VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display Review
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VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display
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|Bottom Line||If you want a WiFi option with a dedicated parent unit, this is the unique option for your needs||See clear images on this easy to use WiFi camera with loads of baby-centric features||If you value video and sound over baby-centric features, the Nest Cam is a good choice for you||This wallet-friendly WiFi option offers great video even if lacks baby-centric features||This straightforward monitor has impressive battery life, but the sound and video are subpar|
|Rating Categories||VTech Upgraded Smar...||iBaby Care M7 WiFi||Google Nest Cam 2nd...||Wyze Cam V3||VTech VM819|
|Sound Clarity (20%)|
|Video Quality (30%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Battery life (10%)|
|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
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|
|Max # of Cameras||4||Not Listed (Unlimited?)||Not Listed (Unlimited?)||5||2|
|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||1.42 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.