The Best Baby Monitor Review

Which baby monitor is the best? We tested 14 of the most popular and highest rated monitors to determine the absolute best. We put them through a gauntlet of tests to compare range, clarity, ease-of-use, functionality, and more. Based on our tests we rated and ranked them all, read on to see which ones we picked as the very best.

Refer also to our: Video Monitor Review

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, BabyGearLab May 28, 2012

Top Ranked Baby Monitors Displaying 1 - 5 of 14 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Philips AVENT DECT Baby Monitor
Philips AVENT DECT
Read the Review
Video video review
Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound
Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound
Read the Review
Video video review
Angelcare Sound Monitor
Angelcare Sound Monitor
Read the Review
Sony BabyCall Monitor
Sony BabyCall Monitor
Read the Review
Video video review
Motorola Digital Audio Monitor
Motorola Digital Audio Monitor
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award    Best Value Award   
Price $120 List
$80 from Amazon
$110 List
$74 from Amazon
$60 List
$50 from Amazon
$50 List
$38 from Amazon
$50 List
$25 from Amazon
Overall Score 
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87
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80
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80
100
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67
100
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61
Editors' Rating
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Pros The best sound monitor we tested, great range, crystal clear sound, adjustable activation sensitivity, easy-to-use, immune to interferenceBest-in-class range, above average clarity, unique movement detection capability, resistant to interferenceBest-in-class range, above average clarity, easy to use, resistant to interferenceEasy to use, low-cost, better than average range & clarityGood range, crystal clear audio clarity, relatively low-price
Cons Expensive, some parents complain of receiving defective units with low-sound volumeExpensive, hard to set-up, a little bit harder to use, no talk-to-baby featureNo two parent unit version available, sound activation sensitivity adjustment is on nursery unit (arrgh!)Much more susceptible to interference than higher end monitorsToo quiet, no ability to adjust or turn off sound activation (a major issue from our point of view), no 2 parent unit version
Bottom Line If you need the best-in-class range and sound clarity, make this your go-to Baby Monitor choice.Best overall baby monitor even if you don't use the movement detection featureA good step-up from Sony BabyCall if you have issues with interference and don't need two parent unitsIf interference is not an issue in your home, this monitor is a bargain and will do the job wellWe would not recommend this monitor to a friend
Date Reviewed Apr 09, 2012Apr 09, 2012Apr 09, 2012Mar 30, 2012Mar 30, 2012
Weighted Scores Philips AVENT DECT Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound Angelcare Sound Monitor Sony BabyCall Monitor Motorola Digital Audio Monitor
Range - 35%
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
Sound Clarity - 25%
10
0
10
10
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8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease of Use - 10%
10
0
9
10
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4
10
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8
10
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10
10
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3
Features - 20%
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6
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2
Battery life - 10%
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6
Product Specs Philips AVENT DECT Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound Angelcare Sound Monitor Sony BabyCall Monitor Motorola Digital Audio Monitor
Price Options $120 (1 parent unit)
$150 (w/temperature)
$190 (w/temp & humidity)
$130 (1 parent unit)
$140 (2 parent units)
$60 (1 parent unit) $50 (1 parent unit)
$70 (2 parent units)
$50 (1 parent unit)
Communication Technology DECT 927 MHz 927 MHz 900 MHz 1.9 GHz DECT
Sound Monitoring Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Yes Yes
Movement Detection Yes
Sound Activation Yes, w/adjustable sensitivity Yes, w/adjustable sensitivity Yes, but sensitivity control is on nursery unit (yuck!) Yes, with On / Off Switch Yes, but no way to turn off (arrgh!)
Talk-to-Baby Yes
Indoor Range Test (walls & feet) 7 walls, 110 feet 8 walls, 125 feet 7 walls, 110 feet 5 walls, 75 feet 6 walls, 100 feet
Open Field Range Test (feet) 1,591 feet 3,395 feet 3,395 feet 652 feet 1,693 feet
Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!) 1,083 feet* 820 feet* 820 feet (open field)*
262 to 328 feet (indoors)*
900 feet* 990 feet*
Max Sound (db) 83 81 83 100 77
Min Sound (db) 0 0 0 0 0
Battery Life (hours) 45.0 35.7 36.5 24.8 22.0

BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products

It's About Sleeping
The sneak attack interrupting your newborn-bliss is sleep deprivation. Between nursing every few hours and being worried about your baby in between, sleep goes by the wayside. A baby monitor is one of the key weapons in your arsenal to fight back against sleep deprivation. A great monitor will allow you to sleep with confidence (in a separate room), knowing that if your baby cries out you'll wake up. The best monitors offer an adjustable sound activation feature that filters out background noise, but tunes in and amplifies the sound of a baby's cry. This kind of sound activation feature is a blessing for sleep, since it allows you to catch a few winks in complete silence, knowing that baby's cry will come through loud and clear. A video monitor goes one step further, giving you a way to look in on baby and see if a trip to the nursery is warranted. And a few monitors, like the Angelcare Deluxe, add another novel feature (albeit controversial), of detecting the lack of movement in the crib, potentially alerting you to a serious situation such as baby stopping breathing.

Our Baby Monitor Buying Advice article will give you the low-down on the different types of monitors, what features to be aware of, and why it might be worth investing more than you think. You can read about the gauntlet of tests we put each monitor through in our How We Test article. And now, without further adieu, allow us to introduce you to the winners of our test.

