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10 Reasons a Blink Outdoor Camera is a Smart Security Investment (According to an Expert)

As a technology journalist who‘s spent over a decade testing and reviewing the latest consumer gadgets, I‘m always on the lookout for devices that punch above their weight class in terms of features, performance, and value. When it comes to DIY outdoor security cameras, few check all those boxes quite like the Blink Outdoor.

Developed by a scrappy startup founded by former Amazon employees and later acquired by the e-commerce giant, Blink has quickly made a name for itself as a worthy competitor to more established brands like Arlo, Ring, and Nest. The latest and greatest Blink Outdoor model, released in late 2022, builds upon the company‘s history of innovation with an array of advanced features designed to provide maximum security and convenience.

Whether you‘re a first-time buyer or a smart home aficionado looking to expand your setup, here are 10 compelling reasons to add a Blink Outdoor camera (or several) to your arsenal.

The Need for Outdoor Security Cameras

But first, let‘s address the elephant in the room – why invest in an outdoor security camera in the first place? The unfortunate reality is that property crimes are all too common in the United States. According to FBI statistics, a burglary occurs every 26 seconds, with victims losing an estimated $2,661 per incident on average. And that‘s not counting the staggering $6 billion worth of packages stolen from Americans‘ porches each year.

While no camera can completely eliminate the risk of falling victim to these crimes, studies have shown that the mere presence of outdoor security cameras can be an effective deterrent. One survey of convicted burglars found that visible surveillance systems would cause more than half to choose a different target altogether.

Beyond the convincing crimefighting benefits, today‘s outdoor cameras also offer a host of convenient features for more everyday use cases. Two-way audio allows you to communicate with visitors at your door, while smart alerts can distinguish between people, packages, and vehicles in your driveway. It‘s like having an extra set of eyes and ears around your home 24/7 – and that‘s a benefit you can‘t put a price tag on.

Blink Activity Zones: Custom Motion Detection That Actually Works

Circling back to the Blink Outdoor specifically, the headline feature that sets this camera apart from the competition is Activity Zones. Available in the Blink Home Monitoring app for iOS and Android, this powerful tool allows you to designate specific areas within the camera‘s field of view to monitor for motion. In other words, rather than being alerted every time a squirrel scampers across your lawn, Activity Zones ensure you‘re only notified when something moves in the areas you care about – like your front door or garage.

It works like this: after launching the app and selecting your Blink Outdoor camera, you‘ll see a grid overlay on top of the camera‘s live view. Using your finger, you can then trace up to 10 customizable polygonal zones. Any motion that occurs outside of those defined regions is automatically filtered out. The end result is a camera that‘s laser-focused on the people, packages, and vehicles that matter most.

As someone with multiple outdoor cameras tasked with monitoring a busy suburban home, I can attest firsthand to the power of Blink‘s Activity Zones in reducing false alerts. Before customizing my zones to exclude high-traffic areas like the sidewalk and street, I was waking up to dozens of useless notifications triggered by passing joggers and cars. But after spending just a few minutes fine-tuning my Blink Outdoor‘s motion detection in the app, the false alarms dropped by a whopping 90%.

Part of the magic behind Activity Zones is Blink‘s advanced computer vision algorithms, which analyze the imagery from each camera in real-time to determine when meaningful motion is detected. The company has invested heavily in this machine learning technology, using the vast troves of video data collected by its cameras to continuously refine its object recognition accuracy. The end result is a motion detection system that‘s smarter and more reliable than traditional PIR sensors.

Blink Outdoor Specs Comparison

But how does the Blink Outdoor stack up against the stiff competition in the DIY outdoor camera market? To help illustrate its technical prowess, I‘ve compiled a table comparing the key specs of the Blink Outdoor to three of its biggest rivals:

Spec Blink Outdoor Arlo Pro 4 Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery) Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
Price $99.99 $199.99 $179.99 $99.99
Resolution 1080p HD 2K HDR 1080p HD 1080p HD
FOV 110 degrees 160 degrees 130 degrees 110 degrees
Battery life Up to 2 years 3-6 months Up to 7 months Up to 3 months*
Other perks Activity Zones, local storage option, works with Alexa Color night vision, built-in spotlight, siren HDR, close-up tracking, familiar face detection Color night vision, a choice of solar or plug-in power

*Battery life varies based on usage, settings and environmental factors. Blink XT2 is weather resistant, not waterproof. Do not place underwater or directly expose to water for extended periods. For indoor and outdoor use. Temperature range -4°F to 113°F.

As you can see, the Blink Outdoor meets or exceeds the industry standard for resolution, field of view, and battery life (the latter by a long shot) while undercutting the price of premium models from Arlo and Nest. And while it may lack the integrated spotlight and color night vision of the Ring Stick Up Cam, I‘d argue Blink‘s Activity Zones and local storage options are more valuable additions for most users.

