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Blink Mini review: The best budget security camera you can buy

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
35
inc VAT

Cheap and effective but lacks on-camera local storage

Pros 
Flexible
Good image quality
Simple to set up
Cons 
No microSD slot
Not subscription free
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The Blink Mini is a new addition to Amazon-owned Blink’s security camera range. It’s cheap, cheerful and basic, a camera for those who want to monitor a single room or for anyone who wants to dip their toes in the waters of smart security cameras without having to splash out too much.

READ NEXT: The best smart home security cameras to buy

Blink Mini: What do you get for the money?

There isn’t a huge amount in the small box but then you probably wouldn’t expect there to be for a mere £35: just the tiny cube-shaped camera and its stubby stand, plus a USB cable and a pair of mains adapters, one for the UK and another for EU sockets.

It’s a cheap-feeling, lightweight thing but it does look neat decked out in white and black plastic and it ticks all the boxes when it comes to core features. The resolution of the video footage it records is 1080p and it captures this video at a smooth frame rate of 30fps (a few cheaper 1080p security cameras record at slower frame rates than this, which results in choppy looking video clips). You also get motion detection, day and night video recording, and two-way audio so you can talk through your phone to the person on the other side of the camera.

As with most smart home security cameras, you can either view the camera feed live through the Blink smartphone app or put it in motion detection mode. When the Blink Mini detects movement, it then records a short video clip and uploads it to a central server where you can review it at your leisure. This service is free initially – until 31 March 2021, in fact – however, once that expires, you have to pay a subscription for the clip storage service.

The “Basic” subscription is £25/yr (or £2.50/mth) per camera and there’s a “Plus” subscription that supports unlimited cameras and costs £80/yr or £8/mth.

This isn’t hugely expensive compared with other cameras but still a touch disappointing given that the pricier battery-powered Blink XT 2 cameras (£100 each) come with lifetime, subscription-free clip storage. There’s also no way to store video clips on the camera via a microSD slot, although you can pay an extra £50 for the Blink Sync Module 2 if you want that feature.

If local storage is what you want, we’d suggest the Yi Home Camera instead, which is cheaper than the Blink Mini at £28 and has a microSD card slot built-in. The flipside of this is that Yi’s subscription plan for online storage is much more expensive than Blink’s, costing from £10 per month for a single camera.

READ NEXT: The best smart home security cameras to buy

Blink Mini: How easy is it to set up?

The Blink Mini is a doddle to set up. All you have to do is download the Blink app on your phone, set up an account and follow the instructions provided. You'll be up and running in a matter of minutes.

You can choose to leave it at that if you prefer the simple life but there are plenty of options to tinker with in the app. You can tweak the sensitivity of the motion detection, adjust the length of the clip that’s recorded (between 5 and 30 seconds) and change the intensity of the infrared illumination LED for night video recordings.

It’s even possible to change the volume of the camera’s internal speaker, which goes surprisingly loud for one so small, and tweak the camera’s “motion zones”. These allow you to, in effect, mask out areas that you don’t want to detect movement in so you don’t get too many motion alerts from curtains flapping in the breeze, for example.

Blink Mini: Is the image quality good?

Image quality in daylight and good indoor light is fine but nothing, in particular, to write home about. The one thing that does stand out is its 30fps frame rate, which delivers smoother, less jerky video recording than most security cameras at this price.

The Blink Mini’s night vision video recording is impressive, too. Its single infrared LED provided a stronger, more even illumination than the Yi and it records a clearer image as a result. Audio quality is fine, too, with both the microphone and speaker working to deliver reasonably clear two-way audio.

As for how the camera works, this is effective but features limited. While it has motion detection, there’s no face, human or pet detection and also no extra features. The cheaper Yi Smart Security Camera, for instance, has both human and baby crying detection, so it can double as a baby monitor in a pinch.

One area in which the Blink Mini works well, however, is its integration with Amazon Echo speakers. Link the Blink Skill with your Amazon account using the Alexa app on your phone and you’ll be able to use your voice to display the live feed from the camera on the screen of your Echo device.

Should I buy the Blink Mini?

The Blink Mini is an effective, neat and cheap home security camera that works very well. You get free video clip storage until 31 March 2021 and the prices for the subscription after that are pretty reasonable.

It lacks some features that it really should have, notably a microSD card slot so you can free yourself of subscription costs completely, but with impressive video quality and the option of adding a module that can include local video storage at a later date, it’s a very fine choice if funds are tight.

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