by | Jun 20, 2020 | Z | 0 comments

Last Updated: Oct 9, 2020 @ 3:33 pm.

A baby video monitor doesn't have to cost a fortune—we hand-tested 19 new monitors that don't break the bank. Can a bargain monitor still produced great video and audio? To find out, we measured battery life, video quality, range, security and more. Here are our top picks.

FYI: we are Baby Bargains, the #1 online-resource for honest and independent baby gear reviews. To keep it real, we don't take money from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Monitor Fixed Cam

Works with Wi-Fi, fixed camera
Can this be real? Yes, it is—we personally tested this value-priced monitor and were amazed at the high-def video and audio. Plus the app actually works.
$29.99

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Best Monitor with App: Stationary Camera Victure 1080P FHD Baby Monitor

Baby video monitors come in one of two flavors: Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi monitors. Each has its pros and cons.

Wi-Fi monitors connect to your home Wi-Fi and stream the video to your phone, tablet or other device. These app-based monitors are great for their simplicity . . . since you always carry your phone, why not use it as a baby monitor? Also you can monitor baby’s nursery not just from your house but anywhere you can get a cell signal.

Yet there are some serious downsides to this idea: first, the app software can be glitchy. Connecting the monitor to your Wi-Fi router can be a challenge with some monitors. If you don’t have fast internet, there can be annoying dropped signals and other usability woes. Most folks use a monitor to keep an eye on baby overnight—some Wi-Fi monitors just don’t function well for overnight use (example: they don’t play audio in the background, so the app must always be open on your phone).

Non-Wi-Fi monitors are also called closed system baby monitors. These units come with a camera and parent unit that looks like a mini cell phone. These are more secure than Wi-Fi monitors that can be hacked (as you’ve heard in the news). Since non-Wi-Fi monitors aren’t connected to the internet, they are easier to set up and use. But their range is limited to a short distance in your home (a few hundred feet).

So let’s get things started. Here is our top pick for the Best Monitor with App: Victure 1080P FHD Baby Monitor. It is a good pick . . . as long as you understand its limitations.

Here’s why:

What We Liked

• HD picture. Many bargain baby monitors have fuzzy, low resolution cameras. This one has 1080p resolution with a 120 degree wide angle. Here’s what the screen looks like using night vision:

 

• Good audio. The camera’s microphone provides clear audio—as an option, you can turn on two-way talk so one caregiver can talk with another that has the app open.

• Cloud or micro SD card storage. That’s nice to save those especially cute video moments—first time baby stands, babbles, etc. The first 30 days of cloud storage are free; after that, there is a charge.

• Motion detection.

What Needs Work

• Wi-Fi monitors can be a pain to set up. We found the set up for the Victure camera to be straight forward, pairing with our router. But we know this is a pain point for others. The reasons why pairing doesn’t work or has a poor connection are numerous: incompatible routers (example: the camera only works on 2.4 Ghz, not 5.0 Ghz), poor Wi-Fi signal, interference and other issues that are hard to troubleshoot.

• Hacking. Any time you connect a camera in your house to the internet, it can be hacked. You can take precautions like using a unique, secure password and making sure your router has the latest encryption protocol. If all this makes you nervous, we’d suggest a closed system baby monitor instead of Wi-Fi.

• No sound in the background. You must have the app open to hear the sound from this monitor—and that is major flaw if you plan to use this camera for monitoring overnight. A future version of the app should let you play background audio even if the app is not open.

• Red lights. The camera uses a ring of LED infrared lights for night vision—these are visible in the dark and irked some of our testers. The manufacturer should try to hide these better in subsequent updates.

iOS and Android apps only.

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Best Monitor Moveable Cam

Works with Wi-Fi, camera can move
Another winner with HD picture and two-way talk. Key feature: you can remotely move the camera around with app. Motion detection is excellent.
$33.99

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Best Monitor with App: Moveable Camera Peteme Baby Monitor

If you want an app-based monitor to watch a playroom or pan across your baby’s nursery, a monitor with moveable camera is your best bet. After testing several options, we liked Peteme’s PE220 monitor as a great monitor for folks who want an app-based baby monitor . . . as long as you understand its limitations.

What We Liked

• HD camera. Of all the cameras we tested, this one scored at the top of video quality. Here’s what the picture looks like with night vision:

preteme monitor sample

 Remotely move the camera. Using the app, you can pan, tilt and zoom this monitor. Peteme’s app was easy to use.

• Two way audio. This monitor’s intercom function worked well. However, the “crying notification” feature was more hit or miss in our testing.

What Needs Work

• Sound lag. This is a problem with all Wi-Fi monitors—the delay or echo sound, caused by the time it takes the monitor to send the audio to a server then back to your phone. This bothers some parents, but not other parent testers we interviewed.

• Loud beeping sound when panning. For some reason, this camera is designed to make chiming noises when it moves. That obviously is a no go if you are using it to monitor a sleeping baby and need to move or pan the camera.

• Wi-Fi monitors can be a pain to set up. Like we discussed earlier in this article, this is an issue with all Wi-Fi monitors, not just Peteme’s camera.  Again, we found the set up for the Peteme’s camera to be straight forward, pairing with our router. But we know this is a pain point for others. The reasons why pairing doesn’t work or has a poor/dropped connection are numerous: incompatible routers, poor Wi-Fi signal, interference and other issues that are hard to troubleshoot.

