The Withings Smart Baby came in 2nd place in our review scoring well in just about every metric. It has voice activation, 2 way talk to baby, multi-color nightlights, lullabies, temperature and humidity monitors, and lots of alerts. It offers everything parents might be looking for and some things that they might not even know exist. For iOS users this is a great product that seems to work more or less as advertised in our tests. We found its design and features thoughtful and creative. For tech savvy folks, or those intrigued by technology this just might be the coolest thing going in the world of baby monitors. However, our testers used this product with mixed results and difficulty levels, resulting in our having mixed feelings about its ease of use and lack of useful customer service. It you make this purchase, be ready to love it or leave it. We wanted to love it, but the reliability issues and customer service woes left us unable to recommend it as a primary monitoring device.
Withings Smart Baby Review
Pros: Great when it works, low-EMF monitoring, iOS monitor anywhere
Cons: No Android support, reliability issues
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Withings Smart Baby Monitor is an internet based video monitor designed to be used with a free app downloaded to a personal device parents already own like a tablet, smartphone, or computer. Parents can choose from Wi-Fi, Ethernet cable, or Bluetooth with a setup process that is easy and quick. The video feed is protected and private, and up to 3 devices can connect at the same time. The associated app keeps a record of who has logged in and when, which helps keep parents informed. The app keeps a record of the last 15 minutes of alerts in the room itself and has 5 language options. App features allow for fine tuning of when alerts happen and notify you only for the kind of alerts you want, including those for different sound levels, movement, and temperature. The camera has high resolution video with a wide angle view in day or night vision. It sports audio sensors and a built in loudspeaker for transmission of 7 pre-recorded songs to lull baby to sleep, or for parents to talk to little ones from another room. The camera has a 3 megapixel high definition video sensor (2048x1536) that detects movement as well as sound. The audio feed allows parents to hear loud cries as well as soft breathing. The LED infrared night vision works up to 5 meters away with an automatic activation system that senses how dark the room is. The camera has an intuitive angle adjustment pan and tilt features, as well as a true 4x zoom. The standard field of view is 90 degrees horizontally and 120 degree diagonally. The unit comes with a Smart Baby Monitor, carrying case, support stand, white support stand for baby's bed, rechargeable battery, power supply, Ethernet cable, and local adaptors.
Note This monitor does not work with Android devices and the previous Android app is no longer supported or available.
Range for this product is different than that for the dedicated monitors. Because the Smart Baby works with your internet connection it can have a very different range than other products. This product can be connected in 3 different ways to a parent device, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Ethernet Cable. This increases the possibilities for parents and means there are multiple opportunities to find the best setup depending on the situation. However, it is this same versatility that might also give parents problems in the setup process moving from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, but we will talk more about that later.Range for this model is only limited by the internet connection or router it is being connected to. If there is a range or distance problem, purchasing a Wi-Fi extender might help increase the area where parents can use this monitor. In our tests we were able to place the camera 90 feet and 5 walls away from a wireless router. It stopped working completely after 6 walls. This was a greater distance than its closest competitor the Nest Cam which worked up to 60 feet and 4 walls from the router. When using an iPad as the parent unit, we were able to get 65 feet and 5 walls away from the router. The range for the parent device relates solely to that device and is not a reflection of the Smart Baby product.
For the Bluetooth connection we experienced a range of about 50 feet in our tests between the camera in baby's room and the parent device. This range is significantly shorter than most of the dedicated monitors and definitely the shortest range possibility for connection options with this monitor. It is probably not the best connection method for a reliable connection. We experienced ghost images of blurred motion with the Bluetooth connection and spotty if any connectivity.
One of our testers lost connection repeatedly when connected via Bluetooth even right next to the camera, and sometimes the iPhone couldn't detect the camera to reconnect. We also experienced difficulty configuring the camera to Wi-Fi which resulted in it staying connected via Bluetooth, and not working as it should until connected via an Ethernet cable. The Ethernet cable connection seemed to work fine. Later, this same tester managed to connect via Wi-Fi and maintained connection, but only after almost 5 hours of troubleshooting.
For range the top scoring products were the Nest Cam, Withings Smart Baby, and the Wifi Baby 3.0, this of course assumes you manage a connection to the internet as intended, which our experience shows could be difficult with the Withings and Wifi Baby. For dedicated monitors the Motorola Digital has the highest score for range with a 7 of 10, working up to 80 feet and 5 walls of separation. If range is a concern and parents don't feel comfortable with newer technology or a Wi-Fi monitor, then the Motorola might be their best bet.
