Blink XT 2 test / reviewCategory: Tests / Reviews
We live in an increasingly connected world where security is more and more important. Amazon understood this and decided to start producing security cameras by launching the Blink XT brand. This is the second model of the brand, but I wouldn't be surprised if a Blink XT3 or XT4 is finally released. [b][b]Amazon is not the only brand to have launched into the adventure, Google and Xiaomi are also present. If these brands are attacking the camera market, it's a sign that the market is ready and that we will soon be flooded with connected solutions related to these 3 brands.[b][b]So which product to choose? Let's start with the Amazon product, I'll see if I find time to test the others.[b][b]Manufacturer web site: https://blinkforhome.com/products[b]
Price Blink XT2The list below shows the prices for the Blink XT2 from more than 50 sites around the world. If you are not satisfied with any price, you can subscribe to a price alert to be the first to be notified when the price drops.[b]
[b] The above links are affiliate links from companies such as Amazon, Gearbest, Aliexpress,... If you appreciate my work, I would be grateful if you could purchase these products through these links. It costs you absolutely nothing but I get a small commission that allows me to buy the material I test. Thank you very much!
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Timeline10/02/2020: purchase of the Blink XT2 pack including 2 external cameras, one internal camera and the hub on Amazon[b]12/02/2020: order reception and unpacking[b]
Why this product?There are many types of surveillance cameras on the market and it is sometimes difficult to find your way around. I chose the Blink XT2 for two reasons. I needed a wireless solution because I don't have access to electricity outside my home. I also needed a video storage solution that wouldn't require me to pay a monthly subscription.[b][b]With the Blink XT2, I found a completely standalone solution that promises 2 years of autonomy and completely free cloud storage.[b][b]I probably could have found a solution on the Chinese brands side because they cost less but I have no guarantee that these companies will continue to exist. I had bought a Chinese camera 2 years ago, it worked with the cloud as well and then suddenly the company disappeared, the cloud too and my camera was unusable. If you keep your cameras for a few years without this kind of risk, you should choose a brand that will survive.[b][b]
Structure of my testsI test products according to a pre-established structure (see below) to provide you with maximum information. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of time. Unlike some sites where products are tested on a single day, I use the products I test for a minimum of a few weeks and sometimes even a few months. If the test is not complete at the time of your visit, I invite you to come back later or ask your question in the comment section below.
Unpacking[b][b]The Blink XT2 camera system is available in individual cameras or as a bundle with multiple cameras. You can buy an individual camera or several cameras with the control module. If you buy a single camera without the control module, you will not be able to use this camera. The Blink XT2 works with a proprietary protocol, so you won't be able to control it with existing protocols like z-wave or zigbee.[b][b] I bought an individual camera for indoor use (the white camera) and a bundle of two external cameras (the black cameras) with their control module. Each box contains in addition to the cameras a set of AAA batteries and a small wall bracket to attach the camera. [b][b][b][b]You can control all cameras with the same control module.[b][b][b][b]The batteries have to be inserted from the back with a flap mechanism, the external cameras have a watertight protection which allows them to be used in the rain. It is possible to connect the camera to a USB cable but this requires lifting part of the sealing layer, so I'm not sure if this is a good solution for outdoor use.[b][b][b][b][b]
Setup[b][b]The installation of the Blink XT2 is accessible to everyone because no cables need to be installed. The camera is supplied with a small bracket that you must screw where you want to install the camera.[b][b]I originally installed the camera just under the roof of an old shed by fixing the camera on a wooden support. The camera was thus protected by the roof but I hadn't thought about spider webs. I changed my cameras several times because each time spiders used the camera to weave their webs. I finally installed the cameras under a ledge with enough distance to the nearest wall and with this location I no longer had any problems with spiders.[b][b]What is the problem with these webs? My cameras were triggered several times a night because the spider passed in front of the sensor, which resulted in some videos worthy of a horror film.[b][b]
Trigger speedThe control module connects to your network via wifi like any other device. The cameras connect to the control module in wifi as well but you will not be able to access the cameras other than through the control module. Blink XT2 uses a proprietary system to control the cameras, so you will not be able to control them other than through the control module. You will be able to control your cameras with Alexa but here again, it is through the control module.[b][b]I think it's a pity that the cameras are not open to Zigbee or Z-wave protocols but I understand the choice of Blink XT2 which probably prefers to impose its own system to keep control over the solution.[b][b]I installed an external camera at 3m from the control module and another one at 12m, both cameras pick up the signal very well, I receive the maximum signal level for both cameras. The indoor camera is 6m from the control module and there again I have a very good signal.[b][b]
Detection rangeWhen the camera detects motion, it triggers a recording mechanism and sends a notification to the application. There is a latency of several seconds between motion detection and video capture, so you can't actually see a live image, you will always have a few seconds delay.[b][b]This delay is not very disturbing, what is much more disturbing is the slow start of the recording. If you pass quickly in front of the camera, the motion sensor will detect your passage, but since the recording starts with a delay, the camera will most likely not see anything. The first night I have received a lot of alerts and every time I watched the video I didn't see anything moving. So at first I thought the motion sensor was faulty but I found that cats were regularly passing through my garden at night but most of the time they were moving fast enough to disappear from the camera's field of vision before the recording started.[b][b]The placement of your camera will therefore have a crucial importance on its detection capacity because if it is oriented towards an area that can be crossed in a few seconds, the camera will not see anything. You must therefore make sure that the camera is oriented towards an area where a possible intruder will be trapped for at least 5 to 10 seconds. This is one of the biggest flaws of the camera![b][b]Update november 2020:[b]The motion detection speed is now faster, the application captures motion faster than before and notifications are almost instantaneous. [b][b]
