There was a very good reason for deciding to do a Blink XT Smart Home Security Camera System Review.
I had been lusting after a smart home security system for a while now – something that I could just tap into on my smartphone to check that everything is as it should be.
But more than that, there was another reason for me wanting to get a camera…
Our house doesn’t consist of open-plan living. We have a separate lounge area where we relax (and watch the TV) and a separate kitchen area. Every morning I wake the kids and after they’ve got dressed they normally head to the lounge ready to be called in for breakfast. Most of the time, I have no idea what they’re doing – if they’re watching TV, playing on their phones or iPads or winding each other up, which is the norm.
In the early evening it’s worse. While I’m preparing dinner, all I can hear from the other room are shouts, screams and protests, usually followed by “I’m telling mum!” – and of course, the occasional bouts of tears.
Now, you try cooking a family meal for four while acting as a mediator between a tween and a teen that don’t get on 90% of the time. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and it’s exasperating!
So while VIP hasn’t arrived home from work to help me, I’m in desperate need of a third eye to watch what's going on, so that when the accusations start flooding in, I know exactly who is in the wrong and where blame should lie.
So, I decided to give Blink’s Smart Home Security Camera System a try to help me monitor the kid situation – with just a few taps on my mobile.
The Blink XT 1 Camera System
So here’s a run down of what is included in the 1 Camera System Box and what specifications Blink’s Smart Home Security Camera System has.
The Blink 1 Camera System includes:
Sync Module Box:
- 1 Sync Module
- 1 USB cable
- 1 power adapter
- 1 Blink camera
- 2 AA 1.5v lithium batteries
- 1 mounting kit (consists of a mounting bracket and a mounting screw)
First of all, you will need either: an iOS mobile device with a software version of 10 or higher; an Android mobile device, running the software version 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher; a Fire OS mobile device, running software version 5.0 or higher; and a valid email address.
The reason you need the email address is in case you need to reset the password or to notify blink of any issues (plus you need to confirm your account within 24 hours when first setting up).
You will also need a Wi-Fi network (name and password) and high speed Internet connection (DSL, Cable, Fiber) to set up the Blink XT Smart Home Security Camera system.
Blink XT is capable of recording up to 1080p, meaning it offers super clear images and video quality. It also records audio (an absolute godsend for me!)
Once it’s set up, the camera is accessed via a mobile app, which can handily be downloaded on more than one phone so the whole household can see what’s going on (well, the parents/carers can anyway!)
You can use the system indoors or outdoors and, as I found out, it was really simple to set up – you just follow the instructions in the small booklet provided with the box set.
The Blink XT Camera System is wireless (hallelujah!) and the cameras are easy to install. I just popped mine on a shelf, but you can also mount them on a wall, which I guess is particularly useful if you are putting it up outdoors.
When the device detects motion, it sends a push notification alert and a HD quality video straight to your smartphone, which can record for up to 60 seconds.
While I’m using it to spy on my kids, I turn off the motion detection as my phone would be constantly sending me alerts, but this is a really useful feature if you are relying on the Blink XT security camera to protect your home from intruders.
The system can also be accessed remotely and watched from anywhere – this is really handy for me if I’m out and I want to check if my son got home from school – he usually heads straight for the lounge to chill out!
I can opt to receive a notification to my phone (for things like motion, temperature changes, low battery and offline modes) and I can adjust the settings within the app, such as motion detection settings – retrigger time (how long it waits to re-notify you after the previous trigger notification), sensitivity settings (for motion detection), clip length plus audio and video settings.
Setting up the Blink XT 1 Camera System
When I’m setting up any sort of tech or gadgets I usually leave it in the capable hands of VIP to set up. However, as the box stated it was ‘Simple Installation’ – and the fact that I wanted to get it up and running before the kids got home from school, I decided to give it a go.
