The Blink Mini certainly isn’t the only small smart indoor security camera (opens in new tab) that allows remote monitoring of your home, but it is one of the lowest-priced. It’s the lowest priced camera in Blink’s range (by some margin), making it one of the best cheap security cameras around.
The philosophy of the Mini and its competitors (like the more expensive Nest Cam Indoor (opens in new tab)) is to offer a limited remote live view for the price of the camera – a reassuring view of what’s happening back home, like a baby camera monitor (opens in new tab) for whatever room you choose. Storage of video when movement, or ‘events’, are detected may seem a natural part of a security system but in practice these come via an addition subscription, and other features too, as they’re cloud dependent.
Blink’s whole range has recently made something of a generational shift from the now discontinued XT series in exactly this direction. The older systems had lifetime subscription-free storage (at a higher cost of entry). Unlike other brands, however, fee-free home storage remains a part of Blink’s ethos and though it can’t do it out of the box, even the Mini’s can make use of the blink hub accessory. In other words, the Mini doesn’t close any doors, but like many smart cameras it cannot record on its own.
Blink Mini: Specifications(opens in new tab)
Field of view: 110˚ (diagonal)
Night vision: Yes (black & white)
Frame rate: 30fps
Subscription storage: Yes
Ingress protection: (indoor use)
Operating temperature: 0˚C to 35˚ C (32˚ to 95˚F)
Dimensions: 48 x 48 x 34mm
Weight: 48g (90g with mount)
With motion detection and infra-red night vision, the 1080P Blink Mini’s key selling points are its accessible price, straightforward setup via wi-fi connection and motion triggered alerts.
Atop the camera essentials, there is the two-way audio system which is an extension of the live view viewable via the Blink app or Echo Show (Alexa integrations like “Show me the Kitchen” are great for usability).
As a member of the Blink system, the camera can make use of the Sync Module 2 (opens in new tab) hub to store clips locally onto a USB stick. (Other Blink cameras need the hub and are bundled with it, while the Mini needs only the power it draws from its USB cable).(opens in new tab)
Build & handling
Unboxing and setting up the Blink Mini is a gratifying experience for practical design connoisseurs, both the Blink App and the physical device showing high levels of thought. The app is your guide – it is the same as for all blink cameras – and offers step-by-step instructions in good English while, at least in our experience, being stable.
The camera arrives almost cube-like. It can be detached from its stand, offering broad positioning options. The stand features includes a magnetic base (yes, it can be a fridge magnet), two holes for screws, and a channel for the cable, over which a circular cover goes. In short it’ll look good however you set things up.
The glossy front conceals all but the tiny reset button, including the lights the camera uses to communicate and an IR light. By default the camera’s lights will indicate when it has detected someone, but this can be turned off via the app– handy to avoid a distracting blinking drawing eyes.(opens in new tab)
If you’re new to smart cameras, owning a camera capable of detecting motion and alerting you via phone (and watch) also means you’ll need to be able to switch it on and off. This can be done from the main page of the app or using Blink’s Alexa skill.(opens in new tab)
Blink Mini: Performance
While the field of view isn’t the widest, the camera’s image quality benefits from above average white balance and the detail is good into the corners of the image (we were a bit surprised that, during pinch-and-drag digital zoom, the audio cuts in and out). While HDR isn’t a stated feature, the camera coped well with spaces that had mixed light, useful indoors where windows provide one-sided lighting.
Motion sensitivity is very high, though the app’s Activity Zones feature (unlike the other Blink cameras) is beyond Beta and, together with the sensitivity slider, were simply used to get alerts ‘right’.
Video clip: An overweight journalist in work-from-home mode (i.e. near the fridge) was enough to trigger a motion alert.
A feature which isn’t always perfect, even on much more expensive cameras, is the two-way-talk, so we didn’t hold out a lot of hope here, but the built-in speaker in the system is enough to be heard across a room. Latency – the signal delay – was only a little over a second in our testing, ahead of the pack. (In reality it’s not a means of communication you’ll want to use a lot, but every manufacturer of smart home cameras emphasizes the feature regardless).
In terms of software, the (beta) addition of Early Notification (the idea being you can quickly go to Live View while the perp is still present) does beg the question “How long do standard notifications take?”. We weren’t able to detect much difference, with alerts coming within 2 seconds either way.
Blink Mini: Verdict
The Blink Mini’s scores over other small smart cameras in terms of price, visual quality and (once you’ve invested a little time with the settings) motion alerts. It’s not bad looking either, while it’s not going to interfere with the décor. It is baffling that the Blink app has no geofencing option to arm the cameras as you leave and vice-versa, but hopefully it’ll come.
Any device which doesn’t really offer all its features without a subscription is irksome, so in that respect the option of the Sync Module (despite it costing about the same as the camera) is a huge boon for the Mini. It must be noted, though, that an easier option would be a MicroSD card (opens in new tab) in the camera itself.
What the Blink Mini does, it does well, and for many it does so at a low enough cost of entry that it’s the perfect way to get a feel for smart home cameras without diving all in.
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