When we had our first baby we were rushing to buy crib, infant seat, stroller, clothes, baby bottles….the list is endless. To our rescue was Google. We were able to search for products, read the reviews and decide on what was best for us. But not all my choices were correct. I realized that the baby monitor I bought is not digital and I can hear my neighbours talking because either they have similar unit or their unit works on same frequency! As our baby grew I also realized that I should have rather invested in a video monitor so we know she is out of trouble while playing in her room. So I invested in another baby monitor, this time a video one. SInce I spent considerable amount of time on consumer reports and Amazon reviews I decided to put together my learnings on the baby monitors. I am reviewing Summer infant video monitor.
Should you invest in a video monitor instead of audio monitor?
Three reasons that I can think of on top of my head why a video monitor is better,
1) Infants wake up very easily on slightest of noise, with audio monitors sometimes its very hard to determine the reason behind some nosies coming from baby’s room and you have to go to their room. You may accidently wake them up.
2) Many times we just go want to check if the baby is wearing her blanket properly and is comfortable. With video monitor we can do this without disturbing her.
3) Once you baby is grow up and you can leave her in her play room on her own you still want to keep a close eye on her to make sure everything is alright.
Most of the wireless home devices, cordless phones, wireless routers etc. work on 2.4 GHz frequency. This results in an interference especially in analog devices. You may hear you neighbours talking on your receiver and if you can listen them chances are they can listen you as well! Summer Infant Video Monitor uses a digital private channel which eliminates cross talk and interference from similar devices.
2.5 inch Color Screen
The 2.5 inch color LCD screen on Summer Infant Video Monitor gives enough clarity to monitor baby’s actions. There is an on-screen menu which can be used to pan, scan and zoom camera which actually works very well. The camera is infrared capable so it also works when there is not enough light in the room. The picture on the monitor is black and white in this case which is normal since the infrared cameras cannot determine colors in dark. The monitor also has LEDs which light up depending on the level of baby’s sound. This feature is very handy when we want to keep the volume muted.
The Handheld monitor works on rechargable batteries which are included, so we save money on alkaline batteries. We charge it every night but single charge can last for upto 10 hours. The video can be switched off on the monitor to conserve battery. The LED on the monitor indicates when the battery is low. The included second adapter is really handy just in case the batteries run out of juice.
The monitor has decent range. Though the specs say 350′, it works well within home. The monitor indicates that we are out of range when it cannot talk to the camera anymore. I tweak the antenna direction depending on where I plan to stay in the home for most of the time.
What can be improved
The volume control is one of the most common functionalities yet tucked away inside on-screen menu. But we got used to it. Some of the users also where bothered by the infrared LEDs on the camera flashing every now and then when its dark. But its barely visible and does not bother the bay at all. This is not a perfect monitor but is definitely better than similar devices. There are newer models which cost over $300 but not many people own them so its hard to determine if they are worth the cost.
Where to purchase
Summer Infant BestView Video Monitor model 02644 costs close to $180 on Amazon and there was no tax and shipping for me (saved close to $20). Plus if I buy from Amazon I always know I can return it back without any hassles if I am not satisfied.
Click image to see current price and purchase. Read the review below to determine if the camera is right for you.
- 14-megapixel sensor.
- Waterproof to 33 feet.
- Shockproof, ruggedized design to withstand falls up to 5 feet.
- New crushproof construction to withstand weight force up to 220 pounds (100kgf kilogram-force).
- Enhanced Digital Microscope mode that offers five macro LEDs for excellent macro lighting plus a detachable macro stand for steadier capture.
- Fast Face Detection technology, Smile Capture, and Blink Detection for portraits including a handy new Self-Portrait Assist mode perfect for Facebooking and other social networking activities.
Camera or a black box
Last summer when I visited Niagara falls I wished I could take the pictures of the falls from the Maid of the Mist. I didn’t want to risk my DSLR or for that matter any camera in front of the furious falls, so I end up taking a disposible film roll camera. The roll is still sitting in my drawer waitng to be developed! So I started researching ways to protect my camera from nature (and my kid!) so I don’t miss that perfect shot during my next adventure (if you can call water park an adventure).
Pentax Optio WG-1, the muti-proof camera
Pentax Optio WG-1 is the next generation outdoor camera that’s features outstanding waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, coldproof, and crushproof capability, you can take adventure photography to new heights (and depths). It can survive water depths of 30 feet. I even let my kid play with it thanks to the shockproof and shatterproof body that protects the delicate chip and mechanical parts inside. Not that I want to try or will ever require too but the manufacturer claims that it can withstand weight force up to 220 pounds. It can take pictures at very low temeratures (Alaska cruise, here I come :)). Plus if I ever visit Sahara desert it is ready for a sand storm!
But what about the camera features
Now that I spoke so much about the non-camera features lets speak about the other features that put this device into the categories of camera. The sensor on this camera is a high end 14 mega pixels that competes with most of the DSLRs. But dont get caried away, as the sensor on these compacts is not the same as on DSLRs. Picture quality on DSLRs is visibly better than these cameras specially in low lighting conditions. The optical zoom is 5x which is 28-140mm equivalent of roll cameras.The camera captures video at 720p which is low end HD.The camera features anti-shake protection which is very essential specially if your hands are shaking after a strong morning coffee.The threaded lens means you can fit additional lens like UV filtering. There are 5 LEDs on the lens rim that fire in the macro mode to light up the close objects. Fancy yes, useful may be.
The camera features Fast Face Detection technology, Smile Capture, and Blink Detection for portraits. It is compatible withEye-Fi wireless SD memory cards. If you are still new to these cards they have built-in Wi-Fi capability to transfer photos and videos from the camera to a computer or an online sharing site, facinating!
Where to buy
The retail price on this camera is $399 and I paid over $350. The cheapest price I have seen is on Amazon ($285 free shipping and no tax in most states). Click here to see current price.