Samsung SafeVIEW Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Samsung SafeVIEW SEW-3037W has a secure interference free digital signal with a long distance transmission up to 900 feet depending on obstacles; the Pure Digital signal will not be interfered with by other electronics being used. The parent unit has a large high resolution 3.5 inch screen with daytime color viewing and black and white night vision. Night vision is obtained by way of invisible IR LEDs for night vision up to 15 feet. The camera has sensors that detect the light level and adjust the image for optimal picture. It has two way talk to sooth baby from a distance, voice activated quiet mode for ambient noise reduction, adjustable sound sensitivity so parents are altered only to sounds that really matter, and a remote night light. It also features sound level indicator lights that indicate sound even in a noisy room or with volume turned down. The parent unit offers a sleep mode that will turn off the monitor screen to save power while it continues to detect sounds. The camera can pan 300 degrees from side to side and up to 100 degree tilt up and down, remotely controlled on the parent unit for uninterrupted baby sleep. This unit can accommodate up to 4 cameras. It comes with a wireless PTZ camera, wireless monitor, camera adapter, monitor adapter, wall mount hardware, and a 1 year warranty.
The manufacturer claim a range of up to 900 feet for this monitor without obstacles. However, almost every home has obstacles like walls and floors so the claim is a little misleading, though Samsung is not alone in this kind of "claim". For a line of site range test, that should have equaled the 900 feet claim from Samsung, we got a range of 812 for audio and visual with video working up to 900 feet as claimed. However without sound, a monitor isn't that useful and the opportunities to use one in an open field are relatively small, or possibly none depending on how often you leave baby sitting in an open field.
For our indoor test with walls this monitor earned an average score of 5 of 10. It managed to work on a distance of up to 62 feet and 4 walls. In fairness, it wanted to work through 5 walls, but it struggled and the signal cut out when a person walked by, so we can't say it will reliably work through that many walls or floors.
In our tests only two of the non-WiFi models worked at a greater range than the Samsung. The Infant Optics DXR-8 and Motorola both worked up to 80 feet with 5 walls of obstacles. If range is a problem in your mansion, you might want to consider a camera with the greatest range, or skip the concern altogether and get a WiFi capable option like the Nest Cam or Withings Smart Baby which are limited only by your internet connectivity or WiFi range from the router. The monitor with the worst range is the Foscam with a range of just 55 feet and 3 walls. The Foscam is going to struggle in most homes, but it didn't score well in our tests anyway, so the chances of informed parents buying it are slim. The Foscam scored a 4 for range, and the Nest Cam and Withings both scored 10s.
Audio / Visual
This monitor did really well in the audio portion of our testing, but failed to measure up in the visual (kind of a pity for a video product). For audio it has a rich clear sound that is easy to hear and sounds accurate compared to reality. This unit has a max decibel level of 106db, which is the highest for this review. The units with the lowest decibels are the Nest Cam and Levana Ovia, both of which registered 83 decibels at full volume. The Samsung scored a 9 for max level output and an 8 for clarity. The parent unit has better sound than most of the competition, even if the tone is still relatively bright. The volume options are good and even on the loudest setting the clarity of the sound is still fairly good. The microphone on the baby end picks up only minimal white noise that can be further decreased with the sound sensitivity settings. The sound activation takes a little longer to go into silent mode than some of the competition, but it eventually does on both the high and low sensitivity settings. Overall, the sound quality and function are the best thing about the Samsung monitor in our tests.
Unfortunately for Samsung this is not an audio monitor only, because it didn't perform that well in our video tests. For clarity of image, and being able to see details, we used an eye chart in the crib next to baby. For the Samsung we could read almost 2 of the lines with the camera 10 feet from the object. This was better than some of the monitors where we could only read 1 or even no lines, but it could have been better. The lowest scoring products in this test were the Uniden Lullaboo Guardian and the Philips Avent Digital because we couldn't read any lines in the eye charts for those monitors. The Nest Cam had one of the highest results with 3 lines visible.
