A baby monitor review on a work at home mom site? Yep.
A little over a year and a half ago now, I found out that I was pregnant with my fourth child. My next youngest was 7 at the time, so it was definitely an adjustment going all the way back to the baby stage. And things had definitely changed since I had my last child.
Video monitoring had not only become widely available, but it was also affordable. But there were also like ten million different options to choose from.
My video baby monitor is one of my favorite work at home productivity tools. Why?
It has saved me countless trips of running up and down the stairs for every noise. It also meant I could feel comfortable working in my office downstairs while the new baby was napping in his room upstairs.
I also found it to double as a “backyard monitor” to watch (and hear) my (much) older kids (who are fantastic swimmers) when they were outside in the pool and I really needed to finish up a post. And it served as a semi nanny cam as I was behind my home office doors during the day (I am lucky not to need that tho as our nanny is awesome).
I will save you the boredom re the details of the hours of research I put into looking at a ridiculous number of monitors before finally picking out the Summer Infant Complete Coverage Color Video Monitor Set (I’m linking to Amazon because the official Summer site doesn’t do online sales and Amazon has the best price). But what I will let you know…
…is that it was an awesome choice. We’ve had the Summer video monitor set (in use) for a little over seven months now.
- Amazing Range: We have a 4000 square foot house (apparently everything really IS bigger in Texas). The baby’s room is on the second floor at the front left of the house. Our hot tub is in the far back right yard of the house. We bring it out there with us all the time when he’s asleep. We found the monitor to have no reception difficulty even at such a far distance.
- Super Clear Night Vision: Our son sleeps with all the lights off and no night light. We are able to clearly see him, down to the detail patterns of his shirt and blankets on the monitor through the built in night vision.
- Crisp and Clean Day Vision: While the pictures of the monitor you’ll see via online retailers are a bit more fantastic than the real life version as far as color crispness, it’s better than every other monitor I’ve seen being used by my friends. It’s clear with no lines and you can see the color detail well. Just not as “vividly” as the product pictures make it seem in my opinion.
- Marked Power Cords: Ok, so this may sound dumb, but I found it to be a pro. The video monitor and handheld monitor take different voltage power adapters. I was squinting to try and figure out which was which when I noticed that (duh) the monitor power adapters were both marked with pictures of which device they went to. Laugh if you want LOL but this was very useful to me (and my eyes).
- Battery and Adapter Powered Handheld: You can use batteries (they come with rechargeable batteries that get up to a 10 hour charge) OR a traditional power cord for the handheld unit. So you can avoid the need to constantly recharge the handheld by simply plugging the handheld in whenever possible and reserving the batteries for times when that’s not an option.
- The LED Sound Lights Rock: It has a little bar of lights that move from green to red to show you the noise level in the baby’s room, even if the volume on the monitor is down. We’ve found this to be awesome if we’re watching a movie, because we can put the monitor on the entertainment stand, with the volume completely down, yet the sudden flash of red will still catch our eyes if and when it occurs.
- Background Noise Filtering (not so much): While some retailers of the device claim that the “microphone filters background noise from baby’s voice” I haven’t found that to be true. During the day, when my other kids are up, I can hear their voices when their in the hallway, as well as the TV’s in their rooms (if they’re a little loud) through the monitor. That said, it let’s me know I need to yell at them to keep it down, so maybe it’s not completely a negative. :)
- The Handheld Shuts Off Video: The handheld unit has a power saving feature when it is in battery mode that kills the video after two minutes. The audio option is still there, as are the LED sound lights, but in order to get a constant stream of video when on battery power only, you’d need to click the button on top of the handheld unit every two minutes. However, the handheld shows video at all times when it is plugged in. I don’t see this as a big con, but as I mentioned below, I know some do, so I figured I’d mention it.
- Household Electronics Can Cause Interference: Yes there are two channels to minimize interference. And yes, we find this monitor to work better than any monitor we’ve recently seen friends using in regards to interference. But it definitely still has interference. Most noticeably if we suddenly bring electronics around it (like an iPad or my BlackBerry). Luckily, you can usually simply twist the monitor in a slightly different direction to counteract it. It’s kind of like when you had to adjust antennas on the TV as a kid.
Additional features I didn’t care about
- Video On/Off for Nighttime Use: It has a feature where you can turn off the video while you’re trying to sleep. My assumption is that some people find the light bright enough to keep them awake. I am not one of them, so I’ve never used this feature and therefore can’t comment on it.
- TV Hookup: There is an option to plug the monitor into your TV and have the TV screen display the picture. Personally, if my munckin is asleep I’m either WATCHING TV or working and the 7 inch flat-screen unit is plenty big enough for me. So I’ve never attempted to use this feature.
What to be aware of in your video baby monitor search
After buying my own monitor and comparing notes with friends that bought different brands of video monitors, if you choose to go with a different monitoring system, you may want to be aware of the following:
- No Matter What Brand, Condos With Multiple Monitoring Units Can Cause Issues: I have two friends that live in Condos that bought heavy duty video monitor systems as neighbors that loved theirs. But because the range is so far of some models, it caused interference and feedback from TOO close to neighboring monitors. So, if you live in a condo, you may want to choose a shorter range monitor, especially is neighbors are also using them.
- Be Aware Of And Check For Handheld Power Saver Modes: My neighbor two doors down bought the Motorola digital video monitoring system and found that it also went into a “power saver” mode if only on battery power that killed the video (but leaves audio on) to preserve the batteries. She had to click a button to resume video every three minutes. As a first time mom, this was very disappointing and nerve-wracking for her (however, she otherwise love’s the Motorola monitor). I primarily use the larger LCD screen (and am on kid #4) so the power saver features don’t bother me too much.
Overall opinion of the Summer video baby monitor
I love this monitor set and have never regretted using it. I attempted to purchase it in person several times at Babies R’ Us, but they never could seem to keep it in stock, so I finally purchased it at Amazon. But I paid the original retail price of $299 while Amazon currently has it almost $40 cheaper. And it qualifies for Prime shipping and free returns (though I doubt you’ll be returning it).
Either way, the amount of productivity it has given me in my work at home business has been worth the price many, many times over.
Do you (or did you) find baby monitoring devices to be a valuable tool to YOUR home based business? Let me know in the comments!