Blink Mini review: Amazon jumps into the budget security camera fray

The latest Blink takes on cheap, compact security cameras like the Wyze Cam.

blink mini image 2
Blink

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At a Glance
  • Blink Mini

Amazon’s new Blink Mini is a compact indoor camera that combines solid baseline features, easy operation, and a wallet-friendly $35 price tag. That naturally pits it against a growing group of budget-priced compact cams, including the EZVIZ Mini Plus, the Xiaomi Mi Home Security Camera, and the Wyze Cam V2. It’s fair to assume Amazon is most acutely focused on the last, though, as the well-regarded $20 security camera was developed by a group of ex-Amazon employees and has upended the notion that you need to spend extravagantly to get best-in-class features and performance.

The Mini is the first Blink camera to break from the blueprint of previous models since Amazon purchased the camera’s parent company in 2018. The palm-size square form factor has been ditched for something more akin to, well, the Wyze Cam. Like that camera, the Mini is a compact cube—it measures just 1.97 x 1.93 x 1.41 inches (WxHxD)—that can sit freely on any flat surface or on a stand. One difference here is that the Wyze Cam’s stand is integrated and retractable and the Mini’s is a separate component, which means little other than you have an extra piece to keep track of.

Also, like the Wyze Cam—and unlike previous Blink cameras—the Mini requires AC power via a USB cable and adapter. Indeed, the two cameras are akin right down to their 110-degree viewing angles.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
blink mini Blink

The compact and affordable Blink Mini has budget cameras like the Wyze Cam in its sights.

The Mini captures 1080p video and includes infrared night vision, two-way audio, motion detection, and customizable motion-detection zones to help minimize false alerts. Naturally, it works with Alexa; you can display the video stream or play back video clips on an Echo Show smart display, as well as arm or disarm the camera using voice commands with any Amazon smart speaker.

Currently, cloud storage is the only option for saving video clips. Blink comes with a free trial of its Plus subscription plan until December 31, 2020. After that date, you’ll have to subscribe to continue the plan for $10 per month for unlimited cameras at a single location. Alternatively, you can scale down to the Basic plan for $3 per month per camera. Each plan offers 60 days of rolling video storage per camera. Purchasing either plan also gives you a 10-percent discount on all future purchases of Blink devices through Amazon.com, and an extended warranty to all subscribed Blink devices.

Amazon says the Blink Sync Module 2, an update of the sync module included with past Blink cameras, is coming soon and will enable you to record and store video clips locally and view video clips from up to 10 cameras in your Blink app with no monthly fee. The module and a USB flash drive for the actual storage will each be sold separately. You can sign up to be notified when the Blink Sync Module 2 is available here.

blink sync module 2 image 2 Blink

Amazon says the Blink Sync Module 2, which will enable users to store video clips on USB drive, is coming soon.

Setup and performance

As I already had the Blink app from reviewing past Blink cameras, I had only to add the Mini to my account, scan the QR code on the back of the camera, and connect it to my Wi-Fi to set it up. I detached the camera from its stand—in unsnaps from the base with a gentle tug—and set it on a shelf in my living room.

Live and captured video was sharp with vibrant color. But brightly lit areas, like those around lamps and other fixtures, as well as reflective surfaces, like some white cardboard boxes I had laying around, tended to look washed out. This is something I encountered with some earlier Blink cameras, too. This wasn’t a problem in night vision mode, which provided even illumination and strong contrast.

Motion detection worked well in my tests and delivered notifications of activity promptly. The camera can’t distinguish between people and pets or a rustling curtain, but there are ways to minimize the number of alerts you receive. You can increase or decrease detection sensitivity on a scale of 1 to 9. You can also adjust the re-trigger time—the time after a motion event during which the camera won’t detect motion—so that you have a longer delay between triggers. Lastly, you can set motion zones by selecting only those parts of the camera’s view you want to monitor for movement.

blink app Michael Ansaldo/IDG

The Blink app is easy to use, if not particularly polished.

Though the Mini represents a makeover for the Blink, the Blink app looks largely unchanged. That means you’ll know your way around if you’ve owned an older Blink camera, but it’s so Spartan even newbies should be able to navigate it easily.

The Mini’s live feed, which opens when you select the camera from the home screen, features only the camera’s video stream, a pair of buttons to save or discard a recording of it, and a hold-to-talk button that lets you speak remotely through the camera. You can mute/unmute the camera’s speaker by tapping an icon at the top.

Back on the home screen, there’s a button that opens the camera’s settings and another that lets you quickly toggle motion detection on and off. You can open a library of video clips and manage your account from a toolbar across the bottom. The Mini also works with Neighbors by Ring, an app that lets you get real-time safety alerts from your neighbors and local police. A direct link to the app is also provided in the toolbar.

Bottom line

The Blink Mini is a practical choice for an indoor camera, but don’t expect to be wowed by it, at least in its current state. With local storage expected at an as-yet-unknown date, and an app overdue for an update, the camera feels very much like a work in progress. If you’ve already invested in the Amazon ecosystem, it makes sense to grab the Mini now, knowing these improvements will probably be made sooner than later. But if you’re in the market for a budget security camera, you’ll get more immediate returns with one of the other products mentioned at the start of this review, particularly the Wyze Cam V2 or the Xiaomi Mi Home.

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At a Glance
  • The budget-priced Blink Mini could be a practical choice for indoor security, as long as you're comfortable with a work-in-progress.

    Pros

    • Budget price
    • Compact and portable
    • Accurate, customizable motion detection

    Cons

    • No audio detection
    • Spartan app is in need of a makeover
    • Currently, no local storage option
  
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