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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: Motorola Baby Monitor 3.5

For my birthday this year, my brothers gave me a Baby Monitor. I was real skeptical when this showed up on my door step. $240 and it doesn't export to the internet? What use is it?

Well, we've been using it for a week now, and so far, it's been surprisingly good. The best feature is that it's really easy to set up. Plug in the camera, plug in the screen, turn on the screen (the camera never turns off), and instant picture time. The microphone on the camera picks up sound really easily, and you can turn up the speakers on the screen if you want to hear every toss and turn. Yes, it's that sensitive. The battery life on the screen is pretty lousy: it advertises 3 hours, but in reality if you keep the screen on (that's the point of the monitor --- I can hear the baby crying from all over the house), you won't get much more than 2 hours. The screen turns itself off after a couple of minutes to save battery, but if you keep the screen plugged in, then it'll stay on.

What was surprising to me was that the entire setup is easy enough that grandma and granddad just picked it up and immediately knew how to pan the camera, turn up the sound, etc. You can also talk back to the baby if you like, but that feature rarely gets used, and frequently we forget it's there even when it'd be useful to have an intercom system to the baby's crib. The picture quality is good enough that granddad would be fascinated by it throughout dinner. Night vision mode automatically turns on and it provides a nice black and white picture that still looks pretty good. There's a USB port that supposedly lets you export to some sort of computer, but no accessories can be found to use it.

The biggest problem so far for me is that the system doesn't seem designed to mount say on the side of a crib. There are no suction cups or obvious places to tie the camera to velcro, for instance, making jury rigging mounts much harder than expected for something that you would want to mount out of the way once the baby gets big enough to explore the entire crib.

From what I read of other reviews of baby monitors, it seems like the combination of reliability (both the screen and the camera's been dropped multiple times with no sign of damage) and ease of use is hard to find. Therefore, despite my initial impressions I have to recommend this monitor.

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