Our Top Pick for 2018: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
Read our full review.
As our newborns and toddlers adjust to their days and nights, knowing when they are asleep or awake, or even when they are in distress can be a harrying challenge that every parent has to overcome. In ages past, homes were smaller, and thusly, when your baby cried because he or she needed to be changed, you knew immediately because you were in the immediate proximity. Today, with houses that have multiple stories and wider spaces between the rooms, it can be hard to hear when your child needs attention; this is where the modern baby monitor comes in. These types of monitors will directly alert you when your child is expressing a need, allowing you to directly attend to your little loved one. To help you wade through all of the baby monitor options available to you, we’ve created a list of pre-purchase considerations and selected four distinct models that represent the best of what’s available, one of which won’t even cost you a lot of dough.
#1. Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
Our first entry, the Gold Pick winner of our list, is the Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor. This excellent device has all of the critical and consumer accolades that you should come to expect of those devices that we deem worthy of our gold standard. Manufactured by Infant Optics, a relatively small company that specializes in producing electronics of this type, this baby monitor has several key features that make it a great buy. Simply put, this baby monitor is the best selling baby monitor on Amazon, no mean feat given the amount of competition available on the site.
To start, let’s talk about this unit’s transmitter. From a design aesthetic, the transmitter unit looks like a standard web or security camera. Complete with a circular LED sensor ring that provides night vision illumination in dark nurseries, this transmitter is designed to be sure to catch every aspect of your sleeping darling. The spherical camera unit is set on a swivel rocker that allows the camera to pan a full 270 degrees and allows it to tilt upwards and downwards in a 120 degree range of motion. It features a rear antenna in the back, and it has an unpluggable AC adaptor cable that you plug directly into your outlets.
For a feature rich unit, the best feature that this transmitter has is its versatility. You can unscrew and replace any of the lenses that are compatible with this unit and create very unique viewing profiles for the monitoring of your little angel. The default lens is a great, albeit standard option for your video feed, but if this proves to be too limited for your purposes. Infant Optics also has included with the baby monitor a 2x optical zoom lens that will ensure that you will be able to see your baby clearly and in great detail. If you want to cover a wider area, similarly to a SLR camera, you can screw on a wide-angle lens that you can get directly from the manufacturer for an additional $12. The difference between these lenses is large, and you might even find yourself exchanging them frequently for different uses as your child gets older.
Also included in the transmitter is an external speaker. Simply, hit the push-to-talk button on the receiver and you can sing a lullaby to your dozing loved one that will assist him or her on their trip to sleepy town. This system communicates with the receiver by a direct digital connection that is encrypted through a frequency-hopping spread-spectrum 2.4 GHz connection.
The receiver for this unit has several great features that allow for nearly seamless monitoring of your child. To begin, the receiver has the form factor of a small cell phone and, similarly to the coloration of the transmitter, is shaded gold and white. The primary feature that you’ll notice first on this receiver is the relatively large 3.5” LCD screen. The screen displays in full color and features several key readouts for the health and safety of your little one. These include:
• Signal Strength – This is a standard readout to let you know if you are getting too far from your transmitter.
• Camera – This Infant Optics baby monitor can have multiple cameras on a single system. This readout will let you know which camera you are viewing from, starting with “Cam1”.
• Temperature – This tells you the ambient temperature of your child’s nursery.
• Battery Level – This represents the remaining power level of the receiver. Luckily, Infant Optics made the receiver chargeable through a micro-USB connection so that you can easily charge it through a cell phone or peripheral cable.
Control wise, there is a thumb pad that will allow you to control the transmitter’s zoom, panning, and tilt. Surrounding this control interface are four buttons, the top leftmost will allow you to navigate the baby monitor’s standard menus. The second button to the right is an “Ok” button, which will allow you to confirm menu choices. The third button, which is aligned to the bottom left of the console is labeled “shortcut”. This button will allow you to adjust the contrast and volume of your feed. Finally, the bottom rightmost button is labeled “talk” and serves as the aforementioned push-to-talk button that will allow you to sing or speak to your child.
Overall, as you might have guessed by its Gold Pick status, this is a great baby monitor. Some have had negative experiences when installing additional cameras, where the resolution isn’t as good as the camera that comes with the unit, or there are manufacturing glitches, but for the most part, consumer experience is overwhelmingly positive. On Amazon, out of 4,070 reviews, 81 percent are of a positive four star rating or above caliber.
