Reviewed in Canada on October 17, 2020
I was so looking forward to using this with my numerous Echo Show devices...
- Good quality video/audio (provided scene is well/evenly lit)
- Super small
- Great mounting bracket design
- Wireless, no batteries to replace (but have to plug it in)
- App (phone/tablet) works pretty well
- Works with Alexa/Echo Show by saying 'Show me my ... camera'
- Great for checking up on things, a quick peek
- Camera shuts off automatically after 5 min (i.e. can't use it for continuous viewing, no option to change this)
- Works very poorly on Alexa Echo Show (via Blink SmartHome skill)
- 2-way audio not available when using Alexa/Echo Show
- Initial view delay when using Alexa/Echo Show
- Not live (about 3 sec lag) when using Alexa/Echo Show
- Not suitable for interacting with people, pets (because of above issues) when using Alexa/Echo Show
- Baby monitoring has limitations (I don't consider it suitable - see below) when using with Alexa/Echo Show
* Some of these cons do not apply when using the Blink phone/tablet app
in general... the size and design of the physical camera is really great, and the way it mounts is well thought out (body-to-base has 2 attachment positions - look at website video for install tips, and trick to route cable through base). Note that it is only screw (2) mount, no adhesive provided, though you can use your own (double sided carpet/thin tape is best, not foam tape).
The Blink app (phone/tablet) works quite well, and it does everything the camera is advertised to do, including 2-way audio. This is definitely the best way to use this camera, and with some features (like 2-way audio), it is the only way it can be used.
But my primary intention was to use this with my Echo Show devices (I have several, and also a large number of various model Echo devices in most rooms of the house, controlling a smarthome). I wanted to check how well this camera worked before buying several more.
This camera works on Echo Show via the 'Blink SmartHome' skill. The skill works ok for viewing a Blink Mini on Echo Show 5, but there are some VERY major issues and limitations:
- It takes about 4 secs for the camera view to appear (after giving voice command 'Show me my ... camera'), which is frustratingly slow.
- You do hear audio, but the 2-way audio feature (i.e. being able to speak/reply and have it heard at the camera) is not available.
- There is a major video/audio lag/delay of about 3 second; the video/audio stay in sync, but you see/hear things 3 secs after they have actually happened.
- The camera shuts off automatically after about 5 min (and there is no option to turn this on/off), so you can't simply leave the video view on continuously!!!!!!!!!! - unbelievable.
- The video quality is very good, unless the area is not very evenly lit, then the video quality is unusually poor (compared to other basic cameras I have and use on a non-Alexa/Echo system).
I have high-power, ultra-fast WiFi, fastest internet, so none of this is caused by my home setup, in fact, I probably have the most ideal setup possible.
With Echo Show, these issues with the Blink Mini are not only frustrating, making it unpleasant to use, but also make it unusable in some cases, like those where you want to be able to speak or reply through the camera, or where you want to see truly live video. For a quick peek to check on something, it works well enough. For interacting with people, it is not usable due to the delay, and lack of 2-way audio (you have to use the Blink phone app for that). For baby monitoring, if you are ok with quick peeks that you have to ask Alexa to do (and wait 4 secs for) each time, rather than continuous viewing, and you have even lighting, or a camera position that is close and fairly straight on for night viewing, then maybe, but I think continuous viewing makes more sense, and the video delay is also 3 secs, count it out, it's long, which is bad if you hear a bang in the house, and have to wait 3 secs to see what it was and if your baby is ok, but the delay may be good to see what happened 3 secs ago (me, I'd just run, and be there before the 3 secs is over, or use another baby camera system). For a pet monitor, it's ok to check up, but not suitable for live or any interactions, due to delay and no 2-way audio.
As for motion detection, I haven't tried it because, with the previously mentioned issues (delays, etc), I would never use it (and I have another camera system that has amazing motion detection features and instant/live response), but the motion detection may be handy for certain 'check-up' situations; though for security use, the Blink Mini doesn't even come close to other systems. As for video storage, playback, I also haven't used that, for similar reasons, but do keep in mind that internet/cloud storage, while convenient, takes WiFi and internet bandwidth and can be an issue if it is triggered more than just occasionally.
The Blink phone/tablet app doesn't have many of the issues that using it through Echo Show (via the Alexa skill) has, but there are still issues that limit its uses... but... I have to think that many people would only choose this non-universal/proprietary camera because of wanting to use it with the Alexa and the Echo Show system (or maybe I'm wrong), and with that, I find it only works adequately in very limited, specific situations; in general, unless your use is one of those situations, I would not recommend this for use with Echo Show. As for me, I have to change my intended use for this camera, and I no longer intend to purchase more of them.