Editors' Choice Award - Angelcare Deluxe
Click to enlarge
Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound Monitor (ac401) comes with one parent unit, the nursery monitor, and the movement sensor pad.
Credit: Angelcare
We selected the Angelcare Deluxe as our Editor's Choice winner for overall best monitor. It handily won our range distance tests, both our unobstructed (open field) test with a whopping 3,300 feet performance, and our more important obstructed (multiple indoor walls) test in which the Angelcare Deluxe beat out every other monitor by transmitting through 8 indoor wall obstructions over a 125' distance before losing the signal. The Angelcare Deluxe is premium priced at $130 for a single parent unit version, and for slightly less you can have Philips Avent DECT which offers better sound clarity, ease-of use, and nearly the same indoor range. The Angelcare offers acceptable sound clarity and it is arguably more difficult to use only because it offers a feature no other monitor we tested does: movement sensing. As you will read in our full review of the Angelcare Deluxe, we are somewhat conflicted about the movement sensor feature which we consider to be controversial, yet we like it as an added bonus (see the full review for details).

Bottom line: we like the Angelcare Deluxe a lot. It performed great in our tests, besting the competition on key metrics. And, controversy or not, we like the movement sensor feature. While it is not a medical grade monitor, and it lacks scientific proof of its effectiveness, it seems to be an additional way to alert parents of a potentially dangerous situation that is not provided with traditional sound or video monitors.

We urge you to read and follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on:

Top Pick Award - Philips Avent DECT
Click to enlarge
Philips Avent DECT SCD510 baby monitor
Credit: Philips
The top scoring monitor in our tests was the Philips Avent DECT monitor. Although among the most expensive of the sound monitors, it was the very best in performance. The Philips Avent provided crystal clear reception, top range reception, and was bullet-proof in terms of interference from other monitors. We found it easy to use, even though we did need to read the manual, and it included the features we found most practical like a sensitivity feature to filter out background noise, great battery life, and talk-to-baby. What's the downside? Price. At $120 clams for a single parent unit model, the Avent is pricey, and we have not been able to find a retailer who offers a two parent unit version. And, there is a mystery on quality control. We found a significant number of users complaining in user-reviews about low-sound volume on the Philips Avent DECT monitors. Some of these users contacted Philips customer support and received replacement units that solved the problem. To evaluate this issue, we tested 3 different Philips Avent units with a sound meter, and found all to provide adequate volume levels. However, we don't see a similar pattern of consumer-complaints about sound volume in user-reviews of competing monitors. Our take on it: there is a smoking gun here that may indicate a manufacturing quality control issue which results in degraded sound volume in some units. If your unit seems too quiet to hear baby, we encourage you to contact Philips as you may have a defective unit. With that said, the Philips Avent was a winner in our tests, and our research of user-reviews suggests that the vast majority of users have had very positive experiences.

Best Buy Award - Sony Baby Call
Sony Babycall 900Mhz Monitor NTM-910 parent unit
Sony Babycall 900Mhz Monitor NTM-910 parent unit
Credit: Sony
With our two Editors' Choice winners coming in at $130 and $240, many of you might wonder about a more budget-conscious choice. For $50, we have the answer and our Best Buy award winner, the Sony Baby Call Monitor. While you lose some key capabilities compared to more expensive models, in particular in terms of range and clarity, the Sony Baby Call was the best monitor we tested under $50. Simple to use, with above average range for it's price point and good clarity, the Sony Baby Call was a solid performer in our tests. The 900 Mhz frequency means you will have greater chance of interference with other monitors and devices, both your own and those of nearby neighbors. Buy it from a retailer that will let you return it if interference or range are issues in your home. If you need more range and/or clarity, consider stepping up to the $60 Angelcare Sound monitor (or invest even more for one of our top rated monitors like the Angelcare Deluxe or Philips Avent DECT). Although offering few features, the Angelcare Sound monitor provided the best range of any monitor we tested, is much less susceptible to interference than the Sony Baby Call, and offers above average clarity.

iPhone Baby Monitors
Click to enlarge
Baby Monitor HD runs on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices. iOS 4.0 or higher is required.
Credit: Sunshine Apps GmbH
We tested a variety of monitor solutions for your iPhone. None of them impressed us as being adequate to be your main monitor. But, several are worth considering as solutions to augment your main monitor.

Is an iPhone and a Wireless Webcam an Effective Monitor?
We paired an iPhone with a Y-cam wireless webcam to create a video monitor. You can read all about that in our iPhone Baby Monitor with Y-Cam Wifi Webcam review.

iPhone Apps Work in a Pinch
There are also a variety of iPhone apps that allow you to use either a single iPhone as a monitor, on in some cases, combining two iPhones (or an iPhone/iPad in combination) to create a monitor. We found these apps to be silly to consider for use as your main monitor solution due to poor reliability, ease-of-use, and battery life, and the fact that you are probably using your phone for something other than as a dedicated monitor. That said, we liked the idea of having an iPhone monitor solution when you are on vacation or away from home and didn't bring a monitor. While not a great long-term solution, in a pinch, the iPhone solution works pretty well.

Of these, we liked the app Baby Monitor by CodeGoo the best. For $4.99 it worked as advertised in our tests, calling a specified phone number (grandma's landline) when baby woke up, and allowing us to listen through the landline to baby. It has high ratings in user reviews as well. We tested version 2.1 which works on all iPhones, iPod Touch, and iPads with iOS 4.0 and higher.

If you have recent iPhone or other iOS 5 device, then check out Best Baby Monitor by Martin Man. It costs $2.99 and can supports both a phone call alert mode with one iPhone used as a monitor, or a video monitoring capability if you pair two iOS 5 devices.

Again, reliability issues and a lack of competitive functionality with dedicated monitors leave us feeling that all the iPhone solutions we looked at should only be relied on to augment, not replace, a real monitor. But, when you are at grandma's and realize that you have no monitor, one of these apps are inexpensive and a lot better than nothing.

RJ Spurrier
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