With a dedicated baby monitor, push-to-talk capabilities will usually be integrated, as well as the ability to record and share still images and video clips (even if some monitors require a subscription to do so). Baby video monitors will also usually have built-in music files that you can play to soothe your child. Just the ability to pan and tilt the camera — the Nest has a fixed 130-degree wide-angle perspective — means you can follow your kids wherever they scamper.
The Philips Avent SCD630 is the easiest to use dedicated option with a score of 8 of 10. This monitor is a plug and play that pairs the camera and parent unit by itself. The parent unit has very few buttons, with the most frequently used buttons are on the face of the unit. The menu options are relatively intuitive with not much chance of taking a wrong turn or getting buried in a file menu system you can't get out of. The menu could be easier to use, but we think most parents will stick to the buttons on the front of the unit after a few weeks of regular use. The Levana Lila has fewer features and is even easier to use, thanks to a lack of convoluted menu options.
If all you want is a no-fuss audio monitor, the Bump and Baldwin both recommend VTech’s DM221 audio monitor, which consistently garners a lot of accolades. Using digital audio technology, the DM221 offers clear audio transmission and eliminates the crackle of analog models. A two-way intercom allows you to talk to your baby, while a five-level sound indicator can visually alert you to cries from the other room. The transmitter also features a soft night-light for your child. And don’t sleep on its compact size, which makes it perfect for travel.
It includes a one-parent unit monitor and a one-baby unit audio monitor. It uses DECT 6.0 technology that provides clear transmission, eliminating any annoying white noise you might hear form other analog monitors. Graphic bars on the parent unit indicate the level of sound in your baby’s room, so you can visually monitor the noise level with the unit muted. It has a two-way talkback intercom, so you can communicate with your baby through its audio speakers.
Claiming to be the “first-ever monitor with interchangeable optical lens capability,” allowing customizable viewing angle and zoom, the DXR-8 represents a big leap in features — and price — from the reliable Infant Optics stalwart DXR-5 model. It has a larger (3.5 inch/9 cm) full color LCD display monitor compared to the DXR-5 (at 2.4 inch/6 cm) monitor screen. There is also an optional wide angle lens sold separately. The remote PTZ camera is also a step above the DXR-5 camera. The DXR-8 is commended for its ultra-long battery life — 10 hours on power-saving mode and 6 hours with screen on — which far outlasts most competitors’ products.