For color quality the Samsung continued to disappoint. With our color chart test the Samsung had difficulty showing an image of the chart that matched the image in reality. The color for this unit is so off it almost looks black and white instead of color. One tester felt it looked purplish grey even in full daylight conditions. The lack of correct color in a color image can make the quality of the image poor. If you add to the poor color quality the fact that details are lost in this monitor's image, you have an overall disappointing video experience that might leave parents wondering what on Earth is happening in baby's crib or if that is indeed baby and not a gremlin.
The video problems did not get better at night with the night vision's black and white visuals. Where you could barely see baby's features in the daytime color image, you couldn't see them at all at night. In fact, baby's face just disappeared with the night vision (that's a little bit creepy).
If you can't see baby's face, or the image is so blurry you can't see subtle movement, then the visual is sort of useless. Without visual parents might as well just buy an audio monitor. While the night time score of 5 was a little better than the daytime score of 1, overall it just didn't fair well in a side-by-side comparison with the other monitors. If your goal is to see baby at night, then the Samsung is going to struggle to meet that goal.
This monitor has a 2x digital zoom features activated by a simple 1 button push on the front of the parent unit. While this is an easy feature to use, all it really does is crop out part of the image making the selected part appear closer. This kind of zoom doesn't make images clearer or easier to see, but instead makes already blurry images more blurry and hard to decipher. In other words, seeing a bigger version of baby's featureless face is not a bonus, its just more creepy.
Ease of Use
This monitor is easy to set up and has an auto-link feature for camera and parent unit. This is a step up from the products that require a manual pairing of the two devices and isprobably easier for non-tech savvy parents to operate. it is more of a plug and play variety that even most grandmas will be able to manage.
The everyday user interface on the parent unit is also fairly easy to use and intuitive, especially if you have used any kind of modern technology. With few menu options and extraneous features, most of the functionality can be done with less than 2 button pushes into a menu. Most of the features and menu options are self-explanatory and can be operated with a little trial and error possibly without even looking at the manual for help. The buttons are larger than some of the competition, and were easier for bigger fingers to push. The 1 button to zoom in is also a nice touch, because some of the other monitors make users toggle through menus to find it. Something you aren't going to want to do in the middle of night half asleep.
The Samsung scored a 6 of 10 for features which put it slightly above average in this metric compared to the others in this review. It comes with the standard features parents will expect, but without some of the fancier bells and whistles parents may want once they find out some monitors offer them. However, sometimes the extra bells and whistles can go unused or just complicate the operation. It isn't always a drawback to have fewer features.
This product has a parent unit screen that is 3.5 inches. This is bigger than the average in this review, but certainly not the biggest which came in at 4.3 inches. However, in fairness the larger displays did not equate to better pictures or viewing experiences for testers, and the dedicated monitors with the largest screens actually scored lower for picture quality than their smaller cohorts.
The larger image means the parent unit itself is larger than some in the review, so it is very thoughtful that Samsung included a belt clip along with a kickstand for this monitor. The clip allows parents to carry the monitor hands free around the house while doing chores, something not available in many of the parent unit.
This monitor can accommodate 4 cameras at one time giving parents an option of a split screen quad view or a scanning camera view. The larger screen makes splitting into 4 a better viewing experience for parents, but did nothing to improve picture quality.
This monitor does not have some of the fancier options like a temperature sensor, lullaby capabilities, or movement detection, but it does offer 2 way communication for talking to baby, a remote nightlight, and sound activation that filters out white noise when adjusted correctly. It also has auto-sleep and awake features for the parent screen to help keep bedrooms dark at night and conducive to sleeping. The screen can be manually woken with 1 button push in case you want to see what baby is up to, but it is nice to know it will already be on when baby cries so you can just roll over for a quick peek without having to fiddle with buttons in the dark.The parent unit can remotely control the camera in baby's room for a true pan and tilt experience. Even though this camera already has a nice sized field of view it is still cool to be able to see the whole room when babies become toddlers and are more mobile. The camera field of view is 56 degrees, it can pan up to 300 degrees, and tilt up to 100 degrees. It sports 2x digital zoom for bringing the action closer. This monitor has auto-activated night vision with infrared LEDs that work up to 15 feet away from baby, which increase placement options and decreases potential for EMF exposure.
The monitors with the highest score for features are the Nest Cam, Withings Smart Baby, and the dedicated monitor Uniden Lullaboo Guardian G403; these products all scored 7 of 10 in this metric. The products with the lowest scores are WiFi Baby 3.0 and Philips Avent SCD603/10 which bot scored a 2 for their lack of most anything parents might be looking for.
The Samsung had some of the highest values for EMF readings in this group of products. While all of them registered 6+ with the reader held next to the cameras and parent units, most of those readings dropped by half at 3 feet away and then more at 6 feet. The Samsung, only dropped to 3.8 at 3 feet and just 3 at 6 feet. This made it the worst in the group for emitting EMF. The monitor with the lowest emissions is the Nest Cam with a reading of 0.78 (though the Withings Smart Baby had 0 EMF when connected via Ethernet), and for dedicated monitors it is the Philips Avent SCD603/10 and Levana Ayden each reading 1.29 at 6 feet. If EMF emissions are important to you, then the Samsung is not going to be your product. While we assume the reading will continue to decrease if the camera is placed 10 feet away, it will likely continue to be higher than the other monitors at any distance.
The battery life in BabyGearLab tests matched the claims of the manufacturer for the Samsung monitor at 4.5 hours in full use mode. This can vary somewhat depending on how often the monitor comes out of sleep mode and how high the volume is set, but in general parents can expect about 4.5 hours of life before the parent unit dies. While most baby unit cameras will be plugged in at all times, the parent unit might be carried away from its place by the bed for parents on the move or doing chores throughout the house. It can be really helpful to have a battery life that lasts at least long enough for a nap so you aren't tied to an outlet or specific room. While this battery will likely last through most nap times, it is unlikely to last for an overnight should the electricity be out for an extended period or if an outlet isn't readily accessible.
This battery life is on the low side for the monitors we tested with at least 10 monitors lasting for a longer period of time. The WiFi monitors had a tendency to last the longest, but this depends on the device you plan to use, and if you are running other apps or making phone calls. The longest battery life for a dedicated monitor is the Levana Adyen which can last up to 9.5 hours in Peep mode. The shortest battery life is the Uniden Lullaboo Guardian G403 with a run time of 3.5 hours. All of the units have rechargeable batteries so parents won't be able to change batteries and keep on listening, they will have to plug the unit in to continue monitoring.
We aren't convinced there is a best application for this monitor. While it did score better than some of the other units in our review and it is a brand name parents will recognize and might be drawn to, it didn't manage to perform well enough to really be competitor in our tests. With a price tag a bit on the higher side for the monitors in our review, we feel it should have had more bells and whistles, or at least offered a better video display. No matter what parents are hoping to use this monitor for, there are other monitors that likely do it better for a cheaper or similar price.
The list price of this unit is $210. While not the highest priced product in this review, it is up there with the more expensive options. In general the more expensive options usually had more features like lullabies, increase LEDs for night vision, or motion detection. This product really brought little to the table to merit the list price, and what it did bring just wasn't something anyone would really want. Its like fruitcake at Christmas, even if you think you want to eat it, its usually disappointing once you take a taste. So paying a high dollar for it is only going to make you angry. With the two award winning products in our review, the Nest Cam and Summer Infant, carrying price tags that are cheaper, and earning scores that are higher, it is hard to find value in this monitor.
This is not the worst monitor in our review, and we suspect if you got it as a gift you'd probably be at least satisfied with its performance since you'd have nothing to compare it to and it would be free. However, if you'd gone out and purchased this monitor expecting great things from a Samsung product, we think you'd be just as disappointed as we were. If its lack of features and higher price aren't enough to dissuade you from this monitor, then we think the poor video quality and higher EMF readings really should. The goal of any video product is to get a clear visual image of baby so you can tell what is going on and if your child needs assistance. That goal is not going to be as easily met with this monitor as some others in our review. We do not recommend this monitor.