In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Owlet Cam Review

Frustrating to use option with poor video and sound compared to other Wi-Fi monitors
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Price:   $149 List | $99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lower price, internet connectivity
Cons:  Challenging to setup, disappointing sound, subpar video
Manufacturer:   Owlet
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Aug 1, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Range - 20% 10
  • Sound Clarity - 20% 4
  • Video Quality - 30% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 3
  • Battery life - 10% 10
  • Features - 5% 6

The Skinny

The Owlet Cam is a Wi-Fi video monitor designed to work with the Owlet Sock movement monitor. While it offers Wi-Fi range and connectivity, we had significant difficulties in the first few weeks maintain a Wi-Fi connection, something the competition did not struggle with. In addition, the monitor produces subpar sound and disappointing images that cannot compete with the real-life quality images of the other Wi-Fi competitors. We think that no matter what your goals are for choosing to video monitor your little one that the Owlet is general disappointing and doesn't hit the mark as much as it strikes a nerve.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Owlet Cam
Awards   Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award 
Price $149.00 List
$99.00 at Amazon - 34% off
$299.00 List
$204.99 at Amazon - 31% off
$199.00 List
$159.00 at Amazon - 20% off
$188.00 List
$143.95 at Amazon - 23% off
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lower price, internet connectivityAwesome images, face recognition, easy to use, lots of featuresInternet range, great images, versatile long term useWi-Fi range, lots of features, great images, easy to useWi-fi capable, budget-friendly, quality images
Cons Challenging to setup, disappointing sound, subpar videoNot baby specific, expensive, poor sound, some features require subscriptionNo internet / no monitor, disappointing soundSub par sound, higher price, internet dependantRequires internet, disappointing sound
Bottom Line Frustrating to use option with poor video and sound compared to other Wi-Fi monitorsFancy wi-fi with impressive video but the price may not be worth it for baby monitoringReally cool camera with lots of uses and great video for simple baby monitoringCool wi-fi option with all the bells and whistles that is easy to useStraightforward, wi-fi capable camera with good images and an impressive price
Rating Categories Owlet Cam Nest Cam IQ Indoor... Nest Cam Indoor... iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
Range (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Sound Clarity (20%)
10
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4
10
0
4
10
0
4
10
0
4
10
0
4
Video Quality (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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3
10
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9
10
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8
10
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9
10
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6
Battery Life (10%)
10
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10
10
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10
10
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10
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10
Features (5%)
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Specs Owlet Cam Nest Cam IQ Indoor... Nest Cam Indoor... iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
Communication Technology 2.4 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Indoor Range Test Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity
Open Field Range Test Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity
Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!) Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity
Max Sound 93 db 86 db 86 db 82 db 85 db
Screen Size n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Max # of Cameras Multiple (Amount not given) 10 Per Home with 3 Homes Per Nest App. Log In 10 Per Home with Unlimited Homes Not Listed (Unlimited?) Not Listed (Unlimited?)
Temperature Yes No No Yes No
Movement Detection No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sound Activation No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Talk-to-Baby Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pan/Tilt/ Zoom Zoom Zoom, Close-up tracking Zoom Pan/Tilt/Zoom Pan/Tilt/Zoom
Battery Life n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
EMF @ 6 Feet from Camera 0.82 V/m 0.91 V/m 0.92 V/m 1.42 V/m 0.84 V/m
Warranty 1 Year 2 Year 2 Year 1 Year 1 Year

Our Analysis and Test Results

Owlet was co-founded by 4 fathers in 2013 who wanted to use technology to protect their children by creating an at-home pulse oximeter to monitor their baby from a distance. The first Owlet Sock ships about two years later with an international launch two years after that. In 2018, Owlet launches its Wi-Fi camera monitor followed by a pregnancy band in 2019.

Considering a Wi-Fi Monitor?
  • In the event that your internet isn't fast enough to support your monitor, we recommend buying from a retailer like Amazon that offers a simple return policy.
  • We suggest you give your monitor a test as soon as you get it to be sure that it will work in your home with your internet. This gives you the opportunity to troubleshoot or return the product before the return time has expired.
  • We suggest you use a secondary device for monitoring your baby. Using your main phone could result in a loss of monitor connection if you get a phone call.
  • Always change the default password that comes with the monitor! Don't give hackers the upper hand by keeping the password that comes with the device.

Performance Comparison


The Owlet is a Wi-Fi monitor that works with your smart device and Internet connectivity.
The Owlet is a Wi-Fi monitor that works with your smart device and Internet connectivity.

