In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Safety 1st High Def Digital DECT 6.0 Review

Disappointing sound and few features
Safety First High Def is a simple bare bones audio monitor
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Price:   $55 List | $48 at Amazon
Pros:  Okay range, pager feature
Cons:  Bad sound, few features, short battery
Manufacturer:   Safety 1st
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team  ⋅  Mar 16, 2015
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42
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Range - 35% 6
  • Sound Clarity - 30% 3
  • Ease of Use - 15% 4
  • Features - 10% 2
  • Battery life - 10% 4

The Skinny

The Safety First High Def Digital Monitor ranked 8th out of 9 products in this review. It offers very little in the way of extra features and it performed poorly in our sound and ease of use tests. Given its overall lack luster performance in our tests, it is difficult for us to find any positive attribute for this device. With no ability to talk to baby or regulate the level of sound that is relayed to the parent unit, it prevents us from being able to recommend this monitor. There are monitors in our review that scored higher overall, earned high marks for sound, and cost less, making this a monitor we do not recommend.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Safety First High Def Digitial Monitor uses DECT 6.0 Technology for better clarity, privacy, and range. It has sound display lights for use when volume is low, a page indicator for finding misplaced devices, and rechargeable batteries. The parent unit comes with out of range and low battery alerts, volume control, energy saving AC adapter, and a belt clip for easy transport. The baby unit also has a page option and energy saving AC adapter, and can be used in an upright or slightly reclined position. This model comes with 1 parent unit, 1 baby unit, AC adapters for both, rechargeable battery, and a 1 year warranty.

Performance Comparison


Safety First High Def is a simple bare bones audio monitor
Safety First High Def is a simple bare bones audio monitor

Range


The manufacturer claim for range on this monitor is 1000 feet, and we are happy to say it actually tested up to 1100 feet. It worked best up to 700 feet, and then glitched somewhat as we got further from the baby unit, but overall it maintained good enough reception up to 1000 feet to feel comfortable leaving baby in a field that far away. For indoor range the distance is considerably less due to interference and obstructions. In our tests we were able to keep connectivity up to 85 feet and 5 walls. It almost made it to 6 walls, but failed to stay consistently strong and also failed to give us an out of range alert even though it clearly was no longer transmitting sound from baby's room.

While this range is probably sufficient for most homes, and is more than most of the video monitors, it still isn't the best in this group of products. The longest range for these products is 110 feet and 6 walls, a feat achieved by the Angelcare AC420. So if your home is particularly large, you might need to consider a different monitor. The average product in this review worked up to 90 feet and 5 walls, which isn't that far off the Safety 1st. The product with the shortest range is the Motorola MBP10S, which stopped working at 62 feet and 4 walls; a distance more on par with video products than audio.

Sound


The sound quality for this device is relatively poor
The sound quality for this device is relatively poor
Any basic audio monitor should have good sound, at a minimum. Surprisingly many of the products we tested didn't perform that well in our sound tests. Unfortunately, this monitor did not score very well for sound. The overall sound is hollow and bright; it isn't very pleasant to listen to and there is quite a bit of static whether it is turned all the way up or down (even when no other sound is coming through). We still liked the overall sound better than the Graco Secure Coverage, which earned the lowest sound score with a 2, but it is still poor quality and hard to listen to.

The monitor also doesn't offer any feature for sound regulation. While it does offer variable volume levels, it does not have voice activation or microphone sensitivity adjustment that might make the bad sound tolerable by assaulting the ears only when baby cries. As it is this monitor makes significant white noise and static even with the volume turned off, which means parents are likely to have trouble falling asleep or might be tempted to turn the volume so low it doesn't wake them when baby cries.

The High Def earned a 3 for sound overall, which is below the average score for these products and just 1 point above the bottom score. Both Philips models scored 8s for this metric offering better quality sound overall and features that helped regulate sound for a more manageable monitoring experience.

Ease of Use


The Safety 1st monitor lacks the basic features we feel make a device easy to use or improve its overall performance. Even though it is simple  its simplicity makes it harder to use
The Safety 1st monitor lacks the basic features we feel make a device easy to use or improve its overall performance. Even though it is simple, its simplicity makes it harder to use
This product scored a 4 of 10 for overall ease of use. This is better than the Motorola MBP10S that earned a 3 in this metric (the lowest in the group). Philips Avent SCD570 received the highest score in this metric with a 9 of 10. It offers a nice to hold device that has intuitive buttons that work on the first try. The user interface is so intuitive you might even be able to forgo the manual.

