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I tested this $40 security camera from Amazon and it now has a place in my home

Blink Mini 2

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Blink Mini 2 is available for $40 on its own or bundled with a weather-resistant power adapter for $50.
  • With a stronger construction, improved video quality, a new spotlight, person detection, and weather resistance for outdoor use, the Blink Mini 2 is a definite upgrade from the first generation.
  • As an Amazon device, the Blink Mini 2 works with Alexa but not with Google Home, Matter, or other smart home systems.

If you’re looking for an affordable security camera to replace your Wyze Cam after the recent data breaches, Blink may have the one for you. The new Blink Mini 2 is finally available for purchase.

Also: Smart home starter pack: Top 5 devices you need

I’ve been testing the Blink Mini 2 for the past week and noticed some big changes over the original Blink Mini, which I’ve had for almost two years. Widely known for being an affordable indoor camera (you can often buy two for $30 during Amazon sales events), the Blink Mini is a compact plug-in camera that can be installed anywhere inside or outside your home.

View at Amazon

The older Blink Mini has two-way audio, 1080p video resolution, Amazon Alexa integration, and works as a chime for the Blink video doorbell. The new Blink Mini 2 has all these features, plus a weather-resistant indoor and outdoor construction, person detection, and a spotlight.

The weather resistance is a feature that takes the Blink to the next level, making it a direct Wyze Cam v3 competitor. Wyze Cam maker Wyze Labs has recently been the target of user frustration after a service outage led to a privacy incident where some users could temporarily see other users’ live cameras and events.

Blink Mini 2 vs Wyze Cam v3

The Blink Mini 2 next to a Wyze Cam v3.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

After testing the Blink Mini 2, I spoke to Blink’s head of product, Jonathan Cohn, to discuss the ins and outs of the new security camera. Cohn explained that after listening to user feedback, the company added weather resistance and a spotlight, which works as a light source for color night vision, to illuminate dark areas when motion is detected, and has a recording indicator to deter would-be intruders.

Also: A battery-powered floodlight camera was exactly what my dark backyard needed

While not as bright as an outdoor light, the spotlight is bright enough to illuminate people as they approach and light up pathways in the dark. This made me consider setting up the Mini 2 by the garbage cans beside my house, but I decided against it since I don’t have a power source nearby, and the camera needs to be plugged in at all times. The Mini 2 would go perfectly in a garage or a carport to illuminate a driveway or surveil a back door. 

Blink Mini 2

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Like the Blink Outdoor 4, the Blink Mini 2 can notify you when a person has been detected, ignoring all other motion powered by the Blink’s silicon.

“Blink makes its chip and uses the chip on our cameras, which means we own the end-to-end experience and design of our camera,” Cohn explained. Using proprietary silicon and design ensures Blink can guarantee the entire privacy and security experience from when the light enters the lens to the recorded video clips, Cohn added.

Also: Wyze camera breach let 13,000 strangers look into other people’s homes

Though the Blink Mini and Mini 2 both feature 1080p HD resolution video recording, the difference in the recorded clips is noticeable. Cohn explained that Blink made significant improvements to the Mini 2’s video quality, increasing the field-of-view from 110 to 143 degrees for more coverage, increasing the sensor’s lowlight capability, and improving the dynamic range.

Blink Mini 2

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

This means the Mini 2 can capture clearer and more detailed images in mixed lighting, even if very bright and dark areas are in a single frame. A better dynamic range can show details in shadowy and brightly lit areas in a single video, making it easier to identify people and objects.

ZDNET’s buying advice

In my home, the Blink Mini 2 ended up replacing a Wyze Cam v3 in my sunroom. This is a fairly humid room with direct entry to my home, so a camera with a spotlight is better than one without. Since making the switch, I won’t be going back.

Blink cameras come with a 30-day free trial to the Blink Subscription Plan. The monthly subscription gives users cloud storage and extra features, like person detection and a continuous live feed for up to 90 minutes. You can bypass the subscription by purchasing a Blink Sync Module and a USB flash drive to store video clips, which is the solution I’ve set up in my home.

Since my home relies on Amazon’s Alexa, I appreciate that the Blink Mini 2 is quicker to connect to multiple Echo Shows than the Wyze camera, showing me what’s happening in the sunroom. Blink doesn’t integrate with Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, or other smart home systems, which is a factor to consider if your smart home uses one of these systems.

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