Best Baby Video Monitors 2019 - Reviews, Comparison, Test Results
Since 2016, we've looked at and tested the video, audio, connection, ease of use and battery life on 13 video baby monitors. When we finished our tests, we concluded that the Infant Optics DXR-8 is the overall best video baby monitor because it was the top performer is each of our tests. The DXR-8 has outstanding video and audio quality that no other baby camera matches, and it is also the easiest to use. It’s more expensive than most other models, but the quality you get is well worth it.
Infant Optics DXR-8
The Infant Optics DXR-8 produced outstanding results in our tests. It achieves this quality by focusing only on features you need and forgoing others that could make it more convenient.
Summer Infant Wide View 2.0
At less than half the cost of our top pick, the Summer Infant Wide View 2.0 is understandably less powerful. However, it has good audio and battery life, and it’s extremely easy to use.
Philips Avent Smart baby monitor SCD860
The Philips Avent Smart baby monitor SCD860 has good video and audio. Its Wi-Fi lets you watch over your baby using your smartphone, but it can be difficult to set up.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Video & Audio||Functionality||Extras||Help & Support||Nightlight||Vibration||Lullabies||Wall Mount||Thermometer||Ease of Use||Battery Life (hours)||Max Outdoor Range (feet)||Max Indoor Range (feet)||Connection Quality||Video Quality||Remote Pan, Tilt & Zoom||Snapshot||Maximum Cameras Allowed||Video Recording||Audio Quality||Warranty||Support Channels|
|Infant Optics||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||9.5||5.3||9||0||✓||✓||90%||10:00||700||120||90%||100%||✓||4||90%||1 Year||Phone, Email|
|Philips Avent||View Deal||4.5/5||8.8||7.1||10||10||✓||✓||10||✓||✓||60%||Mobile App||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||60%||90%||✓||✓||10||80%||2 Years||Social, Phone, Email, Chat|
|Motorola MBP36S||View Deal||3.5/5||7.6||6.5||7.9||9||5||✓||✓||50%||6:35||1,000||150||70%||70%||✓||4||80%||1 Year||Social, Email|
|Summer Infant Wide View||View Deal||3.5/5||7||8.2||3.5||9.3||✓||0||✓||80%||9:20||800||124||70%||60%||Zoom Only||4||80%||1 Year||Social, Phone, Email|
|VTech VM343||View Deal||3.5/5||7.1||6.6||7.2||9.3||✓||0||✓||✓||70%||9:10||1,000||190||40%||70%||✓||8||70%||1 Year||Social, Phone, Email|
|iBaby M6T||View Deal||3.5/5||6.6||5.7||6.3||9.5||✓||0||✓||✓||55%||Mobile App||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||30%||80%||✓||✓||5||✓||40%||1 Year||Social, Phone, Email, Chat|
The Infant Optics DXR-8 outperformed the other baby cameras we reviewed in all our tests.
The video on its handheld unit is sharp and consistent, and even with 30 feet between the camera and the handheld unit, there wasn’t lag or interruption in the video. In addition, you can use the handheld unit to remotely point the camera at different parts of the room. Although you can't record video or take pictures with the DXR-8, these aren’t important features for a baby monitor.
Setup is incredibly easy. After charging the handheld unit overnight, we plugged in the camera and it instantly connected. There was a slight lag in the video when the camera and handheld unit were 50 feet apart, which is why it only scored 90 percent in our connection test, but that’s still better than other baby monitors we reviewed. In our battery life test, the monitor lasted 10 hours – only one other model has a battery that lasts this long.
This video baby monitor doesn't have Wi-Fi, but that's not a problem. Our top Wi-Fi monitor, the Philips Avent, is more expensive and didn't perform as well as the DXR-8 in our tests.
This baby camera has swappable lenses for telephoto and wide-angle views. It also has invisible infrared LEDs that let you see your baby in complete darkness without waking them. The DXR-8 doesn't have a nightlight or lullabies to comfort your baby, but those exclusions don't make this baby monitor any less impressive. The warranty on the DXR-8 only lasts a year, compared to the two-year warranty on the Philips Avent.
The Summer Infant Wide View 2.0's audio quality is good, scoring an 80 in our audio testing. There was some delay and crackle, but the quality was similar to a phone call.
The handheld unit's 5-inch screen is the largest in our review, complementing the camera's wide-angle lens. However, its resolution is the same as smaller units, so the video quality, while acceptable, is poorer. Also, you can't move the camera remotely, a feature you may not use if you only watch your baby as they sleep.
The Wide View 2.0 makes up for its video quality with a user-friendly design. It only takes a few minutes to set up and a couple hours to charge the handheld unit. The handheld unit lets you adjust the volume and has an uncomplicated menu. This simplicity comes at the cost of common features – the Wide View 2.0 doesn't track room temperature, and it can't play lullabies through the camera unit.
Because this is a simple video monitor, the battery lasted nine hours before it needed to recharge during our tests. The overall best baby monitor, the Infant Optics DXR-8, went 10 hours before shutting off, so this is a very good result.
The Summer Infant Wide View 2.0's handheld unit has a limited indoor range compared to most other baby cameras – it’s good enough for most homes but insufficient in particularly large ones. Summer Infant offers a one-year warranty, which is average for video baby monitors.
Best for Wi-Fi
Because this baby camera uses a mobile app instead of a handheld unit, it has good video. In fact, its video quality was second only to our top pick from Infant Optics.
The audio is quite good as well, with very little distortion. As with other Wi-Fi video baby monitors, there is lag as the video stream travels through distant servers before reaching your smartphone. In our tests, the SCD860 had good results one moment and issues shortly after. This is one of the reasons we gave it a low score for connection quality.
A few of our testers had trouble setting up this baby camera using the smartphone app. The camera doesn't work without a wireless connection, unlike traditional video baby monitors that use a handheld receiver. The app is easy to use, and it lets you set up push notifications and adjust the sound sensitivity. We had a few connection issues independent of our Wi-Fi connection, which could cause concern. For a time, we had no connection, so we didn't know what was going on in the other room.
This monitor lets you track the temperature and humidity in your baby's room and has a nightlight with multiple light color options. If your baby is upset, you can use the app to talk to them or play one of the 10 lullabies through the camera's speaker. The Philips Avent Smart baby monitor SCD860 has a two-year warranty, which is the longest of all the models we tested.
Latest News & Updates (January 2019)
We have tentative plans to test video baby monitors sometime this year. We’re currently considering the following products for possible inclusion in our next round of testing:
- iBaby Care M7: This product has a built-in air quality sensor and a smartphone app. (Released in 2017 for $199)
- Babysense V24US: This popular model is compatible with an under-mattress movement tracker, Babysense 7. It’s also one of the most affordable video baby monitors available. (Released in 2017 for $75)
- Arlo Baby: Unlike other Arlo security cameras, Arlo Baby is purpose-built for monitoring children. It includes a suite of sensors, a night light and a music player. Arlo Baby works with voice controls such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. (Released in 2017 for $200)
- Nanit Plus: This product has a mobile app, tracks sleep habits and includes a wall mount that makes it easy to install above your baby’s crib. (Released in October 2018 for $279)
- Miku: This Wi-Fi video baby monitor can track your baby’s breathing, temperature and sleeping habits. It also tracks environmental conditions in your baby’s room such as humidity, sound and motion. (Released in January 2019 for $399)
- Owlet Cam: This product integrates with the $300 Owlet Smart Sock, which monitors a baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep patterns. (Ships January 22, 2019 for $149)
Why Trust Us
In two rounds of testing, we assessed 13 video baby monitors to evaluate their video quality, audio quality, connection quality, ease of use and battery life.
Video baby monitors are simple, inexpensive tools for watching your child, and HD video is not a necessity for this task. While some baby monitors have excellent video, even those with lower quality video are suitable for watching your infant. Screen resolution does not necessarily mean good image quality, so we didn't use it as a point of comparison, relying only on video performance as observed in our tests.
How We Tested
The speakers and microphones on baby monitors are unremarkable since they're not used for complex audio like music. Most of the monitors we tested had slight lag and sounded like a phone call, though some had more lag as well as distortions such as static, crackles and pops.
To test connectivity, we put the handheld unit and the camera in neighboring rooms with 30 feet between them. We looked for lag, choppiness, and changes in the video or sound quality. While we rated it separately, we also did tests to estimate each baby cam’s maximum indoor range. Each camera we tested has a range of 100 feet or more, which is enough for an average-size home.
While not as objective as our other testing categories, we examined each model’s setup process and whether it was easy to navigate the menu, change settings and use the smartphone app, if applicable. Most baby monitors were easy enough to use, but we had some trouble during setup on a few models, especially the Wi-Fi ones.
In our battery tests, we put each baby camera in sleep mode with video off and the audio on. We set off the unit every two hours to represent a baby waking up during the night. The average battery life was eight hours.
How Much do Video Baby Monitors Cost?
You can expect to pay between $30 and $200 for a dedicated video baby monitor, with most branded units costing around $100 on average. Units that allow you to remotely reposition the camera with pan-tilt-zoom functionality are more expensive than those with a fixed view. Wi-Fi video baby monitors don't generally cost extra, because the lack of a specific parent unit balances out the costs of adding Wi-Fi functionality.
Video Baby Monitor Basics
Beyond the specific features we tested, here are a few other things to consider:
Viewing Your Baby
Every camera we tested has night vision, which lets you observe your baby in a dark nursery without disturbing them. This is because night vision uses infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes. Most baby cameras can attach to the wall to keep them away from curious fingers and for an improved view of the crib or play area. Also, most monitors we tested let you remotely move the camera's lens to get a better view.
Video baby monitors have a sleep mode that turns off the screen when there's no activity in your baby's room. If your baby makes a loud sound, the screen turns on or you get a notification on your phone. Some monitors also use vibration or flashing lights as notifications so you can turn the audio off for quiet time. You can press a button on the parent unit or mobile app to talk to your baby and sooth them back to sleep.
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The industry average warranty is one year, though the Philips Avent comes with two years of coverage.
Extra Features You Might Want to Consider
Some extra features aren't very important, but they can make your life easier.
Soothing Your Baby
More than half of the units we tested have a thermometer that lets you check the temperature in your baby's room at a glance. Some monitors include nightlights to help comfort your baby. You can also play a handful of recorded lullabies on many of the monitors we tested.
Getting Extra Cameras
With some monitors, you can add more cameras and view them using the handheld screen or mobile app. The number of cameras you need depends on why you want them, since one camera, when placed correctly, is sufficient for watching your baby as they sleep.
Recording Videos & Images
Many video baby monitors let you take pictures or record videos of your baby and save them to a storage device. However, security cameras, which have HD video quality and recording options, are a better for saving these precious moments.
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