Hands on the $35 Blink Mini Video Camera

In something of a pivot, the smart home company known for inexpensive, battery-powered video cams has gone alternating current with the $35 Blink Mini. And, I gotta tell ya, it’s a cute little bugger. The camera anyway, if not the mount.

In this space, the Blink Mini’s nearest competitor is the $26 Wyze Cam v2. Whereas Wyze drops customized software upon recycled hardware (with unwitting beta testers, producing mixed results), the Blink Mini is purpose-built – the Amazon smart home subsidiary controls both the horizontal and the vertical, for whatever that’s worth… and isn’t distracted by scales.

Having just received the cam, I can’t yet provide a detailed comparison beyond mentioning Blink’s daylight video quality appears superior for those extra nine bucks – with presumably tighter current and upcoming Amazon and/or Ring integration (yes, you can already ask Alexa to stream video via Echo Show… as Wyze similarly enables).

On the functionality front, Blink and Wyze present a somewhat differing feature set that could drive one’s purchase. For example, I know many Wyze owners appreciate being able to disable IR for nighttime viewing through a window but Blink doesn’t suuply that toggle (although, unlike Wyze, they do sell an outdoor camera). Likewise, Wyze’s alert/notification options are also (currently) superior. On the flip side, Blink allows customization of clip length up to 30s (free cloud recording, for now) and provides the ability to adjust the motion retrigger threshold. Both are powered by microUSB, yet Wyze has a built-in microSD slot for optional, local recording (that I’ve never used) while Blink will be releasing a network accessory to tackle similar.

The Blink Mini looks to be a promising entrant, but the budget camera market is exploding. Despite ecobee sitting it out ($179, haha), we’ve got all sorts of stellar options like the the capable Ring Indoor ($60), a Wyze Cam v3 waiting in the wings, and sales of the HomeKit-endowed Eufy Cam 2K ($40) opening this week.

12 thoughts on “Hands on the $35 Blink Mini Video Camera”

  1. For cheapskates like me, who don’t want to pay for cloud storage, and who aren’t interested in using up the monthly data allowance Comcast allocates, the local storage on the microSD card is fantastic. It may be the biggest reason I bought the Wyze cams. It provides the best of both worlds. The 12 second alert clips don’t use up too much bandwidth, and the local storage allows me to record and see any moment I want. All without a monthly charge.

  2. Mike, I posted five pictures, mostly UI, here:

    https://twitter.com/davezatz/status/1250555286466842624

    As implied in the tweet, I suspect it’s mostly a direct feature port from battery-powered devices at this point (other than native WiFi) but expect they’ve got items on the road map to leverage continuous power and they surely know what Wyze does and could see them working to close the gap on a few things.

    If time permits over the next several days, I’ll capture some video clips and insert them into a YouTube overview. Although LifeHackster will probably beat me and do much better. :)

    Dave, believe it or not I’ve never tried a memory card in my Wyze. I should probably check that out. :)

  3. Nest is the best of the best. Really depends what your use case is. I’m mostly on Ring’s $10/mo all-you-can-eat plan for unlimited cameras and security monitoring.

  4. RTSP. That’s what I want. I’m tired of needing company apps and whatnot just to look at my cams. It’s a PITA. RTSP and supported in ongoing firmware updates.
    Also it is all but pointless if something supports Google Home Speakers and Chromecast or the like it if takes 30 seconds or more to load an image which is then 10 seconds delayed from real time.

  5. Most RTSP cameras likely won’t get many or frequent software updates at these price points. The hardware is pretty much commoditized with that approach. Speaking of Wyze and their ongoing distractions, they kindly threw folks a bone with some unsupported RTSP firmware. But most of the connected, smart-home cams that get attention come with their own ecosystem. Likely also why manufacturers are slow to adopt HomeKit Secure Video – they pretty much giving up the service revenue stream on low margin hardware.

  6. I’m aware of the Wyze RTSP firmware. That was the source of my comment about the updates actually.
    And I get your point about giving up the revenue stream and only producing low profit hardware. But that brings another question. What is the real revenue stream of something like Wyze? I can record locally. I don’t think they have a monthly recording plan to record online somewhere.
    So – where is that revenue stream coming from by forcing me to use their app to some degree? Is there app up to stuff on my phone/tablet/etc???
    Because if their revenue stream depends on my not having access to industry standard tech like RTSP, which would allow me to use other software more readily with thier hardware then there is something they are not saying out loud.
    And to be honest if I have RTSP then I am probably never opening the company app for anything but firmware updates and the like.

  7. Wyze margins are super slim, given retail pricing and photos/videos of programmers, CEO, etc shipping product themselves. But, like many startups, I assume their goal is to build a brand and then cash out through acquisition. What makes them unique, and maybe somewhat less appealing, is they essentially skin other folks hardware. Then again, the demonstrates quite a bit of nimbleness and you can always bring on more engineers and/or a design firm.

    (Sounded like they were in financial jeopardy and one potential investor was going to require a subscription plan for everyone/everything, but they found help elsewhere and do have a small, optional video upsell with I assume more add-ons to come).

  8. Yes, I had neglected to think of a buyout plan as the plan for Wyze. That too makes me leery as a customer. I guess then they could be leaving RTSP out of the mainstream firmware to leave a subscription plan as an option for potential buyers.

  9. mike, the RSTP was a gift to the community. Don’t expect much promotion or updates. But Wyze has a long way to go before acquisition – they’re clearly new at this, I mean they use Facebook for beta testing and ticketing, publicly post beta apps, Xiaomi references in their apps, can’t even send out shipment/tracking notifications, have had some negligent security postures. Hopefully they staff up soon with some experienced folks, in these other areas, on par with their vision and software development skills. I’d also suggest they avoid distractions – if they want to be a smart home company, then do that. No scales, no thermometers (delaying my shipment of Wyze product). It’s hard to do one thing well, let alone several things.

    Ronnie, on the TiVo front, I wouldn’t expect much. Seems their development team is stretched thin and maintaining a second guide is likely low priority. Not to mention the big consumer DVR advocate is no longer with the company.

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