- Super low price
- Reliable alerts
- No live feed
- No free storage
In early 2018,, easily the most dominant video doorbell brand on the market, for a headline-grabbing $1 billion. Most people at the time didn't realize that Amazon had too, only two months earlier and for about a tenth of the price.
It might seem odd, over four years later, that Amazon has kept both security camera brands intact. One reason for doing so (among others) is that Blink targets a different market: itsare some of the few to directly compete with wallet-friendly brands like Wyze, the king of affordability that of the security camera industry.
Blink's wireless $50 Video Doorbell is only the latest example. It undercuts Wyze's $90 wireless doorbell and Ring's $100 model, making it perhaps the most affordable wireless on the market. That alone is impressive, but the real question is, at such a low price, can the Blink Video Doorbell still accomplish what you'd expect from a modern video doorbell? (International prices convert to roughly £40 or AU$80 with the doorbell set to release in the UK sometime this year.)
The answer is, kind of. It depends on what you want from it.
People who don't want to invest a lot of money in a video doorbell probably also don't want to invest a lot of time in setup. Appropriately, Blink makes setup breezy: You just affix a plastic plate to your door frame with two screws, then clip the doorbell to it.
While finding the right angle to clip on the doorbell was trickier than I expected, it was a painless experience. What's more, because the batteries are just lithium AAs, you don't have to do any lengthy charging ahead of time. It only took about 5 minutes from unboxing to up-and-running.
Once your doorbell is set up, whenever someone rings it -- or even just walks past -- Blink will send you a notification. From there you can use two-way talk to chat with the visitor or the delivery person.
In general, these notifications were prompt and accurate. The only trouble in my testing was that the latency from when it first detected motion to when I could see the live feed on my phone rarely left me time to intervene if someone was there to steal a package – but this brief delay isn't unusual for video doorbells.
The more unique limitation to Blink's video doorbell is the fact that you can't pull up a live feed of your entryway without first receiving a motion alert or a buzzer press. That means you're out of luck if you're out of town and just want to check what the snow accumulation is like. A benefit of this feature is that it's less of a drain on the battery. Blink says the battery lasts up to two years, although I obviously wasn't able to verify that within my review period.
Blink offers two ways to get around the livestream limitation. First, the doorbell snaps a mid-res photo once every hour so you can see what your entryway looks like in a still image. Second, if you buy a separate device, the $35, you can view the live feed and get some other perks including local storage.
I don't love either of these solutions, but it's nice that you're not locked out of at-will live viewing completely.
Testing Blink's eyes
The Blink Video Doorbell has 1080p resolution, night vision and a wide-angle field of view. Horizontally, you get a 135-degree viewing angle, but vertically it's only 80 degrees. That's not too bad, especially for a device in its price range, but a 1:1 aspect ratio that gives good head-to-toe coverage is increasingly common, even in more affordable doorbells – so having such a narrow vertical viewing angle feels like a missed opportunity here.
Another issue I had with Blink was its lack of dynamic range. When I installed the doorbell on one side of the house without much shade, I got clear images. When I installed it on the front porch, which had about fifteen feet of shaded space immediately in front of the camera before the fully sunned area beyond the steps, I ran into a problem. The foreground became too dark, and the background was totally blown out. That meant that visitors approaching the door often appeared as little more than silhouettes, and only became identifiable when they were right up next to the doorbell.
All that said, if you install the doorbell in a fully sunny or fully shaded area, Blink's resolution is impressive. Even at a distance of 30 feet or so, I could decipher the top row or two of letters on a standard vision chart, which isn't the case even for some video doorbells with better technical specs.
Should you buy Blink?
When you put the whole package together, Blink is a pretty compelling product. No, it's not going to be as reliable a security device as something more full-featured, but if you just want the bare basics, it's a reliable little product for a near unbeatable price.
If you do get the Blink Video Doorbell, you'll almost certainly want to figure out a storage solution. You can pay $3 a month to get a 60-day rolling video clip history, or you can use the Sync Module 2 ($35) to get local storage. Both options detract from the wallet-friendly first impression of the Blink doorbell, but neither will put you over $100 total for well over a year.
While most buyers will probably get more value out of a slightly more expensive, but also smarter, wireless alternative like the Wyze Video Doorbell Pro, Blink is onto something with this super cheap video doorbell. I'm interested to see where they go next.