​Blink Mini review: $35 camera is superb quick fix

Compact and low-cost – this is a real problem solver

​Blink Mini
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The cost of indoor security cameras has plummeted, and at just $34.99 the Blink Mini camera is a superb quick fix, and is small change compared to its rivals.

There’s no shortage of rivals out there, but most cost big money. The picks of the bunch are the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, Arlo Pro 3 – but if you’re in the US you have good budget options already, such as the Wyze Cam.

The Blink Mini certainly falls into the category of the latter, although the Wyze Cam Sense has stricter limitations over recording and storage.

We’ve been testing the Blank Mini for a few weeks now – here’s how it compares.

Blink Mini: Design

Blink Mini design

It’s a small camera unit, with a cubed design that’s discreet and looks refined, so you won’t look life you’re running a security surveillance operation from your living room if you place it on top of a bookcase.

It’s designated for indoor use only, and doesn’t have any water/weather-proof credentials, and can’t withstand freezing conditions.

The Blink Mini is a Wi-Fi camera, thus doesn't need a hub connected to your router or any proprietary tech. Plug it in, and you're ready to roll.

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It sits on a little plinth base so the camera can be rotated and tilted, and that made placement easy compared to the Arlo Pro 2 we tested against.

It’s wired, with a 2 metre (6-feet) cable that’s long enough to find a nearby power socket. There’s no battery, so it’s not quite as versatile as the Blink XT.

Blink Mini reverse

There’s a 1080p sensor with a 110-degree FOV, so it’s not especially wide-angled and that’s noticeable when side-by-side with rivals. However, you don’t get that fish-eye quality to your recorded footage.

Set up really was a cinch. We just plugged the camera in, fired up the Blink app and then used our smartphone to scan a QR code on the camera itself. After a minute or so, and sharing Wi-Fi credentials, it was ready to go.

Blink Mini: Features

Blink Mini side

For a budget camera the Blink Mini is pretty feature packed.

The key thing here is data storage. This is free until 31 March 2021, after which storage becomes £2.50 per month per camera. So it’s by no means a massive outlay, but yet another subscription to our already packed lives.

The Wyze Cam does offer 14 days of free storage, but clips are limited to 12 seconds.

There are not many cameras that function without subscriptions now, and given the Arlo Pro 2 is over $200, it will take a few years to end up out of pocket.

In terms of other features, you’ll find infra-red night vision for clearer dark shots, and two-way audio.

There’s motion detection, and it’s super-easy to arm and disarm your camera – the toggle is right in the camera screen when you open the app.

The Blink Mini supports activity zones, so you can blank out areas of your room.

There’s no person detection, unlike Wyze Cam which belies its price with a strong feature set.

And finally, it supports Amazon Alexa – as you’d expect from a company owned by Amazon. That means you can have Alexa display your camera on screen-based Alexa devices such as Echo Show.

We quickly got the skill download and connected, and found that Blink worked seamlessly with Alexa – as you might expect. It was quick to load with a stable connection – a good experience. If you’re using the Blink Mini to keep an eye on kids/animals the Echo Show is a great way to keep the feed in view without taking up your phone or tablet.

Blink Mini: Performance

Blink Mini angle

So how does the Blink Mini stack up in terms of visual and night-time performance?

In short, it’s not touching the quality of the current crop of top smart cameras – but just a couple of years ago it would be astounding to see this available for $35.

We tested it against the older Arlo Pro 2 (which is still available at around $250) to get a true gauge of where the Blink Mini stands. And against our review of the Wyze Cam.

First, the narrower field of view (FOV) was immediately apparent and you don’t see as much of the room. That’s actually a bit annoying, and we preferred the Arlo’s wider look on the world.

In daylight, footage was pretty much on par in terms of quality, although we found that HDR on the Arlo meant less blown out patches of direct sunlight. This was a slight issue on the Blink, which left some spots of patchy quality.

Footage was also on-par with the Wyze Cam, perhaps a little crisper.

Night vision was on-par with the Arlo Pro 2 – we actually found the Blink Mini night-time quality to be a little less noisy and brighter.

I mostly used the Blink Mini to for monitoring my dog – and the motion triggered worked well, as well as activity zones.

We’re not expecting studio quality images from a $35 camera. It’s more than adequate for keeping tabs on the comings and goings in the house, and it’s pleasing that you can essentially get the same quality as 2017’s best smart camera at such a low price. For most people, this will get the job done.

Two-way audio was also pretty loud and clear, with minimal lag. Plenty good enough to actually communicate with.

The app itself is a bit basic. It opens quickly and shows a static camera image that you permanently set, that doesn’t update automatically. You can do that buy tapping the camera button.

You can tap to view a camera’s feed, and then rotate your smartphone to view.

A tab at the bottom reveals your list of captured videos, in chronological order. You can also quickly tell Blink when you want to auto delete clips, choosing from 3, 7, 14, 30 day increments, and one year.

All your captured motion clips are in one stream, so it’s not brilliant for looking back over stuff that happened days ago.

Once you’ve recorded a clip you can share it, save it to your media roll or delete it.


Blink Mini
A pretty no frills camera, the Blink Mini solves a problem for those who want to keep tabs on what’s going on at home, without spending big money. Solid day and night-vision video quality and reliable motion detection make it easy to recommend – with the simple caveat that there are much better (and more expensive) systems out there.
PROS
  • Simple set up
  • Good price
  • Reliable
CONS
  • Not hugely feature rich
  • Narrow-ish FOV


TAGGED    security cameras

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