VTech is probably best-known for their cordless phones and interactive toys. In recents years, they entered the baby monitoring market with well received audio and video models.
The Safe & Sound Digital Audio (DM221) monitor comes in both single ($30-$40) and double ($50-$60) receiver versions and boasts 6.0 DECT technology for a secure transmission that is free from most interference. There is also an intercom feature, sound/light display, vibrating sound alert, night light and rechargeable batteries. Range is rated to 1000 feet.
Parent feedback has been very positive—it’s clear VTech’s successful track record in cordless phones is a major help here with the technology. The few criticisms centered on the range being less than the stated 1000 feet (that’s probably a given for most monitors, sorry to say).
VTech claims 18 hour battery life for this unit, which probably a stretch for most folks who say it barely lasts a night. For night time monitoring, we’d suggest leaving this unit plugged in, instead of running off batteries.
While we will recommend this monitor, we should note we have received occasional reports from readers about defective VTech units. One reader said the quality of the monitor was excellent, but the battery on his unit would not hold a charge. Others report monitors that don’t link properly. As with all monitors, we’d recommend purchasing this unit from a store or site that has a decent return policy just in case.
In the category of traditional audio monitor, VTech has another option: the DM111 Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor ($18 single, $27 double). This monitor is simpler, with no LCD display but still offers DECT transmission and sound/light indicators. Parent reviews for this monitor are positive, but not quite as glowing as the DM221. Part of this is probably due to the fact the DM111 is newer and has much fewer parent reviews and comments than the DM221.
Finally, the DM223, a DECT digital audio monitor ($40) offers vibrating sound alerts on the parent unit, talk-back intercom, and rechargeable battery with low battery alert.
Between the two traditional models, we think the DM221 offers the better value—the intercom and vibrating sound alert features are worth the extra expense. At $30 to $40, the DM221 is still quite affordable compared to our other top pick in this category (the Philips Avent SCD560/10, $80).
VTech has recently added two non traditional audio monitors that project a “glow on the ceiling” night light. The DM222 ($45) has the same features as VTech’s basic audio monitors with the aforementioned night light, while the DM271 adds compatibility with the company’s home automation sensors. One version of this monitor comes with an open-close sensor ($99), which assumes you’d use it to be notified if a toddler had opened a door. Another version has a motion sensor ($120), while the third model combines both the open-close sensor and the motion unit ($150).
Feedback on these monitors has been slim. While the night light in the basic DM222 makes sense as a small $5 upgrade over VTech’s simpler audio monitors, we’re not sure what the point is for the sensors of the DM271. An open-close sensor on a baby’s door? Or the refrigerator? Then it would go off all the time when anyone opened the fridge or the door.
Ditto for the motion sensor—we’re just not sure we see the point of this. We do like the concept VTech is trying to achieve here—marrying baby monitors with smart home sensors . . . but we’re not sure they’ve come up with the right sensors or applications yet.
Bottom line: Leaving aside the pricey smart home monitors, VTech is an excellent choice for those who want a reliable, affordable audio-only baby monitor. Rating: A