Blink is Cordless Video Surveillance and More

Blink is a crowdfunded success story that delivers a cordless video surveillance experience backed by serious battery longevity. And after waiting, and waiting, and waiting … I’m excited to be able to share a hands-on experience.

In real life, Blink is even tinier than I had imagined. And though I have multiple home security cameras protecting my home, I immediately became obsessed with the idea of a cordless camera. Removing the cords from a camera opens the door to creativity. Do I need to protect my closet? My pantry? An enclosed patio? My garage? Yes. Yes I do. And finding new places for Blink to protect was the highlight of my experience.

So Blink is Cordless and Has a Cool Battery…What Else?

Blink is a battery-powered home security camera. The technology that powers Blink is what sets it apart from other solutions along with a low price and a battery that should last up to one year. Each system is compromised of two parts: a Blink camera and a Sync module with the option to add a third component called the Blink Alarm. Together, they can cover areas in a home that are not typically reachable using a traditional home security camera. They also provide a neater, cordless aesthetic.

Blink is also different in the way it approaches security and privacy. First of all, you can arm and disarm the system remotely from the mobile app. Second, the camera includes a status indicator. The status ranges from “everything is okay” to a red light indicating there may be an issue with the camera. If you are worried that someone might hack in and game your camera’s light, have no fear. According to Tamar Shulsinger of Immedia Semiconductor,

Blink’s privacy LED is hardware-based and turns on with the sensor. It is not controlled by firmware and therefore non-hackable.

Finally, Blink is different thanks to the company that created it, Immedia Semiconductor. The hardware contains Immedia’s proprietary chip which allows the camera to enjoy a long battery life and a low price.

Blink is a completely unique product. The reason is simple – we design the silicon chip that is the heart of the camera,” said Peter Besen, CEO and co-founder of Immedia. “Similar products use 3rd party chips which limit the features they can offer, limit the level of innovation they can bring to their products, and increase the cost to the user. Having complete control of the core technology allows us to do things no one else has done before.

Blink, Sync, Alarm, and App

The system consists of the Blink and the Sync ( both required) and an optional alarm all backed by a mobile app.

The secret weapon in this cordless setup is the Sync. The Sync is a secondary device that must remain plugged into a wall outlet and connected to the internet. It does most of the thinking which allows the camera battery to last longer than other cordless home security cameras. One Sync can support up to 10 devices which can be a combination of cameras and/or alarms.

The Blink Alarm is a 105db siren that you can add for additional home security. It is battery-powered and can be placed anywhere but would be best served if placed near a bedroom (to warn of an intrusion) and near entry doors (to try to scare off any would-be intruder).

All of the devices communicate back to you using a free mobile app which is available for iOS and Android users.

Blink Hands-On Experience

Blink is easy to install and easy to control. The first step in setting up Blink is to plug the Sync module into a wall outlet. The module must remain plugged-in and connected to internet in order for the system to work. From a placement perspective it’s best to keep Sync close to your wireless router or connected via Ethernet. The next step is downloading the mobile app and placing the cameras.

The cameras can either be wall mounted or placed using the included stand. The only factor limiting your creativity is that the cameras must be placed within 100 feet of the Sync; though the app will provide guidance by showing each camera’s Wi-Fi signal strength as well as the Sync signal strength. The entire installation process is guided by the in-app wizard which is basically like having someone hold your hand the entire time. In total, setup took about 5 minutes with the hardest part being insertion of the batteries. If you can insert batteries, you can setup Blink.

From a usage perspective, I was struck by Blink’s video quality. Typically cameras that rely upon battery power must sacrifice performance but Blink records in HD with little to no lag time. Also, the camera offers a 90 degree viewing angle – which is smaller than most security cameras – but using the included stand I was able to capture impressive height and width within one frame.

However impressed I was during the day, I faced disappointment at night. As opposed to offering infrared night vision, the camera includes an illuminator aka a night light. Within the app you can control the light which can be set to off, on, or auto as well as control the intensity of the light. This is similar to the technology used in the iSensor HD. While it is sufficient, it’s less convenient and effective than IR LEDs.

Blink Features and Performance

Though quality of picture is important, there is so much more that goes into a home security camera. Below is a list of features promised by Blink followed by the results of my hands-on experience.

