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Hands-on Gear Review
Project Nursery 4.3 Review
Price: $260.00 List | $149.99 at Amazon - 42% off
Pros: Low EMF, 2 parent units, remote pan and tilt camera
Cons: Limited range, washed out images, hard to use, higher price
Bottom line: A pricey option with a frustrating menu and disappointing images
The Project Nursery 4.3 came in last place out of 9 video monitors tested. This monitor scored fairly poorly in all metrics. It does offer 2 parent devices, including a mini watch like option, and it looks pretty snazzy coming out of the box, but unfortunately, that is about as cool as this monitor gets. The Nursery 4.3 has disappointing sound and even worse image quality that leaves a lot to be desired, and generally disappoints in almost every way compared to the competition. So, while it does offer some most wanted features like talk to baby, lullabies, and temperature sensor, it doesn't really do any of them well enough to merit the higher price tag. Given the low scores in every metric, including range and ease of use, and the washed out images of baby, this video monitor is one we don't recommend.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Licensing Brand Names
The Project Nursery baby monitor is not made by Project Nursery. We think it is important to point out to potential buyers that the product is made by another company that then pays for the right to use the "Project Nursery" name. This is similar to stroller manufacturers that pay to use the names of well known products to give consumers the illusion that the strollers will be of similar quality to the product they share a name with. Two common licensed brands we have seen are Jeep and Schwinn. These well known names are applied to strollers that are not designed or manufactured by Jeep or Schwinn, and have nothing in common with the traditional products associated with those brands.
A quick look at the chart below makes it clear why the Project Nursery 4.3 (shown in blue) video monitor did not win an award.
The sections below will further illustrate how the Nursery Project fared in our tests during side-by-side comparisons.
The Project Nursery monitor earned a score of 3 of 10 for range. This is the lowest range in the review, barely working through 3 walls and 54 ft in our indoor house tests. By contrast the Philips Avent SCD630, another dedicated monitor earned a 9 for range and worked up to 5 walls and 92 ft. Project Nursery claims a line of sight range of 800 ft, which is different than indoor testing, but even our field test results only showed 700 ft and that was touch and go with coverage we didn't feel confident about.
Audio / Visual
This monitor earned a 4 of 10 for sound clarity. In contrast, the Philips Avent SCD630 earned an 8 for sound. The Project Nursery monitor has a bright and somewhat "echoy" sound. It is not super clear at any volume and it doesn't get as loud as the competition. It does offer sound sensitivity adjustment and background noise reduction, but it doesn't do either very well.
The Nursery earned a 5 of 10 for video quality. The picture quality for the monitor is not the best. It looks sort of washed out, muted and strangely stretched like it is trying to fit a screen wider than it needs. The colors in the daytime are muted and the zoom makes the image fuzzy. For night vision things didn't get better. The image becomes really washed out, and the bottom part of our eye chart disappeared. Almost all of the clarity it has during the day is completely gone in the dark.
Ease of Use
The Project Nursery earned a 4 of 10 for ease of use, the lowest score in this metric. The Philips Avent SCD630 earned an 8, making it the highest ease of use score for a dedicated monitor. The Nursery comes in a cool box and the presentation makes you feel like you are special and have purchased something akin to an iPhone. Setup is easy as the camera and parent unit come pre-paired. This however, is where things take a turn. The overall usability and day-to-day experience of this monitor is more difficult than the competition.
The buttons and menus are not intuitive for this monitor and you need to select options inside options inside options to accomplish the simplest of tasks. This means a lot of button pushing in a sleep induced haze that may be difficult even after you've owned it a while. You also have to repeat your steps to get back out of the menu, making it annoying to deal with if baby is crying. The zoom button is the only easy button to use and it works the camera movement as well. Pan and tilt for the camera requires holding down the zoom button until the arrows appear, but moving about can be herky jerky and slow.
The Nursery earned a 6 of 10 for battery life, its highest rated metric in our tests. This monitor has a lithium ion battery in the parent unit that lasted 10 hours in our tests. The manufacturer claims 8 hours for the mini monitor and 16 hours for the larger parent unit when using the sound activated power saving mode. While our results do not match those claimed, they should get you through a regular night's sleep at least.
The Project Nursery earned a 4 of 10 for features, which is below the average of 5. This monitor comes with everything you need to use the monitor including a mini parent unit you can wear as a watch or clip on with a carabiner or belt clip. Unfortunately, you CANNOT use both parent units at the same time, so mom and dad cannot both watch baby from different rooms. The Nursery standard parent unit has a 4.3 in screen and will work paired with up to 4 Project Nursery cameras.
This camera offers a temperature sensor, but in our tests it reported a temperature 4 degrees cooler than the room actually was, which can be concerning if you are trying to create the optimum temperature suggested to avoid SIDS.
This monitor also features:
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
The Project Nursery does have the lowest average EMF readings for a dedicated monitor, but the readings were not as good as the Wi-Fi monitors. With the camera about 6 ft from baby, the read out was 1.93. The parent unit will need to be closer as most parents set this by their bed at night, but many parents have fewer concerns for themselves than baby. With the parent unit 3 ft from the reader the average EMF was 1.24, and over 6 with the unit within 6 inches.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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