In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Levana Ayden Review

Not the worst, but there are similar w/ better video
Levana Ayden
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Price:   $120 List
Pros:  Battery life, lg screen, 2 way talk
Cons:  Video, range, manual adjust
Manufacturer:   Levana
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team  ⋅  Jan 26, 2015
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60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Range - 30% 5
  • Sound - 20% 7
  • Video - 20% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Features - 5% 5
  • Battery life - 10% 9

The Skinny

The Levana Ayden got 60 points out of 100 in our tests, with a high score for its battery life and low score for its video quality. This isn't the ideal test results, but it was enough to give it a 6 out of 14 rank in our review. The main problem with Ayden is it lacks good video images, which makes it somewhat of a nonstarter in our book when it comes to recommending products for awards in a video product category. Its poor video score and average scores in range and ease of use add up to a unit we didn't really love all that much. In fairness however, it had the longest battery life in the group of dedicated monitors and got a respectable score for sound. So while it wasn't enough to win favor in our hearts, and we don't necessarily recommend it, we can see how some parents might favor the lower price.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Levana Ayden is a 2.4GHZ video monitor with 750 feet ClearVu digital signal for a secure connection. The range is optimal indoors at 200ft depending on walls, floors, and microwave use interruption. This camera offers invisible infrared LEDs for night vision up to 15 feet away, 3 pre-programmed lullabies, an LED nightlight and temperature monitoring for comfort peace of mind. It is a manual adjustment camera that cannot be moved remotely. The 3.5 inch screen on the parent unit has a resolution of 640 x 480 for clear viewing with adjustable brightness and 2 x digital zoom. It offers a two way talking feature so parents can soothe little ones from another room with a touch of a button, and an LED sound indicator ring so alerts can happen even when the volume is down low. The parent unit can connect to up to 4 cameras (not included) and will scan each camera every 8 seconds for monitoring (there is no quad view). The parent unit has a 48 our battery life when in energy saving Peep mode which turns on with sound activation, and 8 hour of battery life when used with screen and audio on. The camera, or baby unit, has 3 hours of battery life should the electricity turn off to maintain peace of mind that baby is still sleeping peacefully. This monitor comes with, night vision camera, monitor, rechargeable batteries, 2 power adapters, 1 year warranty, and lifetime customer support.

Performance Comparison



Range


The manufacturer has a claim of 750 feet for this monitor in what we assume is a clear line of site or open field test. In our open field test we did not get anything close to the claim. Our monitor started having trouble at about 350 feet with spotty reception, and then died out altogether at close to 425. Levana isn't alone in their claims not matching our tests results, with most of the units failing to meet the manufacturer specifications.

For indoor use the Ayden actually performed relatively well compared to some of the other products working up to 65 feet and 5 walls, it performed at a greater distance and through more walls than 8 other models in our review. The products with the longest range are the Wi-Fi options, Nest Cam and Withings Smart Baby, whose connectivity is related to the internet connection you have as opposed to how far away the parent unit is from the camera. The monitor with the worst range is the Foscam which worked up to 55 feet and 3 walls and scored a 3 compared to the Adyen score of 6 of 10 in this metric. The dedicated monitor with the best score was the Motorola which earned an 8.

If distance or obstacles is a problem in your house you might consider a Wi-Fi option or try measuring the distance between units and how many walls/floors you will need the unit to work through. Range can be one of the most frustrating aspect about finding a monitor that meets expectations.

Audio / Visual


This unit has a relatively low maximum decibel level at 88db. While not the lowest in the review, that belonged to the Levana Ovia and the Nest Cam with a max decibel of 83 , it also wasn't near the average either.

The lower max volume seemed to affect how the sound worked and we did love this monitor more than its brother the Ovia. This monitor has a bright sound that cuts out at very loud or sharp noises. It also sounds muffled or like its coming out of a can for the lower sounds. However, the parent unit will go into sleep mode if it set to peep mode, so the screen and sound turn off, but come back on for a loud noise. So while it didn't do that great in our test for clarity or quality of sound, it got higher marks for sound sensitivity adjustment and for filtering white noise. Filtering white noise is a nice feature so parents don't have to hear the noise of the house or softer fan noises emanating from baby's room. This creates a truly silent monitor unless baby is actively crying, which offers a better environment for falling asleep.

