Angelcare AC701 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Angelcare AC701 is a movement and sound product. It has a LCD touch screen user interface with 2 way talk to baby feature. It includes a temperature sensor, nightlight, out-of-range feature, and low battery indicator. This monitor is 1.8GHz Digital transmission for minimal interference. It includes 1 parent unit, 1 baby unit, under bed movement pad, AC adapters, NiCad battery for the parent unit, manual, and warranty.
The manufacturer claims for line of sight reception is actually far below what we experienced in our tests (which is rare). They claim a range of 850 feet, but in our tests, we found the monitor worked up to 2200 feet in an open field test. It has one of the best indoor ranges in our tests working up to 90 feet and through 5 walls. It tried to work through 6 walls, but we did not have enough reception to consider this a viable distance. The out of range alarm never went off in our test, but the lack of sound transmission indicated to us that it was no longer connected. This is significantly better than most of the video products and only 1 other monitor in this review had a better range. The Angelcare AC420 had a range of up to 110 feet and 6 walls. The shortest distance in our review was 65 feet through 4 walls. This is more on par with the video products and was earned by the Motorola MBP10S.
Sound quality for the AC701 is better than the AC420, but it still isn't great. Earning a 6 of 10 it failed to score as high as the Philips monitors that both earned 8s. While not rendering feelings of The Exorcist like the little brother of this product, it still is terribly distorted at full volume. The sound is very hollow and bright without some of the richer tones of reality. This product has significantly less static than the AC420, but it did have a low constant static even when the volume is on the lowest setting.
The best part of this monitor is the sound activation feature that works well. This monitor will go totally silent with the voice activation turned on and it is relatively quick to go silent when baby's sounds have stopped. It also has a microphone sensitivity adjustment which helps keep the monitor quiet when it is supposed to be.
The lowest scoring product in the group is the Graco Secure Coverage with a score of 2 of 10. Not only is the quality and clarity of sound poor, but it never goes silent and would likely keep most parents up all night with useless background noise and static.
Ease of Use
This monitor automatically links the parent and baby units which is a help for non-tech savvy parents, and the rest of the setup is also fairly simple. We were able to get it up and running in under 6 minutes from box to hearing sounds. This did not include the movement portion of the monitor because we did not test that portion of the product in this review. However, for ease of setup it still isn't as easy as the competition, with only 1 product scoring lower for this test, the Safety 1st High Def with a score of 4.
The everyday use of this product proved to be a bit more challenging and prevented it from scoring as high as its brother. The AC701 is not as user friendly as the other; the wings to push for on/off and the nightlight feature require both hands to operate and it took us a long time to hold them long enough to even turn it on and off. The touchscreen on the parent unit is not really up to par with what most people are used to, as it is really more of a push screen than simple touch. In addition, the menu is a little cumbersome and not all that intuitive. You can certainly get used to it, but for the price we feel it should have had a simpler user interface.
The coolest feature on this monitor is definitely the movement portion of the monitor. While we didn't give it extra points for this feature, it is worth mentioning that it does indeed have one and it is sort of a cool advancement in technology we like. While the AAP and the Angelcare website do not mention SIDS or related deaths, it is clear from the testimonials on the internet that some parents really believe this product has saved their baby's lives. It is something to think about and consider if you need extra peace of mind to get some sleep, the monitor will alert you when baby fails to breathe continuously.
The AC701 also has a temperature sensor and a nightlight located on the baby unit. The parent unit can remotely control the nightlight so parents don't have to disturb baby to turn the light on and off, which is different than the cheaper AC 420 that is controlled on the baby unit only. It sports a low battery alert and an out of range alert so you can feel confident that it will alert you to just about everything. As if that isn't enough this bad boy goes on and on in the feature department having almost any feature you could want and then some. It has a mute button, sleep mode, adjustable microphone sensitivity, and voice activation (as discussed above). Voice activation and mic sensitivity are some of the coolest features out there, and two things that can potentially lead to better sleep for mom and dad by creating a parent unit that is virtually silent when baby is.
This monitor also has 2 way communication with baby, something the other Angelcare product in this review did not have. While we think that some parents won't use this option and some babies might not like hearing mom without seeing her, it is a nice feature to have as an option and something you might get more use out of as baby grows and understands what you say better. We liked what this product had to offer, feeling like it had all the things parents might find useful without all the superfluous bells and whistles that likely will never be used.
The AC701 earned a 9 of 10 in this metric, which is the highest out of the 9 products we looked at. Safety 1st High Def earned the lowest score of 2 for features. The average score for this metric was closer to 5.
Most of the products in this review had an average EMF score under 1 with the reader 6 feet away from the baby unit. All of the monitors had readings lower than the video products we reviewed, indicating that if EMF is a concern you share with us, then you might consider a sound product over a video option. This model had an average reading of 0.55 at 6 feet, which is the lowest reading for the baby units we looked at. The highest EMF rating in our tests was the Safety First monitor with an average reading of 1.44 (the only monitor over 1 for the baby unit). The added advantage of sound monitors is the ability to place them across the room from baby and still work well. This can further limit the amount of EMF baby is exposed to.
The battery life on this product lasted 16 hours. This is an ample amount of time for most uses including if the power goes out and you need it for an entire night. While it didn't have the longest battery life out of the products we reviewed, it is still a respectable amount of time. The longest battery life goes to the Philips Avent SCD501 that lasted 36 hours. The shortest battery life in our test was the Summer Baby Wave Deluxe that lasted just 7 hours. 7 Hours is unlikely to make it through the night, which means it can potentially die before morning comes if you forget to plug it in or don't have access to an outlet. The baby unit with this monitor does have battery backup power, so while it isn't meant to be used for extended periods of time, at least you will be able to make it through most power outages.
The best application for this monitor is for parents looking for a movement monitor or thinking about using one. With a list price of $140 it isn't a great product for those only looking for a sound product. Given that its score for sound isn't stellar, it is hard to recommend this product on any basis other than the additional movement monitor or all the features it sports. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Philips Avent SCD570, has a significantly higher overall score, and better sound quality than the Angelcare, so given its similar price point it is the better option for sound seeking parents.
This monitor is the second most expensive product in our review. However, that being said it is also the only product with a movement monitoring component in this review, so the value is hard to compare one for one with the other products in the group. If price or budget is a concern, and you hadn't considered a movement monitor before, then it may not be a great choice. The Philips SCD570 earned 13 points more than the Angelcare and it is a similar price, so if quality is key for you, then it is the better choice. The Best Value winner, VTech Safe & Secure DM221, earned the same overall score as the 701, but did better for sound quality and has a list price of only $40, which is the better value unless you want the movement component.
The Angelcare AC701 did tie for second place with 2 other products, but it also didn't really impress in the sound department, which is a key metric for this kind of product. As a monitor it does a relatively good job and performed better than many of the products in this review, but honestly without the movement monitor it isn't the best thing going. With several other monitors scoring higher in the sound metric with cheaper list prices, it is hard to justify the price of this monitor. However, if you need a movement monitor it can get the job done well enough. It is hard to recommend this product based on sound features alone, but the number of other features and movement component make it hard to ignore as well.
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