Note When using the app on your phone it should be operational via 3G. We had difficulty using this app without internet Wi-Fi, which made testing with 3G difficult.
Audio / Visual
This monitor has pretty good quality audio and visual. While lots of the competition managed one or the other, not many offered up good scores in both metrics.
This monitor has a maximum decibel level of 84db, which made it one of the quietest in our review. Over all it offered a good quality sound with an even range and tone. It did have a tendency to amplify white noise, and the mic is sensitive enough to pick up sounds from another room, but it offers sensitivity adjustment for sound to help parents determine what they hear or what level of sound is alerted to. The sound itself isn't truly sound activated, because it never goes silent by filtering out background and white noise, but parents can turn down the volume on their parent device and rely on chime alerts instead. Seemed to amplify the white noise some. This can help parents create a better atmosphere for their own sleeping environment by achieving true quiet without white noise. However, it does mean you are not really "monitoring" baby, but relying on an alert system to relay the information to you in an alert form. You can also put parent device in standby mode and still receive the alerts, as the screen stays on unless turned off manually.This monitor earned a 7 of 10 for sound, which was about average in our review. The VTech Safe & Sound and Samsung SafeVIEW both earned higher scores for sound with a score of 9. The lowest scoring products for sound were the Wifi Baby which earned a 0 for sound since we couldn't get it set up for the tests, and the Levana Ovia which earned a 3.
Foscam with a 3 and Wifi Baby 3.0 with a 0.
Ease of Use
We really struggled with this unit for ease of use. Unlike the Nest Cam or the dedicated monitors that worked right away with multiple testers, this model worked well for one tester while another tester struggled to get it operational. Our experience, coupled with the user reviews on Amazon, indicate that our overall experience with the Smart Baby is on point with what the average user experienced. Some parents had no problems, and others had so many they gave up and returned the monitor if they could.
The manual that comes with this device is a short 13 pages per language, with most of the pages using extensive illustrations and limited text. The start up procedures appear to be short and to the point, but they did not work as described. One user had to install the app manually from the app store in order to launch it, which is different than what the instructions claim will happen.
Our original setup went well and without difficulty, but the subsequent tester had trouble getting the unit to connect to Wi-Fi and it only worked via Bluetooth until the Bluetooth automatically disconnected at 30 minutes (a safety precaution built into the system). It took over 5 hours for the second tester to get the monitor camera up and running as expected. This included multiple attempts on different devices and the use of an Ethernet cable to bypass connecting via Wi-Fi.
If you do have trouble with the monitor setup there is no customer service line to call. Customer service is offered via email only, and we personally experienced a turn around time of at least a day to get a response and it took 5 days to complete our communication to get our problem resolved. We feel this is an unacceptable amount of time for a product designed to work straight out of the box and potentially act as a safety tool for parents to monitor their children. All of the other products in this review offered a phone number to call if parents needed to resolve issues or had questions on setup or operation except this one and the Wifi Baby 3.0. Some of the customer support lines are open 24 hours a day, such as Nest Cam. This is a problem that needs resolution. Parents who make an investment of this kind should be able to have access to help when needed, especially when a significant number of Amazon reviewers mention difficulty working the monitor and poor customer service as their reason for returning the unit or writing a bad review.
This monitor earned a 2 of 10 for setup, making it almost the lowest scoring product for the test. Only the Wifi Baby 3.0 scored lower. The Infant Optics scored the highest for ease of setup with a score of 8.
For ease of use once set up we also had a mixed experience. The interface to use the features is similar to any other iOS product and will feel intuitive to those familiar with their operation. When it works, the features are simple enough to operate with adjustable alerts and alert thresholds. The zoom operation is similar to other photo and camera features on iOS, and the pan and tilt operations are also the same and easy to operate. Chances are if a parent is comfortable using their personal device, they will feel comfortable operating this monitor. We did however experience a lag time when using the unit at different location and on different devices. This lag time varies based on Wi-Fi speeds and devices used.
Once you do manage to get it set up, the features on the camera are easy to push touch buttons, and the interface in the app is relatively intuitive for those familiar with iOS devices.
Given the difficulties we experienced and the potential for the unit to lose connection or offer only blurred images or frozen images it earned a 2 overall for ease of use. The Nest Cam and Summer Infant Clear Sight were the highest scoring devices for ease of use earning an 8 of 10.