#2. Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor
Our Silver Pick runner up baby monitor has been developed by another baby-centric electronics company, Summer Infant. This company was founded in 1985, when a father, recognizing that he needed a way to protect his daughter while he was busy with other pursuits, invented a bouncy seat for his child, who just happened to be named Summer. Since then, Summer Infant has been creating products with child safety in mind for over 30 years. Just like the bouncy seat, this Infant In View baby monitor will allow you to keep track of your little one while you go about your everyday life.
The first thing that you might notice when comparing our Gold Pick and Silver Pick entries, is that each of these has a very different form factor that will directly cause variances in each unit’s operation. The Summer Infant model utilizes the same LED night vision sensors to keep an eye on your child in dark environments, but the swivel, panning, and tilting systems are completely different between the two baby monitors. This unit does not utilize a motorized neck, and thusly any changes in the intended field of view will have to be executed manually. If you want to get a closer look, this unit also has a 5x digital zoom that will help you in this regard.
Aesthetically, this unit looks very unique. The viewfinder/sound unit is somewhat rectangular with rounded, beveled edges and an unobtrusive antenna in the rear. It’s set on an adjustable pivot that, despite its lack of a dedicated motor, gives you a good range of view. The base of the transmitter unit is very wide and provides an extremely sturdy and balanced support for the transmitter section of this baby monitor. The base of the transmitter is also mountable for a bevy of positioning options.
With this system you can add up to three additional cameras, so if you want to hit multiple viewing angles simultaneously, then this is easily accomplished by simply buying additional camera units.
The receiver section of this baby monitor presents something of a mixed bag of features that shines in some areas and is somewhat lacking in others. Firstly, the initial thing that this receiver gets right is the size of the screen. Sporting a LCD view screen that’s five inches in size, you’ll be able to see a good amount without having to strain your eyes a whole lot. That being said, the actual resolution of this screen isn’t as vivid as we would have liked, and there is some noteworthy pixilation at times. Luckily, Summer Infant did a bang up job with the night vision; even in a dark room, you can see everything and everyone very easily.
The rear of the receiver unit sports a foldable stand and the AC power jack. When it comes to power, this is where you’ll find another drawback to this baby monitor. When plugged in, you’ll get a steady stream of video from the cameras in your baby’s room. When unplugged, the device enters ‘power save mode’. In this mode, the screen shuts off every few seconds and the only way to reactivate the screen is to press a button along the top of the device. As there is no way to prevent the darkening of the screen, this can get annoying fairly fast, but if you are just checking on your little one from time to time, it shouldn’t be too much of an annoyance.
Out of the 389 reviews on Amazon, 64 percent of the reviews were of a four or five star quality level. The chief complaint about this device is the sometimes choppy video, but many of the five star reviews indicate that its ease of setup outweighs the lack of high fps imagery.
#3. Samsung SEW-3043W BrightVIEW HD Baby Video Monitoring System
Produced by one of the largest electronics companies in the world, our Bronze Pick certainly is a feature rich product. The first touch screen product on our list, this baby monitor has all the functionality that you’ll need to keep track of your little one’s needs as well as a suite of features that set it aside from the rest of the devices of this type that are on the market today. One thing to note: As a result of the goodly amount of features that Samsung has incorporated into this device, this is one of the more expensive baby monitors on our list at almost $200.
The transmitter on this device features the panning and tilting that is featured on our Gold Pick baby monitor. The quality of video that this device can capture is HD level; simply put, at a crisp 720p resolution, you won’t find many higher quality video feeds than the one featured on this device. The motion options for this camera transmitter are accomplished through a swivelable base and a tiltable mount for the camera itself. The unit can pan a full 300 degrees and tilt another 110. This camera can also zoom in so that you can get a closer perspective on your little one.
While there isn’t a ring of visible LED sensors aligned around the lens of this camera, this camera does feature night vision and boasts a range of 16 feet. In addition to this, this camera also has a nightlight that will provide comfort for your baby as he or she goes to sleep. Even in night vision mode, you’ll still be able to see in crisp, HD quality 720p.
With so many options when it comes to monitoring your baby, you may be surprised that your range of view can be expanded by up to four additional camera feeds. This will enable you to monitor additional nurseries, set up extra vantage points, or simply monitor other rooms of your house; all from the same receiver.
