By Kyle Wilcox – Guest Writer
As part of the Average Guy Tech Scholarship fund found at https://www.patreon.com/theaverageguy, I had three three baby monitors that I considered for the review:
Angelcare AC1120 Video and Sound Monitor – http://amzn.to/1mQCQve
Summer Infant Wide View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor – http://amzn.to/1mQCWCS
Motorola MBP33S Wireless Video Baby Monitor with 2.8-Inch Color LCD, Zoom and Enhanced Two-Way Audio – http://amzn.to/1mQCZ1H
All three models seemed fairly similar and as of January 2016, each was selling for around $110. The decision to go with the Summer unit came down to the fact that it had a larger screen.
First impressions are that while the WideView is made of plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy the way some plastic products do. In the box you will find two power cords and they each have an icon on them indicating either the camera or the monitor unit. I plugged both in right away and got the video feed immediately. There was no pairing or other work necessary to get working. I browsed through the instruction manual and noted that it said to charge the monitor for 4-5 hours before first use. I just started using it right away.
The Summer WideView is capable of connecting up to three additional cameras. I only have the one included camera and for my intended purposes, I don’t see a need to use more than that. The instructions show some basic things the monitor can do, but overall, the functionality is very simple and with the well labeled buttons, there is little to no use for the instructions unless you need to add another camera. In fact, there is a menu button on the monitor, and its sole purpose is to add, remove, or change cameras. I won’t be needing the menu button.
The monitor: I like that it is a widescreen format, measuring 5” diagonally. The screen resolution is pretty terrible when comparing it to your modern smartphone, but for a baby monitor, it should be fine. The kick stand is solid and functional, though it doesn’t allow the unit to tip back very far. On the right hand side is a zoom button, flanked on either side by brightness control buttons. There are only two zoom options: press the button once, and the camera zooms in, press it again and it returns to the original position. The brightness buttons just have up and down arrows on them, so it is not immediately clear what they are for, but pressing them brings up an onscreen symbol showing the brightness level, and you can see the picture increasing or decreasing in brightness. These brightness options should be more than sufficient for almost all lighting conditions that a baby monitor would be used in. The top right-hand side has clearly marked volume buttons. Top left is the power/menu button, and the left side has a button to activate the microphone. The charger also connects on the left side.
Based on initial testing, it appears that the video quality will be sufficient for use as a baby monitor. You can see the child clearly enough to identify facial expressions. The camera also has a night vision mode that functions well in all but the darkest rooms.
The most disappointing aspect of the baby monitor is the audio portion. The camera has microphone on it, and from what I can tell, there is no way to turn it off. Even in a room with no noticeable noise, the microphone still picks up a lot of background noise. On the monitor, this produces a very annoying static sound. I have just resorted to turning the volume down to silent. The product also mentions that you can use the microphone on the monitor to calm down your child by speaking to your child from the other room. However, this audio quality is also very bad and I can’t imagine a child finding it soothing; most likely they won’t even recognize your voice.
There is one useful thing about the audio. Above video screen are lights that show the volume level in the room with the camera. This feature works even if the volume is turned all the way down. The lights turn on from left to right and turn from green to red. If you see all the lights on and red, your child is making a lot of noise. You can turn the video screen on and get a better picture of what that noise might be.
Part 2 of this review will come as we actually use the monitor with our child. More to come…