Hands-on Gear Review
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Price: $60 list | Available for $40 from Amazon
Pros: Easy to use, interference resistant, lots of features
Cons: We feel the claimed 2,000 ft range is very misleading, no sound activation feature
Bottom line: We like this monitor's ease of use, but it fell short in several key areas
There is a lot of like about Graco's Direct Connect Digital Monitor. We found it to be easy to use, chock-full of features, and it performed well in many of our tests. But, it falls short relative to competitors in some key areas. In our range tests the Direct Connect fell wildly short of the manufacturer's claimed 2000 feet (we measured 565 ft in open field, and only 4 walls/65 ft indoors). We were also disappointed at the lack of a sound activation feature which is a big negative for us, as we consider this feature important for sleep deprived parents. Bottom line, we advise taking a close look at competing monitors before you buy this monitor.
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BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Graco's Direct Connect Digital Monitor is a nicely designed and easy to use monitor that performed well in many of our tests, but fell short in some key areas. It includes a full-set of features like temperature read out, talk-to-baby, and a nifty vibration alert to help let you know when baby wakes up. Given this set of features and the bold range claims on the packaging, we were excited to give it a test. However, range and clarity were only about average in our tests when compared to competitors, which was a disappointing contrast to the marketing claims.
Range Claim Earns Our "Pants on Fire" Rating
We rate Graco's 2,000 foot range claim as "Pants on Fire" based on our tests.
We feel a strong obligation to flag this claim as one deserving skepticism, since many potential customers will notice that 2,000 feet is the longest range claimed by a manufacturer for any of the baby monitors we tested. As a result, consumers may expect this monitor to outperform all the other monitors we reviewed on range tests (just like we expected). Instead, this monitor was bested on range by 9 of 20 monitors in our tests, placing it only in the middle of the pack.
While Graco presumably found some way to coax 2,000 feet of reception out of this monitor in their own tests, whatever they did was not reproduced in our tests. In fact we can't get anywhere close. In comparison, we found the distance claims of other manufacturers, such as Philips and Angelcare to actually underestimate what we measured in our open field test. And alternative choices like the Sony BabyCall are much lower cost yet offers better range performance in our tests (albeit more susceptible to interference).
You'll find our concern about the credibility of the 2,000 range is also passionately echoed on user reviews of the Direct Connect. This product gets a disturbing 1.6 star rating out of 5 on Amazon over 46 user-reviews. The single most common complaint is range and reception issues and many of the user-reviews indicate they bought the product based on the 2,000 foot claim, only to find their actual performance was dramatically less.
We like Graco, and have great respect for their many fine products. But, someone at Graco needs to look into this. There is a smoking gun here that suggests Graco marketing has overstepped the bounds of ethical marketing claims on this product. We think it diminishes their brand, and needs to be addressed.
No Sound Activation Feature
The lack of a sound activation feature is another big negative for us, as we consider this feature important for sleep deprived parents. Read our buying advice article for more details on this feature and why we feel you should seek out products that offer it.
In the end, while there is much to like about the Direct Connect, we advise taking a close look at competing monitors before you buy.
— RJ Spurrier
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Most recent user review: April 3, 2012
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