, mounting hardware, and another device; Blink uses what’s called a sync module that’s a must-have for your cameras. Blink Sync Module serves as the central Wi-Fi hub for the Blink Outdoor camera and other Blink products you might have, or plan to buy.

To get the system set up you must first connect that sync module to your Wi-Fi and add it to the Blink app, then set up your camera. The process is relatively straightforward and takes place entirely within the app so you should be set up in just a few minutes, as I was.

What’s new with Blink Outdoor 4?

Now that we’re on the fourth generation, what’s changed and what’s improved?

The most noticeable thing is the design; Blink has offset the lens from the centre to a corner, though I can’t imagine why. The size holds, but the important things like battery

Key Improvement: person detection

The big improvement Amazon is bragging about here in Blink Outdoor 4 is in its improved motion detection. These new generation cameras now have “person detection” which uses something Blink calls “computer vision” that apparently distinguishes humans from non-humans in the frame. In theory, it’s far less likely to alert you to squirrels and fallen leaves and more tuned into unwanted people wandering around, meaning less of those unwanted notifications at the slightest sign of movement. Again, in theory… we’ll get to what it does in practice.

Blink OUtdoor 4 camera reviewWhile this software feature is welcome, other cameras have had this for a few years, so it feels like Blink is playing catch-up, particularly since the camera stays stuck at 1080p or HD resolution. While this is fine, and on par with pretty much every camera system out there, it isn’t the best quality and can make it hard to distinguish things in low light.

I’m patiently waiting for 4K resolution cameras.

Where the Blink Outdoor 4 has also improved upon is in its wider diagonal field of view, which increased from 110° from the Outdoor 3 to 143°. This means you’ll be able to see more of your surroundings and get a better sense of what’s going on around your house.

Plus, there is an improved infrared night vision feature on the Outdoor 4 that sees better in the dark. This is a welcome improvement, especially because the low-light performance is one of the biggest grip people had with the Outdoor 3.

Testing Blink Outdoor 4: my hands-on experience

Blink Outdoor 4 camera bird

I tested out my first Blink camera within the last year, and at that time I was not impressed. I found the app to be kind of confusing, and the alerts were very sporadic if I got them at all.

I was convinced this new generation would have resolved some of the problems of the previous version… But perhaps not.

In my last review of a Blink camera, I had difficulty getting the camera to store motion recordings and alert me to activity. None of my videos would save to the cloud.

It took me some digging, but in that video, I found you need to “arm” the camera in order for it to save any recordings. I don’t find this very user-friendly, but if you consider your Blink system as a larger alarm system, this might make some level of sense. As a standalone camera, it’s not helpful or intuitive. And I’m disappointed to say the system still is lacking.

Knowing my camera should be armed before it would record anything, I enabled this, then set up some peanuts outside to lure some of our feathered and furry friends over to join me for my video review. Even though I had motion alerts on, and the system was armed, I got zero motion alerts.

Blink OUtdoor 4 camera reviewDespite not being notified, the camera did record each event.

And, while the camera did distinguish among the recordings in the Blink app as to which alerts were motion-related and which were people; I still did not get reliable notifications about people being in frame. And mostly any push notifications I did get came about 10-15 seconds after the motion stopped.

I checked my Apple iPhone settings and found that seemed to be a contributing culprit; once they were turned on at the iPhone Settings level, notifications flooded in.

How to view recordings in Blink app

Blink Outdoor 4 camera app

So if you have a Blink camera, to make sure you can actually see what’s going on at your home you must:

  • Turn on motion recording in the Blink app
  • Turn on notifications on your phone’s Settings menu
  • “Arm” the system
  • Compared to numerous other video camera systems I’ve had the chance to review, there are too many extra steps here just to make sure your camera does the one thing you want it to, and that’s record videos.

Video quality: fine. Just fine.

Speaking of video; The video quality is very average. Using the app you can zoom in on footage, so you can improve your view to a small extent.

Blink Outdoor 4 has 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.

I will say, the new and much-touted person detection is rather lacking; well it was good at identifying actual people correctly; more often than not it also identified birds and squirrels, or their behinds, as people as well. So from a feature that claims to keep you from getting needless alerts, I’m not sure it’s delivering on its promises.

Blink OUtdoor 4 camera reviewYou can adjust all kinds of settings including how sensitive the camera 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.

Integration into Your Smart Home… kinda

The Blink Outdoor 4 integrates with the larger Blink ecosystem and Amazon Alexa. Alexa, show me the camera” should automatically relay the camera’s feed on your Echo Show device of choice. However, if you’re looking to integrate it with your Apple HomeKit or your Google Home, then you’re out of luck, since it’s not compatible.

