In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Angelcare AC401 Review

Complicated user interface makes this sound dropping option undesirable
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Price:   $110 List
Pros:  Longest range, good battery life, movement monitor
Cons:  Poor sound quality and inconsistent sound, not as easy to use
Manufacturer:   Angelcare
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Jun 1, 2017
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58
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Clarity - 30% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 3
  • Range - 20% 8
  • Battery life - 15% 4
  • Features - 10% 7

The Skinny

The Angelcare AC401 is a sound and movement monitor with one of the best range test results in the group. This monitor has a 21+ hour battery life and a variety of features parents may be looking for. Unfortunately, the number of features and a poorly designed user interface make this product harder to use and not intuitive. Also, while the range will get you further in your room we had trouble with intermittent connection problems even in close range and the sound quality is poor compared to the competition. This option is probably only good for parents with range concerns that can tolerate some dropping of sound on a regular basis.

The Angelcare AC401 has been discontinued and replaced with the Angelcare AC403. This is a similar movement/sound monitor with what looks to be upgraded features and an updated parent unit. The link in this review will take you to the AC403 as a suitable replacement option for the AC401 as the two products are similar in form and function.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Since 1997, Angelcare has been providing parents with unique products designed to provide peace of mind for parents with newborns. Angelcare continues to strive for innovative, research-based designs that help keep babies safe and supported. Angelcare has received various awards related to user experience and overall quality. With a goal to reduce the stresses of infant care with a constant connection, Angelcare is there to help.

The AC401 has a large variety of features including noise reduction and sound activation  but it is missing the two-way talk to baby many parents desire.
The Angelcare AC401 offers the longest range in the group working thru 9 walls and up to 160 ft. This included intermittent noise breaks that happened even at close range.
The AC401 is very reliable and the parent unit helps keep you alerted on everything happening in your baby's room.
The AC401 parent unit does have a belt clip for easier transportation to keep you hands-free while monitoring baby.
The parent unit on the AC401 has a complicated button system that requires using the manual and possible Youtube videos to setup making it the most difficult sound monitor to use in the group.
While not the worst in the group  the AC401 sound clarity isn't great  and we experienced regular breaks in sound.

Performance Comparison


The comparison chart provides an overview of the overall scores for each sound monitor in this review. The Angelcare AC401 came in second to the last place of 9 products.


The sections outlined below include information on how this Angelcare performed during testing. Metric results were used to calculate the overall score with an emphasis on sound clarity.

While not the worst in the group  the AC401 sound clarity isn't great  and we experienced regular breaks in sound.
While not the worst in the group, the AC401 sound clarity isn't great, and we experienced regular breaks in sound.

Sound Clarity


The AC401 earned a 7 of 10 for sound clarity. The AC401 has a maximum decibel level of 99.8db. The sound is a little loud and somewhat distorted, though not as bad as the Summer Infant Baby Wave. Overall, it has nice clarity of sound but it breaks up frequently and required regular channel changes which aren't convenient in the middle of the night when you need it most. The sound is a little bright, but not offensive.

This unit also features noise filtering (VOX mode) which worked really well compared to the competition and managed to keep the parent unit silent unless baby started making noise. This feature is a big deal for ensuring quality parent sleep. Without it, you could be listening to white noise or worse all night long which can prevent a restful night's sleep.

The parent unit on the AC401 has a complicated button system that requires using the manual and possible Youtube videos to setup making it the most difficult sound monitor to use in the group.
The parent unit on the AC401 has a complicated button system that requires using the manual and possible Youtube videos to setup making it the most difficult sound monitor to use in the group.

Ease of Use


The AC401 earned a 3 of 10 for ease of use. The AC401 has a lot going on that make it harder to use than the competition. This unit earned the lowest score in the metric and had testers frustrated by the multiple button pushing. As a testament to the complexity, Angelcare offers eight instructional videos on Youtube to help parents work the parent unit.

Setting up the AC401 was trickier than it should have been. After plugging in the units there was a lot of beeping that didn't seem to have a cause, though it could have been because we weren't using the movement monitor. After touching the parent unit it went into "hold mode" and the beeping stopped. We had to use the manual to adjust the volume, which should be the easiest thing next to turning it on.

