Wednesday, September 7th, 2005
Advice Sought: Baby Monitors
Stricken by the Rule of Threes, I need to purchase our third baby monitor in 15 months. Have a recommendation? Here is a laundry list of issues with our first two purchases.
Strike One: The First Years 900 MHz attachable monitor (model 3809)
Problem #1: We need the roving parent (receiver) unit to be rechargeable, but it isn’t.
We keep the microphone base unit in our baby room, permanently plugged into a wall socket. This base unit is rechargeable and removeable from a docking cradle â€“ a feature completely wasted on us.
The receiver is kept with a parent at all times, usually in the family room or our bedroom. But… the damn thing isn’t rechargeable. We were constantly plugging and unplugging the receiver in various rooms. It can be powered by 4 AAA batteries, but after one or two evenings the batteries are exhausted. Even with our NiMH recharegable batteries it was a real annoyance. Remember, battery compartments on children’s products require a screwdriver and charging batteries takes time.
Problem #2: The receiver is subject to a lot of static. Persistent static triggers the out-of-range alarm (e.g., signal loss alarm) and it is exceedingly loud. Jump from your chair loud. The receiver only has two channels, but on both we experienced static and occasional cordless phone conversations.
Strike Two: Sony Baby Call Nursery Monitor, 27 Channel (model NTM-900)
Sony had honey that attracted us:
- 27 channels to switch between to reduce interferrence.
- Noise reduction to weed out repetitive sounds so they don’t come across on the receiver.
- Super long rechargeable battery life for the receiver.
Problem #1: The receiver is very touchy in its ability to pick up the monitor signal. Walk through our house and I’ll interrupt the signal. Even the briefest signal loss sounds the alarm. (The First Years model has a wise few second delay). We sometimes battle the receiver, rotating and raising it to a position that allows good signal reception.
Problem #2: During a power outage we learned the receiver may stop functioning. If ours is plugged into a wall socket during a power loss, the unit powers off â€“ even if its batteries are charged. After that discovery, we began unplugging the unit prior to bringing it into the bedroom at bedtime (thankfully, the receiver’s batteries last a LONG time on a single charge).
Problem #3: Little Miss’ cries stopped registering a few weeks ago. We would wake up to her wailing and look over at the receiver to see it doing nothing, or registering her cries with barely a blip. This was such a disappointment. When we first used Sony’s monitor it was perfect. Hear your baby breathing perfect. Its performance has simply worsened over time.
As a stopgap, we are temporarily using The First Years monitor again. But… we need a better solution.
Our dream baby monitor has these features:
- Rechargeable parent unit with long battery life
- Low battery alarm
- Multiple channels
- Noise reduction (sometimes called voice activation)
- Durability (Has your monitor worked consistently with no performance loss for six or more months?)
Do you have a recommendation? At this point “lasts longer than six months” is the only real criteria I’m insisting upon.