In addition to the great video quality, this transmitter also does a great job of catching all of the sounds that can come from your nursery area. There is even a VOX or voice activation mode that turns the camera feed on when your baby makes a noise. When there is 30 seconds of silence, the camera will return to sleep mode. As with the other items on this list, you’ll also be able to sing or talk to your baby through a two way voice interface, and if you are slightly atonal, you’ll have access to four built-in lullabies that will help your little one fall gently asleep.
The receiver for this unit also has some great features. Firstly, you’ll notice the larger five inch screen. Not only is the resolution high on this unit, it also allows for touch as a means of interfacing with the baby monitor’s functions. As you may know, Samsung has become a master of the touch interface in recent years, and all of their expertise carries over well into the design of this receiver.
Physically, the device is very sturdy and can take a few of the accidental bumps and drops that can occur when you’re trying to manage the care of a little one. Along the back of the unit there is a retractable stand for setting the device down on a table top, a belt clip for taking the device with you as you go about your daily business, and a antenna that picks up 2.4 GHz encrypted digital transmissions from the transmitter. Both sections of this baby monitor utilize micro-USB for charging and powering the units, which is perfect considering how ubiquitous these types of chargers are becoming as tech progresses.
One of the most impressive features of this baby monitor is its range; you can go a full 900 feet from the transmitter before you even begin to hear a range warning. This degree of freedom is perfect if you have a large house or are working outside.
An astounding 90 percent of 229 reviews on Amazon have deemed that this baby monitor is worthy of a positive rating of at least four stars. The chief complaint about this device is the cost but many users also note how reliable it is and many are impressed by the crispness of the video feed and the quality of the sound that the monitor produces.
#4. Puretech Baby Video Baby Monitor Camera
Despite the cost of some of these items reaching $200 or more, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on one of these types of devices if you’re ballin’ on a budget. Our ballin’ pick, the Puretech Baby Baby Monitor Camera, has some great features for a parent who has a working Smartphone that wants to keep an eye on their little one’s status.
The transmitter on this unit is well designed and manually adjustable in order to pick the perfect angle to keep an eye on your child. As this is a single unit baby monitor, the only device that comes in this kit is the transmitter; the receiver is your phone. The sync system is very simple for both Android and iOS devices and, at most, only requires a two step process and the downloading of the ‘Clever Dog’ application from Google Play or the App Store.
The transmission system for this unit is Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to have this type of connection running in your home. The camera is able to capture night vision, can be networked with other cameras of the same type, and is also compatible with Micro-SD storage, for those times when you’d like to capture precious memories.
The lens on this device is also wide-angle, a great option for capturing a larger picture of what’s going on in the nursery. Sound quality is also very clear, and there is a two-way sound system included so that you can sing or talk to your little one. In addition to this functionality, you can also monitor your child through the usage of multiple devices. Have a phone and a tablet? This functionality will allow you to use both.
83 percent of the reviewing audience on Amazon have given this product a four star rating or above. As this product is Smarthome friendly, many people love how easy it is to integrate into the styles of control systems that allow for the wireless operation of various in-home peripherals. There is one additional feature that parents seem to love about this baby monitor; here is one testimonial that outlines it:
“What I like most about it is the image capture too. Whenever something moves in front of the camera it snaps a picture and saves it. Like when I go to put my child to sleep it snaps me entering the room with her and my wife gets to see me obey her command.”
Type of System
There are several types of baby monitoring systems on the market today. Which one you end up picking will greatly affect the type of experience you’ll have keeping your little loved on secure. Here is a listing of the most common types of baby monitors that you’ll find on the market today:
• Audio – This style of baby monitor features the most important functionality of any baby monitor: sound. While video is a great tool to see what’s happening in your baby’s room, it’s the audio that will cue you in if your child is in distress. Also, since a newborn will cry to let you know that they need to be fed or changed; this style of monitor will alert you as the need arises.
• Analog – This style of baby monitor doesn’t encrypt the information that is being transmitted from your baby’s room. This style ensures that your reaction to your baby’s needs is quicker than the style that needs to be encrypted. Simply put, the sound is sent, the sound is heard.
