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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blink's fee-free security system won't tie you down

Masachussetts-based startup, Immedia, launched its Blink Wire-Free HD Home Monitoring & Alert System on Kickstarter a couple of weeks ago. There's still time left on the campaign, but Immedia's security device has already raised close to $700,000 (converted, about £420,000 or AU$750,000) -- about $500,000 over its original goal. Pledge prices for backers wanting a Blink unit start at $49 (converted, £30 or AU$54) and shipping is slated for May 2015.
Every model comes with an HD camera with night vision capabilities and sensors for detecting motion and indoor temperature. The free Android and iOS app lets you watch live video, receive alerts based on activity, and review clips. Clips default to Immedia's server, but a built-in USB port provides optional local storage. There are no fees associated with Blink. An IFTTT channel and a 105-decibel siren are also in the works.
Unlike the $200 (£200 in the UK, not available in Australia) Dropcam Pro or the $130 (£130 in the UK, and AU$170 in Australia) Belkin NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi Camera, Blink is wireless. So instead of being tethered to a pesky power cord, the CR123-battery-powered Blink can be moved pretty much anywhere on a whim. The cord-free cameras that come with the $250 (£200 in the UK, Australian availability not yet announced) Archos Smart Home Starter Pack rely on CR2450 batteries. While they were very easy to set up, the video quality was low and they didn't record continuously; the latter reveals a limitation of battery-power-only systems.
Immedia has a proposed fix for this, though. A cable-bound Sync Module comes standard with every Blink purchase. This additional piece of hardware is supposed to simplify the setup process and keep an eye on the amount of power the camera uses. Thanks to this "power monitor," Blink units are supposed to last for a year before needing new batteries.
The $199 Butterfleye, expected to make its debut in January 2015, sounds very similar to Blink. It comes with a reusable battery that's supposed to last for about two weeks per charge cycle (you can also keep it plugged in all the time to avoid regular recharging). It has motion and heat sensors so you can spot burglars and fires early. And it relies on a Nest Learning Thermostat-style algorithm to adapt to your schedule and know when to record video and when to conserve power.
Immedia is directly targeting budget-minded security enthusiasts with the $49 Blink. Its in-house-designed chips help keep costs down, making Blink units as affordable as possible. While the cordless design has definite appeal, I wonder how a battery-powered camera could offer 24/7 monitoring and last as long as a year. If it can deliver true HD video quality and a reliable live stream, though, Blink could give renters or anyone else averse to full install systems an intriguing alternative.
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