Blink XT Outdoor Totally Wireless Camera Tested
Running wires for cameras outdoors is one of the biggest challenges, especially for consumer or DIY installs.
Now, Blink has released an outdoor totally wireless camera, the Blink XT, to address this market.
We bought and tested the Blink XT to see how it compared to the original Blink and competitors.
In our tests, daytime video quality of the Blink XT was inferior to the original Blink, producing less details due to dark images (despite >300lx in our test scene).
Despite Blink claiming 1080p video in their press releases (though strangely not in the product listing itself), video exports are only 720p. Blink says the camera uses a 1080p sensor and they "hope" to increase resolution to 1080p in the future.
On the positive side, our testing had no issues with wireless performance, with the outdoor Blink XT functioning ~100' from the nearest access point and the sync module, with metal stud walls and aluminum exterior walls between (more difficult for wireless than typical wood frame/brick/stucco construction).
Finally, issues with video taking 10+ seconds to load are improved in the Blink XT, with 3-4 second load time typical. However, these issues are still present in the original Blink, and occasionally present in Blink XT.
The Blink XT's main advantage against other totally wireless competitors such as Arlo and Ring's Stick Up Cam is price, as it is $30-70 less expensive than these other options. Additionally, some users may find the XT's construction more attractive and less obtrusive, especially compared to the Stick Up Cam, which is nearly 4x the size.
The main downside is video quality of the Blink XT. Like Blink's indoor camera, the video quality is relatively poor compared to today's true HD video surveillance cameras and may disappoint users expecting / wanting that.
Blink does not charge any recurring fees for cloud access. Two hours of storage is provided for each user, which amounts to (~720) 10 second clips, (1440) 5 second clips, etc. Note that this is shared between all cameras on the user's account, not individual to each camera.
In our previous testing in a busy office, we received about 400 clips from one camera, which equates to more than half our allotted storage. Home users likely will receive fewer alerts, depending on activity level (how many people are in the household, individual schedules, long periods of travel, etc.).
The Blink XT is similar to the original Blink in size and shape, with some notable changes:
- IR instead of white light: The Blink XT uses a single IR illuminator, located in the center of the face of the camera, instead of the bright white LED used by the original Blink, which was harsh and could be annoying for home use.
- Weather sealed: The XT's housing is rubberized with a weather gasket for outdoor use (though no IP rating is given). The original Blink is indoor only.
- Slightly larger: The XT is about 1/8" thicker than the original Blink, in part due to extra space consumed by the weather gasket and its rubberized housing.
We review the construction of the Blink XT in this video:
IR vs. White Light
The IR illumination of the Blink XT is much less noticeable than the harsh white light LED of the original model, shown below in a dark (~1lx) scene. The blue status light is more noticeable to the human eye, but may be turned off if users would like the camera to be more covert.
Despite being much less obtrusive, the IR LED is able to fill a large room similarly to the white light LED, shown here (double click for full screen).
1080p Spec (Sort Of) But 720p Output
Blink does not clearly state the resolution of the Blink XT in its product page or on the camera's packaging. However, in press releases and their corporate blog, 1080p is frequently touted as a feature, increased from 720p in the original Blink. However, video clips stored from the Blink XT were 720p in our tests, with no option to increase resolution to 1080p.
Blink says the camera is 1080p, but currently limited to 720p by software, with no ETA on when this may change.
The initial release of the XT is 720p only. We are working on the software right now to enable 1080p. The goal has always been to offer 1080p on the XT so while I don’t have an ETA on when this will be released, we will announce this change on our website as well as our Support site. You will not have to do anything on your end for this change to take place.
Video Quality Comparison
We compared video quality of the XT and original Blink in this indoor FOV, a large 30x20 conference room.
In our tests, the original Blink produced more detail, especially daytime facial details. Nighttime details were more similar, but the test chart was more legible in the original Blink.
Video Loading Delays
In our tests, we experienced occasional delays loading video from the Blink XT, as long as 15+ seconds in some cases. However, in most cases video loaded in 3-4 seconds on both wifi and 4G LTE. The original Blink experienced far more frequent delays, with video taking over 10 seconds to load more than half the time.
For convenience, we have included the basic overviews of the Blink app and configuration found in our Blink Totally Wireless Camera Test. Readers should see that report for more details, as well.
Camera(s) are displayed on the main page, with users clicking one to begin live view. Users may arm/disarm each camera individually, or the system as a whole. Automatic arming/disarming based on the user's location is not available.
Event clips, despite being the most frequent use of the app, are displayed in a second page with an unobtrusive icon, not prominently displayed. Clips are displayed in chronological order, with no way of searching for a specific date or time, requiring users to scroll down through their event list to find a specific incident.
Configuration of the Blink camera, including clip length, motion sensitivity (discussed below), and more is shown in this video:
Similar to the original Blink, distance between the nearest access point and camera was ~100', approximately their claimed specified range.
Indoors, this distance was achieved through multiple metal stud and drywall walls, as well as a 1' thick firewall. Outdoors, testing was again through multiple metal stud walls, as well as exterior corrugated aluminum sheeting.
The Following firmware versions were used for this test:
- Blink Version 2.9.32 Build Number 2010