Up until now, video baby monitors have all looked the same: small, white and black cubes or spheres, generally aesthetically boring and sure to clash with most nursery decor (unless you have an outerspace theme in mind). VTech, with their Safe&Sound VM346 Full Color Video Monitor, rethinks the typical video monitor and adds an adorable form to go along with the function.
Right from the box, the teddy bear shaped camera is striking. I found myself saying “Oh, how cute!” as I surveyed the packaging, eager to play with the new gadget. Once opened, the separate parts are clearly labeled and very user-friendly to assemble. Our 2-year-old saw the bear-shaped camera during set-up and was immediately intrigued. As we positioned the camera, my husband told her that the bear was there to watch over the baby and keep her safe at night. Since the shape of the camera is reminiscent of a stuffed animal, this explanation worked out perfectly.
Although we set up the camera on our daughter’s dresser, I really like that VTech included everything you need to wall-mount the device. This is helpful because VTech recommends that the camera unit be no more than 1 meter (or 3 feet) away from your child. The wall bracket also comes with a cord management system to help store and conceal any excessive power cords. The stuffed animal motif has its limitations, however, as the bear head gives the impression of a ball-and-socket, pan-and-tilt capability. Instead, the entire body must be manually rotated left or right, then you can adjust the bear’s head (where the lens is located) up and down to ensure the best camera angle on the crib.
On the baby unit, you have the ability to play soothing sounds and lullabies, but only for 10 minutes. There is the option to play four different, natural (white noise) sounds and five different melodies. The sound feature is a great addition, I just wish the music could also be started/restarted from the LCD parent console screen in addition to the play button on the video camera itself (our child usually takes more than 10 minutes to fall asleep, and the last thing you want to do is re-enter the room when your child is trying to go down).
The parent unit has a LCD console screen that is an impressive 4.3 inches. The large screen is great for when I have the console charging and want to glance at the baby from across the room. If you have multiple children napping at once (I wish!) and/or you are interested in getting additional cameras and angles on the same room, the parent unit has the ability to relay and display up to four separate video monitors. Another nice feature is that the camera automatically switches between color and infrared night-vision allowing you to “set it and forget it” and know that you’ll always have a clear image regardless of the time of day.
As a mother of two kids under 2, while the little ones are napping, I am always running around the house trying to get as much done as possible. The portable parent unit has a rechargeable battery and 1,000 feet of range to help keep me on the move while keeping an eye on everyone at the same time. In case I have my headphones in (listening to something other than “Wheels on the Bus”), there is a vibrating sound-alert on the console if someone wakes up and I am able to easily use the two-way, talk-back intercom to calm them before I even get to the room.
Throughout the night, I am comforted by the ability to monitor the room temperature and that all videos are private and secure. There is an alert on the parent console you can set to let you know if the room temperature gets too hot or too cold. Additionally, you can set alerts to go off for: low battery, if the signal link is lost and for different levels of room sound. The sound sensitivity level can be set from five different levels ranging from lowest sensitivity (for when your child is older, and the parent unit only turns on for loud crying) to highest sensitivity (great for new babies and new moms, the parent unit is constantly on and you hear every little noise). Since this is our second child and she is a bit “meatier” than my firstborn was, I tend to set the sensitivity to medium or high.
Today there is an amazing amount of baby monitoring solutions available for parents. The VTech Safe&Sound 346 Full Color Video Monitor offers secure audio and video in a compact, well-designed package.
To buy: vtechphones.com