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Hands-on Gear Review
Motorola MBP36S Review
Price: $150.00 List | $104.90 at Amazon - 30% off
Pros: Longer range, true pan and tilt camera
Cons: Fuzzy images, muffled sound, no sound activation
Bottom line: Disappointing images and sound on a hard to use parent unit
The Motorola MBP36S earned a 7th place rank of 9 competing products. This monitor has one of the best indoor ranges in the group with use up to 5 walls and 92 feet, but it performed poorly in the other metrics, more or less negating its stellar performance on indoor range. Alternatively, the Philips Avent SCD630 has a slightly better indoor range of almost 6 walls, and it has better scores in every metric including ease of use and features. This Motorola has an oldschool 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 whether they want to or not. The Motorola has muffled sound, fuzzy images, and lacks some of the features parents will be looking for. Despite having 2 way talk to baby and true camera pan and tilt, the overall performance of the Motorola makes it one we do not recommend.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Motorola is a relatively well-known company that makes a variety of electronic equipment 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 new baby monitor or similar item. Historically, this company is known for producing quality items at a reasonable price. They produce both video and audio monitors for baby.
The chart below shows all of the monitors we tested and how they stacked up against the competition. The Motorola MBP36S (shown in blue) has a second to last score, it is not difficult to see why the Motorola did not earn an award.
The sections below will detail the Motorola test results point-by-point for each metric.
The Motorola MBP36S earned an 8 of 10 for range, while the Philips Avent SCD630 earned the highest score for the metric with a range of 9. Both monitors worked up to 92 feet and through 5 walls while indoors, but their outside open field test was significantly different. The Motorola managed to keep a connection up to 850 feet, though it kept a visual (no sound) connection up to about 1000 ft. The manufacturer claims a range of 590, so it far exceeded the expectations we had. Because the Philips was almost able to break the barrier of the 6th wall, it received the slightly higher score.
Audio / Visual
The Motorola earned a 4 of 10 for sound clarity. The Philips Avent SCD630 earned an 8, which is the high score for the group for sound. The Motorola has a max sound of up to 85 db with generally poor sound quality overall. The sound level is lower than most of the competition and the louder sounds are somewhat muffled. This monitor does not have sound activation or sensitivity adjustment, which really hurt it during testing.
The Motorola earned a 3 of 10 for video quality, which is a disappointment for a video monitor. Daytime visuals had better clarity than some of the competition, but overall the image has a "fuzzy" feel that can be 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 earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use, while the Philips Avent SCD630 earned an 8, the highest ease of use score for a dedicated monitor. 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 adjustment. 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, while sleep deprived. 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 earned a 4 of 10 for battery life, the lowest in the group. This rechargeable NiMH battery lasted only 6.75 hrs in our tests. This is the lowest run time for any dedicated monitor we tested. The manufacturer claims it will take up to 12 hours to charge, so it is probably best to just leave it plugged in as the charging time is so long and the run time so limited.
The Motorola earned a 5 of 10 for features, one of its highest scores in any metric. This monitor comes with a single parent unit with a 3.5 in screen size and camera that can pan and tilt. This parent unit can be connected to up to 4 cameras at a time.
This monitor doesn't offer many features 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 American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for avoiding SIDS. This discrepancy makes the sensor virtually useless.
This monitor also features:
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
The Motorola has an average EMF reading of 2.24 when placed 6 ft from the reader. This is the 3rd highest for the 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
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