Summer Infant Clear Sight Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Summer Clear Sight Digital Color Video Monitor is a 100% digital monitor offering secure video transmission with a range up to 600 feet depending on walls, floors, and other electronics. It has a talk to baby feature with clear two way communication between the parent unit and baby with just the push of a button. The camera has an automatic night vision feature with digital zoom for getting a better view of little faces. The parent unit has a 2.0 inch color LCD display screen with black and white night vision viewing. The unit can be used with up to 4 cameras. The camera can be moved or tilted manually at the camera for a better field of view. The parent unit features sound activated LED screen, power saving one touch on/off option, and out of range indicator light. The monitor comes with a rechargeable battery, power adapters, belt clip, kickstand, mounting hardware, and a 1 year warranty.
The manufacturer claim for range on this monitor is 600 feet. This range is a line of sight range that does not take into consideration standard home use with walls, floors, and other interference effecting the real range of the unit. For our line of sight tests we could not duplicate the claim and the monitor lost connectivity at closer to 504 feet between the camera and the parent unit. But before you get up in arms about the test not matching the claim, we should mention that almost none of the monitors range matched the range claimed on their boxes.
For indoor range this monitor had a below average performance working up to about 60 feet between units and 4 walls of interruption. Average in our tests was closer to 62 feet and 4 walls for the dedicated monitors. The longest range in the group is shared by the Infant Optics DXR-8 and the Motorola, both of which continued to work up to 80 feet and 5 walls. The Summer shared the lowest score in our test for range with 3 other products. So while that meant it wasn't alone (misery loves company?), it still isn't the best range and could be a problem in a larger house or those with lots of walls. If range is a concern parents might want to consider a WiFi monitor that is limited only by internet connectivity and router range.
Audio / Visual
This monitor did not offer the best sound, but honestly, it is good enough to get the job done so parents are alerted and can look closer at the monitor. While video for these kind of products should be great, it doesn't mean sound quality should suffer. Without good sound or sound features it doesn't really matter how great the video is, parents will never hear the alert to look.
This monitor has a maximum decibel level of 102db. This is better than most of the products in our review with only 2 having a higher max. It has a good volume range, but the monitor never really did go silent, even though it supposedly offers sound activation. It did manage to filter out some of the background noise, but not all of it. Certainly other products did better by falling completely silent either with sound sensitivity adjustment or with a sound activation feature. The overall sound quality is hollow and bright, but still fairly clear.
This monitor earned a score of 5 of 10 for sound. Five products earned a lower score than the Summer. The monitors with the best sound score are the VTech Safe & Sound and the Samsung SafeVIEW, which both earned a 9. The monitor with the worst score for sound (not counting WiFi Baby 3.0 which was not working during this test)is the Levana Ovia with a score of 3.This product really did well when it came to video quality, managing something no other dedicated monitor came close to offering. This unit earned a video quality score of 7 overall with a night vision score of 10 and day vision score of 9. Had it managed a better quality zoom (2 of 10) or better color, it would have earned an even higher score for overall video.
For video clarity of detail we were able to read 1 line of the eye chart in the crib. It has a limited field of view which doesn't allow for much to be displayed on the screen, but our problem reading the lines had little to do with field and more to do with camera quality. Using the 2x digital zoom feature to bring the details closer is a snap with a zoom button right on the front of the parent unit. Unfortunately, while the zoom may be easy to operate, it did not offer us a better or clearer image to look at.
For color on this monitor offered one of the most true to reality color images in the group. Only 2 other dedicated monitors managed higher color quality, but neither earned scores as high as the Summer for overall video. The colors on the color chart in baby's crib closely matched those of the color chart seen on the viewing screen of the parent unit. An image that has good color quality and detail usually produces a higher quality image than units that miss the mark on one or the other. Had the detail on this one been better it would have been a huge plus, but overall it really offered an image that mimicked reality and gave enough detail to see what is going on in baby's room.The Summer monitor has the highest score for night vision for all the monitors earning a perfect 10 of 10 in this test. The night image is the brightest in the bunch and offered details the others didn't without washing out baby's face or being too fuzzy to even tell if baby is moving or not. Even though the viewing screen is small, the quality of the image is good. The screen automatically goes to sleep unless the unit is plugged in, but it can be turned off manually with a tap on the on/off button.
Only the WiFi Nest Cam and Withings Smart Baby earned higher scores for video quality with 8 of 10. These monitors utilize personal viewing devices that might be of higher quality than a dedicated monitor parent unit. In addition, they might focus more on the quality of their cameras since they do not have to offer a parent unit. The product with the lowest score for video is the Foscam which earned a 3. The WiFi Baby 3.0 had significant enough reliability and setup problems that we were not able to test it for video quality which resulted in it earning 0. However, this score is less a reflection on its actual images and more a reflection on how difficult it is to operate.
Ease of Use
The monitor tied with the Nest Cam for ease of use by providing parents with a monitor that is not only easy to setup, but easy to operate once it is ready to go; both monitors earned an 8 of 10 for this metric. The hardest to use monitor in our tests is the WiFi Baby 3.0. The WiFi Baby required multiple setup attempts, an email dialogue to set up a customer service appointment, and an hour on the phone to fix. During most of testing the WiFi baby was inoperable.