• Hacking. Any time you connect a camera in your house to the internet, it can be hacked. You can take precautions like making sure you use a unique, secure password and making sure your router has the latest encryption protocol. If all this makes you nervous, we’d suggest a closed system baby monitor instead of Wi-Fi.

• No sound in the background. You must have the app open to hear the sound from this monitor—and that is major flaw for using this camera for monitoring overnight. A future version of the app should let you play background audio even if the app is not open. So this monitor works well for naps or other daytime monitoring; not so good for night time.

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Best Monitor Parent Unit

Closed system = more secure
Better quality picture and large 5" parent unit came out tops in testing. Very good ease of use. Less interference and longer range than competition. 15 hour battery. But no sound/light display and poor kickstand. Worth the upgrade.
$59.99

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Best Monitor With Parent Unit: BabySense Baby Monitor (V24US)

Baby monitors that aren’t app-based or connect to Wi-Fi are called closed system or local monitors. They are easier to set up, better at overnight monitoring and generally more affordable than Wi-Fi options. We tested several of these monitors and noticed they tend to fall into two camps: small or large screen parent monitors. Each has its plusses and minuses.

For small screen monitors, we tested seven different options before picking this as the best: BabySense’s V24US baby video monitor.

What We Liked

• Simple set up. Unlike Wi-Fi monitors that must pair with your router and require you to set up an account with the monitor company, BabySense’s monitor just pairs with the parent unit . . . which took us ten seconds.

• Easy to carry. The parent unit is compact and easy to carry in your hand—plus it has a kick stand to sit on a dresser. We found the parent unit’s controls easy to understand and work.

• Eco mode. This feature turns on the screen only when sound is detected, saving on battery life. This is also called voice-on-demand. In our testing, this worked well.

• Good enough video quality. Let’s be honest: when you have a 2.4″ screen and a low rez camera, the picture you see on the monitor isn’t exactly HD. But it is good enough to get that job done—that is, keep an eye on your baby while sleeping or napping. Here’s what the screen looks like:

best non-wifi monitor babysense screen sample

 

What’s Needs Work

• Dropped connections. This monitor claims a 900 foot range—but that is under optimal conditions. The reality is much less, in our testing. In our review of parent feedback, we see some folks complained this monitor dropped connections, especially if the parent’s room was say, upstairs and on the other side of the house from the nursery. Other folks who were closer to the nursery didn’t have this issue.

• Inaccurate temperature readings. This monitor promises to monitor the temperature of the nursery (too warm nurseries are dangerous)—but we found the temperature reading was so far off, it wasn’t useful. Buy a simple thermometer for your nursery instead.

• Long term durability. We think a baby monitor should at least last through one child’s baby years, but we do see reports that affordable monitors like this quit after six months or a year. We suppose this is a trade-off with the low price, but we wish the maker would build in longer durability.

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Best Upgrade Pick

Tops in battery life, picture quality
Better quality picture and large 5" parent unit came out tops in testing. Very good ease of use. Less interference and longer range than competition. 15 hour battery. But no sound/light display and poor kickstand. Worth the upgrade.
$119.99

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Upgrade Monitor With Parent Unit: Eufy Video Baby Monitor

If you have the budget and want the best monitor in terms of picture quality, range and battery life, here’s what we would pick after testing 8 different high-end monitors: the Eufy Video Baby Monitor.

We’ve been testing baby monitors for 20 years and we can say this is one that just blew us away. It is light years ahead of others we’ve hand tested . . . but it is more pricey, unfortunately. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• Best HD picture. Less expensive monitors use low resolution cameras; the Eury is high definition, which lets you see clearly day or night. Here’s what the monitor looks like in real life:

What the screen looks like on the Eufy baby monitor

• Excellent battery life. During our testing, we got 13 hours of battery life—that was tops in our testing. That means you can run this monitor on battery alone overnight. Few other monitors we tested could do that.

• Range. When testing for range, you must take the manufacturer’s estimated range with a grain of salt. Those ranges are often under optimal conditions—like in an open field! In this case, Eufy’s promised 400 foot range was truth in advertising. We found this monitor worked well, even if a good distance from the nursery (say, if the parent’s room is upstairs and baby’s room is downstairs).

• Remotely pan, tilt or zoom the monitor. We found this was easy using the controls on the parent unit. Less expensive monitors have fixed cameras.

• Included wall mount.  Helpful for mounting (remember to always keep cords at least five feet from the crib).

What’s Needs Work

• No sound/lights feature. The Eufy monitor has one glaring flaw: it lacks a sound/light display on the parent. We see this on even the cheapest monitors, so it is an odd omission here. The sound/light display is a row of lights on the parent unit that gives you a visual clue as to sound in the nursery even if the volume is turned down. That’s helpful at night.

• No low battery or out of range alert. We prefer monitors that warn you when the battery is low or if you are too far from the camera. Unfortunately, this monitor does neither.

• Poor kickstand. For some odd reason, this monitor’s kickstand doesn’t allow the unit to sit more upright. And the kickstand is off center, which makes it easy to knock over when on a dresser.

Despite these flaws, we still think the Eufy is a worthwhile bet for an upgraded non-WiFi monitor.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including baby monitors, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

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