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Hands-on Gear Review
Vtech DM111 Review
Price: $25.00 List | $17.99 at Amazon - 28% off
Pros: Easy to use, nice range, inexpensive
Cons: Limited features, short battery life
Bottom line: Super budget-friendly choice that gets the job done without any fuss
The Vtech DM111 is a no nonsense no frills baby monitor designed to transmit sound from one component to another without many features. This product does its job well with better than average sound clarity and an impressive range. This monitor is easy to use but the lack of features may be a turn off for some parents who may be looking for features like two-way communication for soothing baby from another room. The best thing about this product is the $25 price tag that can often be found cheaper on sale, meaning all families can afford a monitor that allows the to hear baby for a better night's sleep. if the budget is tight or you are looking for a nice second travel monitor for grandma's house, this one is likely the ticket.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sound Baby Monitors of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Originating in Hong Kong the Vtech company has expanded to over ten different regions around the world. Opening in 1976, the company mission still includes creating economical electronics that are both innovative and nice quality. Vtech's North American operation is one of the top three companies in cordless phones. Vtech also makes a variety of sound and video monitors for baby.
This comparison chart provides a quick glance at the overall scores for each product tested in this review. The Vtech DM211 (in blue) showed an impressive rank for such an inexpensive product.
The sections below provide details on how the DM211 performed during testing compared to the competition. Given the emphasis on sound clarity and ease of use in the overall score, it is easy to see why the DM211 performed so well compared to more expensive options.
The DM111 earned a 7 of 10 for sound clarity
Ease of Use
The DM111 earned a 9 of 10 for ease of use. Only two other options earned higher scores than the DM111 with one of those being the other Best Value winner the Philips Avent DECT SCD501/10 with a 10.
This monitor is easy to use because there isn't much to it. It works right out of the box when you plug it in and turn it on. There is no need to pair the parent and child unit and you can start using it right away. The child unit has a single power button and the parent unit has power and up and down volume buttons. These buttons are easy to use, easy to find int he dark, and there isn't much chance of making a mistake even in a sleep induced haze. Keep in mind, however, that easy to use often also translates to minimal features. grandma and Grandpa will have no trouble using this monitor with little coaching necessary.
The DM111 earned a 7 of 10 for the range distance between units. This score is above the average and only one point below the high for the metric of 8.
The manufacturer doesn't make claims for the range of this monitor. In our tests, we were able to keep a connection of some kind up to 1350 ft. This is a line of sight range without interference from walls or other items. For indoor range, we maintained a connection through 7 walls and 98 ft. The connection was past the 6th wall but it was still trying after the 9th wall. This is relatively impressive given the low low price of this unit. This range should work for most families with the longer ranges working through 8 or 9 walls and up to 165 ft.
The DM111 earned only 3 of 10 for battery life. This is the lowest score in the group for the battery life metric.
This product uses AAA batteries as opposed to rechargeable batteries. this means you will be replacing batteries regularly or investing in at least two sets of rechargeable AAA batteries that can be swapped out while charging one set. ON the up side the baby unit also has backup batteries that would allow both parts of the monitor to run without electricity. This is fairly unique and makes this product a standout.
Unfortunately, the battery life for this product is only 13 hours. This is the second lowest life in the group with some product batteries lasting 30-46 hours. However, 13 hours is long enough for daytime napping and most night time monitoring if you start with fresh batteries. The assumption is you'll be using this monitor plugged in for the most part.
The DM111 earned a 3 of 10 for features thanks to a no-frills design intended for simple straightforward monitoring without the frustration of a complicated user interface or a plethora of features you are unlikely to use.
This plain Jane monitor doesn't have any advanced features so if you are looking for those you'll need to look elsewhere. What it does offer are features that help it operate and relay information to the parent like low battery alert, out of range indicator, mute sleep mode, belt clip and sound level indicator.
What it is missing that we think is kind of important is sound activation. Sound activation ensures that the parent unit remains quiet unless the baby is actively making noise. This can help parents get a better nights sleep without listening to the white noise coming from baby's room. This feature may not be important to you. If you sleep easily as soon as your head hits the pillow no matter what is going on around you then you may not think this feature is important. It is also missing two-way talk to baby communication that some parents feel is a necessity. In our experience, many parents find they don't use this feature often or rarely after the novelty has worn off.
The DM111 has an average EMF reading of 2.63 V/m at 6 ft from the unit. This is the second highest reading for the product in the review.
While a higher reading, you can decrease baby's exposure to EMF by placing the monitor as far from the crib as possible and by unplugging the unit when not in use.
Vtech makes a variety of sound and video baby monitors. We reviewed the Vtech DM222 and the Vtech DM221 sound monitors in this review. the DM222 earned the highest score in the review and an Editors' Choice award, making it a great inexpensive option for most families.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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