Hands On Review of the Blink XT Home Security Camera

Blink XTThe Blink XT Home Security Camera System is the second generation and the improvements put this over the top as one of our favorite outdoor cameras.  Improved video quality, a rugged outdoor build, decent app and a built-in thermometer that’s actually accurate.  What’s not to like?

We encountered the first generation from Blink two years ago.  The Blink Home Security System was a decent wireless camera but was still a work in progress.  Blink has come a long way with the XT fixing most of the shortcomings and making this a very easy camera to setup and use.

Software

You can access the Blink XT with your iOS or Android smartphone.  As of today, no way to access this camera without an app as there’s no browser-based interface.  Maybe that’s a shortcoming but I don’t personally find a need to access cameras via the web.

Aligned with the older Blink camera, the XT has very little documentation in the box.  Fortunately, it’s not too hard to set this up.  Download the Blink app, setup the sync module and start adding cameras.  Use the plus sign at the bottom of the initial screen to add your cameras.  A hint in setting up your cameras is to not put the rear cover on until you add it in as the UPC code needed for scanning is within the battery compartment.

Once all cameras are added into the app, you can customize the motion settings, setup your video retention or watch some live action.

Motion settings include sensitivity, retrigger time and clip length.  There is also a toggle to end the clip early if motion stops.

The Blink XT supports activity zones.  This is an excellent feature for eliminating false motion alerts.  Simply select the areas where valid motion will likely appear and deselect the places where invalid motion might be encountered.  Useful applications of activity zones can exclude things like a blowing tree limb from creating motion alerts.

I find that a clip length of 10 seconds suffices for ordinary monitoring and like to use a 20 second retrigger time.  A sensitivity of 7 is used to capture all motion events although you can probably get away with a 5.

Can’t complain about free cloud storage, even it is limited.  Video from motion alerts is written to the cloud and you’re limited to 7,200 total seconds of storage.  It’s then overwritten.  In my particular case, with ten second clips, that’s at least 720 events.  This is the aggregate amount of storage per account, not per camera.

All video is recorded and displayed at 1080p with no option to change that.

Battery status is also shown however it’s not displayed as a percentage.  It’s going to say OK or Replace.

Hardware

That’s the Blink XT in the photo that accompanies this article.  It’s using a homemade mount keeping a watch on the garage.  It’s quite small measuring 2.77” x 2.77” x 1.34” and weighing in at 4 oz (including 2 AA batteries).

This is an outdoor camera rated as IP65.  That means the Blink XT camera is protected against low pressure water jets from all directions, limited ingress permitted.  That’s the official meaning of IP65.  So it’s ok to attach to the outside of your home.

These are truly wireless cameras so you don’t plug these in.  They include two 1.5V AA batteries which Blink claims to last up to two years.  That’s with standard use which Blink defines as 40,000 seconds of recorded motion clips and Live View sessions.  Quick math and that works out to about 50 seconds daily.  So I’m thinking that 2 years might be a stretch.  Fortunately, the Blink XT batteries are easy to change.

The Blink XT camera doesn’t connect to your wireless router.  Instead each camera connects to a Sync Module which is a small hub.  The Sync Module connects to your wireless router.  Unlike the cameras, the Sync Module is powered by a traditional A/C adapter.  The Sync Module is intended to stay indoors as it’s not weatherproof.

Daytime video is very clear at 1080p.  The Blink XT cameras have a 110 degree wide-angle lens.  Somewhat less than many competitors so I recommend placing this in a corner to get as much of the view as possible.  There is a slight lull in the video of a few seconds.

The Blink XT incorporates a decent infrared lamp.  Night vision is adequate up to what I measure to be 20 feet.

There’s an integrated microphone but no speaker.  The microphone is adequate for hearing what’s going on.

There is no on-board storage with the Blink camera.  All events are written to the cloud.

The Blink XT works with IFTTT.  You can do some basic automation including arming, disarming and alert notifications.

Connectivity

The Blink XT sync module connects to your wireless router at 2.4GHz using 802.11 b/g/n.  Remember, this is a system where the cameras connect wirelessly to the sync module so you also need to be concerned with connectivity between the cameras and the sync module too.  I was able to go 50 feet between the camera and the sync module without any issues.

Mounts

This continues to be an area for improvement for this brand.  The Blink XT deploys a unique mounting attachment on the back of the camera where the small included mount snaps in place.  The included mount is a flat surface variety with very limited capability.  Fortunately, there are a few third party mounts discussed in this article about mounting a Blink.XT.

Fun and Different

The Blink XT includes an integrated thermometer reading that’s fairly accurate.  This is a nice feature for an outdoor camera.  The temperature reading can be accessed from each camera’s setting screen.

Summary

This is a good camera.  The Blink XT Home Security Camera System is a good candidate for outdoor deployment where there is no accessible power.  The motion alerts are reliable and free cloud storage is a welcome feature.  Installation and setup is easy and the app is very user-friendly.  It’s easy to expand the system with additional cameras and I really like the improved video quality on this model.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1080p110 DegreesYesNoYesYes/NoYesYes

Manufacturer Link:  Blink