ConnectivityYou can set the sensitivity level of the camera so that it will either send you a lot of alerts or not at all. You will probably have to play around a little with the settings to find the configuration that suits you best. I find that unfortunately this detection sensitivity is very unpredictable. Without changing the setting, the camera doesn't always detect movement beyond 5 meters, it's really annoying. I placed one of the cameras in a straight line to the entrance of my house, it is not possible to escape the view of the camera for several seconds. Without changing the configuration, the camera sometimes detects movement, sometimes not while I can see myself in the camera image on the application.[b][b]If you are within 5 meters of the camera, the problem no longer occurs. I also think that contrasts play a role as well because if you are dressed in a dark color and the camera is filming a dark area, the camera will trigger less often. The camera sometimes detects movement from more than 10 meters away but it's very random.[b][b]Here too the placement of the camera is important. Not only should you aim the camera at an area where an intruder will stay for more than 5 seconds but you must also make sure that the intruder will stay within 5 meters of the camera during those 5 seconds.[b][b]
Audio/video qualityAudio[b]The Blink XT2 allows you to record sound and image. Sound capture is automatic. The recording level is quite high, the sounds captured by the camera are amplified and give the impression that the environment is very noisy (even at night). We therefore hear very clearly all the surrounding noise such as birds or wind in a slightly exaggerated way.[b][b]Video normale conditions[b]The Blink XT2 outdoor camera offers 1080p video while the indoor camera offers 720p video. With 1080p, you should be able to recognize faces as long as they are not too far away. The quality of the video is acceptable but I expected better because the videos lack sharpness.[b][b]The viewing angle is quite good, the camera covers a fairly large horizontal area. [b][b]During the day the videos produce images of a correct quality but you will have to direct the camera towards the ground to avoid creating a too important gap of light with the sky. This will also prevent you from deteriorating the image quality with the sun's rays.[b]Video low light[b]At night the camera is able to see in total darkness up to a maximum of 10 meters. The camera has an infrared light that is invisible to the naked eye but which creates a halo of light in front of the camera. The sharpness of the image is not very good, so unless you have someone standing very close to the camera, you probably won't be able to recognize a face. The quality of the video at night is not extraordinary but it is still much better than what I've seen on cheap Chinese cameras.[b][b][b][b]I chose this video to show two things:[b]- the speed of detection[b]- the quality of the video at night[b][b]The speed of detection was problematic a few months ago, but it now allows us to detect movement fairly quickly. [b][b]The quality of the video at night makes it possible to distinguish objects correctly, but the infrared lighting is powerful when you get close to the camera, so faces are very brightly illuminated. The quality of the video is actually a little better, as the compression of YouTube has degraded the image quality.[b][b][b][b]In this second example we see my neighbour's cat who seems to have found something in my lawn. We don't see the cat arriving on the video but the camera captured its presence quite quickly despite the size of the cat.[b][b]
ApplicationGetting the system up and running is very simple. First you need to download the Blink application from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. This application allows you to connect the control module to your wifi network and then add each camera to configure them according to your wishes. Each camera has a QR code on the back, simply scan this code with the Blink application to add the camera to your configuration.[b][b][b][b]The application's home screen allows you to see a picture of each camera, so you don't see all the video streams in real time, it's a static view. To see a camera in real time, you will need to tap the camera icon. The photo icon is used to update the camera photo that is displayed on the main screen.[b][b]You can also configure each camera individually by turning on/off the motion detection (icon of a little guy running) but you can also change the camera name, see the battery status, the ambient temperature, set the detection areas, set the detection sensitivity, set the sensitivity of the infrared module, set the duration of the video clip, set the video quality and also the speaker volume. The application therefore offers a large number of possibilities for each camera, it also detects the type of camera (indoor or outdoor) to propose the most appropriate settings for each type of camera.[b][b]The application is quite easy to use, I didn't encounter any problems while using it. It sends notifications every time a motion is detected, so you will have to adjust the sensitivity of the cameras to not receive notifications every minute.[b][b]
Video storageThe Blink XT2 uses cloud storage to record videos and the good news is that this storage is free and unlimited. So the camera must always be within wifi range, but every time it is triggered (manually or automatically), the camera sends the video to the Amazon cloud and you can play the video on your phone.[b][b]The videos of the last 30 days are available from the application. If you want to keep videos beyond the 30 day period, you will need to download them to your phone.[b][b]
Battery rangeThe Blink XT2 uses batteries rather than a battery that needs to be recharged, making it the best choice for a stand-alone system. Each camera contains two AAA batteries.[b][b]I installed the cameras in February 2020 and as of November 2020 I still haven't received a battery warning. The cameras have been running 24 hours a day for almost 10 months. They capture video every day.[b][b]The autonomy will no doubt depend on the quality of the batteries used but the Blink XT2 seems to have an excellent autonomy.[b][b]
Encoutered bugsNot yet available / tested[b][b]
Test / Review conclusion Strengths[b]Autonomous system (no wiring)[b]Free Cloud[b]Feature-rich application[b]Daytime video quality[b]Amazon product (= better support than a Chinese product)[b]Autonomy[b][b]Weaknesses[b]Trigger speed of the video[b]Detection distance (max 5-10m)[b]Recognition of faces too close to the infrared beam[b][b]