Blink Outdoor vs. Arlo Pro: Want Real Surveillance or Casual?

After weeks of testing, I determined Blink Outdoor is a solid security camera for those looking for casual monitoring, rather than serious security.

Arlo Pro is more reliable and has rechargeable batteries, but it’s not ideal for serious surveillance, yet too expensive for the average shopper.

I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing two outdoor security cameras (Blink Outdoor vs. Arlo Pro) while evaluating five categories: free service, subscription service, software, hardware, and video/audio quality.

Arlo Pro: 8/10

Check Price ->

Free Service: B-

  • You get seven days of cloud recording, and you can sync five cameras at once for free. This should be all the storage most people need because you have the option of downloading the clips locally at any time.
  • Recordings are event-based like Blink, but Arlo Pro starts recording later, and the video quality takes longer to be visible.
  • The motion detection as bad as the entry-level Arlo, but it’s nowhere near as good as the flawless Arlo Pro 2.
  • It’ll record up to five minutes or when the motion stops. This is a big upgrade over the entry-level Arlo.
  • Blink has activity zones for free, but you’ll need Arlo Pro 2 if you want them with an Arlo device.
  • You can change the motion sensitivity, but the default (80) is fine if you’re not near a road. If you’re near a road, there’s nothing you can do to avoid tons of false alerts from cars, unless you pay for the subscription.

Subscription Service: C+

  • Arlo Smart is the name of their subscription service, but Arlo offers enough with their free plan that most won’t need it, but here’s what you get:
    • Longer than seven days of video storage.
    • “Advanced A.I. Detection” will tell the difference between people, cars and pets and lets you decide which type of alert you want to be notified of.
    • The phone notifications have thumbnails and are actionable. For instance, can turn on the siren from the notification screen.
  • Arlo Smart has three tiers:
    • 7-day video storage is $3/month per camera.
    • 30-day video storage is $10/month per camera.
    • 60-day video storage is $15/month per camera.
  • Two loses from Arlo Pro 2’s subscription:
    • There isn’t an option for continuous 24/7 recording.
    • You can’t create activity zones.

Hardware: A

  • Arlo Pro feels more rugged than Blink Outdoor with better build quality.
  • Unlike the entry-level Arlo that uses disposable CR123 batteries, Arlo Pro comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts a couple of months before it needs to charge.
  • You have to plug a base station into your router. It adds clutter, and if you don’t have extra ethernet ports on your router, you might be in trouble. But this helps add some reliability to your network, but I prefer Blink’s method. On the plus side, all Arlo base stations are backward and forward compatible with the entire Arlo lineup, so you can mix and match your Arlo cameras.
  • Arlo Pro cameras are completely wireless. You just need to place the cameras within 300 feet of the base station.
  • The base station has a loud siren which can be triggered by various factors.
  • You can save your video clips to a flash drive by plugging one into the base station.
  • There’s a micro USB port, and Arlo Pro can be powered with it if you have easy access to a power outlet.

Software: A

  • The app is set up well, easy to navigate, updates frequently, and works with all other versions of Arlo.
  • You can set it up with your Alexa and Google devices, but HomeKit will only be available with Arlo Pro 2 (read more).
  • Arlo Pro sends you an alert as soon as it detects motion. It doesn’t wait for the action to finish as Blink does.
  • You can create rules and triggers. For example, when Camera A detects motion, start recording on Camera B for 44 seconds.
  • You can record live footage with one tap.
  • There are cool IFTTT recipes.
  • You can arm and disarm your system based on your location (home or away) or a set schedule. This is going to come in handy to avoid false alerts while you’re home.

Record Quality: C+

  • Arlo Pro’s picture quality is 720p with a 110° field of view.
    • Even though the entry-level Arlo is 720p too, it was the worst of the cameras I tried because the picture looks pinkish during the day and has a tiny field of view. Spec sheets don’t tell the full story.
    • Arlo Pro 2 blows all other Arlo cameras away (read more).
  • The nighttime recording on Arlo Pro is slightly clearer than Arlo Pro 2, and much better than Blink Outdoor.
  • The audio recording is better than Blink Outdoor, but it’s just OK, nowhere near the crisp quality of Arlo Pro 2.
  • Two-way audio is available because there are mics and speakers, but there’s a three-second delay, the video gets choppy and the connection cuts out. If video chatting is important to you, look at one of the Ring devices because it’s unusable with Arlo Pro.

Check Price ->

Blink Outdoor: 6/10

Check Price ->

Free Service: A+

  • New Blink cameras require a monthly subscription to record motion clips, but there are two ways around this:
    1. You can buy the new Sync Module 2, when it’s released. This will let you record locally on a USB flash drive.
    2. If you’ve owned any previous generation Blink (Blink XT2, XT, and 1st generation Indoor), you’ll continue to get free recordings.
  • Without a subscription, nothing will record, but you can view the live feed at any time.

