Score Breakdown

Performance 8/10Usability 9/10Features 8/10Design 8/10

Pros

  • Compact outdoor-ready design
  • Long-term AA battery life
  • Easy mount
  • Great app interface
  • Hub included with no additional cost
  • High-quality view for an HD cam

Cons

  • Sync Module 2 hub needs careful placement
  • Audio is a bit rough

Scan our best cam lists and you’ll see the Blink Outdoor 4 as a frequent pick for outdoor home security. There’s a good reason for this: The Outdoor 4 is an everyman’s cam, an intersection of features and price in a compact form that makes it useful for just about anyone. If you can screw in two screws for a mount, you can probably find a purpose for the Outdoor 4.

Available at $100 or below, this outside camera isn’t a budget model, but it’s not breaking the bank either. And considering Blink’s excellent ease of use, the two-way audio, video storage options and effective person detection, the Outdoor 4 gets a lot of things right — especially if you’re willing to pay around $3 per month for a Blink subscription plan. We wish it had compatibility beyond Alexa, and Blink’s model doesn’t have every bell or whistle (no spotlight, for example), but it remains the sort of outdoor-ready camera that most people are looking for.

Blink Outdoor 4: Design and durability

The Blink Outdoor 4 sitting on the corner of a wooden table.

The Blink Outdoor 4 is fully wireless and very compact for an outdoor cam.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

The Blink Outdoor 4 is a model citizen when it comes to compact design and outdoor readiness. The squarish, dark gray frame, a little smaller than 3 inches by 3 inches, can fit nearly anywhere and blends into the background easily.

Once equipped with batteries and sealed, the cam’s IP65 weather resistance keeps it protected from the elements (although you’ll need an outdoor-rated USB-C cable if you aren’t using batteries). Installation is simple, with a small two-screw base designed for wood or stucco placement, and a mount that snaps onto the cam and swivels in any direction to control the view.

Top marks for that cam design, but the Outdoor 4 comes with another piece: It requires a Blink Sync Module 2 hub to connect to Wi-Fi and operate. The great news is that the Outdoor 4 is automatically bundled with a Sync Module 2 at no additional fee, a very small plug-in hub that’s nearly effortless to set up. However, it’s much more fragile than the Outdoor 4 and you’ll have to think carefully about an indoor spot where it’s near the cam (more on this below) but can avoid falls or damage.

Blink Outdoor 4: Camera features and quality

The live view of a backyard from a Blink Outdoor 4 cam.

Blink’s live view improved greatly once the Sync Module 2 was placed closer.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

The Outdoor 4’s cam is rated at 1080p/HD, with a field of view stretching to 143 degrees. In practice, I found that resolution very clear for an HD-rated cam, enough to spot any movement and plenty of details across the yard, from blades of grass to flitting birds. The image does get a bit stretched at the edges to fit all the detail in, but once you are used to the view it poses few issues.

However, streaming the live view posed a separate challenge. When I first tested the Outdoor 4, the Sync Module 2 was a bit more than 30 yards away indoors. Relaying the Wi-Fi connection from that far away created streaming troubles, with stuttering live video that struggled to catch up to its HD potential, sometimes lagging out into fuzzy patches.

In a quick test, I tried moving the Sync Module 2 much closer to the Outdoor 4, around 10 yards away from the outdoor camera. This immediately solved my streaming issues, presenting a consistently clear image that didn’t struggle to buffer. My recommendation is to find an indoor spot for the Sync Module 2 that’s as close to the outdoor cam’s location as possible — not an easy task for every placement.

Blink Outdoor 4: Motion detection and object recognition

The motion settings menu for the Blink Outdoor 4.

Blink’s Outdoor 4 motion settings and notifications are simple but effective.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

The Blink Outdoor 4 offers two motion detection options, one for general motion detection and another, locked behind a paywall, for person detection only. Both work quite well. The standard motion detection has options to increase sensitivity but is disinclined to trigger on swaying branches or small animals. The person detection spotted human figures reliably too.

Blink also offers a 24-hour encapsulation of intermittent shots, 30 seconds of a full day and night to give a perspective on the broad activities of the day. It would be nice if there was additional object recognition like spotting packages in a driveway, but the Outdoor 4 is a more general-use cam.