The belt clip placement makes this unit top heavy and likely to catch on things or fall off while wearing it
The belt clip placement makes this unit top heavy and likely to catch on things or fall off while wearing it
For setup it took us almost 7 minutes to get this unit out of the box and up and running. It does automatically link the two components, but it is more difficult to use than the majority of products we reviewed. The battery compartment has a screw which necessitates a screw driver to put the batteries in place, and the instructions aren't that great. The illustrations make it hard to tell what they are talking about and might actually cause more confusion than help. We also had difficulty getting it to turn on right away, potentially user error, but it still means that the on/off button is either finicky or it requires an extended press that is longer than average. This unit also lost a few points for having a poorly placed belt clip on the parent unit that was located low on the device and cause the top to tip out and bang into stuff.

Features


The Safety first monitor has very few features, earning it the lowest score in this metric tying with the Motorola option with a 2. While some of the products offered 2 way talking to baby and voice activation, or temperature sensing capabilities and a night light, this one offers nothing extra. It does offer a low battery and out of range alerts, and a pager for finding lost devices, but other than that it is relatively bare bones. There is no battery back up in the baby unit either, which makes it useless in the event of a power outage or if you wanted to take it camping.
The power button on the baby unit glows  but it is not a nightlight
The power button on the baby unit glows, but it is not a nightlight
There isn't necessarily anything wrong with an audio monitor that doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles, but it does seem that if that is all you offer you better do it well. The Angelcare AC701 earned a 9 in this metric with almost any and all features a parent could want in a monitor on board, and it does most of them well. Our Editors' Choice winner, Philips Avent SCD570 earned an 8 with nice features like voice activation, 2 way talk, baby unit battery backup, a nightlight, and temperature sensor. In a similar price point as the Safety 1st, the VTech DM221 Safe & Sound Review earned an 8 as well and costs $15 less; proving parents don't need to sacrifice features for budget.

EMF


The highest average value for EMF for the Safety 1st High Def in our tests was 1.44. This is also the highest average for all the sound products in this review. It is even more than some of the video monitors which had higher overall readings in general. While you can place this monitor further away from baby and still have it be effective, all the other monitors still emit lower levels, many by over half. The lowest reading we had was a 0.55 with the Angelcare AC701 the baby unit. Given that both our award winners were also less, there is no need to compromise on this potential health issue no matter how far away from baby you can reasonably place the device.

Battery Life


The High Def did have a respectable battery life lasting 14.5 hours in our tests. This length of time could potentially last through the night in the event you could not charge the unit. However, keep in mind that without batteries in the baby unit it will be of no use to you in the event of a power outage. The shortest battery life belonged to the Summer Baby Wave Deluxe with only 7 hours of off charger time, which definitely won't get you through the night. On the flip side the Philips Avent SCD501 lasted 36 hours, definitely long enough for the night and the rest of the day too. Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10 lasts about 25.5 hours before the battery dies on the parent unit, and given its backup battery in the baby device you would definitely be covered in the event of a power outage. If power is a concern in your area, be sure to get a model with batteries in both units.

Value


While this monitor is one of the cheaper options in this review with a list price of $55, it is neither the cheapest nor the best in its price range which makes it not a great value for parents regardless of their budget. If budget is a concern the Best Value winner in our review, the VTech, has a list price of $40, came in second place overall (27 points higher than the Safety 1st), and has voice activation that prevent ambient noise from keeping parents awake and 2 way talk to baby that works well. You add to that a longer battery life and a higher ease of use score and you have a monitor that makes the Safety 1st not a good value.

Conclusion


Ranking 8 out 9 products and earning a lowly 3 for sound make this product a monitor we don't recommend. Not only did this product score poorly overall and in every metric, but it lacked some of the features we consider to be a must have like sound activation and 2 way talk to baby. Even if you think you'll never use the talk to baby feature, the sound activation is something all parents can benefit from by providing a silent monitor when baby isn't crying. Despite this monitor having a reasonable price tag, it does not have a reasonable score and we think you'll be happier with just about any other product in this review. If the lower price is what drew you to this model we suggest our Best Value winner the VTech Safe & Sound DM221 Review that came in second place, has sound activation, and a low list price of $40.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team