In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

VTech DM221 Review

An inexpensive, yet great sounding, monitor with loads of features that is an excellent choice for most families
VTech DM221
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $40 List | $38.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent sound clarity, lots of features, long battery life, price
Cons:  Harder to use, shorter range
Manufacturer:   Vtech
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Mar 25, 2022
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 5
  • Sound Clarity - 30% 10.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 6.0
  • Range - 20% 6.0
  • Battery life - 15% 10.0
  • Features - 10% 9.0

The Skinny

The VTech DM221 is a budget-friendly sound monitor with more features than the average product in this price range. The DM221 has excellent sound clarity with some of the best and loudest sounds in the group. This monitor has sound activation and two-way talk to baby, the two most sought-after features in monitors. If that isn't enough to sway you it has a remotely controlled nightlight, belt clip, and mute features. This monitor might be a little more complicated to use thanks to the menu options and programming, but it is a good baby monitor for most families looking for good sound clarity and lower price.

Editor's Choice: This sound monitor review now includes two new sections with details to help you in your buying decision. The update happened on March 25, 2022.

Compare to Similar Products

 
VTech DM221
This Product
VTech DM221
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Value Award  
Price $40 List
$38.95 at Amazon
$50 List
$54.99 at Amazon
$90 List
$89.99 at Amazon
$30 List
$19.99 at Amazon
$40 List
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Pros Excellent sound clarity, lots of features, long battery life, priceGood sound clarity, easy to use, budget-friendlyMultiple functions, app-enabled, better range, easy to use for the tech-savvyEasy to use, nice range, inexpensiveEasy to use, good range distance
Cons Harder to use, shorter rangeLimited features, average rangeShorter battery life, not the best sound quality, few features for soundLimited features, short battery lifeExpensive for what it is, poor sound quality, short battery life
Bottom Line An inexpensive, yet great sounding, monitor with loads of features that is an excellent choice for most familiesA great option if you favor ease-of-use and good sound over features, at a relatively good priceAn app-enabled, multi-purpose monitor that is easy to use, but it has a shorter battery life and sub-par soundAn affordable monitor set that gets the job done without any fussThis easy to use option has poor sound quality and disappointing features and battery life
Rating Categories VTech DM221 Philips Avent DECT... Hatch Rest+ VTech DM111 HelloBaby HB178
Sound Clarity (30%)
10.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
3.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
6.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
10.0
Range (20%)
6.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Battery Life (15%)
10.0
4.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Features (10%)
9.0
4.0
6.0
3.0
1
Specs VTech DM221 Philips Avent DECT... Hatch Rest+ VTech DM111 HelloBaby HB178
Indoor Range Test (walls & feet) 5 Walls
90 Feet
5 Walls
90 Feet
8 Walls
169 Feet (WiFi)
7 Walls
98 Feet
7 Walls
123 Feet
Open Field Range Test 1325 Feet 1320 Feet 155 Feet (WiFi) 1350 Feet 1330 Feet
Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!) 1000 Feet 984 Feet NA Not Listed 1000 Feet
Communication Technology DECT 6.0 Digital Technology DECT Technology WiFi DECT 6.0 Digital Technology DECT 6.0 Digital Technology
Sound Activation Yes Yes No No
Adjustable Mic Sensitivity Yes No No No
Sound Filtering Test Results Excellent Poor Very Good Very Poor Very Poor
Talk-to-Baby Yes No Yes No No
Max Sound 103.4 db 101 db 96.3 103.6 db 92.3
Temperature No No No No No
Battery Life 46 Hours Hrs 19 Hours Hrs 13 Hours Hrs 13 Hours Hrs 13.5 Hours Hrs
Nursery Unit Battery Backup No No Yes No No
EMF @ 6 Feet Nursery Unit 3.11 V/m 0.95 V/m 0.43 V/m 2.63 V/m 0.43 V/m
Night Light Yes Yes Yes No No
Lullaby Music No No Yes No No
Out Of Range Alert Yes Yes No Yes
Vibrate Alert Yes No No No No
Warranty 1 Year 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year

Our Analysis and Test Results

VTech originated in Hong Kong in 1976 and expanded to over ten regions worldwide. The company's mission encompasses designing economical, innovative, and nice quality electronic products. VTech's North American operation has become one of the top three producers of cordless phones. VTech also manufacturers a variety of monitors for babies.

Performance Comparison



The DM221 has top-of-the-line sound clarity with a 10 of 10 score...
The DM221 has top-of-the-line sound clarity with a 10 of 10 score for this metric.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Sound Clarity


The DM221 has one of the top scores for sound clarity in this sound monitor lineup.


With a maximum volume of 103.4, this is the loudest parent unit in the review. Even at this high volume, the sound is clear though bright. Parents will have no trouble hearing what is going on in the baby's room, and deep sleepers are sure to wake when the baby cries. At a lower volume, 82.8db, the sound is clear but slightly shifted between sounding somewhat muted and then clearer. The sound filtering and voice activation both work well, and this monitor is silent when the baby is silent.

The sound from the baby's unit with two-way communication is good and not distorted or robotic sounding, so your baby will hear your voice and nothing else.