The Withings is a monitor dripping with features and gadgets that includes everything but the kitchen sink for parents and baby. This monitor scored a perfect 10 for features and placed higher in this metric than any other product in our review. Whether parents are looking for zoom and talk to baby, or nightlights and temperature alerts, this product has it.
The Withings offers features to make life easier for parents with unlimited camera and viewer capabilities to ensure coverage of all little ones, from all loved ones, in all places. It allows parents to share viewing with family and friends, and still maintain control over who sees what and when. It has alerts for room temperature and humidity, and it can alert parents to motion in the room if the right alerts options are chosen. The camera itself is 3 megapixels for clear video and has automatic night vision for easy round the clock viewing. Parents can navigate around the field of view with pan and tilt, but there is no remote control of camera; the camera is stationary and must be adjust manually if a different field of view is desired. The field of view itself is rather large compared to some of the other options with a 90 degrees horizontally and 120 diagonally.
This monitor has lots of features for baby as well. Not only can parents speak to baby remotely in an effort to soothe baby without actually going into the room, but it also has remote activated lullabies and nightlight options that include a varying light show display. Not all of the monitors offered as many comfort and entertainment features for baby as the Withings, which made it some what of a stand out in our review. Others did offer lullabies or nightlights, and some had temperature alerts, but not many offered them all and then some.
This monitor comes with an attachment for clipping the camera to baby's crib. The idea may seem like a good one for better viewing but the safety hazard of a cord that close to the crib makes it an option we do not recommend. If you add to that possible EMF exposure concerns, you get a not so great attachment device that leave us wondering who thought this was a good idea? It would be a far better idea to mount a shelf up and out of the way of baby and the crib for the camera to get a birds eye view of baby and help prevent accidental cord complications and excessive exposure to EMF.
The Nest Cam earned the second highest score with a 9 of 10 in this metric and offered less for baby. The lowest scoring products were the Wifi Baby 3.0 and Philips Avent Digital scoring just 2 of 10 and offering less for parents and baby by only providing a bare bones product.
The Smart Baby is the only product that managed a relative 0 for EMF emissions when used connected via an Ethernet cable. With the reader 6 inches from the camera the resulting EMF reading is no different than that of the general room and ambient EMF normally present, which led us to conclude that its contribution to EMF is essentially null. This is a feet not managed by any other product in our review. All of the products, including the Smart Baby used wirelessly, had a reading of 6+ (the highest the meter would go) when place at 6 inches from the monitor. This number dropped by about half when moved to 3 feet, and continued to drop at 6 feet.
The Withings did not fare as well when connected via Wi-Fi with readings that were higher than most of the competition. For 3 feet the camera had a reading of 2.38, and at 6 feet it actually increased (we tested it 3 times in different locations) to 2.58. The Nest Cam has the lowest reading at 6 feet with an impressive 0.78, which we assume will be even lower if the camera is placed up to 15 feet away. The Summer Infant Clear Sight has the highest reading at 6 feet with 2.59. This reading is about the same for the Withings connected via Wi-Fi and is something to think about if you have concerns over exposing your baby to EMF and the possible health problems it might cause.
In order to reap the benefits of a null reading for the Withings, parents will have to either run a long cable for connection to their router or have a connection port installed in baby's room. The first makes us nervous because the more cord, or access to cord, the more potential for injury to baby, the later might be cost or time prohibitive.
Withings does not appear to offer any information on their website concerning security or what parents might do to make there monitor safer and less likely the successful target of hacking. While parents can, and should, do all the usual things like ensuing updates to firmware and apps, and changing default passwords to "hard to guess" alternatives that include various letter cases, numbers, and symbols, it does not appear that they are doing much on their end to help avoid potential hacking issues.
In general we'd prefer to see the companies of these WiFi enabled products offering more in the way of security to parents rightfully concerned about who might be peeking in on their baby. We feel that Withings lack of even mentioning this potential problem might also indicate a lack of security on their part. While we were not able to find stories of a Smart Baby camera being hacked, we still feel better with the Nest Cam that has been proven to be virtually un-hackable by an independent security company. In addition, Nest Cam has their own servers and nothing is stored or relayed on the internet itself further decreasing the potential of strangers using your camera for nefarious purposes.
The battery life of the camera itself varies depending on use. Not all of the cameras in our review even have the battery option, which makes this somewhat unique in our review, it probably isn't long enough to make it over night or use wirelessly. It might be useful if the power goes out temporarily, but parents shouldn't consider this camera to be a device that can run on batteries alone for extended periods of time.
The battery life of the parent device will depend on what is being used and whether or not it is used for other things at the same time. The Smart Baby will continue to operate, allow monitoring, and send alerts while using other applications or talking on the phone. This is a useful feature that also allows the device to be in sleep mode and still monitoring, but it means battery life is going to be shorter if parents are multi-tasking. Most tablets and smartphones will last for an extended period of time compared to the other products in our review.
This monitor scored a 10 of 10 for battery life. The Uniden Lullaboo Guardian has the shortest battery life with just 3.5 hours of use before the parent unit dies. The longest battery life of a dedicated monitor is the Levana Ayden, which lasts a cool 9.5 hours in full use mode between charging. The Top Pick for Wifi winner, Nest Cam also earned a 10, and our Best Value monitor, the Lorex Sweet Peep works for up to 8 hours and earned a score of 8 of 10.
In the beginning we really felt that this monitor had a lot of possible applications and would be a good fit for tech savvy folks looking for a little something extra in their baby monitor. However, after several testers have used this monitor and much research has been gathered via Amazon reviewers, we have come out on the side of indecision city feeling that it neither has a best application nor is something parents should bother with.
Given its higher degree of difficulty in setup and use, it is a product that some parents might struggle to even get working and without a phone number to call or useful customer service, it is hard to say this monitor is a good choice no matter what your application may be. If the monitor works for you, like it seems to for about half the parents who purchase it, then you'll be happy and love this monitor. If you are in the other half who experience difficulty in setup and use, you'll be stuck sending the monitor back or waiting in excess of 5 days to receive enough customer care to resolve your issue. In addition, if you have an Android product you will be unable to use this product at all, so don't make any plans on purchasing it. Withings used to offer an Android app, but after significant problems and complaints from consumers they have pulled the app and no longer claim to work with anything other than iOS devices. In the end, there is at least one other product available that seems to have worked out more of the kinks than this one, the Nest Cam.
With a list price of $250, and limited options for parent devices, this product is not the best value. Yes, it offers loads of features and some truly fun gadgets, but if parents can't get it up and running, or receive adequate care from customer service support, then it doesn't matter what it might be able to do. Our Top Pick for WiFi winner the Nest Cam cost $50 less than Withings, has similar Wi-Fi capabilities, and can be used with Android and iOS devices equally well. It is hard to justify paying more for a product that struggles in its ease of use. Nest Cam might not offer the nightlight and lullabies, but if your goal is to monitor baby effortlessly over a Wi-Fi connection, and you wish to view baby from other locations outside your home, the Nest Cam just does the job better, with less hassle, and strong 24 hour customer support. Nightlights and lullabies can be found in other products for cheaper.
This monitor has nice video and sound, but it didn't score well for ease of use, and some testers and reviewers struggled to get it working and received little to no support from customer service. People seem to love or hate this monitor, and we experienced the same feelings in our tests with one person rather liking it and the other struggling for almost 5 hours to get it working as it should. The company website and customer support options are severely lacking in what they offer and their response time and problem resolution. Our initial setup issue took 5 days to resolve in back and forth emails with the company and included resetting our monitor because it appeared to already be associated with an email. They do not have a phone number to call, nor will they arrange to call you. This seems like a big failure on their part and it makes it a product we have trouble recommending to parents as a good buy. A product like a monitor for baby needs to work right out of the box, or be easy to fix with a quick phone call to the company for guidance. Only two products out of 14 in our review failed to offer a number to call, and interestingly both monitors were the only ones we had trouble with and needed a number to call. Wifi Baby also fails to offer a help line, and it took us several days to arrange a phone appointment to solve our issue. While we were able to wait for resolution and maintain some calm patience trying to set up this monitor, parents who just want to sleep and know baby is under surveillance, will most likely consider this lack of support a deal breaker. It is just far easier to return the monitor than it is to wait for help.
Overall, despite some neat features we liked, this monitor fails to offer a reliable consistent experience across users, and enough parents have struggled with it, that we don't feel comfortable recommending it. If parents are looking for a good WiFi camera for watching baby, the Nest Cam simply offers more, for a cheaper price, is easier to use, and works better with 24 hour support.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team