As a first time mom with a newborn, I consider a video monitor a must-have. My husband took some convincing to stray from the audio-only hand-me-down monitor we already had, but we have both been very impressed with our VTech VM343 Safe&Sound Pan & Tilt Full Color Video Monitor. We find it extremely helpful to be able to check on our daughter without having to go into her room and risk waking our sleeping beauty.
Setting up the camera and the parent unit was a piece of cake. The only assembly required is inserting the rechargeable battery (which is supplied) into the parent unit and charging it. The camera comes with an optional mounting bracket but we just placed it on a shelf near the crib. The accompanying manual is overwhelming at first—there is a lot of information crammed into a small space—but it is well-organized and easy to navigate. There is also a video demonstration on the VTech website that gives a nice overview of the monitor.
The camera and parent unit both have a sleek, modern design. The camera features pan, tilt and zoom, providing 270-degree side-to-side views and 120 degrees up and down. The camera shoots up to 25 frames per second, delivering clear and dynamic video of the baby. The night vision is made possible by the 10 infrared LEDs that detect dim light, providing clear video even in dark rooms. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to see that the baby is awake, that her face is clear of blankets or that she’s freed her arms from her swaddle!
The parent unit is roughly the size of a large iPhone and features a high-resolution 4.3-inch color LCD screen. It has a number of customizable settings, and the interface is very intuitive. You can set basic preferences including language, alert tones and brightness. More advanced features include sound sensitivity, which allows you to hear only the sounds that reach a certain threshold. This feature is most appreciable at night as it ensures that we aren’t awakened by every squeal, squawk, moan and groan. Although we have it set to maximum sensitivity, the unit seems smart enough to know when it should raise the volume and activate the screen to wake us up.
There is also a motion sensor, which sets off an alert if the baby is moving a lot or if someone enters the room. This is a really useful feature if other small children are in the house and want to “take care of the baby” while you’re not watching!
The temperature in our house is inconsistent from room to room, so we find the sensor on the camera really handy. The parent unit displays the current temperature in the baby’s room and alerts us if it falls outside of the desired range.
We don’t have a very large house, so with a wireless range of 1,000 feet, we can go about our day while keeping an eye on the little one from any room in the house. For people with larger homes or multiple children, the system allows for up to four cameras to be synced with the parent unit. A simple press of a button toggles between the cameras, or you can set it to split-view mode to see all four at once. If you have the need to patrol multiple rooms, you can set it to “patrol mode,” which switches the view every 7 seconds.
The monitor also features a talk-back intercom, which I thought I would use frequently but surprisingly haven’t. I think it may come in more handy when the baby is older.
I use the monitor throughout most of the day and night and find it almost perfect. If I could change one thing? I’d add a clock on the parent unit. When I get an alert in the middle of the night, I have to check my phone for the time, so I can determine if she is likely hungry or if I should give her a minute to fall back asleep on her own. It also seems like the battery dies rather quickly. I have learned to keep it plugged in on my nightstand while I’m sleeping to avoid the possibility of an unnecessary awakening from the unit as it alerts me of its pending shut-down.
Overall, I would highly recommend this monitor. It’s a bigger investment than a simple audio monitor, but offers so much more!
Where to buy: amazon.com