This product scored a 7 in our sound tests. The top scorers are the VTech Safe & Sound and the Samsung SafeVIEW, both of which earned 9s and both of which come from companies with significant backgrounds in sound related technologies. The lowest score of the units tested belonged to the Ovia which earned a 3, and to the not tested Wifi Baby 3.0 that received a 0.

The Ayden offers pretty good clarity with 2 lines being readable on the eye chart in the crib next to baby. This is the average number for the products in this category. This didn't get a whole lot better using the zoom feature, but the zoom button is easy to use and find even at night. Many of the models had clarity for just 1 line, so this monitor was better than some, but a couple offered 3 line readability which meant this one wasn't as good as the competition. At least in the color video you can just make out baby's mouth and part of an eye, which is better than the creepy faceless babies on some of the monitors.

For color correctness the camera struggled to perform offering color resolution that didn't really match the color chart in reality. It isn't as bad as some of the competition, but it also didn't offer an image that matched reality, and given that watching baby on camera is something most parents do to help make informed decisions about going into the room, it is harder to do this when the image is not an accurate reflection on what is really happening. Being able to see baby's eyes, or if they are breathing, might be why parents get a monitor, and they won't be able to do either with this unit.

Performance at night time got slightly better with an image that is brighter than the other Levana model we reviewed, but still not great and not as good as some of the competition. In the night vision images the baby's face disappears which is a problem with most of the lower scoring units. Its hard to tell what is happening in the crib if the baby has no face.

The Ayden earned a score of 5 for video, which put it close to the average score in this metric. For products designed with video in mind it seems a shame that only a handful offered a video image that we could see or utilize as intended. The highest ranking products in this metric were the Wi-Fi models, Nest Cam and Withings, each earning a 9. For dedicated monitor the Summer Infant Clear Sight came out on top with an 7. This proves that even cheaper options can still offer great images.

Ease of Use


This monitor earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use, which is about average for the products in this review. This unit should link up automatically, and ours did, but it does have a manual link feature in case it doesn't. The instructions are simple pictures, but could have been better if there were words. If you have trouble setting it up there are extra instructions on their website. Parents will have to install a battery, which isn't that bad, but we suspect some non-tech savvy people might have difficulty if the camera and parent unit don't automatically link.

While the buttons on this unit are a little small, the menu options make sense and are easy to navigate, with the 2 possibly most used features (zoom and talk) working with just 1 button push and no menu navigation.

The monitors that are the easiest to use are the Nest Cam and the Summer Infant Clear Sight with scores of 8. The hardest monitor to use is the Wifi Baby 3.0 which required customer service help to setup and took multiple attempts to keep it running when we set it up on our own.

Features


This product has several bells and whistles that parents might be looking for. It offers a remote nightlight, lullabies, temperature sensor, 2 way talk to baby, and invisible LEDs. It has "Peep" mode for battery conservation and auto-sleep and wake features with voice activation for keeping the monitor silent and dark if baby isn't crying. There isn't much it doesn't offer with the exception of motion detection, which only a couple of monitors offered.
The parent unit has a larger screen than most of the competition at 3.5 inches. The largest screen in this review is 4.3, with the smallest being 2, so this viewing screen is a respectable size. The parent unit also sports a smart LED indicator light that changes color based on how loud the baby is being. This can be useful in a loud room or if parents want to turn the volume down for some reason. The unit only comes with a kick stand and does not offer a belt clip or wall mount. The belt clip would have been a nice feature for a large unit that is unlikely to fit easily in most pockets.

