Motorola MBP36S Review
Pros: Longer range, true pan and tilt camera
Cons: Fuzzy images, muffled sound, no sound activation
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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.
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 louder audio sounds muffled. This monitor does not have sound activation or sensitivity adjustment, which means 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 a disappointment for a video monitor. Daytime visuals have better clarity than some of the competition, but 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 very 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 The general layout of the parent unit and feature buttons feels outdated and lacks a design that parents will find useful in the middle of the night.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 of the 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 of 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 3.5-inch screen size 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 are trying 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.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz