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This $35 Security Camera Is Almost As Good As Its $300 Rivals

We review the Blink Mini, Amazon’s cheapest smart home camera ever.

Tucker Bowe

Brand: Amazon
Product: Blink Mini
Release Date: April 2020
Price: $35
From: amazon.com

When it comes to indoor home security cameras, you have two basic options. There are higher-end camera like the Nest Cam IQ Indoor ($299) that cost hundreds of dollars, or options like the new Blink Mini ($35) are a literal fraction of the price. These cheaper newcomers, lead by the $20 Wyze Cam that shook up the industry in 2017, can still compete with the best on most main features like motion sensing, night vision, two-way talk and access to a 24/7 live feed with caveats in areas like video quality, object tracking and identification and video storage capabilities.

Amazon’s new Blink Mini is perhaps the final form of that second trend. After acquiring Blink in late 2017, Amazon has released its most affordable home security camera to date, and one of the best options out there. With a catch: you have to be bought into Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem, or be willing to buy into it.

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The Blink Mini is simple, in a good way.

The Blink Mini is cheap and gleefully adequate. Setup is as simple as plugging it in and pairing it to the Blink app, after which it will offer you a 1080p window into your home, with the option to engage motion alerts, turn on night vision in the dark or use two-way talk. It’s a great and affordable option for people who just want to check in on things while out of the house. It covers all the basics, though at a price slightly higher than the rock-bottom $20 Wyze Cam, but with the promise of a cheap subscription plan l cloud-based capabilities and deep integration with Amazon’s Alexa.

The Blink Mini is a $35 smart security camera that works exclusively with Alexa.

The Blink subscription plan is pretty cheap, and it’s free for the rest of the year.

Like the Wyze Cam, the Blink Mini leans on a paid subscription plan as a gateway to advanced features. Without a plan, the Mini can really only show you a live feed and send you alerts when motion is detected, but you aren’t able to watch recorded clips from throughout the day, which is a bummer. If you want to watch recorded clips, there’s the $3/month (or $30/year) “Basic” plan, which gets you 60 days of rolling video storage for a single camera, and a “Plus” plan ($10 per month or $100 per year) which does the same for unlimited Blink Mini cameras. Wyze’s Complete Motion Capture plan, by comparison, costs $1.49 per month per camera, and only holds archives for 14 days.

Every new Blink Mini owner gets a 30-day free trial of the Plus plan — a standard pack-in with every new Blink Mini — but for a limited time that trial will be extended through the end of 2020. Part of the reason is because the local storage module for the Blink Mini which will let you save video without paying for a cloud service, the Blink Sync Module 2 ($35), isn’t available yet. That, and of course Amazon would prefer if you try cloud storage and never go back. Either way, it is a good deal, especially if you buy your camera sooner rather than later.

Alexa support is the main, if not the only real draw.

The Blink Mini was designed as a direct rival to the Wyze Cam, which has been the go-to option for most people, and probably will stay that way for now. At $20, the Wyze Cam is cheaper, and is also compatible with voice control through Google Assistant, where the Amazon-owned Blink camera can only support Alexa. What’s more, both cameras cooperate with Amazon’s voice assistant basically identically. If you own an Echo Show, Echo Spot or the Fire TV, you can easily summon a live feed from either camera by voice, or disable the camera’s watching eyes with a voice command as well.

For now, at least! The Wyze Cam’s Alexa powers are, of course, conditional on Amazon’s support. Now that the shopping juggernaut has its own hardware competitor in the space, it is not too hard to imagine a world where that compatibility disappears. Or, alternatively, perhaps Amazon’s Blink Mini will gain additional, specific Alexa-specific superpowers. Either way, for those comfortably invested in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem, the Blink is probably the safer long-term bet.

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Amazon provided this product for review.

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