Blink Outdoor 4: Audio quality

Two-way audio on the Outdoor 4 lets you do everything from warn intruders to call in kids playing in the yard. The mic, while very functional, does pick up a lot of background noise. I found a constant stream of light static from breezes, traffic and general streaming issues.

Again, audio did improve with the new placement of the Sync Module 2, but you can still expect noticeable background noise.

The speaker works well, and volume can be readily adjusted, so you won’t have to worry about your voice getting lost in the outdoor spaces. Quality will quickly drop off after 15 to 20 feet, but that’s not uncommon in an outdoor cam, especially one that gets mounted in higher places.

Blink Outdoor 4: App settings and controls

The arm/disarm menu for the Blink Outdoor 4.

Blink’s streamlined menu makes arming the cam or checking the live view effortless.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

One of my favorite things about Blink cams is the app. It makes setup swift even for beginners (have your Wi-Fi password handy), and settings are easy to figure out. Adjusting motion sensitivity and volume is a breeze, switching between objection detection or armed modes offer intuitive icons and all triggered videos are saved in the Clips section for quick review.

When you head into live view by selecting the cam image, you are met with a selection of other easy-to-use tools, including save, mute/unmute to talk and speaker on/off to listen. Device settings let you look at battery life turn on temperature alerts, change the cam name and more. Nothing is overly complicated or out of place — it’s simply one of the best security cam UIs around.

Blink Outdoor 4: Battery life

The back of the Blink Outdoor 4 on a wooden table, open and showing AA batteries.

The Blink Outdoor 4 uses long-term lithium batteries which you’ll eventually need to replace.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

The Blink Outdoor 4, like some other Blink models, offers an interesting wireless proposition. It comes with two lithium AA batteries, rated for up to two years of life with average use. Replacing them is a pain, but you rarely have to worry about it. It’s a unique, worry-free choice that’s hard to review, but we’ll be happy to revisit in two years and let you know how it’s going. So far the batteries are working just fine.

In the meantime, you also have the option to add a larger battery expansion pack to the camera so that it lasts even longer, but it’s not necessary unless you really want a four-year rated battery life instead.

Note: Despite the name, these lithium AA batteries aren’t rechargeable, they merely last a long time. You’ll have to purchase new batteries when they finally fade.

Blink Outdoor 4: Subscriptions and video storage

The Outdoor 4 has a significant advantage when it comes to video storage. Since the Sync module 2 comes bundled at no extra charge, users have an option for local storage. I attached a USB flash drive to the tiny hub and was able to switch to local video saves with relatively little effort.

The other option is a Blink subscription for cloud video storage. Blink has a good security track record, but you will have to pay at least $3 per (or $30 per year) for the service. Blink also keeps its person detection behind the paywall, which is a significant boost to usability, so it’s worth seriously considering the fees. Fortunately, they’re among the lowest monthly fees on the market for these kinds of add-ons (Ring, for example, starts at $5).

Blink Outdoor 4: Smart home integration

A man taps on the touchscreen of Amazon's Echo Hub, an 8-inch touchscreen control panel for the smart home that you can mount to the wall.

Blink, Ring and other cameras work with Alexa and devices like the Echo Hub or Show.

Amazon

As an Amazon brand, Blink is built for Alexa. That’s great for Alexa fans: I was able to set up Blink in Alexa and start controlling the cam and viewing it through Echo Shows in under a minute. Alexa is also happy to enable two-way audio through the cam or give announcements when it detects a person.

The downside to the seamless Alexa experience is that the Blink Outdoor 4 doesn’t really work with anything else. Google Assistant and Siri fans won’t get the same options, and the cam won’t play well with existing home security systems from brands like Vivint or Adobe.

Blink Outdoor 4: Final thoughts

The Blink Outdoor 4 occupies a sweet spot in the outdoor security world, a general-use cam ready for the elements and providing high-quality services with a simple-to-use interface. It’s not exactly high-end — the resolution, field of view, audio and detection features fall short of the top cams we’ve tested. But it’s very good at what it does, at a relatively reasonable price ($100) and a long-term wireless design.

Add in the very compact design with its simple mount, and the Outdoor 4 is hard to beat for homeowners that want an all-purpose eye on their yard or driveway. If you’re looking for a few more upgrades like a spotlight, extra object detection or higher resolution, hop over to our guide to the best outdoor cams and the best cameras with lights before making up your mind.

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