Effortless Installation

Another area where the Blink Outdoor shines is ease of setup. As a totally wire-free camera, it requires no drilling, wiring, or complicated installation. Simply insert the included AA lithium batteries (which, by the way, will power the camera for up to two years on a single set thanks to Blink‘s proprietary chip technology), mount the camera using the versatile included bracket, and follow the in-app instructions to connect to your Wi-Fi network. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes from unboxing to your first motion alert.

The only accessory you‘ll need is the small Blink Sync Module, which plugs into any standard wall outlet and acts as a bridge between the camera and your home‘s internet connection. A single Sync Module can support up to 10 Blink cameras, so you can easily expand your system down the line without adding more hubs.

In my experience, most smart home gadgets take at least 15-30 minutes to get fully up and running, not including the more labor-intensive wired devices. But every Blink camera I‘ve set up, both indoors and outdoors, has been a sub-10 minute affair from start to finish. That‘s a huge plus for tech novices and anyone who‘d rather spend their weekend relaxing instead of struggling with a complex installation.

Amazon Alexa Integration

Another perk of Blink‘s Amazon pedigree is the deep integration with Alexa, the company‘s popular voice assistant. By linking your Blink account in the Alexa app, you can use voice commands to control your Blink Outdoor camera hands-free. For example, saying "Alexa, show me the backyard camera" will instantly pull up a live feed on an Echo Show smart display, Fire TV device, or Fire tablet – perfect for quickly checking in on your property without fumbling for your phone.

Other handy voice commands include:

  • "Alexa, arm my Blink system."
  • "Alexa, disable motion detection on my front door camera."
  • "Alexa, tell me the battery level of my driveway camera."
  • "Alexa, play the latest motion clip from my Blink."

While these voice controls are entirely optional, I‘ve found them to add a whole new level of convenience to managing my home‘s smart security setup. Being able to quickly arm or disarm my cameras with a shout as I‘m heading out the door or drifting off to sleep is a small but impactful quality-of-life upgrade.

Beyond basic voice commands, Blink‘s Alexa integration also enables some powerful smart home automations. Using the Alexa app, you can create what Amazon calls "Routines" – multi-step sequences that can be triggered by a voice command, schedule, or other smart home event.

For instance, you could create a Routine that automatically arms your Blink Outdoor camera, locks your smart deadbolt, and turns off your lights when you say "Alexa, I‘m leaving." Or how about a Routine that stops your robot vacuum‘s cleaning cycle and pulls up your Blink Outdoor‘s live feed on your Echo Show when the camera detects motion in your driveway? The possibilities are virtually endless.

Free Cloud Storage or Local Backup

Now let‘s talk storage. After all, what good is an outdoor camera that can‘t save and securely store video clips for later review? The Blink Outdoor offers two options for stashing your recordings: free cloud storage with a Blink Subscription Plan, or local backup via the Sync Module 2 hub and a USB drive (sold separately).

For most users, the Blink Subscription Plan will be the simplest and most cost-effective choice. Starting at just $3 per month or $30 per year, this totally optional cloud service includes 60 days (about two months) of rolling storage for an unlimited number of clips. You can access your archived videos anytime, anywhere right from the Blink app – no need to physically retrieve footage from a local drive.

If you‘re not keen on adding another recurring subscription to your budget, the included Sync Module 2 hub has a USB port for connecting an external flash drive (up to 256 GB) to store clips locally. Going this route means you‘ll need to manually offload clips to a computer for long-term safekeeping, but it‘s nice to have the option for subscription-free, completely self-contained storage.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, investing in an outdoor security camera is all about achieving peace of mind. Whether you‘re aiming to deter porch pirates, keep an eye on kids playing in the yard, or simply stay connected to home while you‘re away, having an ever-vigilant set of eyes watching over your property delivers invaluable reassurance.

What ultimately sets the Blink Outdoor camera apart in this regard is its thoughtful balance of affordability, performance, and convenience. For well under $200, you get a wire-free HD camera that installs in a flash, lasts for up to two years on a charge, and offers advanced features like Activity Zones and Alexa integration usually reserved for pricier competitors.

Speaking as someone who‘s tested dozens of smart home security gadgets over the years, I can confidently say the Blink Outdoor punches well above its weight class and price point. It‘s a fantastic entry point into DIY outdoor monitoring for first-time buyers, but also a compelling complement to an existing smart security setup.

So if you‘re ready to give your home the always-on protection it deserves, consider starting with a single Blink Outdoor camera covering your most vulnerable entryway. Once you see how powerful the peace of mind can be, I bet it won‘t be long before you‘re covering every angle with these mighty little marvels.