• Digital – While analog might sound like the simplest method of audio transmittal, the digital style is more secure. With this style of baby monitor the audio signal is encrypted so that no one else can hear the sound being transmitted; as a result, the connection is more secure between transmitter and receiver.
• Network – This style will allow you to connect your monitor to your home network. The feed will be transmitted to your computer where you can monitor your child’s safety digitally. An example of this system can be found with Dropcam. Parent’s simply sign up, log onto the Dropcam site, and monitor the feed being generated from the baby’s room. If you are away and your child is with a sitter, this will allow you to check on him or her directly from any computer with an internet connection.
• Smart Home – With the advent of smart home hubs and devices, many parents are using a smart home style of video and audio reception to help them keep an eye and ear out for their little ones. These systems typically come with a hub and a series of cameras that can be networked. You simply sync the cameras and the audio and video feeds will be output to a dashboard that is controlled by an app on your Smartphone. With this method, you’ll be able to check multiple cameras in order to get different angles around your baby’s room.
• Video/Audio Monitors – This type simply uses an un-networked camera that is either mounted on your wall or on a table to broadcast video and audio feeds to your receiver. Manufacturers might even include portability options for the receiver. This style might use a power line or radio frequency transmission system for communication.
Motion Control Options & Night Vision
These types of baby monitors have video feeds that you can directly control. Motion control baby monitors will allow you to pan the camera around the room in order to get every possible angle without having to have multiple cameras positioned at various angles. Some parents put these types of cameras in positions around their baby’s cribs so that they have a good idea of what’s happening as their little one sleeps. Another great feature for those looking for a little more motion operation is a digital or optical zoom.
The night vision style of baby camera will allow you to see when the lights go out in your little one’s room. This is particularly useful when you want to monitor your child but don’t want to disturb him or her by keeping or turning the light on.
Resolution of the Camera, the Sound, and Digital Display
Let’s be honest, clarity is very important when trying to maintain the security and well being of our young loved ones. With this in mind, it is very important for our baby monitors to deliver as clear and crisp of an audio and video experience as possible; as a result, always be sure that the baby monitor that you are thinking of purchasing has good quality audio and video feeds, this will ensure that you are able to see and hear everything going on in your baby’s room. The microphone should pick up every giggle, and the camera should clearly display every movement your child makes.
There are a plethora of extra features available in different baby monitors. When you’re looking for a new device, check to see if these extra features are included:
Nightlight – Babies like a little light in their rooms as it helps to dispel the uncertainty of the sometimes scary dark. Some units have built in nightlights that will reassure your child and add extra illumination for you to navigate their sometimes cluttered rooms by.
Pre-programmed lullabies – Baby monitors that have this additional feature can be lifesavers when it comes to lulling your newborn into a restful sleep. Typically, these have several options of pre-recorded lullabies to pick from that will ease your baby into la-la land.
Feed Timers – It can be argued that many baby monitors are by their nature, feed timers; especially since you’ll hear from your baby when it’s time to feed. Nevertheless, it’s really useful to have a feed timer that will alert you through the receiver when it’s a pre-ordained time to feed your child.
Range and Battery Indicators – These styles of monitors ease the burden of keeping track of when your monitor’s receiver is out of range of your transmitters signal or when your baby monitor will need a recharge or batter replacement. These are very useful features to have on your device, so seek out models that utilize these systems.
Motion Detector – Our babies can get into all types of adventures when we think they are fast asleep. Baby monitors with motion detectors will let you know when your little loved one is rolling around, crawling around his or her crib, or simply throwing a tantrum. This style of monitoring will ensure that you are always on hand when your little one wakes up and is ready to play.
When you have a camera that’s set up to monitor your child, sometimes, no matter what the motion control settings allow, there will be blind spots. This is where cameras that can be networked come in, with this type; you can have two or more cameras working in tandem in your child’s room. From the receiver you’ll be able to see each camera’s independent feed and pan and zoom with each. One caveat for this style of setup, purchasing multiple cameras can greatly add to the overall cost.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Keeping our little ones safe and satisfied has been the chief purpose of baby monitors for decades now. Now that you know what kind of products and options are out there for you and your burgeoning family, we hope that you can make a more educated decision when it comes to purchasing one of these types of devices. Take a look at our gold through budget picks, remember our pre-purchase considerations, and you’ll be well on your way to finding a device that’s best for you.