Range


With Wi-Fi connectivity you should be able to connect to your baby anywhere you have internet access. This means it has superior range ver dedicated monitors that can be limited by square footage, walls, and other forms of home interference. However, in our tests, the Owlet struggled to stay connected to the Wi-Fi consistently when the competing Wi-Fi monitors didn't have any challenges.

The Owlet was tested for decibel levels in our tests for sound.
The Owlet was tested for decibel levels in our tests for sound.

Audio / Visual


This monitor has below average sound clarity compared to the competition, but similar to the other Wi-Fi options. Sound may not seem that important when you are buying a video monitor, but don't forget it is the sound of your baby crying that will alert you to look at the video images. Without good sound clarity and features, you could miss your baby cries.

The daylight video images for the Owlet is better than the night images  but still not on par with most of the other Wi-Fi monitors in this review.
The Owlet camera creates a hot spot center with darker edges that could impact the viewing area.

Despite 1080p HD video technology, the Owlet offered subpar video quality in our tests compared to the other Wi-Fi options in our review. With an average score for video, it has more in common with basic dedicated monitors than the impressive Wi-Fi competition that provided clear, true to life images in the day or night. The daytime color is a little off and it has similar distortion trouble as one other Wi-Fi option, but it is the darkest of the Wi-Fi options.

The setup of the Owlet hurt its overall ease of use results as it took us over two hours using the App and we eventually had to initiate setup on a computer instead.
The setup of the Owlet hurt its overall ease of use results as it took us over two hours using the App and we eventually had to initiate setup on a computer instead.

Ease of Use


This monitor is challenging to use and earned a very low score for ease of use compared to the other options in this review. While it was very easy to set up using the app and the limited features prevent it from getting complicated but that is where the easy to use ends. We had significant problems keeping a Wi-Fi connection over the first week and once it disconnects you need to almost start over to get it going again. In fact, it appears to be a known issue for Owlet and many users complain that the product "doesn't work consistently." Of course, the goal of monitoring your baby is for peace of mind that you will be alerted if he or she needs your attention if you lose connection in the middle of the night. This could happen without your knowledge which could lead to a lack of sleep worrying about the monitor disconnecting without your knowledge.

Battery Life


This camera does not have a battery and must be plugged in to operate. The battery life tests we perform focus on the battery in the parent unit. Wi-Fi monitors rely on your personal device for viewing. Traditionally, smartphones and tablets have longer battery lives than the parent devices that come with dedicated monitors. Of course, this depends on how you use your device, what else it is running and how old it is.

The Owlet comes with a cord containment device to help manage cords and prevent strangulation hazards when mounting.
The Owlet comes with a cord containment device to help manage cords and prevent strangulation hazards when mounting.

Features


The Owlet has fewer features than most of the competition and if you want a lot of bells and whistles than it isn't going to meet your needs. It does not have baby-centric features like nightlight or lullabies and it doesn't have sound activation which is our favorite and one we think makes a good monitor even better.

The Owlet rests in the included mounting block but is not adjustable remotely.
The Owlet rests in the included mounting block but is not adjustable remotely.
  • Works in the background while you use other apps
  • Two-Way Talk
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Works with Smart Sock
  • Temperature sensor

We test each monitor with n EMF reader so that you can compare the emissions of the Owlet to other monitors.
We test each monitor with n EMF reader so that you can compare the emissions of the Owlet to other monitors.

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels


All Wi-Fi monitor emit some level of EMF, which is why we test them all under the same conditions so we can compare values to the competition as opposed to saying the readings are absolutes. The Owlet has an average reading of 0.82 V/m with the reader placed 6 ft from the monitor. This is one of the lowest values in the group making it a good choice for parents concerned about EMF exposure. Of course, you can decrease your baby's exposure by placing the monitor as far from the baby as possible without hindering its performance.

The owlet camera cannot be moved remotely.
The owlet camera cannot be moved remotely.

Security/Privacy Concerns


The Owlet website has little to say about security or privacy related to the Cam. The only thing we could find on their website was this:
SECURE, ENCRYPTED WIFI
Only those you choose can stream video from your Cam

We would prefer more information and transparency from the company on how they work to prevent hacking and ensure the safety of children.

General tips to help keep your monitor safer:
  • Update firmware regularly
  • Change the default password
  • Choose a new password that is 8-10+ characters using lower & upper case letters, numerals, and other characters
  • Change your password frequently
  • Limit the monitor field of view
  • Unplug the monitor when you aren't using it as it can be remotely activated

Manufacturer Video




Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz