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Hands-on Gear Review
Levana Lila Review
Price: $100.00 List | $120.43 at Amazon
Pros: Price, good sound, long battery life
Cons: Very few additional features, not the best images
Bottom line: A budget friendly dedicated monitor that gets the job done well without all the fluff
The Levana Lila video monitor is the second highest scoring dedicated monitor in this review and won a Best Value award for dedicated monitors. This monitor has the longest battery life of any dedicated unit we tested and it has a respectable range, with easy to use parent interface. The Lila has a very reasonable price that makes it attractive for a higher ranking monitor, but this lower price does come with fewer bells and whistles than the competition and images that aren't the best. However, if you want a video monitor that lets you see into baby's room for a reasonable price, it is hard to find a better, simpler option than the Lila. If you have more to spend though, more than twice the list price in fact, the Philips Avent SCD630 scored 10 points more overall, has a longer range and the best sound quality in the review.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Unhappy with the technology and quality of an at home audio monitor in 2001, Raj (founder of Levana) began to consider the idea of monitoring baby with a video camera as opposed to audio only. Less than a year later Levana brought the first wireless hand-held full-color video monitor to the market. The original monitors were introduced under the security brand SVAT, but a brand geared specifically toward babies, Levana, was born shortly after the popularity of the product grew. Levana is a Roman goddess dedicated to the well-being of children. Levana strives to develop simple, functional products with features parents want and need.
The comparison chart shown below lists the video monitors we reviewed and how their overall scores compared to one another. The Levana Lila (shown in blue) earned a 5th place rank out of 9 competing products. It is the second highest ranking dedicated monitor in the group, with only the Philips Avent SCD630 dedicated monitor scoring higher overall in our tests.
The information provided in the subsections below details the Lila's performance in our tests and how it compared to the other products in each individual metric. The overall performance in each metric combined to give products their overall scores and rank.
The Lila earned a 7 of 10 for range, which is the third highest score for range in the dedicated monitor group.
This monitor worked indoors with a range of up to 5 walls and 77 ft. The sound started cutting out just after the 5th wall and about 65 ft, with the video following soon after. In comparison, the Philips Avent SCD630 continued to work up to 5 walls and 92 feet. For our open field test this monitor worked well up till about 750 ft, when it started to struggle. It continued to work, though spotty, up to 800 ft, though not succeeding at 900 ft.
Audio / Visual
The Lila earned a 6 of 10 for sound. The high score for sound is 8 for the Philips Avent SCD630.
The Lila has nice amplification with a max decibel level of 98 db, but the clarity isn't the best. This monitor does offer an adjustable sound sensitivity and activation feature, but no matter how we adjusted it we could always hear the white noise in the background. The sound sensitivity will filter at about 50 db in PEEP mode set on the lowest setting, but anything louder will still be audible. With music playing in baby's room during testing, the sound relay had some static and was very bright. It was better with crying only, but did sound somewhat like baby was in a tunnel.
The Lila earned a 5 of 10 for video images.
The daytime images have a reddish hue, but are pleasant to look at. The picture itself is very clear and baby's face can be easily seen. This monitor does not offer a zoom feature, so it is good that you can see baby's eyes if you need to without zoom. Night vision images aren't as good and have a black fuzziness around the edges sort of like a spotlight is on baby. This can be a problem once baby is more mobile and moves out of the spot where the image is best and into the fuzzy corners.
Ease of Use
The Lila earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use, with the Philips Avent SCD630 earning an 8.
This monitor pairs itself between the parent unit and camera with a plug and play design that works when plugged in and turned on with the push of a button.
Part of what makes the Lila an easy to use monitor is its general lack of features and a simple parent interface on the front of the parent unit. The limited number of buttons and options make navigating the menu fairly easy, and pressing the "home" button will help you select what you'd like to control and eventually it will take you back to the beginning should you get lost. We do think it would be easier to use if some common buttons like volume were on the front instead of in the menu, and the menu icons can be difficult to see depending on the lighting in your room.
The Lila earned a 9 of 10 for battery life, which is the best battery life score for the dedicated monitors in this review.
This monitor has a lithium ion battery that had a run time of 12.75 hrs in our tests. The manufacturer claims a 72 hour run time in PEEP mode, but we were unable to duplicate this claim during testing. They also claim 10 hrs in normal mode, and 6.5 hrs for audio and video on.
The Lila earned a 2 of 10 for features, which is the lowest out of all 9 products we tested.
This is in large part due to the lack of features, including fairly common features like zooming in, and remote control over the camera's field of view. The parent unit screen is only 2.4 in (the smallest in the group) and it does not offer any way of attaching the unit for hands free carrying. It can be connected to up to 4 cameras (sold separately), but the PEEP mode will only work with the first camera.
This monitor does not offer any kind of temperature, humidity, or air quality sensors, nor does it offer additional features for baby like a nightlight or lullabies. It also does not have zoom capabilities and the camera can only be adjusted manually by rotating the camera by hand.
This monitor does offer the following features:
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
The Lila camera has an average EMF reading of 3.49, which is one of the highest in the group. This reading is with the camera 6 ft from the reader, mimicking the minimum standard distance between baby and monitor (most work well at 10-15 ft). The further the distance between baby and the camera the less EMF exposure. Distance could be a problem with this monitor as it has no zoom feature, so if you place the camera too far away you won't be able to see baby's face. EMF reading for the parent unit at 3 ft is close to 3. The parent unit is likely to be closer to your head if you use it at night, so the EMF exposure would be greater the closer you have the device.
Levana makes a dizzying number of video monitors including some with multiple cameras. One option that caught our eye was the:
Levana Astra — This digital monitor has a remote controlled camera from the parent unit with true pan, tilt and zoom abilities. This monitor has 3 lullabies, can expand up to 4 cameras, has a lighted indicator ring for silent operation, two way talk to baby, and sound activation.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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