Owlet Cam Review
Pros: Lower price, internet connectivity
Cons: Challenging to setup, disappointing sound, subpar video
Compare to Similar Products
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- Works in the background while you use other apps
- Two-Way Talk
- 4x Digital Zoom
- Works with Smart Sock
- Temperature sensor
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 website has little to say about security or privacy related to the Cam. The only thing we could find on their website was this:
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.
- 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
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz