In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Motorola MBP36S Review

Disappointing images and sound on a hard to use parent unit
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Price:   $150 List | $112 at Amazon
Pros:  Longer range, true pan and tilt camera
Cons:  Fuzzy images, muffled sound, no sound activation
Manufacturer:   Motorola
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Oct 22, 2018
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Range - 30% 8
  • Sound Clarity - 20% 4
  • Video Quality - 20% 3
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Battery life - 10% 4
  • Features - 5% 5

The Skinny

The Motorola MBP36S is a dedicated monitor earning a fairly low ranking position amongst the 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 parents will Alternatively, the Philips Avent SCD630 has a better indoor range of almost 6 walls and better scores in every metric including ease of use and features. Despite having 2-way talking and remote camera pan and tilt, the overall performance of the Motorola largely a disappointment.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Motorola MBP36S is a hard to use monitor with soft images and muffled sound.
The Motorola MBP36S is a hard to use monitor with soft images and muffled sound.

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 baby.

A rear look at the Motorola parent unit  with a pop up antenne  kickstand  and rear speaker.
The Motorola parent unit has a power button on the top.
The Motorola power and av input are on the side of the parent unit. The Parent unit can be connected to your TV for larger viewing.
The back of the Motorola camera has an antenna and a power cord input.
The Motorola camera has an on/off slide button on the side.

Performance Comparison


The Motorola MBP36S's (in blue) lower overall performance score makes it easy to see why the Motorola did not earn an award.


The sections below will detail the Motorola test results.

Range


The Motorola MBP36S earned an 8 of 10 for the range. 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 the expectations we had.

Even using the 2 times zoom  the Motorola MBP36S images are unclear and lack focus. Notice the lack of detail on the eye chart and bed sheet.
Even using the 2 times zoom, the Motorola MBP36S images are unclear and lack focus. Notice the lack of detail on the eye chart and bed sheet.

Audio / Visual


The Motorola earned a 4 of 10 for 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 MBP36S night images are more disappointing than the day images  with a spotlight type focus and images so blurry they look out of focus. Should baby scoot out of circle of "light" you will need to use the pan and tilt features to seem him or her.
The Motorola MBP36S night images are more disappointing than the day images, with a spotlight type focus and images so blurry they look out of focus. Should baby scoot out of circle of "light" you will need to use the pan and tilt features to seem him or her.

The Motorola earns a 3 of 10 for video quality, 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.

Most of the Motorola MBP36S features will require first pressing the menu button (top right). Commonly used features like Volume are not included on the face of the unit.
Most of the Motorola MBP36S features will require first pressing the menu button (top right). Commonly used features like Volume are not included on the face of the unit.

Ease of Use


The Motorola earned a 6 of 10 for 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.

Battery Life


The Motorola received the lowest score in the review with a 4 of 10 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 camera for the Motorola MBP36S can move remotely using the parent unit  but the field of view is smaller than the competition.
The camera for the Motorola MBP36S can move remotely using the parent unit, but the field of view is smaller than the competition.

Features


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-inch screen size and camera that can pan and tilt. This 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 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