The Summer monitor is a manual setup unit with 4 easy to follow instructions. While it would have been simpler if it automatically linked the parent unit to the camera, we feel confident that most parents will be able to manage this setup even if they are not the most tech savvy.
Usability is really where this unit shines. With a lack of extraneous features and buttons, you almost can't make a mistake with this monitor or get lost inside a menu file system that requires backing out of in order to rectify. The parent unit interface is intuitive and requires little practice or manual guidance to operate. There is an easy to use/find at night zoom button right under the viewing screen, and volume and talk to baby buttons located on the side where fingers would rest if holding the unit in your palm. The other side of the parent unit has arrows for brightness adjustment.
The Clear Sight doesn't have very many features, which might play a part in how easy it is to use. It has a small 2 inch viewing screen on a hand held parent unit that includes a kickstand and belt clip for transport. It can connect to up to 4 cameras (sold separately) and has a scanning camera feature that moves from camera to camera for multi-room monitoring.
It has 2 way talk to baby so parents can soothe baby from another room, automatic screen sleep when using the battery, and 2x digital zoom. However, the digital zoom does not make the image that much clearer, and honestly the field of view is so small it may not even be necessary.
This unit doesn't offer much in the way of features, but it does have really great video, which is the heart of what this kind of product should offer. So while much of the competition offered features as varied as nightlights and humidity alerts, not many of them offered images that were very high in quality. One of the monitors with the highest score for features, the Uniden Lullaboo Guardian, also had one of the lowest scores for video, which resulted in a monitor that sure looks good on paper, but won't give you a good look at your baby. Something that can be disappointing in a monitor meant for viewing.
All of the monitors emit some level of EMF. We did EMF reading test for all about 6 inches next to the units, 3 feet away from the units and 6 feet away. Given that there is likely a higher level of concern for the baby unit (camera) and how much it emits given its proximity to, and possible effects on baby, this reading feels more important and potentially harmful.
All of the monitors had a reading of 6+ (as high as the reader would go) at 6 inches from the units. The only exception to this is the Withings Smart Baby when connected directly to the internet via an Ethernet cable as opposed to being used with WiFi. When connected directly it had no more EMF emissions than the ambient room EMF; leaving us to assume its contribution is null. The other monitors EMF readings dropped by about half at 3 feet away from the reading, and continued to drop as we moved away from the monitors.
The Summer had some of the worst readings for EMF. Its values did not decrease as much as the other products, and the result is potentially more EMF coming into contact with baby. At 3 feet away the EMF reading for baby's unit is 2.59 and 2.58 for the parent unit. This is the highest levels in the group. Interestingly enough the Withings Smart Baby had the second highest reading when used wirelessly. It had a reading of 2.58 when not connected via Ethernet. Connecting the Withings directly to the router requires either a very long cable or an electricians help in hardwiring an outlet directly into baby's room. Something that might be cost prohibitive for most parents.
The Summer had a very respectable battery life of 8 hours in our tests. This would be long enough for most overnight monitoring needs and definitely will work while doing chores around the house during nap time (when most parents will be using the battery as opposed to plugging it in. This monitor scored an 8 of 10 and tied with 2 other monitors in the review; the Phillips and the Lorex Sweet Peep. The only dedicated monitor to last longer than 8 hours, 9.5 to be exact, was the Levana Ayden. Both the Withings Smart Baby and the Nest Cam had perfect scores with battery lives that depended on the type of device being used as the parent unit. Battery life will also depend on whether or not the device is being used for other functions like making phone calls or surfing the Internet.
The best application for this monitor is any family looking to purchase an easy to use, economical monitor that has quality visuals. Parents might be drawn to this unit because the brand name is one parents know and associate with all things baby. Or they might just be drawn to the lower price tag and the inclusion of some important features. Either way these folks will be getting a lot of product, in a little package, for a great price. As long as your home isn't too large or your range troubled with lots of walls or interference, then it is hard to go wrong with this monitor.
This monitor is a good value, even if not the best value. With a list price of just $130, it comes close to that of the sophisticated audio monitors, but manages to offer some of the best video in this bunch. Its back to basics features give parents almost everything they need without some of the silly stuff they think they might want. It has good visual images and parents can talk to baby with just a push of the button. While it was not the lowest priced model in our review, it certainly is one of the better performing dedicated unit in our tests. We think parents will appreciate its easy to use design and lack of features feature. If it had sound activation or slightly higher scores it might have won for Best Value. Unfortunately for the Summer, the Lorex Sweet Peep just offered a wee bit more for a wee bit less, which helped it walk away with the Best Value award.
This monitor has a lot to offer without bogging parents down in a gadget filled options menu sure to frustrate and annoy. It has all the right stuff in all the right places, that is easier to use. This unit had the top video score for dedicated monitors in our tests. It offers 2 way talk to baby, automatic screen sleep, night vision, and a relatively long battery life. Parents are sure to be pleased that it gets the job of monitoring done well for a budget friendly price. With its only real downfalls being a shorter range than many of the other products, high EMF, and a lack of sound activation, it is a simple monitor that gives a lot of bang for the buck. With a relatively low list price, it is an simple option for parents who just want to "keep and eye" on baby, not control the world. It may not have won any awards, but it did have the best video of the dedicated products, which is hard to ignore in products designed for watching baby.