There have never been more security cameras to pick from to keep a careful eye on your property, and Blink XT is one of the newest arrivals: a simple, budget offering with no subscription fees to worry about, not even for keeping your recordings in the cloud.
Blink is actually an Amazon-owned brand, which is a little odd considering Amazon also owns Ring, which makes very similar products. For the full rundown of the specs and features you get with the Blink XT, and how it shapes up against the competition, read on.
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Blink XT security camera: design and specs
The Blink XT security camera isn't a particularly beautiful bit of hardware, but it's compact at least, and is weatherproof too – so you can use it inside or outside. The camera takes two lithium AA batteries and has one of the most awkward mechanisms we've ever come across for releasing the back casing... but overall, it's fine.
Blink says two batteries (which you get in the box) will see you through two years of use, though obviously we haven't had chance to test that yet. There's also a bracket for mounting the camera somewhere, and a Sync Module for handling communications between the camera and your router (you'll need these devices to be fairly close to ensure a good signal – think a room or two apart).
Setup is relatively straightforward and involves scanning a couple of QR codes – we had no issues connecting the Blink XT to our network and getting up and running, spanning from the front of the house to the back. The lack of a stand isn't really a problem indoors, as you can just stick the camera on a shelf or a windowsill, but if you're using the camera outside you'll probably want to fasten it to something.
Bear in mind that the Sync Module does need to be plugged in somewhere. It can handle up to 10 cameras, either the new Blink XT models or the older plain Blink models, which aren't weatherproof and can't go all the way up to 1080p in terms of resolution.
Video resolution tops out at 1080p, which puts it among the best in the business, and the 110-degree field of view is perfectly respectable too. On the downside there's no two-way audio with the Blink XT, so you can't warn away burglars or scold the cat while you're out at the office.
With Blink being an Amazon-owned company, you can of course control the Blink XT camera with Alexa: you can ask to see live footage from a particular camera on your network, or arm and disarm the entire system using your voice, which might be slightly more convenient than tapping through on your phone.
Blink XT security camera: features and app
The free Blink apps for Android and iOS will take you step by step through setting up your Blink XT camera, and are generally a breeze to use. They're not the most well designed or intuitive apps we've ever seen, but they cover the basics well enough.
You can tap into a live view of your camera at any time, complete with (one-way) audio, although for some reason the live previews never showed up on the front page of our app.. On top of that, an app alert appears if your Blink XT camera detects motion – it'll also record a minute of footage to the cloud at the same time.
Speaking of the cloud, you get two hours of recordings stored in the cloud for free, which means no extra subscription fees to pay. Considering most clips are only a few seconds in length, that's ample space, and when it starts to run out the oldest footage gets deleted first. If you really need to keep clips, they can be saved to your phone.
But does it actually work? In our testing the Blink XT camera did a good job of detecting major motion and ignoring waving branches or changes in the amount of sunlight streaming into the garden. If you do find the camera too sensitive or not sensitive enough, you can adjust the sensitivity in the app, which is reassuring. You can also set the cameras to disarm at specific times.
Okay, you don't get the clever face detection of a Nest camera or the ability to set specific zones in the view of the camera like you do with Ring, but the core functionality works fine – and don't forget the Blink XT is at a lower price point than a lot of its rivals. The night vision is impressive too, even in near pitch blackness.
On the whole the video footage captured by the Blink XT camera is fine, though we did notice occasions when the recording was too slow to capture whatever was going past – perhaps a trade-off in return for that two-year battery life. Unfortunately there's no web interface for reviewing your recordings – you have to go through the app.
Blink XT security camera: price and verdict
The Blink XT security camera isn't the most feature-packed on the market, or the one with the best video and audio quality, or the one with the most polished apps... but it is definitely one of the best in terms of value for money, and that's going to put it near the top on a lot of shortlists.
It wasn't all plain sailing – sometimes the camera would disconnect from the Wi-Fi for a moment without any explanation, and as we've mentioned we did see some clips where the video started after the source of the motion had disappeared – but on the whole it's hard to quibble with what the Blink XT gives you.
At the time of writing You can pick up a single camera system (with a Sync Module) for £99.99, a two-camera system for £179.99, a three-camera system for £259.99, and a five-camera system for £399.99, which should cover any requirements. Extra cameras on their own cost £89.99 a pop. Don't forget: no subscription charges on top.
Sure, there are some rough edges (especially in the app), but these cameras are sturdy, reliable, and easy to set up. It's definitely worth considering these as budget options for blanketing your home with a network of cameras. Even just having them in place might be enough to put off would-be trespassers.
For the very best in home security though, we'd look elsewhere – you don't get any advanced face or person detection, you can't set activity zones, and the video recording isn't as reliable or as high quality as it is on some other security cameras we've tested in the recent past.
Being able to pay your money, set the cameras up, and then not have to pay anything else goes a long way in the smart home market, and those are the areas where the Blink XT really excels. If those are the factors most important in your choice of smart home security camera, the Blink XT fits the bill.