 Promised or Potential FeatureResult
Motion AlertsIncludedWorks
Push NotificationsIncludedWorks
Live View ModeIncludedWorks, but with occasional delay when viewing remotely.
Temperature SensorReads indoor temperature.Works
Temperature AlertsSends alerts when temperature is out of range.Coming Soon
Sync Power Loss NotificationUnknownDid not work.
Low Battery AlertIncludedTBD
Local StorageIncludedWorks via a USB port on the Sync module.
Video History Playback / Cloud StorageIncludedWorks
Night VisionIncludedUses a Night Light Not IR LEDs
AudioMicrophone / One-WayWorks
Automatic Arm/DisarmSet Schedules and Location Based RulesComing Soon
Works with Other Smart Home DevicesIncludedNA
Web Portal ControlIncludedComing Soon
Mobile App ControlIncludedWorks
Promised or Potential Feature
Motion Alerts
Included
Push Notifications
Included
Live View Mode
Included
Temperature Sensor
Reads indoor temperature.
Temperature Alerts
Sends alerts when temperature is out of range.
Sync Power Loss Notification
Unknown
Low Battery Alert
Included
Local Storage
Included
Video History Playback / Cloud Storage
Included
Night Vision
Included
Audio
Microphone / One-Way
Automatic Arm/Disarm
Set Schedules and Location Based Rules
Works with Other Smart Home Devices
Included
Web Portal Control
Included
Mobile App Control
Included
Result
Motion Alerts
Works
Push Notifications
Works
Live View Mode
Works, but with occasional delay when viewing remotely.
Temperature Sensor
Works
Temperature Alerts
Coming Soon
Sync Power Loss Notification
Did not work.
Low Battery Alert
TBD
Local Storage
Works via a USB port on the Sync module.
Video History Playback / Cloud Storage
Works
Night Vision
Uses a Night Light Not IR LEDs
Audio
Works
Automatic Arm/Disarm
Coming Soon
Works with Other Smart Home Devices
NA
Web Portal Control
Coming Soon
Mobile App Control
Works

Motion detection is one of the most important features of a home security camera and Blink’s motion detector works. You can individually control the settings for all your Blink camera’s including deciding whether or not the camera should detect motion. You can use the app to control the delay between motion and notification, sensitivity, and the recorded clip length which can be set anywhere from 1 second to 10 seconds.

Another important feature in a security cameras is storage. Blink includes both cloud storage and local storage. Local storage is delivered in two ways. First of all, you can download and share clips from the cloud at any time. Second, there is a USB slot on the Sync module that supports a Flash Drive for local storage. Cloud storage is included at no cost and you can store up to 7,200 seconds of video. Once you reach the storage limit, older clips are automatically deleted and replaced by new ones.

As much as I am enjoying Blink, like any new technology, it has quirks. One issue I faced is the cameras would “fall offline”. The only way to resolve this is by physically unplugging the Sync module and plugging it back in. The Blink team pushed an update to my cameras a few days ago and the camera performance has improved but it is still important to note that resolving such issues requires physical interaction with the system. A second issue is that occasionally, when viewing footage from a remote location, it takes a moment for the footage to load. This can be annoying if you are concerned and want to check something out right away.

How Does Blink Compare to Butterfleye?

When I first heard about Blink my initial thought was, “Cool but how is this different from Butterfleye? In a lot of ways the two concepts are very similar but there are a couple of key differences that may make one better for you.

In comparing below you will notice two major areas where Blink wins:

1. Blink is less expensive than Butterfleye.
2. The battery life is significantly better.

Also, Blink is a reality and Butterfleye is yet to ship.

 

Purchase Price$79.00$199.00
Cordless Design
iPhone and Android Compatible
Free App
Battery Powered
Battery Life1 year (AA lithium)2 Weeks (rechargeable)
Two-Way AudioMicrophone Only
Motion Alerts
Live Streaming Video
Temperature Sensors
Resolution1280x7201920x1080
Cloud Video Storage
Requires Bluetooth
Wall Mountable
Night VisionVia a Light / Illuminator
Home Automation
Blink
Purchase Price
$79.00
Cordless Design
iPhone and Android Compatible
Free App
Battery Powered
Battery Life
1 year (AA lithium)
Two-Way Audio
Microphone Only
Motion Alerts
Live Streaming Video
Temperature Sensors
Resolution
1280x720
Cloud Video Storage
Requires Bluetooth
Wall Mountable
Night Vision
Via a Light / Illuminator
Home Automation
Butterfleye
Purchase Price
$199.00
Cordless Design
iPhone and Android Compatible
Free App
Battery Powered
Battery Life
2 Weeks (rechargeable)
Two-Way Audio
Motion Alerts
Live Streaming Video
Temperature Sensors
Resolution
1920x1080
Cloud Video Storage
Requires Bluetooth
Wall Mountable
Night Vision
Home Automation

Final Thoughts On Blink

I am thoroughly impressed by Blink. Is there anything that would make it better? Yes. I’m looking forward to the release of the automated arm/disarm feature and I would also like to see them integrate with other home automation devices through IFTTT. However, if you are looking for an indoor home security camera, you will be hard-pressed to find one for a better price that offers such a long battery life.

Where to Buy Blink

There are a few cost-saving ways you can go about purchasing Blink.

You can buy a single Blink camera for $99 on Amazon. That will include a single camera along with your sync module.

If you’re looking for an extra camera, Blink’s two camera bundle is $149 on Amazon and has everything the single camera package has, plus one extra Blink cam.

Then there’s the 3 camera kit as well as the 5 camera kit, both available on Amazon and the savings just increase the more you buy. You can always add on a single camera if you need.

*Updated 11/4 to reflect my hands-on experience

The Blink cameras were provided to me for testing though this did not impact my opinion.