Most of the video baby monitors available in today's market fall under one of two categories: analog or digital. Both types of video baby monitors have their own pros and cons. Knowing which category is best for your needs can be determined by understanding the differences between the two.
How Video Monitors Work
All video monitors are comprised of two parts: a transmitter and a receiver unit. The transmitter (or the camera unit that's placed in the baby's room) uses airwaves on a particular radio frequency to transmit audio and video signals to the receiver unit (which is the portable parent unit with the LCD screen). In what form the monitor transmits those signals, determine whether it is analog or digital.
What is Analog?
This is a technology that has been around for decades. Analog takes a continuous audio or video signal and transmits it in a series of electronic pulses. In other words, the signal is essentially broken up into smaller components as it is transmitted and then put back together so the signal (like the sound of a baby crying) is received continuously.
What is Digital?
Digital encrypts an audio or video signal and is a much newer technology than analog. Basically a digital signal is scrambled into a series of codes as it is transmitted over a radio frequency. As the signal reaches the receiver it is put back into the correct order. This allows it to transmit - or play - continuously.
The Analog vs. Digital Debate
Analog and digital video baby monitors both have a range of advantages and disadvantages. How well one or the other works in your home can hinge on a variety of factors.
Since all video baby monitors use public airwaves to transmit signals, there is always the possibility a monitor's audio or video feed can be picked up by other receivers outside the home. For instance, let's say you live in a densely-populated area such as an apartment building. If your neighbor is using a similar video monitor on the same frequency, the signals can cross paths and become intercepted. That means you could potentially pick up one of their feeds on your monitor's receiver unit and hear what's going on in their baby's room or even see the video feed from their camera (and vice versa). Such interceptions are most common on analog monitors. To the contrary, though they aren t completely immune to intercepted signals, digital video baby monitors tend to be more secure since they encrypt their transmissions.
Aside from security, another concern with video baby monitors is interference. Most analog monitors use a 900MHz frequency while the majority of digital ones use a 2.4GHz frequency. The amount of interference your monitor picks up largely depends on what other wireless devices in your home are competing for space on the same frequency. For example, many newer devices like wireless routers, cordless phones and even microwave ovens use a 2.4GHz frequency that can cause interference with a digital video monitor. However, most video baby monitors (both analog and digital) are equipped with multiple channels that you can switch between to reduce interference.
Which Technology is Right for You?
Here are a few factors to consider when deciding which technology is right for you:
- The Proximity of your Neighbors - Consider a digital monitor if you live in a highly-populated urban setting, especially if there are multiple other families nearby. An analog monitor will be more susceptible to intercepting signals from other monitors in the vicinity. However, if you live in a suburban or rural area, you may find an analog monitor works just as well as a digital one.
- Other Wireless Devices in your Home - Take note of what other wireless devices are in your home and what frequency they use. The fewer devices that share the same frequency as your monitor, the less interference you are likely to experience.
- Overall Cost - One of the biggest differences between analog and digital video baby monitors is cost. Since the technology is older and not as complex, analog monitors are typically much less expensive than digital monitors.
Once you've made a decision regarding analog versus digital, our video baby monitor reviews and side-by-side comparisons can help you choose a monitor apt for you and your baby. If digital best suits your needs, check out the top-rated Summer Infant BestView monitor or the Levana BABYVIEW 20 video monitor. If you're looking for an analog video monitor, we'd recommend the Summer Infant Day & Night monitor. Regardless of what you choose, video baby monitors should provide continuous monitoring to give you peace of mind and ensure the safety of your baby.