If you’re looking into getting a home security camera, you may well be looking at products from Blink or Ring. Both brands are owned by Amazon, but they bring very different capabilities and price points to the party.
Blink offers affordable security cameras for in and around the home. It’s a scalable, entry-level system that’s designed to be easy to fit and use. For a relatively low price, you can set up motion-sensing cameras and have alerts send to your smartphone. There’s no monthly fee, and the cameras use regular batteries.
Ring is best known for its video doorbells, but the security firm has expanded to offer a range of complementary security cameras. Prices are higher than for Blink products, and you’ll need to subscribe to one of Ring’s Protect plans if you want to store recorded footage, but the hardware is more versatile and offers several potentially important extra features.
While Amazon owns both companies, Blink and Ring are quite different prospects. Both are worth considering if you’re looking to set up security cameras in and/or outside your home, but it’s likely that one system will suit you better than the other – so let’s dig into what each offers.
For a single indoor camera from Blink you’ll pay £79.99 / $79.99 (about AU$145), but you can add additional cameras for £69.99 / $69.99 (roughly AU$125) each. You also have the option to buy a five-camera system for £289.99 / $279.99 (about AU$525).
The Blink XT, which is the outdoor weatherproof camera, will cost you £99.99 (approximately AU$180) for a single camera system, with additional cameras at £89.99 (around AU$165) each, though you can get a five-camera system for £399.99 (roughly AU$725).
If you’re in the US, the outdoor model is the Blink XT2 rather than the XT. This costs $99.99 for one, then $89.99 for additional cameras, or you can pay $379.99 for a five-camera system.
This promises improved motion detection, two-way audio, and longer battery life over the original Blink XT, but is otherwise similar. It should be landing in the UK some time in 2019.
Blink systems come with a wireless hub, called a Blink Sync Module, that can support up to 10 cameras. There are no monthly fees.
Ring offers video doorbells. The original Video Doorbell is £89 / $99.99 / AU$149 and the Video Doorbell 2 is £149 / $159 / AU$329.
You can also get a variety of security cameras from Ring. The basic Stick Up Cam can be placed indoors or out and costs £139 / $149.99 / AU$319 for the wired or battery-operated version.
You can also get a solar version, powered by its own solar panel for £179 / $229 / AU$399. There’s also a Spotlight Cam at £169 / $169 / AU$329 for the wired or battery model, and £199 / $229 / AU$359 for the solar version. Finally, there’s a Floodlight Cam at £199 / $199 / AU$379, which is designed to be wired in.
It’s not essential to subscribe to a Ring plan unless you want to be able to record video – without a plan your Ring cameras will just work as live feed devices. The Protect Basic or Protect Plus plans store recorded video in the cloud for 30 days. A Protect Basic Plan is £2.50 / $3 / AU$4 per month or £24.99 / $30 / AU$40 per year, but only covers one device. A Protect Plus Plan costs £8 / $10 / AU$15 per month or £80 / $100 / AU$150 per year, and covers every Ring device at one address.
Types of camera and equipment
Blink is a more basic system offering two types of camera that need to be hooked up wirelessly to a Sync Module over Wi-Fi. Ring offers a variety of standalone devices that connect directly to your Wi-Fi network.
The indoor Blink camera has motion and temperature sensors and a microphone. It can record HD video at 720p and takes two standard AA lithium batteries.
The slightly more expensive Blink XT or XT2 camera is suitable for the outdoors as it has an IP65 rating. It can also record at higher quality, up to 1080p, and it has infrared night vision.
Blink suggests the batteries will last up to two years, but much depends on how often your camera is triggered – in practice, the Blink XT2 should easily be able to hit the two-year mark.
Ring’s system is far more versatile. All three of the security cameras record 1080p footage, just like the Ring Video Doorbell 2. You can choose rechargeable battery power, wire them in, or opt for the solar panel with the Stick Up Cam or Spotlight Cam.
The Stick Up Cam can be used indoors or out and it offers two-way talk, which is lacking in all Blink systems except the Blink XT2. The Spotlight Cam is designed for outside, and adds LED light strips and a siren.
Ring also offers the Floodlight Cam, which is designed to replace security lights. It lights up when it senses motion, streams video and sends you a notification. It also includes a 110-decibel siren to help you scare off suspicious people. The Floodlight Cam must be hardwired to a standard electrical box.
Ring even offers a full alarm security kit with motion sensors and a keypad, but it’s a standalone product that doesn’t integrate with the cameras.
Smart home features
You can use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant with both Blink and Ring devices. You can also set up motion events to trigger other smart home devices, so that, for example, your porch lights turn on when motion is detected at the door.
If you have an Amazon Echo you can even use it to communicate through your Ring cameras and have a two-way conversation. The Ring app also works with various smart lock systems.
Using the app
The Blink Home Monitor app is free for Android or iOS. It enables you to customize your camera settings, determine the sensitivity of the motion sensor, choose the length of video clips it records, and set up a schedule if you want. The app records video in five second bursts by default, but you can increase that up to 60 seconds.
You’ll get alerts on your phone when motion is detected by your Blink cameras, and you can then review the recorded clips. You can also choose to tune in to the live feed, but you can’t record video when watching a camera live.
You’ll also be asked if you’re still watching every 60 seconds. The free storage space is enough for 7,200 seconds of video in total and it will overwrite the oldest video clips as soon as the limit is reached. If you’re using the Blink XT2, you can also use two-way audio through the app.
You can view a live feed of the camera and, if you’re using a doorbell, Stick Up, or Spotlight Cam, even have a two-way conversation with whoever is there. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensors to reduce the risk of false positives.
Which is right for you?
You could install either the Blink or Ring systems yourself, unless you opt for the wired-in Ring devices. If you’re looking to keep costs down and just want a basic system with no hidden fees or subscription, then Blink could be exactly what you need. The Ring devices are more expensive to begin with, and you’ll need a monthly subscription to record and review video.
Ring offers a much more versatile set of devices and power options, with extra features such as light and siren functionality. There are also cameras with two-way audio, and while Blink offers this too, it’s only on the Blink XT2, which is currently only available in the US and Canada.