Hands-on Gear Review
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Price: $110 list | Available for $74 from Amazon
Pros: Best-in-class range, above average clarity, unique movement detection capability, resistant to interference
Cons: Expensive, hard to set-up, a little bit harder to use, no talk-to-baby feature
Bottom line: Best overall baby monitor even if you don't use the movement detection feature
Manufacturer: Angelcare Monitors Inc.
The Angelcare Deluxe Movement and Sound monitor won our Editors' Choice award due to it's superior range, unique movement sensor feature, and overall strong performance across our gauntlet of tests. While we found this monitor more challenging to get started with than less full-featured monitors, it is simple to use once you get accustomed to their user-interface and successfully set-up the movement sensor. In practice, it offered better distance range than any other monitor we tested. We also feel that their unique movement detection capability offers parents one more opportunity to be alerted in the event of a serious situation in which baby stops moving. Read on for the full review
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BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
As you'll read in our buying advice article, How to Pick the Best Baby Monitor for You, we believe that the primary benefit of a great baby monitor is to help get you more sleep. But this monitor goes beyond just listening for baby's cry, and seeks to address the darkest fear that keeps you awake: what if baby stops moving.
To do so, Angelcare includes a movement sensor pad. This 1/2" thick pad, about 1 foot square, sits under your baby's crib mattress and detects even slight movements that baby makes. The monitor is designed to detect the lack of movement; if movement stops, an alarm is sounded after 20 seconds.
A helpful video tutorial guides you through the process of installing the movement sensor pad and learning how to use the monitor:
The movement sensor adds a bonus alert, over and above what traditional sound and video monitors offer you, that might notify you of a serious situation. We use the word might due to the lack of any guarantee from Angelcare that their monitor will actually sound the alarm if your baby stops breathing. Our view: this is not a medical grade monitor, and it is unrealistic and inappropriate to think it would work like the monitors in a pre-natal intensive car unit. But, we do think the Angelcare movement sensor will catch situations that you would not. We think of it as a bonus feature on top of an outstanding sound monitor.
This is a best-in-class sound monitor.
It won our range tests in a big way, working at over 3,300 feet distance in our outdoor open field range test, and going through 8 walls and 125 feet in our indoor range torture test. No other monitor delivered such impressive range.
Sound clarity isn't as crystal clear as the Philips AVENT DECT monitor, but it is very good. The Angelcare was relatively immune to interference, performing much better than most other monitors we tested (again the Philips AVENT DECT was a bit better on this score too, but not much).
Volume level is loud and clear, and the Angelcare Deluxe includes an excellent sound activation feature which can be easily adjusted from the parent unit.
Some nice extras are included, like display of the nursery's temperature on the parent unit LCD display. You can configure a comfort range of temperatures for baby's room, and the parent unit will alarm if the temperature goes out of that range.
Alarms can be configured to occur in sound, vibration, or both. We think the vibration feature is a great addition, and can be very helpful in an environment like a laundry area where noise levels make it hard hear baby.
Adding to our favorite things list, the Angelcare Deluxe is available in an unmatched breadth of configurations (see Angelcare Related Products listed below) such as two parent unit versions and a version with two sensor pads too.
The movement sensor feature is a valuable bonus, and in our tests it worked as expected. If baby was on the mattress, the sensor detected her presence and tiny breathing movements (even though we could not see her movements). If we removed her from the crib, the alarm went off.
In our tests, if baby was moved off to the far side of the crib, up against the rails and no longer directly over the sensing pad, it would also alarm (false alarm). When baby was directly above the pad, movement was detected and we experienced no false alarms. This may not be such a big deal in practice though. Once baby is old enough to roll over and move around (about 6 months), the risk of sleep-related death drops dramatically. While the Angelcare becomes more susceptible to false alarms once baby can roll over or crawl away from the sensing pad, at that stage many parents will choose to turn off the movement sensing feature. Turning off the movement sensor feature is fairly straight-forward to do by following the directions in the manual, and you can continue to use the Angelcare as the fine sound monitor it is. (Note that Angelcare says you can carefully tune the sensitivity level so as to detect movement from all corners of the crib mattress, and that most parents use it for the first year. But since the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is primarily in the first 6 months, we don't feel the movement sensing feature is crucial once baby can roll herself over and it's extra work to use the movement sensing feature every day).