First of all, I downloaded the Blink app and fitted the supplied batteries into the camera. You can also charge up the USB pack if you don’t want to rely on batteries, but given that the batteries were said to last up to two years, I thought I’d rely on them to get the job done.
I then connected my Sync Module (the lights flash on the front to show that you’ve done this correctly) and then add the camera, following the instructions on the app (which included me scanning the QR code on the back of the device) for speedy installation.
It was really straightforward to set up (if you have any problems you can also contact support through the app or via the Support site for Blink)
Once my iPhone and the Blink camera system were paired, I could start to use it straight away.
Before the kids got home, I played around with it to get used to it on my phone (and make sure the device was in a good position for capturing what the kids got up to without it being obvious).
The Blink XT Test
Having set up the camera and knowing exactly how it worked (you can take a still picture using your phone or can go in to the live feed to see what’s going on), I was willing the day to go quickly so I could get the kids home and start my observations!
They both went into the lounge while dinner was cooking and I started to watch them – and would you believe it, for the first 20 minutes, they didn’t argue once! It’s always the way, right?!
However, after they’d eaten and while I was sitting in the office doing some work, I heard raised voices coming from the lounge. I quickly tapped into the Blink app and watched what was going on.
Name calling – that’s what was going on – names like ‘chipmonk’ and ‘moron’ were being branded around and I got to see the instigator of the arguments – as I suspected, it was my son.
I watched as he threw one of my cushions at my daughter and it took everything not to go in there and tell him off. This was fascinating viewing and I didn’t want them knowing that I was secretly spying on them – not yet anyway!
I heard him say to my 11-year old “You just said the word ‘shit’, that’s not very nice” – perhaps the one thing he got right all evening!
Later on that evening, I asked him not to throw my cushions around. His response was “she threw it first”. She didn’t as I’d been watching, but he clearly felt that it was okay to try and pin the blame on someone else.
“I was watching Luis and she didn’t throw it first” I told him.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Fearing that I had started to arouse suspicion, I told him that I was watching him through the door (luckily the top half of our doors are made of glass!) and he believed me. Phew.
Blink's Smart Home Security System: Overall impressions
The Blink XT Smart Home Security Camera System really saved the day. I can confidently leave the kids alone together in the lounge knowing that I can keep an eye on things when they get heated.
The only change I’d make would be to make the live feed a longer time. Currently, the live feed gives you 60 seconds to view it, after which a button pops up on the screen asking if you want to continue. So, every 60 seconds you have to tap ‘continue’ to carry on watching.
Having said that, arguments escalate pretty quickly chez Wright, so 60 seconds is usually long enough for me to make out what is going on – and if it’s not, I just click on ‘continue’ watching. The reason it does this is to save space on recording the feed – to watch as evidence later!
What I liked most about the camera was that it was really quick to access via my phone, there is no contract that you have to sign up to and it’s all wire free, meaning that I can easily move the camera from room to room.
And while I’m working at home during the day, I point the camera out of the window so it’s facing the front door. When the doorbell rings I can check who’s there – and whether it’s worth opening the door.
At the time of writing, the kids still don’t know I’ve got a secret weapon to spy on them – and long may that continue. And even though the device lights up with a green light when you’ve tapped into the live feed, they are too engrossed in the TV or their screens to notice it! Plus there is also the option to disable the blue recording indicator light.
The only thing is, sometimes they go upstairs to play in their rooms, so I might need to add on more cameras to the system (you can add up to 10 cameras per sync module) to keep an eye on them up there. Or maybe that’s just a step too far…after all, we all need our privacy don’t we?!
And something I learned just recently is that Blink integrates with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap. This is music to my ears as it now gives me the option of controlling my Blink system using my voice alone – really handy when I’m up to my eyeballs in washing up!
The Blink XT Home Security Camera System costs from £129.99 and is available online from Amazon.
*I was gifted the 1 Camera System from Blink in return for an honest review.
Now watch both BLINK XT and my kids in action…(and see how they misbehave!)
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