Thanks to a large variety of features, this unit is more complicated...
Thanks to a large variety of features, this unit is more complicated than the competition. While you can use it without setting up features in the menu, it will work better if you take the time at least once to set some preferences.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The DM221 is average for ease of use. The inclusion of multiple features often results in products being harder to use. This doesn't mean they are challenging, just that they are more complicated than their bare-bones counterparts.


You just need to plug it in and turn it on to set up the monitor. This monitor has more features than some competitors, making it more complicated to use. However, the real problem is that most buttons are on the front of the parent unit, which can mean pushing the wrong buttons in the middle of the night. The front includes the power, menu, select, and volume buttons. You can set the sound sensitivity, sound alert, vibrations, a nightlight, language, and other default settings within the menu. The options are easy to understand, and the menu is easy to navigate, though compared to products with no menu, it is more advanced, and some might find it harder to program initially than a more basic option.

The range on the DM221 isn't the best in the group, but it may work...
The range on the DM221 isn't the best in the group, but it may work for many families as the distance and number of walls is fairly good for the average size house.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Range


The DM221 offers an average distance range between the baby and parent units.


According to the manufacturer, this monitor should have a range of 1000 ft when in a line of sight. This distance isn't that useful of a measurement given you are unlikely to place a baby in a field, but it came close to our test results of 1325 ft. This monitor started beeping out of range at about 1000 ft, but the sound was still fine. The connection got choppy around 1200 ft, and the connection was lost entirely at 1325 ft. It started beeping around 1000 ft, but the sound was still okay.

The indoor range stated in the manual is 160 ft. We couldn't get this far from the baby monitor, but we managed about 90 ft through 5 walls. We still had a connection at 6 walls, but the parent unit started to beep that it was out of range. We lost the signal completely after the 8th wall. Ninety feet is probably enough for many homes, and this unit would work for most families as long as their home isn't too big. The best in the review worked past 100 ft and 8-9 walls.

The battery life of the Vtech DM221 is longer than any other we...
The battery life of the Vtech DM221 is longer than any other we tested. You can go up to 46 hours between charging, though we recommend you have it plugged in whenever possible to save battery life for unforeseen moments when you might need it fully charged.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Battery Life


The DM221 has one of the longest living batteries in the group by far.


The DM221 has a rechargeable battery in the parent unit and no battery backup in the baby monitor. The manufacturer claims a run time of 18 hours before recharging, but our tests indicated an average run time of 46 hours! Which is far longer than any parent should need, even if they monitor all day and night. Of course, we recommend plugging in the unit when possible so you don't lose connection in the middle of the night, but it is good to know it can last so long if necessary.

The Vtech DM221 has sound activation so you only hear the baby unit...
The Vtech DM221 has sound activation so you only hear the baby unit when your baby is making noise.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Features


The DM221 offers popular features desired by parents.


The DM221 has adjustable mic sensitivity and sound activation. Both features work well and help a monitor stay relatively silent when the baby is silent. These features can translate to an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep as long as the baby does. We think this is really important, and sound activation is one of the features BabyGearLab believes should be at the top of the list for parents that have trouble sleeping.

Talking to your baby with the DM211 is quick and easy with a single...
Talking to your baby with the DM211 is quick and easy with a single side button that is easily found in the middle of the night when you need it most.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

This monitor also has two-way communication with the baby so that you can talk to the baby from another room. Talking to your baby could mean you don't need to go to the baby's room. Many parents feel this feature is mandatory, though we would just consider it a "nice to have."

The parent unit on the DM221 has a belt clip for hands-free carrying...
The parent unit on the DM221 has a belt clip for hands-free carrying or a loop on the top that can connect to a lanyard or similar for hanging or carrying.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

This product also has the following features:

  • Remote-controlled nightlight
  • Out of range alarm
  • Sound level meter
  • Vibration alarm
  • Belt clip
  • Low battery indicator
  • Sleep mode
  • Mute
  • Parent unit paging abilities

EMF


The VTech has an average EMF reading of 3.11 V/m at 6 ft from the unit. This reading is the highest in the group.


However, keep in mind that the further you get from the monitor, the less EMF you are exposed to. Placing the baby unit for this product as far from your baby as possible will decrease EMF, and the monitor should still pick up every little noise you are hoping to hear.

Should You Buy the VTech DM 221?


The DM221 is sure to please almost any family and works well with some of the best sound clarity in the group. This monitor is a reasonable price for most and has the features you really need instead of all the bells and whistles you will probably forget about. We think it is an excellent choice as a main baby monitor but can also work well as a backup to your movement monitor.

What Other Sound Monitor Should You Consider?


If your budget is even tighter or you don't need or want the added features, you can save some money by choosing the VTech DM111. This monitor is cheaper and is easy to use with adequate sound and range. The battery life is lower for this model, but it is long enough to make it through nap times with ease. If you'd like something full of baby-centric features or plays extra roles outside of monitoring, the Hatch Rest+ is the one. This monitor works via WiFI, giving it impressive range, and it features a sound machine, lullabies, night lights, and more.

Manufacturer Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.

BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.

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