Blink Video Doorbell review: Cheap and packed with features
We’ve praised Blink security cameras in the past for their no-nonsense approach to home security, and the Blink Video Doorbell follows a similar trend. It crams in the features at a bargain price, has decent battery life, and you can use it without needing to pay a subscription for cloud video storage.
Blink Video Doorbell review: What do you get for the money?
Search for the Blink Video Doorbell on Amazon and you’ll find two options to buy: the £50 “Standalone Video Doorbell” and the £80 “Full System Video Doorbell”. The difference between the two is that the cheaper package comes with just the doorbell, while the latter includes the Blink Sync Module 2.
You’ll need the more expensive package if you want to access the stream from the camera at any time and if you want to record video clips without having to pay a monthly subscription. This is the option I recommend you go for as you’ll save money in the long run; the alternative is to pay £2.50 per month (or £8 per month if you have multiple Blink cameras).
Aside from the doorbell itself and the Sync Module 2, there isn’t a whole lot else in the box. It comes with a bracket for attaching to your door frame, the screws you need to do that and a template to help you drill holes in the right places. There’s a wedge for angling the doorbell to the left or right if needed to maximise the view, and a basic USB plug adapter for powering the Sync Module 2.
The doorbell is not, however, supplied with an indoor chime module, and neither is there the option to buy one. With the ability to utilise any Echo speaker in the house as a chime, and to wire up the Blink Video Doorbell to an existing wired chime and power supply, that shouldn’t be an issue; you can even use a Blink Mini indoor security camera to act as a chime if you have one. However, if you don’t have any of these devices, then it might be worth considering the Ezviz DB2 Battery-Powered Doorbell instead as that comes with a chime and costs only £20 more than the Blink.
As with most other video doorbells, the Blink Video Doorbell will notify you on your phone when someone has pressed the doorbell, or when motion is detected, and it will allow you to see and speak to whoever is there through the accompanying Blink app. It will also notify you whenever motion is detected at the front door and can record video clips up to 30 seconds in length, either to the cloud or to the Sync Module 2.
Those video clips are recorded at 1080p and 30fps, with a field of view of 135 degrees horizontally and 85 degrees vertically, and there’s night-vision recording as well. It isn’t the sharpest video capture around, however – the Ezviz DB2 captures crisper 2K (1,920 x 1,444) video.
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Blink Video Doorbell review: What does it do well?
There’s plenty to like about the Blink Video Doorbell, not least the fact that you can choose to power it via batteries or via a mains transformer. If you choose to have it battery-powered, you’ll need to use lithium AA batteries, a pair of which is supplied in the box, or connect it via existing doorbell wires.
I always prefer the latter because it means I never have to worry about the doorbell running out of power, and because I like to have a mechanical chime as well as an electronic one when the doorbell is pressed.
However, if you don’t already have doorbell wiring, it works well enough on battery power. Battery life is decent, with Amazon claiming a single pair of batteries can last up to two years, although that obviously depends on the frequency of motion-triggered events. The more people approach your door and ring the bell, the shorter the battery life will be. And if you delve into the settings, you can have the doorbell notify you when the power is running low so you’re never without a spare pair of batteries.
In fact, there’s even more configurability on offer if you delve into the settings via the Blink app. Unlike the more expensive Ezviz DB2, you can set motion zones, which is essential to prevent alerts being triggered when someone walks by on the street or a neighbour approaches their own front door. And there’s also the option to set a Privacy Zone, which prevents an area of the frame from being recorded at all by placing a grey square over it.
Other options include the ability to tweak the sensitivity of the motion detection; adjust the intensity of the infrared light for night-vision recordings; change the clip length; adjust the volume of the chime on the doorbell itself and on the speaker; and alter the video quality. I had it set to Best, as the Standard setting introduced too much compression for my liking.
General responsiveness is great, with doorbell events activating alerts in less than two seconds, whether over the home Wi-Fi or remotely via 5G connections. There’s also very little delay in transmitting audio each way, so conversations with couriers proceed without frustration.
Undoubtedly, however, the Blink Video Doorbell’s best feature is its ability to record video clips locally so you can avoid paying a monthly subscription. The Sync Module 2 has no internal storage of its own, but all you have to do is slot a spare USB stick into the USB-A socket on the side.
Blink Video Doorbell review: What could it do better?
This is a product that has clearly been built to a budget, and build quality and aesthetics suffer as a result. It’s a £50 doorbell and it looks and feels like it, too, whether you buy it in white or black. If you care about the way the front of your house looks, you’d be better off with a Nest Doorbell Battery (£180) or a Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell (£185).
The Blink Video Doorbell is IP65-rated and so should be able to shrug off the worst the British weather can throw at it, but it rattles around on its mounting bracket and there’s a visible gap between the doorbell and the bracket. This doesn’t inspire confidence and makes me wonder what would happen if it were to get a real soaking.
Being an Amazon-owned company, it shouldn’t surprise you to discover that it won’t work with Google Home or Apple HomeKit systems natively. This means the only smart speakers that will work as auxiliary chimes are Echo devices (or Alexa-compatible speakers).
Setting those up isn’t as straightforward as it should be, either and – oddly – smart speakers with a display won’t show the live feed automatically when someone calls. You can display the feed by asking your smart display to “Show my … camera”, but by the time you’ve done that, you might have missed your caller anyway.
Video quality isn’t great, with heavy compression clearly visible on live stream and recorded video clip events, even with the quality set to High. Night vision isn’t particularly impressive, either. It’s serviceable but not particularly sharp or crisp.
And it’s also worth noting that the Blink Video Doorbell doesn’t have any AI features like pricier rivals. It can’t do facial recognition, package, animal or human detection – just plain and simple motion detection.
Finally, it’s worth knowing that, if you don’t pay for a subscription, you don’t get the full set of features. For instance, the doorbell won’t record any video while you’re viewing the live stream. That means if you’re ever broken into and happen to be alerted to that fact while it’s happening, you may only get a partial recording if you choose to view the action live on your phone.
Blink Video Doorbell review: Verdict
There are plenty of shortcomings, then, but by and large the Blink Video Doorbell does the job and it does so at a surprisingly low cost. It’s the best-value battery-powered doorbell around and it doesn’t force you into a subscription to access its main features. Those features alone make it a good choice for anyone on a tight budget who wants a little extra security for their front door.
It’s not the only budget video doorbell that offers such features, however, nor is it the best. Indeed, if you don’t mind spending £20 more on the Ezviz DB2 you’ll get better image quality, a chime included in the box and the ability to store clips locally without any restriction on features.