Initially my new camera wouldn’t work with Alexa, and asked for a re-linking of Blink and Alexa. After I disabled and re-enabled the skill, Alexa still couldn’t find the camera. I was able to see the camera in the app, but the voice control never worked and I couldn’t view anything in the Alexa app.

But if you just want to monitor the camera on your phone, that should be fine, as the Blink Home Monitor app is available on iOS, Android, and FireOS, and I can confirm I was able to access the app on my iPhone any time I needed to.

Battery life

The battery life of the Blink Outdoor 4 camera is outstanding. The camera uses easily-replaceable AA batteries which is great, and Blink says they should last about two years. Obviously I haven’t had this camera long enough to verify that, but if we take a Blink at its word, that’s extremely impressive, and is far better than many other similar cameras. While it’s great, it’s the same as the previous generation.

Always Prepared: Weather Resistance and Temperature Range

Up here in chilly Canada, we routinely experience some pretty extreme temperature swings, so an outdoor camera has to be able to hold up. I’m glad to say Blink Outdoor 4 is a real tough cookie, bearing the brunt of Mother Nature’s moods. Whether it’s a torrential downpour, an arctic blast, or Arizona in July, this little gizmo withstands temperatures from -4℉/-20C up to 113℉/45C. That’s actually a solid range, and again on par with other cameras. While Calgary routinely gets to 31F/-35C, there’s not much that does work in that kind of cold, so no points are lost here. During my short loan period, the temperatures were rather balmy, so I didn’t have the opportunity to fact check this firsthand.

The Cost of Being Watchful: Recording/Monitoring Costs

Of course, the other question everyone has is: What’s this going to cost me after I buy it? Not surprisingly Blink is hoping you’ll buy into one of its subscription plans. A monthly recording plan is again, par for the course with wireless cameras, but plenty of folks aren’t up for that, so without shelling out the extra dough for a paid plan, you can still view a live feed anytime and receive motion alerts. For a little more dough, the Blink Subscription Plan allows you to store those incriminating ‘caught-on-cam’ clips in the cloud for up to 60 days.

The Basic Plan gets you a 60-day unlimited video history, 90 minutes of continuous live view recording, rapid video access, and video sharing.
It’s also worth noting that the new Person Detection feature is only available for subscribers. Blink does give you a free 30-day trial for the subscription plan if you just want to dip your toes into these features.

Overall review

Blink OUtdoor 4 camera reviewOverall, I still am not wowed by the Blink home monitoring system. When I tally them up, the cons definitely outweigh the pros for me. Let’s recap…

Blink’s Outdoor 4 is small and unobtrusive, it’s weather-resistant, and has enough battery life to last years. It does have night vision and is designed to work with many other smart home devices in the Amazon ecosystem.

On the con side, you do need the extra sync module for the system to work; which is a minor annoyance. I find the app and user interface to be clunky and not intuitive. It also requires you to turn on or enable many settings if you want to get any kind of alerts or to view recordings. The resolution is just average, and voice control didn’t work for me. This is also a Camera system designed for Amazon Echo ecosystems and it won’t work with much else.

The bottom line for me here is that if you have some other reason for wanting the Blink Outdoor 4 camera, such as the fact that you already own many other Blink or Amazon devices, this camera will work just fine for you, as long as you know how to tweak it to make the most of it.

If you’re simply looking for an outdoor security camera that is easy to use, works with more smart home systems and devices, and has a more intuitive user interface I can recommend other options.
Blink Outdoor 4 sells for about $119 USD/$159CAD and you can get it from Amazon. and outdoor waterproof covers are available at Walmart.

Circling back to some of those other devices I would recommend, if you’re looking for something that integrates really well with Alexa devices, I can absolutely recommend any of Ring’s cameras which you can check out here. Or see what Wyze cameras are like… right now.

Also Read:

  1. Blink Mini Outdoor Review: A decent Alexa camera with some quirks

**A note about Affiliate Links: TechGadgetsCanada & TechGadgetsInternational is supported by our readers. Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase, but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Blink Outdoor 4 Camera
2.5

Summary

While the small size, person detect and night vision features are nice, it’s quality and performance leave something to be desired in a competitive market space.

Pros

  • Small camera
  • Withstands most weather
  • Night vision
  • Person detection
  • Works with Amazon devices
  • 2 year battery life (stated, not verified)
  • Smartphone app works with Apple, Android

Cons

  • Average resolution (1080 HD)
  • Average video quality
  • Confusing app interface
  • Camera must be “armed” to record (even if you don’t have alarm)
  • Alerts never come
  • Voice control didn’t work for me
  • Smart home integration limited to Amazon Alexa
  • Needs Sync module to work
Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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