EDITORS NOTE: (10/3/2014) Giveaway has concluded and winner has been selected.With my daughter, Madeline, we used a very basic, sound-only baby monitor. I actually didn’t want to know everything that was going on behind closed doors — I didn’t want to give myself any more reasons to worry or obsess over my baby. And, for the last two years, it has served us well. But after spending last Christmas at my parents’ house and getting to use a super old-school video baby monitor that my sister picked up second-hand, I became a little obsessed with the idea of peeking in on my child after the lights go out.
After doing some preliminary research into video monitors, I was leaning toward investing in a Motorola model because of their great video quality and remote capabilities. To my delight, I was recently given the opportunity to review the Motorola MBP36 Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor. Read on to find out my thoughts and for your chance to win a Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor!
First thing’s first — this video monitor was so simple to set up, it reminded me of an Apple device. I didn’t need to consult the instructions at all. The camera and monitor came pre-paired, and the buttons and menu on the monitor were extremely intuitive. I had the camera mounted (I hung mine with a small nail high on the wall for the best vantage, but it can also set on a shelf) and the system up and running within minutes of opening the box.
The monitor fits in the palm of your hand and is almost all “display.” Besides the sizable and very clear 3.5 inch screen (color display in well-lit conditions and infrared in the dark), which also features the wireless connectivity, temperature, battery life and noise level, there are eight function buttons. Four buttons allow you to pan the camera/select menu options (up, down, left and right), and there is a button to access the menu, an “OK” button (to select menu options), a display button (to activate the video display) and a microphone button (to communicate via the camera aka talk to the baby). This last feature I think is super cool for when you have a new baby, to be able to respond to/coach/reassure your co-parent in the room with said nugget. But I wouldn’t dare use it with my two year old — I don’t want to risk breaking down the fourth wall.
It’s important to note that the pan function on the actual camera in the baby’s room is very quiet. If my two year old doesn’t notice me scanning around the room looking for her, a smaller baby would not be disturbed by it in the least.
When you pull up the menu, you can adjust the volume, zoom, brightness, temperature reading (a feature I love, since I’m always concerned with the baby being too cold), camera selection (for use with up to four cameras- awesome for parents with more than one little one!) and auto display-shut-off functions (a definite power-saver). You can also set an alarm on the monitor (though I’m not sure why you would) or play up to five different lullabies through the camera into the baby’s room.
When the display is off, the monitor has only one or two small lights that remain lit. This is a huge positive in my book, since I’m quite light-sensitive when I sleep. Plus, you don’t need the display on for the sound to still work, so you should have no trouble hearing baby in the night.
There were, unfortunately, a few annoyances that stood out right away for me…
My main issue, which I fully recognize might not be a problem at all for some, is that there is no way to adjust the voice activation sensitivity or a quiet mode (to remove background white noise). That means I’ve been hearing every sniffle, squeak and squawk my two year old makes, which means I’ve been awakened more in the night than I have been in the last year. With just a sound monitor (sensitivity turned way down), I had NO idea that my daughter talks to herself for almost an hour before finally falling asleep, that she wakes up fairly consistently around 12/1AM and hums herself back to sleep or that she wakes up 30-45 minutes before I thought she did (more humming and talking) — all interruptions to my own sleep that I would have just as soon (and have) done without. My preference is to hear nothing but the REAL cries, especially in the middle of the night. I do take the point, though, that this hyper-noise-sensitive monitor might be better appreciated when used with a tiny baby, rather than a coo coo bird two year old.
In the middle of the night, when I was waking up to my daughter humming, I fumbled hardcore trying to find the right buttons to pull up the display, and then pan and zoom in the dark. I really wish that the buttons were backlit once the display was activated.
The battery life on the monitor runs down way quicker than my sound monitor (which I guess is to be expected), getting about five hours of juice before needing to be plugged in again. But I want to note that I only kept the display on for a few minutes at a time — to check to see if my daughter had fallen asleep yet (for nap and bedtime), to peek in once or twice on her slumber and to see what she was up to when she woke up before getting her (after nap). I was expecting longer life.
A couple very minor issues…
Because I mounted the camera on a side wall, when I’m scanning the room, the image ends up going sideways making me tilt my head or the monitor to see the image properly. I realize I could just remount on the wall directly opposite her bed for better coverage, but instead I’m wishing the stand on the monitor swiveled, allowing it to sit vertically or horizontally on my nightstand.
I wish there was a clip on the monitor so I could attach it to my pocket when I’m moving about the house or outside.
A $240 price tag is rough no matter how you slice it (though many competitor models are priced similarly). I guess if you’re wanting to see your little love, you have to be willing to pay the piper.
Rating (1-Not Good, 2- Okay, 3- Good, 4-Very Good, 5- AMAZING!):
I docked points for the lack of sound control (the option to adjust sensitivity and remove background noise) — which appears to have existed in previous models and is definitely present in competitor monitors — and for the display buttons not being back-lit, but, when it comes down to it, you buy this monitor to see your child and the Motorola MBP36 lets you do that really well. The picture quality is great, the remote pan, tilt and zoom options are top notch and some of extra features (the display shut off, the room temperature and two-way communication) all make this a good choice for a video monitor!
Finally, because they love you just as much as I do, the very generous folks at Motorola have agreed to give away a Motorola MBP27T Digital Video Baby Monitor with Integrated Touchless Thermometer to one lucky Keep Calm and Soldier On reader! Enter using the Gleam widget below!
I want to know what you think! Do you love your video monitor or could you live without it? Was it worth the investment?
*A video baby monitor was provided by Motorola for review purposes.