Canadian-based Levana is the baby monitor division of Svat, a security cam manufacturer. Levana has an affordable line of video monitors (mostly sold online) that are closed systems—they include a camera and parent viewer (no WiFi needed, no online streaming).
Levana offers 14 models, with a mix of both fixed and point/tilt/zoom models.
Three of the Levana’s newest models have fixed cameras: the Alexa ($100), Shiloh ($127) and Amara ($222). The least expensive Alexa ($100) features a five-inch monitor and basic resolution, while the Shiloh adds a higher definition camera with five-inch monitor for $127. For an extra $50, the Amara ($222) features a bigger seven-inch screen.
Levana’s most popular model is the affordable Lila ($80). Yes, this simple fixed baby monitor has a small 2.4″ color screen and a price under $75. Nothing fancy, but it does the trick. (Be forewarned: this model’s kickstand easily breaks).
If you are looking for an under $100 PTZ monitor, the Astra ($90) has a 3.5″ monitor and intercom feature, plus can be expanded for up to four cameras.
Levana’s blizzard of models is rather confusing, so let’s cut through the haze by discussing Levana’s overall quality. We’d rate these monitors as middle of the road. On the plus side, we like the affordable prices and extensive features (intercom, temperature monitoring). One way Levana keeps the prices down is to have non-HD cameras on their most affordable units. That works well on smaller screens, but some folks are disappointed with the lack of resolution when you get up to the five or seven inch screen models.
Even when Levana touts “HD” monitors in the line, the cameras themselves are 640 x 480 resolution. That’s stretching the definition of HD, which usually means 1280 x 720.
Battery life on Levana monitors is decent—we like the power-save mode that keeps the screen dark until baby makes a noise. Levana claims a 12-hour battery life in this mode and that matches up close to real-world experience.
Range, however, is an area of concern: many readers say their Levana monitors’ range was much shorter than the touted 150 feet. To its credit, however, Levana does use a “private direct signal” (digital FHSS) to prevent eavesdropping. You’d think the 2.4 GHz signal would travel further than 150 feet, but in the real world, parents complain the range is less than they hoped.
We’d rate Levana’s software as better than average—the touch-screen parent units let you activate lullabies (on the newer models) or watch two cameras at once in split screen view.
Most concerning, however, we see quite a few complaints about long-term reliability of Levana baby monitors. A $200 Levana monitor will work great . . . and then die after six months, say readers. Yes, Levana has decent customer service and replaces units under warranty, but is it too much to ask that a $200 monitor last more than half a year?
Bottom line: for a simple monitor under $100, the Levana Lila is a decent buy . . . just keep your expectations low. Otherwise, we’d skip these models. Rating: C