Immedia Blink review: Too few features stymie this security camera

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The Sync Module has an included power adapter and it performs a variety of functions -- it communicates with Blink's remote servers to avoid draining the Blink battery; it talks to the cameras via a low-power radio channel to "wake them up" whenever you want to pull up the live video stream; it has a a built-in USB port to facilitate future updates and it is an integral part of the initial setup and configuration process via the related Blink Android and iOS apps.

Instead of having to connect the Sync Module directly to your router, though, you can simply plug it in to any outlet and follow the instructions in the app -- create a username (using your email address) and password; open the confirmation email and verify your account; plug in the Sync Module; connect it to the Blink Wi-Fi network; connect to your local Wi-Fi network; install the included AA batteries in the camera and wait for it to connect.

Setting up the Sync Module and the Blink camera.

Screenshots by CNET

It's a fairly straightforward process, although you will have to reconfigure both the Sync Module and your Blink camera any time you change your local Wi-Fi network. A slight inconvenience since you're dealing with two devices -- the Sync Module and the camera -- rather than just one.

Here's the bigger problem

The thing is, this camera doesn't do all that much. And in today's competitive DIY security landscape, that's a pretty significant deal breaker. Cameras really need to offer something extra to stand out -- and Blink just doesn't.

Sure, it's battery-powered and it can detect motion, but that's about it as far as features. It performs pretty well overall, sending quick motion alerts whenever activity is detected, but it doesn't have any advanced video analytics that can tell the difference between a person, a pet or a shadow. To account for this, you can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor. This helps to some extent, but not much.

The battery-powered Homeboy camera works with IFTTT and has a built-in siren for true home security functionality. And, Netgear's battery-powered Arlo is rated for both indoor and outdoor use. What's more, if you're just looking for a simple, basic DIY camera for less money, the $70 Ezviz Mini and the $99 iSmartAlarm Spot offer more.

Screenshot by CNET

The Ezviz Mini has both local and free cloud storage, as well as a built-in magnetic base that makes installation very simple. iSmartAlarm's Spot has sound analytics that can detect the frequencies of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and send you an alert. Both also performed well.

Beyond Blink's limited features and only quasi-smart motion detection capabilities, I also had some issues with the app being laggy. At various times when I was trying to pull up the live feed, make changes in the settings section, and more, I would get a pop-up message saying that the server was busy. This happened enough over several days of testing in two different locations (both with solid Wi-Fi connections) that it impacted overall usability.

Blink also doesn't offer two-way talk, you can't record a video clip on-demand, there's no built-in siren, IFTTT channel or settings section where you can create advanced rules. Of course, it also costs less than your average DIY cam -- most sit around the $200 mark, but that isn't enough for me to recommend it.

Immedia says it's adding more features and functionality in the future, so I'll likely revisit Blink then, but it really isn't worth it right now.