Motorola's greatest strength is its out-of-the-box usability. Like the comparable VTech Monitor, it's perfect if you want to use the monitor mostly in-home. Leave the camera pointing at your child, run to the next room to do a little work, and you've got a screen right there with two-way audio and night vision. You can even pan and tilt the camera using the base station, albeit with noticeable latency.
As much as new parents want to be in the room with baby at all times, sometimes a baby monitor is necessary (like when you’re having a dinner party — or just want to watch Insecure in the next room). To help navigate the vast, confusing universe of baby monitors, we spoke to Lauren Kay, the Bump’s deputy editor, and Dave Baldwin, Fatherly’s former gear-and-tech editor and current play editor, about their recommendations, from traditional video monitors to smart-tech-enabled devices that can even track how your baby is sleeping. Add one of these to the baby registry.
Today’s best baby monitors are not your mama’s baby monitors! High-definition video monitoring is becoming the norm, and many baby monitors are now app-enabled or have wi-fi capabilities. Even basic audio monitors have stepped up their game, with many implementing DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) technology to eliminate the interference and the lack of security that comes from monitors using the 2.4 GHz frequency band. If you’ve ever heard your neighbors chatting through your baby monitor, you’ll appreciate this change! DECT also prevents super-creepy baby monitor hackers from spying on baby—or you!
The monitor uses a 2.4GHz frequency to boost the signal strength between the camera and the parent unit. In our test, the parent unit functioned 150 feet away from the camera, and it can work up to 1,000 feet away outdoors. The baby monitor alerts you once it's out of range of the camera. This earns the baby monitor a 70 percent connectivity score. We tested connectivity by positioning one unit upstairs with the monitor on the floor directly below. There was a noticeable delay on the monitor between video and audio feeds.
Rechargeable batteries: Since the camera will most likely stay trained on your bundle of joy, it can remain plugged into AC power. But parent unit displays are designed to be always on and carried with you as you move from room to room. That can drain batteries quickly. Look for a parent unit that runs on rechargeable batteries, so you’re not constantly swapping them out.
In our lab tests of the talk-back feature, the voice heard through the camera was clear, but our hands-on parent testers had mixed results when it came to whether their kids were calmed when using this feature. (We’re not surprised that a disembodied voice coming out of a camera isn’t exactly as soothing as someone coming into the room to soothe baby.) This feature might be more useful with older kids, so you can easily remind them that it’s time to go to sleep.
The Infant Optics DXR-8’s interchangeable optical lens, which allows for customized viewing angles, truly sets this monitor apart. It gives the option of focusing in on a localized area or taking in the whole room. Couple that with the remote pan/tilt control and night vision and you’ve got a monitoring system that not only grows along with your baby, but one that can be adjusted to follow her around the room as she plays. Parents can calm their baby with the two-way talk feature and monitor the temperature to make sure the baby is safe and secure.
The setup for this monitor was very easy. All we had to do was plug the camera in and turn on the receiver. The night vision quality is excellent. We have the camera about 6 feet above the crib as is recommended for the night vision. The picture is so good I can see my baby breathing if I watch closely. The microphone picks up even soft noises that my baby makes so that I don't have to have the volume up very high on the receiver. This has made the transition from moving her from a bassinet in my room to her crib easier. When I hear her make noises I check to see if she is making noises in her sleep or if she is actually awake before I get up. And when I wake up in the middle of the night I can see she is ok without getting up every hour to go check on her.
All of the products in our review have features for convenience and overall function, but some also offer features for fun or additional information. All of the products have night vision with sensors for automatic adjustment with light changes, and all offer 2-way communication with baby through the camera. Some of them come with lullabies, and others have nifty temperature and humidity sensors. Overall, whatever you might be looking for, or never knew existed but now want, can probably be found in the products we tested.
Despite the 4.4 stars out of 5 the DXR-8 receives (based on well over 200 reviews) from Amazon customers, some users report that the monitor conflicts with other devices on the 2 GHz wavelength, viz, the monitor drops the wireless signal from the camera. Others grouse that while up to four cameras can be connected to one monitor, only one camera can be paired to one monitor, viz, only one monitor can be used. This means, similarly to the Foscam FBM 3501 mentioned previously, a parent can only monitor one child in one room with the DXR-8 and not multiple rooms simultaneously. Also, the DXR-8 does not have internet streaming capability to one’s smartphone or tablet — a glaring omission considering the product’s hefty price tag.
I was either going to buy a Pi or Arduino, and Pi won the contest. The Raspberry pi stood out because it supports the ability to be a low power computer. Needless to say it's comparing a micro-controller development board with a fully capable computer. Add a Samsung Pro SDHC card and it's ready to go. I currently use mine to run XBMC for Pi; streaming videos from my NAS, Pandora Radio, and all the "freebee" add-ons available for multimedia. It runs 1080p movies just fine with some fine tweaking of the multipliers. HDMI is great, because I don't need a separate audio connection. I can even control my Pi with my Samsung's TV remote, because XBMC supports the HDMI-CEC. The included clear case is great because it protects my Pi, and all of the LED indicators line up perfectly when everything is snapped into place. The adapter is
You can get the same system, with a traditional monitor screen that’s slightly smaller at 4.3 inches, for cheaper. If you’re interested in having two zoom cameras or an app that lets you see your baby while away, Project Nursery offers those configurations as well. You can also record video and take photos with it as well (requires an SD card sold separately).