31 January 2018

REVIEW: Blink XT Outdoors WiFi Camera

Blinking 'eck

A while back we reviewed the Blink home security system; a WiFi camera system that boasted a total lack of wires to the cameras. This meant you could put a camera absolutely anywhere without worrying about running a power cable to it... with one exception. The first generation Blink cameras were not weather proof, meaning the garden was a no-no. That changes with the Blink XT Outdoors WiFi Camera.

Do read our original Blink review, but we'll give you an impression of how easy it is to install. Download the app, plug in the small base unit, set up your account, then add one or more wireless cameras. Originally it took us about five minutes to set it set up, and adding the XT as an additional camera took only a minute or two. Dead easy.

Like we said, the Blink XT is different to the other indoor cameras we already have on the network, and not just because it is black. The XT is waterproof and feels far more robust. Gone has the cool looking transparent front over a white body, replaced by tough black plastic and a battery compartment at the rear with a rubber seal.

It uses the same camera mounting bracket as the original Blink camera, which is a simple affair of screwing in one screw and angling the camera where you want it to be. Unlike the indoor cameras, which could be left to stand on a bookshelf or side table, you'll need to secure the Blink XT Outdoors WiFi Camera with the mount, lest a squirrel run off with it.

One that thing that we had forgotten about the Blink system was that they offer free cloud storage of your captured clips and photos. That's pretty rare these days, with most WiFi camera makers charging a small fee for cloud storage. You only get two hours' worth of space, but that is more than enough to make the system worthwhile.

However, you do pay for that wire-free ease of use and free storage in one way: image quality. The Blink XT Outdoors WiFi Camera has a sensor that films at 720p, which might automatically put a lot of people off. But wait, oh ye of the 1080p faith, as the quality is pretty decent, aided by what must be a very clean and crisp lens. 

We installed our Blink XT above the front door of Test Pit Towers, overlooking the drive and approach to the house (yes, another WiFi camera on the house - it's like Fort Knox around here). It took about a minute to screw in the bracket, and with no wires to worry about, we could attach it anywhere to get the right angle (unlike the installation of this total bastard, which required drilling through masonry to run the power cable). In the app you can grab a quick snapshot of what the cam currently sees, or indeed peer through the live feed.

We found that the delay from the live feed, viewed on a phone on the same WiFi network, was about a second, while that extended to two or three over mobile data. We were okay with that, and were happy to see that the picture quality was fine, picking up enough detail, both from the surroundings and people's faces. The nighttime infrared was also good - not mind-blowing - while the motion alerts and sensitivity options all worked smoothly. In tests, it took about three seconds between the motion being detected and the alert popping up on the phone.

If you're concerned about having to swap out the batteries every fortnight, don't; the Blink XT Outdoors WiFi Camera can function for up to two years on two AA batteries (so we're told - we've had ours for a month), and the app does a give a useful indication of current power level, so you'll be able to change them in time.

All in all, the Blink XT is exactly what we wanted from the original Blink system. Yes, we (and many others) would have preferred full HD resolution, but the free cloud storage, lack of wires, and functionality of the app's features, make it more than worth while.

Camera and base sync unit: £149.99
Available from www.amazon.co.uk

Single Camera: £119.99
Available from www.amazon.co.uk

© The Test Pit

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