This is definitely the most difficult monitor to use. While many of the features will be set and forget so you won't be changing them often, everything requires the manual to figure out and many of the adjustments require pressing multiple buttons. While more features usually translate to harder to use, this one has a user interface that isn't user-friendly. If you are looking for straightforward, this is not the unit for you. We worry night time sleep-deprived parents will be frustrated by the parent unit and struggle to use the basic features as intended.

The Angelcare AC401 offers the longest range in the group working thru 9 walls and up to 160 ft. This included intermittent noise breaks that happened even at close range.
The Angelcare AC401 offers the longest range in the group working thru 9 walls and up to 160 ft. This included intermittent noise breaks that happened even at close range.

Range


The AC401 earned an 8 of 10 for range with the longest range in the review. Eight is the high score for range and it ties with the Summer Infant Baby Wave.

The manufacturer claims a range of 820 feet. BabyGearLab testers were able to use the monitor in an open line of sight for up to 900 ft. The connection wasn't constant, however, and we did experience interruptions in sound making it harder to test even at close range. At 350 ft, the lost connection beep started going off and after 750ft, the connection was very sporadic with the last 150 ft being touch and go.

If you need a long range monitor for your home, the AC401 may be the best option. During testing, the connection worked through 9 walls and up to 160 ft inside the home. This is the most walls and greatest distance for any of the options we tested. This may vary somewhat in each home depending on construction materials and potential interference caused by other appliances.

The AC401 parent unit uses AAA batteries and lasts up to 21 hours on average. The batteries are not rechargeable and parents should keep it plugged in whenever possible.
The AC401 parent unit uses AAA batteries and lasts up to 21 hours on average. The batteries are not rechargeable and parents should keep it plugged in whenever possible.

Battery Life


The AC401 earned a 4 of 10 for battery life. The AC401 parent unit uses AAA batteries and is not rechargeable, though you can buy rechargeable AAA batteries to save money. ON average it lasted about 21 hours before the batteries died. This may vary depending on how often baby makes noise and whether or not you use the noise filtering feature that will save batteries.

Twenty-one hours is a long time and more than acceptable for most needs, but several other monitors offered longer battery run times in excess of 25 hours and the Vtech DM221 worked for up to 46 hours on average making it a good option for parents concerned about battery life.

The AC401 has a large variety of features including noise reduction and sound activation  but it is missing the two-way talk to baby many parents desire.
The AC401 has a large variety of features including noise reduction and sound activation, but it is missing the two-way talk to baby many parents desire.

Features


The AC401 earned a 7 of 10 for features offering a complex array of options including movement monitor (we did not test this feature in this review).

Crib and Mattress Considerations
This monitor is also a movement monitor and if you choose to use it as such you need to pay special attention to your setup including the type of mattress you use and the surface beneath it. The movement sensors will not work with hollow core mattress or those with memory foam that makes contact with the sensor. The Angelcare Wooden Board for Monitors can be used to create a nice firm surface for the sensor and mattress to sit on, or you can make one of your own out of plywood if you are handy and your crib lacks a firm surface.

The AC401 comes with a temperature sensor that is fairly accurate with only a 2-degree variation from real room temperatures in our testing. It has battery backup in the child unit which is rare and it features adjustable mic sensitivity and sound activation, a feature we think is a must have for a good night's sleep.

This monitor does not have two-way talk to baby, which is not a deal breaker, but it is a feature some parents consider a must have.

The AC401 parent unit does have a belt clip for easier transportation to keep you hands-free while monitoring baby.
The AC401 parent unit does have a belt clip for easier transportation to keep you hands-free while monitoring baby.

Other Angelcare AC401 features include:
  • Nightlight
  • Low battery indicator
  • Out of range alert
  • Paging if you lose the parent unit
  • Vibrate alert
  • Mute
  • Sleep mode
  • Belt clip
  • Sound level indicator

EMF


This Angelcare option has an average EMF reading of 0.86 V/m at 6 ft from the unit (without the movement component). This is the second-lowest reading in the review, above the Angelcare AC420. You can decrease your baby's exposure further by unplugging the product when not in use and place the monitor as far from the crib as possible.

Manufacturer Video


This video shows how to use additional features and functions of the AC401.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz