Motorola HALO Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Motorola and Hubble Connect come together for this monitor combining a Motorola product with a Hubble app and plan. Motorola creates a lot of different electronic products that include smartphones, home phones, monitors, and more. The brand is widely recognized, giving them an advantage over other lesser-known manufacturers.
- Buy from somewhere with an easy return policy, in case your internet can't meet the demands of the monitor.
- Be sure to test your new monitor immediately when you receive it so you don't is a return window should your bandwidth not be up to snuff. Video monitors require more bandwidth than typical movie streaming.
- We suggest using an alternate parent device outside your smartphone for monitoring to avoid potential loss of monitoring when answering or staying on a call.
- Change the password first thing. Immediately! If you don't, you leave yourself open to potential hackers.
This monitor has two different types of range. Wi-Fi between the camera and your personal device should work wherever you have WiFi internet connectivity. The other is the range between the included parent device and the camera, which in our tests was 65 ft through 4 walls in an ordinary home. While you might experience a slightly different range depending on your home's construction and interference, it is a good apples-to-apples comparison to the competition products that give you a general idea if a product can work in your sized home.
Audio / Visual
Sound clarity for the Halo is one of the worst in the group, with a score far below the average and generally disappointing. The maximum volume is 82 dB, but the maximum volume for clarity is only 69dB. There is no sound activation feature as it makes noise continuously, and we think this is a drawback as deep sleep is often easier to find with a silent monitor that only lets crying noise come through. There is no adjustability for sensitivity or noise filtering. The sound is generally clear at lower volumes but gets sticky and harder to discern as the volume gets louder.
The video quality for day images has washed out color, but the clarity is pretty good even using the digital zoom, which, as expected, shows some lack of clarity. The images are better using a tablet or smartphone than the included parent device.
Night video has some dark edges, but the image of the baby is still pretty clear. Once again, you can see that the images from the included parent device (above left) aren't as good as those on a tablet (above right). And the clarity using zoom at night is worse than daytime, with some disturbing images coming through.
Ease of Use
This monitor isn't as easy as a true plug and play option, though you could choose to use it as a dedicated monitor ignoring the WiFi capability, but why would you, given the price?
Setup of the Halo is a little more involved both for the camera and for the app on your personal device. While you can use the included parent device, we assume if you purchase this monitor, you want to view the baby away from home and take advantage of the other features available through the app. You'll need to download, register, and connect your monitor to the app, which isn't hard but definitely time-consuming compared to plug-and-play monitors. Also, you need to connect the monitor to your WiFi system to get connectivity between the camera, its sensors, and the app.
The over-the-crib "halo" mount provides a nice vantage point, but it also requires more setup. The included crib mount is easy to use and feels stable and secure. It has a tube for cord routing that you MUST use to ensure safety and avoid injury or death from little ones coming into contact with wires and cords.
This monitor also has potential subscription plans to sign up for through Hubble Connections. Plans start at $3 up to $15 depending on the features you are interested in. You need at least the $10 a month plan to get sleep diary capabilities and automatic recording of video history (5 days). The free plan includes watch and record live videos; motion snapshots; motion, sound, and temperature notifications; download and share snapshots and video; baby growth and development tracker; and sleep tips and videos.
This unit is only average for ease of use for daily use with the included parent device. The parent device is the same one Motorola has been parading around for at least 5 years, so to say it feels dated is an understatement. It is bulkier and heavier than it needs to be, with a poor user interface of minimal buttons and menu toggling to find the features you need. It feels like they missed a great opportunity here to make some real improvements on a poor design, and we are sad they just repurposed their old parent device with minimal, if any, improvements.
The app is more intuitive and easier to manage, making us wonder if anyone will bother with the included device, which might even be too overwhelming for a grandma to mess with.
The battery life of the included parent device is 9 hours in our tests. We couldn't find a battery life claim from the manufacturer, but depending on your chosen personal device, battery life could be longer if you connect the camera to WiFi and use the app.
This unique video monitor has some standard and not so standard features, including an above crib mounting system that gives you a good view of the entire crib and baby's face. The app can track your baby's sleep activity, and you can even get notifications for movement and temperature. This monitor has loads of bells and whistles. Still, we aren't convinced parents will use them past the first month or so before it largely turns into an ordinary sound and video monitor of crying baby alerts parents to look at the video and respond.
- Unique overhead view
- 4.3-inch color screen on the parent device
- Nightlight with 7 color options
- Use connected personal devices for viewing
- Sleep quality monitoring
- Sound, motion, and temperature notifications
- Remote HD viewing
- 2-way talk to baby
- Detachable camera
- Light show projector, with remote on/off
- Downloadable lullabies and stories
- Out of range and low battery alerts
- LED Sound level indicator
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
We test the EMF emission levels in our baby gear lab for each monitor. We compare the EMF levels of each monitor to the competition to get an idea of how one compares to another. Our results are unlikely to be repeatable in every scenario, but what it shows in the levels compared to the competition is that you can see which options offer the least or the most amount of EMF. The Halo EMF was an average of 2.5 at 6 ft from the baby, which is more distance than you'll get using the Halo mounting system. This EMF is far higher than most of the competition and is one of the highest in the group. If EMF is a concern to you, our lineup has better-performing competitors with far less EMF in our tests.
Finding information about this WiFi monitor's security and privacy information is more challenging than some of the competition. About the security of the monitor, the company states
- Check for firmware updates when you first log in
- Change the default password immediately on first use
- Select a complex password that is at least 8-10 characters with both lower and upper case letters, numerals, and special characters if allowed
- Change your password frequently
- Avoid using the same password as another site
- Limit the viewable area of the camera
- Keep the camera unplugged when not in use as some cameras can be turned on remotely.
Should You Buy the HALO?
We don't think this is the best option, no matter your monitoring goals. We were hopeful and excited about a more modern Motorola. While it performed fairly well in our lineup, it couldn't compete with similar options with lower price tags and better performance. While there is nothing to really hate about the Motorola, the price is a huge turn-off for a product that struggled to keep up with the other WiFi competition with better video and sound.
What Other Video Monitor Should You Consider?
The better WiFi monitor in this review is the Nanit Pro. This same price unit has movement monitoring capabilities and more baby-centric features than the Motorola. This monitor has better video capabilities and significantly lower EMF. If you want the absolute best video quality, the Nest Cam Indoor WiFi is the one to consider. The Nest is cheaper and has better long-term potential for monitoring little ones, babysitters, or just your house. A cheaper and far more baby-centric model is the iBaby Care M7 WiFi with impressive video and more features than you'll likely ever use.