In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display Review

A good pick for parents who want the option of checking up on their baby with a dedicated unit and a phone app
vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review
Credit: VTech
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Price:   $150 List | $129.29 at Amazon
Pros:  Unique dedicated monitor or WiFi option, solid performance across most metrics
Cons:  Disappointing battery life
Manufacturer:   VTech
By Wendy Schmitz ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 11, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Range - 20% 7.0
  • Sound Clarity - 20% 6.0
  • Video Quality - 30% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8.0
  • Battery life - 10% 4.0
  • Features - 5% 8.0

The Skinny

The VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 is a unique offering in our video monitor lineup. This monitor can be used as a dedicated unit with the provided parent unit or a WiFi-connected unit viewed with a smartphone or tablet. We like the idea of versatility for parents at work to catch a peek or for a simple straightforward connection at home. It almost feels like the best of both worlds without committing to one type or another. It scores relatively well in most test metrics with good enough sound, video, and range. And it performs well for features and ease of use compared to the competition. The downside here is a shorter than average battery life that hurt its overall score, and video that is good but can't compete with less expensive and easier-to-use WiFi cameras in this lineup. Overall, we think there is a niche for this product and can imagine it is useful for parents who want both a higher tech versatility of WiFi and a basic plug-in and go option.

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Price $150 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
67
83
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59
Star Rating
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Pros Unique dedicated monitor or WiFi option, solid performance across most metricsWiFi range, lots of features, great images, easy to useHigh-quality video, clear & loud audio, can be paired to multiple cameras, infinite viewersBudget-friendly, good video quality, WiFi connectivityExcellent battery life, budget-friendly, low EMF reading
Cons Disappointing battery lifeSub-par sound, higher price, internet dependantNo baby-specific features, requires a Google account, a barebones app that isn't intuitivePast security concerns, no baby-specific features, must physically move the camera, poor sound qualityManual camera, poor sound quality, mediocre video quality
Bottom Line A good pick for parents who want the option of checking up on their baby with a dedicated unit and a phone appCool WiFi option with all the bells and whistles that is easy to useA great option for those looking for sharp video and crisp audio who aren't as concerned about baby-specific featuresThis barebones model is easy on the wallet and doesn't compromise on video qualityNot the best video or sound quality, but this simple monitor had the longest battery life we tested by a long shot
Rating Categories VTech Upgraded Smar... iBaby Care M7 WiFi Google Nest Cam 2nd... Wyze Cam V3 VTech VM819
Range (20%)
7.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
6.0
Sound Clarity (20%)
6.0
4.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Video Quality (30%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Ease of Use (15%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
7.0
Battery life (10%)
4.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
Features (5%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Specs VTech Upgraded Smar... iBaby Care M7 WiFi Google Nest Cam 2nd... Wyze Cam V3 VTech VM819
Communication Technology 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 / 5 Ghz 2.4 GHz 2.4 GHz
Indoor Range Test 3 walls, 155 Feet
6 walls, 80 Feet
Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity 3 walls, 155 feet
6 walls, 75 feet
Open Field Range Test 390 Feet Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity 400 Feet
Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!) 1000 Feet
*OR*
Anywhere You Have Connectivity
Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity 1000 Feet
Max Sound 82db @ ~1ft 82 db @ ~1ft 110 db @ ~1ft 100db @ ~1ft 67db @ ~1ft
Screen Size 5" n/a n/a n/a 2.8"
Max # of Cameras 4 Not Listed (Unlimited?) Not Listed (Unlimited?) 5 2
Temperature Yes Yes No No Yes
Movement Detection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sound Activation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Talk-to-Baby Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pan/Tilt/ Zoom Pan/Tilt/Zoom Pan/Tilt/Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom
Battery Life 5 hours 6 minutes n/a n/a n/a 16 hours 28 minutes
EMF @ 6 Feet from Camera 1.63 V/m 0.75 V/m 0.6 V/m 1.47 V/m 0.22 V/m
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year

Our Analysis and Test Results

With origins in Hong Kong, the VTech company began in 1976. Since its inception, it has grown to ten regions worldwide, including the North American division, one of the world's top 3 cordless phone companies. VTech's mission is to create wallet-friendly, high-quality electronics for the masses.

Performance Comparison



vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - the range for the vm901 varies but is good overall compared to the...
The range for the VM901 varies but is good overall compared to the competition.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Range


If you use the VM901 as a WiFi monitor, it will have connectivity wherever you have internet service. You'll need internet for both the camera and the parent device. The range is better than average with the included parent unit and we experienced great consistent connectivity compared to much of the competition. During testing, our indoor range was 3 walls and 155 Feet, or 6 walls between the units and only 80 feet. The outdoor range claimed by VTech is 1000 ft for the dedicated unit. This is a line of sight unobstructed range. In our tests for line-of-site, we only managed 390 feet before the monitor stopped experiencing reliable connectivity.

vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - the video for the vm91 is better than the audio, but both will get...
The video for the VM91 is better than the audio, but both will get the job done depending on your goals.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Audio / Visual


The sound for this VTech is both clearer and louder than some of the VTech video monitors we've tested. The sound quality isn't consistent with what sounds like changing volume levels but is really just changing pitch levels. The sound is decent, but then it randomly became super tinny, hollow, and echo-y momentarily.

It's hard to say what you will get at any given moment.

The screen wake-up feature with sound did not work as expected as it goes dark quickly (sleep mode) even when sound is actively happening. Once the screen goes dark, the sound stops as if it isn't happening. A message on the screen pops up saying, "Auto turn off is in use, and screen is turning off as if no sound was detected." When we turned the screen off before the auto shut-off, the sound kept playing even with a dark screen. On the upside, it was not activated with a white noise maker playing.

The VM901 video is pretty good with nice clarity and good color...
The VM901 video is pretty good with nice clarity and good color representation in daytime video.
Even when using digital zoom, the detail and clarity of the VM901...
Even when using digital zoom, the detail and clarity of the VM901 images are pretty good.

The daytime video of the VM901 offers pretty good clarity. We were able to read 3 rows of text on the text image. It has a good range of colors with clearly defined lines between colors.

While there is a bright spot in the image, the VM901 has fairly good...
While there is a bright spot in the image, the VM901 has fairly good night vision video compared to the dedicated monitors we tested.
Some details are lost in the night video, like the elephants on the...
Some details are lost in the night video, like the elephants on the crib sheet, but enough clarity remains to see what you need to see.

Night images are sharper with easy-to-see details in the room. There were no strange colors, but there was some blurring and camera delay when moving the camera or using the zoom feature.

vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - the parent unit on the vm91 is intuitive and easy to navigate, with...
The parent unit on the VM91 is intuitive and easy to navigate, with most buttons appearing on the face and clearly marked.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The metric where this VTech excels is the ease of use. Set up is simple for plug and play and for downloading the app. The app said it would send us a verification email, but one never arrived. We tried setting up a different account, and it also did not get an email. There was a 1-2 second delay connecting to the camera through the app, but otherwise, everything worked as expected. There are several buttons for the most used features on the front of the dedicated parent unit and navigational arrows for menu navigation and pan and tilt.

vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - the battery life on the vm901 isn't the best, but it is enough for...
The battery life on the VM901 isn't the best, but it is enough for most nap periods.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Battery Life


Battery life for your parent device will depend on if you use the included dedicated unit or your own smart device. If you use a phone or tablet and avoid using that device with competing apps and uses, you'll find that it should last most of the day. In our tests using the included parent device, we experienced a run-time of just over 5 hours. This is one of the lowest in the group. While it is adequate for nap time, it is not enough for overnight use, and you'll need to plug it in.

vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - the parent unit on the vm901 has a kickstand for easy and quick...
The parent unit on the VM901 has a kickstand for easy and quick viewing at night.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Features


This camera has the basic features you'd expect from a baby monitor, including some you likely won't use once the newness wears off. We appreciate the ability to move the camera remotely but suspect that the sounds and lullabies won't be used much, given the poor quality of sound.

  • 2-way talk to baby
  • Dedicated and WiFi capable
  • 360-degree pan and 150-degree tilt
  • 10x digital zoom
  • Sounds and lullabies
  • Temperature sensor
  • Motion alert

vtech upgraded smart vm901 5" display video monitor review - turning any camera off when not in use will prevent the emission of...
Turning any camera off when not in use will prevent the emission of EMF and decrease overall exposure.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels


While the impact or effect of EMF emissions on developing children is still in question, we think it is good to limit your little one's exposure when you can. It won't hurt, and it could be helpful. For this reason, we test each monitor and record their average EMF levels at 6 ft from the camera. You can also decrease exposure by turning off the camera when not in use and putting it further away from the crib. The VM901 average EMF was 1.63 V/m. This result is one of the highest in the test group and far higher than some of the lower results that are closer to 0.22 V/m.

Security/Privacy Concerns


If you choose to use this monitor as a WiFi-connected device, remember there are potential hacking risks like with any remote camera. We don't know of any hacking history related to this camera, but we do recommend users be as safe as possible by following some tips for safe use.

  • Change passwords often
  • Make passwords complex with 8-12 characters, numbers, capitals, and special characters
  • Unplug the camera when not in use
  • Update firmware if available
  • Use the smallest field of view possible to limit what is seen

Should You Buy the VTech VM901?


While we like the idea of a straightforward monitor for caregivers and remote use for parents at work, we think there is little else to love about this camera. Its overall score is better than the average monitor we tested, but it is still far from the top scoring options. Unless you strictly need a monitoring system that works both ways, we don't think this is the best pick for most.

What Other Video Monitor Should You Consider?


We think that those who want a WiFi connection for viewing away from home or who have limited connectivity inside with dedicated cameras should consider a WiFi-only option. While it is a little more work to set up, for the most part, these cameras offer better video, sound, and features than the dedicated options. So if you are drawn to the VM901 because you can view your little one using a smart device, then we recommend the iBaby M8 2K Smart Baby Monitor. This baby-centric device has more features than you can remember, and it comes with great video and better-than-average sound. If you don't mind a more bare-bones option and budget is a concern, then the Wyze Cam V3 or the Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen are both good options. Each camera is designed for long-term security use, so you'll get your money's worth. They also are easy to use and provide impressive videos.

Manufacturer Video



Wendy Schmitz
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