The Angelcare Deluxe is more expensive than most monitors, list price $130 and typically selling for street prices under $100. This is double or more most other monitors. To justify the purchase, you'll need to keep in mind that your baby monitor is a tool you'll be using daily for the next 2-3 years (longer if you have more children), and a critical tool to help you get more sleep in the first year.
Unlike other top-rated sound monitors, there is no Talk to Baby feature.
We also found this monitor to be both harder to set-up, and harder to use than competitors due to the movement sensing feature. This might be a bit unfair to cite as a criticism, since none of the other monitors we tested offered a movement sensor feature at all. If you disabled the movement sensor, the Angelcare would be just as easy to use as any other monitor.
But, just so you know, setting up the movement sensor does take some work, and adds an extra step everytime you put baby to sleep or pick her up. We'll try to detail that for you below.
video tutorials Angelcare provides on their website are of great help in walking you through the process.
Daily Use Challenges
With most monitors, when you pick up baby from the crib, there is nothing to worry about. But, with this monitor you need to remember to turn it off to avoid a movement alarm going off 20 seconds after you pick up baby. You also need to remember to turn it back on when you put baby to sleep. While this is an extra step, and a challenge for your sleep-deprived brain, it is also something that quickly becomes a habit since you'll be doing it multiple times every day.
Controversy About Movement Sensing
The manufacturer makes no claim that the movement sensor reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), yet markets that the monitor provides parents "peace of mind" while their baby sleeps. The slight of hand here is obvious, as Angelcare is well aware that many parents of infants have fears of SIDS, and the "peace of mind" many parents gain from buying the Angelcare movement sensing baby monitor is based on the apparently incorrect assumption that the feature would help them prevent their infant's death by SIDS. Adding fuel to the fire, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both come out with strong statements urging parents to not buy products which claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. We'd speculate that the AAP and NIH seek to avoid complacency in parents with regard to proven SIDS prevention techniques. While there may be no scientific study that support the idea that the Angelcare Deluxe can reduce the risk of sleep-related death, there are many well documented factors that do decrease the risk of SIDS such having baby sleep exclusively on their back and avoiding any loose blankets, pillows, or soft-mattresses that might create suffocation risk. (We urge you to read the AAP guidelines on How to Protect Your Infant from SIDS and other Causes of Sleep-related Deaths.) That said, you'll find some compelling and detailed stories in user reviews on sites such as Amazon, from parents, such as one written by a person claiming to be a Pre-natal Intensive Care Nurse who said the Angelcare monitor's movement sensor alerted when her baby stopped breathing and allowed her to save the baby's life.
The determination of whether the Angelcare Movement sensor capability can actually reduce infant deaths is well beyond the scope of our review. For our part, we did test the movement sensor and it did appear to work as advertised, detecting movement while baby slept in the crib, and sounding the alarm when baby was not moving (e.g. removed from the crib). We also researched user reviews to see if we could find a pattern of complaints about false alarms, and we concluded that false alarms are not a major issue. As far as we can tell, the movement sensor feature likely does increase your chances of detecting a situation where baby stops moving.
We like this monitor a lot. It was the best overall sound baby monitor even if you ignore the movement sensor feature, besting the competition on range, features, and many other key metrics. And, controversy or not, we like the movement sensor feature. While it may not be scientifically proven, and we urge parents to follow the AAP guidelines to prevent SIDS that are scientifically supported, it seems to be one more thing to help alert parents to a potentially dangerous situation.
Angelcare Related Product Family
A wide variety of options are available in this product family:
— RJ Spurrier
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Most recent user review: October 18, 2013
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