The camera offers 3 invisible infrared LEDs for automatic night vision up to 15 feet that doesn't disturb baby with visible red lights. It has a resolution of 640x480, and 2x digital zoom. What it doesn't offer is remote camera movement with true pan and tilt features, nor does it offer the opportunity to pan and tilt within the field of view in zoom mode. This might not be frustrating when baby does little but stay in the position you leave them in, but it could be frustrating to use with older babies who might move out of the field of view repeatedly during one sleep session.
While the Ayden only scored a 6 in the features metric, none of the products scored over a 7, which means the score isn't as bad compared to the competition as it might feel at first blush. When it comes to features parents will probably have a list of things they are looking for. It is best to review the features of each model you are considering so you aren't disappointed in what they offer and what they don't. The products with the lowest feature scores were the Philips Avent Digital and Wifi Baby 3.0; both products scored a 2 in this metric.

EMF


All of the units had an EMF reading of 6+ with the reader right next to the units. This value decreased by about half with most of the units at 3 feet away from the camera and continued to drop with the reader 6 feet away. Only the Withings Smart Baby had a reading of 0 (in relation to the ambient room reading), and this is only when it is connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable. While we think there is enough evidence to be concerned about EMF emissions, the jury is still out and it is hard to tell what, if anything, they may cause to developing babies. However, we at BabyGearLab believe in being cautious and limiting what we can when we can, so for this reason we feel the Withings hardwired is possibly the healthiest option.

The Ayden had a reading of 2.12 with the reader 3 feet from the camera. It had the lowest reading for dedicated monitors at 6 feet with an EMF reading of 1.29; it shares this reading with Philips Avent Digital. For the Wi-Fi units used wirelessly, the Nest Cam has the lowest with 0.78.

Battery Life


While this monitor claims a battery life of up to 48 hours when used it Peep mode, it does say in fine print at the bottom of the website page that 8 hours can be expected when in full use. In our lab tests this parent unit lasted 9.5 hours before dying, which made it the longest lasting battery in the dedicated monitor group. This also means it is likely the only dedicated model that would allow for a full nights monitoring coverage without being plugged in.

The product with the shortest battery life is the Uniden Lullaboo Guardian which lasts about 3 hours before quitting. Three hours might not even be enough to make it through one full nap time period for some babies. The products that use a personal device as the parent unit might have the longest battery life depending on what kind of product you use and if you are running other apps or purposes at the same time. While this is hard to judge fairly given the variety of options for the Wi-Fi monitors, we do feel comfortable saying that most will last in excess of 9 hours, and therefore they received the highest score in this metric.

Best Applications


With a low price and features galore there might be a best application for this unit. While the Summer Infant Clear Sight has the best video quality in dedicated monitors and a great price to go with it, it doesn't have a lot of other additional features parents might be looking for. So if you are looking for a product with a nightlight and lullabies and other such bells and whistles then the Ayden might not be to bad of an option. Scoring just 3 points lower than the Summer and scoring higher for sound quality and range, it could be contender depending on what you want in a video monitor.

The Summer Infant Clear Sight is a basic dedicated monitor with minimal features
The photos above show the Ayden(left) and the Summer Infant (right). The Ayden has a larger viewing screen that turns on automatically when sound occurs. The Summer does not wake automatically and the screen is the smallest in the group at 2 inches.

Value


This monitor has a similar price to our Best Value winner which scored slightly higher and had a few more features than this monitor. It did have a longer battery life than the Sweet Peep, it didn't score as well for video as the Peep. While this product certainly has a budget friendly price that makes it attractive, scoring lower overall and in the video metric than our Best Value winner makes this monitor a good value, but not as good as the award winner.

Conclusion


This Levana monitor scored better than its brother the Levana Ovia in our review. In fact, it scored better than 8 other products we looked at. Unfortunately, it didn't score high enough to really stand out or to win any awards in this review. That being said, with the exception of a less than stellar video quality, this monitor brought a lot to the table that parents might find interesting or consider as an acceptable trade off for the poor video. With fun features like a nightlight, temperature sensor, 2 way talking, and lullabies, this monitor could easily be a baby favorite for all things that soothe. It is hard to really love a video product with images where baby has no face, making this a product we don't recommend.

Video




Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team