Subscription Service: B

  • Blink cameras require a $30/year cloud recording service to record motion and store the clips for 60 days.
  • Blink’s Instant On feature works well, turning the camera on automatically when it detects motion.
  • You can store all of your clips in the cloud for free. You get 7,200 seconds worth of video. That should be at least a couple weeks of storage in a moderately active place with 30-second clips. Once your cloud is full, new clips overwrite the oldest ones. Plus, it’s easy to export files you want to save.
  • You can customize clip length (5-60 seconds), sensitivity, and retrigger time, as well as video quality. But keep in mind the higher the video quality, the quicker your batteries run out.
  • You can set the clip length to be long, but then have it turn off automatically when the motion stops. This is a smart way to preserve battery life.
  • There’s a major issue: the maximum clip length is 60 seconds, but the minimum retrigger time is 10 seconds. Let’s say the bad guy is in your yard for two minutes. Even if you have the retrigger time on the shortest setting, you’ll still miss 10 seconds, which could be valuable.
  • Now, Blink Outdoor has activity zones where you can check off boxes of where you do and don’t want motion detection to be activated. I tested it next to a busy road and it produced no false alerts, which is impressive for a free activity zones feature.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no option for 24/7 recording, person detection, or geofencing.

Hardware: D

  • Blink runs on two AA batteries. Blink claims the batteries should last two years under normal circumstances while using the “saver” video quality setting. That wasn’t my experience. In Blink’s tests, they must’ve been running five-second recordings, in low-quality, in a remote area. In my tests, I got about a month of battery with the following settings: 40-second clips, “saver” quality video, moderate sensitivity, and it was placed in my porch where my roommates and I enter and exit frequently. I don’t recommend Blink for traffic-heavy areas unless you’re cool with frequently replacing batteries.
  • There’s a micro USB port to power it up if you have accessible power. This is great for the indoor model, but it isn’t helpful for the Blink Outdoor because you’d lose the waterproofing.
  • You don’t have to plug a base station into your router. It comes with a Sync Module that needs power but doesn’t plug into the router.
  • Blink and Blink Outdoor use the same Sync Module and can be on the same system.
  • Blink Outdoor can handle outdoor weather (4° to 113° F temperatures and is waterproof).
  • You can manage up to 10 cameras on the same system (Sync Module). Also, you can manage multiple systems within one app.

Software: C-

  • Blink had several server issues in the past. I read Amazon reviews indicating that before purchasing mine, but I brushed them off. When I first tested Blink in 2017 and opened the app to set up my cameras, there was a warning about servers being down. I waited an hour and tried again without an issue. This is to be expected from a small company that got its start from Kickstarter. It seems they’ve scaled better since being acquired by Amazon.
  • I like the Blink app for its simplicity and setup is easy (if their servers are up).
  • Push notifications are sent after the clip is recorded, rather than during the action. Most other cameras notify you when they start recording.
  • There’s no native geofencing (e.g., turning on or off the recordings when home). Although, you can do workarounds with Blink’s IFTTT channel.
  • There’s no online interface.
  • You can use Alexa to arm, disarm, or find the last clip. But there’s no Google Assistant or HomeKit support.
  • You can record live events on demand once you’re viewing them.
  • There’s no way to see how much battery juice is left. When you log into the app, you just see a thing that says “OK” or “Replace.” I want to know the percentage.

Record Quality: C+

  • Blink Outdoor can record in 1080p with a 110° field of view.
  • The night vision is worse than Arlo Pro.
  • There’s a three-second delay from what’s happening in real life and what shows on your phone’s screen.
  • You can have a conversation with someone from the live feed because Blink Outdoor has a mic and speaker. Two-way talk has a huge lag and is implemented terribly with a push to talk button in the app. It’s almost impossible to talk to someone.

Check Price ->

Which is best for you?

Arlo Pro

Get Arlo Pro if you want rechargeable batteries and a slight upgrade in reliability. While it records motion for longer, it still shouldn’t be trusted for serious surveillance. Plus, you’ll need Arlo Smart ($3/month) for activity zones.

Don’t get Arlo (entry-level). It has poor video quality, terrible motion sensing, and disposable batteries.

Check Price ->

Blink Outdoor

Get Blink Outdoor if you want solid monitoring for casual use. Blink Outdoor provides free motion recordings and useful activity zones. But you’ll go through AA batteries quickly, and risk missing crucial seconds on recordings.

Get Arlo Pro 2 or Nest Cam if you need real surveillance.

Check Price ->