The Motorola MBP36S is a dedicated monitor that earns a fairly low ranking among the video competition. While this monitor has one of the best indoor ranges with use up to 5 walls and 92 feet, it performed poorly in the other metrics negating its stellar range performance. This Motorola has an old-school parent unit with side buttons and convoluted menu options for standard features like volume. The screen size is big enough, but the images are disappointing. With no sound activation or even sound sensitivity adjustment possible, this monitor is essentially on all night, and parents will be listening to background noise no matter what. The Motorola has muffled sound, fuzzy images, and lacks some of the features most parents want. Despite having 2-way talking and remote camera pan and tilt, the overall performance of the Motorola was largely a disappointment, and there are better monitors available in every category.Editor's Note: This Motorola review includes new information about our favorite monitors and those we'd recommend to a friend. We did this update on March 25, 2022.
Motorola MBP36S Review
Pros: Longer range, true pan and tilt camera
Cons: Fuzzy images, muffled sound, no sound activation
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|Pros||Longer range, true pan and tilt camera||Internet range, great images, versatile long term use||WiFi range, lots of features, great images, easy to use||Lower price for dedicated, better sound, good video||Cheaper, good battery life|
|Cons||Fuzzy images, muffled sound, no sound activation||No internet / no monitor, disappointing sound||Sub-par sound, higher price, internet dependant||Shorter range, fewer features, less vibrant color||Shorter range, few features, manual camera adjustment|
|Bottom Line||Disappointing images and sound on a hard to use parent unit||Really cool WiFi camera with lots of uses and great video for simple baby monitoring||Cool WiFi option with all the bells and whistles that is easy to use||Good dedicated monitor if WiFi is not an option||Somewhat average monitor with no standout features or visuals|
|Rating Categories||Motorola MBP36S||Nest Cam Indoor WiFi||iBaby Care M7 WiFi||Hello Baby HB65||Anmeate SM24|
|Sound Clarity (20%)|
|Video Quality (30%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Battery life (10%)|
|Specs||Motorola MBP36S||Nest Cam Indoor WiFi||iBaby Care M7 WiFi||Hello Baby HB65||Anmeate SM24|
|Communication Technology||2.4GHz FHSS||802.11 a/b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Indoor Range Test||5 Walls
|Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||4 Walls
|Open Field Range Test||900 Feet||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||800 Feet||600 Feet|
|Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!)||590 Feet||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||1000 Feet|
|Max Sound||85 db||86 db||82 db||76.3 db||82.4 db|
|Max # of Cameras||4||10 Per Home with Unlimited Homes||Not Listed (Unlimited?)||4||4|
|Battery Life||6.75 hrs||n/a||n/a||14 hrs||14 hrs|
|EMF @ 6 Feet from Camera||1.96 V/m||0.92 V/m||1.42 V/m||0.83 V/m||1.67 V/m|
|Warranty||1 Year||2 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Motorola is a relatively well-known company that makes a variety of electronics, including phones, video monitors, modems, and chargers. The company has been around for a long time and is recognized by most parents, making it an obvious go-to when looking for a baby monitor or similar item. Historically, this company is known for producing quality items at a reasonable price, and they produce both video and audio monitors for babies.
The Motorola MBP36S has a better range than most of the dedicated competition. This monitor worked up to 92 feet and through 5 walls while indoors. In the outdoor line of sight tests, the Motorola kept a connection up to 850 feet and managed a visual (no sound) connection up to almost 1000 ft. The manufacturer claims a range of 590, so it far exceeded our expectations for a baby monitor.
Audio / Visual
The Motorola has below average sound clarity with a max sound of up to 85 dB and poor sound quality overall. The sound level is lower than most of the competition, and the louder audio sounds are muffled. This monitor does not have sound activation or sensitivity adjustment, so there is no way to make it silent when the baby is quiet.
The Motorola video quality is far below the average for the group, which is disappointing for a video monitor. Daytime visuals have better clarity than some of the competition. Still, overall the image has a fuzzy, soft feel that is disappointing when most parents are used to high-quality visuals using other equipment like their smartphone. The night images are worse with fuzzy edges and an overall dark appearance that makes baby details difficult to see. Everything has a slightly soft and out-of-focus look.
Ease of Use
The Motorola is a plug-and-play dedicated monitor that pairs the parent unit and camera by itself, which is nice for technically challenged parents.
The Motorola isn't difficult to use, but the menu could be more intuitive or offer additional buttons, so you don't have to scroll into a menu to find common features like the volume. The general layout of the parent unit and feature buttons feels outdated and lacks a design that parents will find useful in the middle of the night. Buttons are just a series of arrows and icons that are not intuitive and will take time and practice to master. Most features require pushing the menu button and then arrows once in the menu to find the feature you want to use. We think volume and zoom, the most common buttons used by parents, would be better placed outside a menu.
The Motorola received one of the lowest scores in the review for battery life. This rechargeable NiMH battery lasted only 6.75 hrs in our tests. This runtime is the lowest of the dedicated monitors we tested. The manufacturer claims it will take up to 12 hours to charge, so it is probably best to leave it plugged in as the charging time is so long and the runtime so limited.
The Motorola comes with a single-parent unit with a 3.5-inch screen and camera that can pan and tilt. The parent unit connects to 4 cameras at a time.
This monitor doesn't bring many features to the table. Nothing for convenience or fun like lullabies or recording. While not a necessity for monitor use, many parents will be looking for these features. It does have a temperature sensor on the camera, but the temperature reported during testing was 3.5 degrees cooler than the room's actual temperature. This can be a problem if you try to maintain a room temperature consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for avoiding SIDS. This discrepancy makes the sensor virtually useless.
This monitor also features:
- Two-way talk
- Automatic screen sleep (but not wake)
- 2X zoom
- True camera pan and tilt with a smaller field of view than most
- Night vision
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
The Motorola has an average EMF reading of 2.24 when placed 6 ft from the reader. This reading is one of the highest for dedicated monitors. The parent unit, which is usually closer to parents by their bed at night, had an average reading of around 3 when placed 3 ft from the reader/parent's head.
Should You Buy the Motorola?
The Motorola feels dated and doesn't offer the basic features we think most parents will be looking for. It has an older look and feel, with disappointing sound and one of the lowest video quality scores in the group. Given the mid-range price, we think most parents will be disappointed with a product from Motorola being so lackluster. There are better scoring and performing dedicated options in this group.
What Other Video Monitor Should You Consider?
If you need a straightforward dedicated option and don't plan to view your little one from outside your home, we like the Hello Baby HB65. This dedicated monitor works well and offers just enough with a price point that feels on par with what you get. While it didn't excel in any particular test metric, it is the highest-ranking dedicated option in the group, and we think most parents will find it gets the job done in an easy-to-use package that saves money over the Motorola. This monitor has sound activation, a temperature sensor, and the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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