Motorola sells two types of baby monitors: regular monitors with camera and parent unit and “connected” units. The latter monitors can either be viewed via a parent unit or via smartphone, thanks to signal streaming over WiFi.
That dual use is unique to Motorola and explains the price premium these monitors command—$200+, depending on the unit.
Another Motorola advantage: these monitors have multiple camera ability (some models, up to four) with a viewer than can show two monitor streams at once with a picture-in-picture display.
Competitors like Levana have since caught up with the multi-camera function Motorola touts, but Motorola has continued to innovate, most notably with the connected monitors.
Motorola offers a variety of monitors with fixed or point/tilt/zoom cameras. The viewers range from small tiny 1.8″screens up to 3.5″.
The most popular and flagship model in the line is the MBP36XL ($150), which features a PTZ camera, 5″ screen, room temperature monitor, built-in lullabies, and two-way intercom. Extra cameras are $75 to monitor multiple rooms—the display can switch between the two cameras or show both on the screen with picture-in-picture.
So what’s missing in Motorola compared to other brands? Well, there is no VOX mode—hence the unit is always on. (Folks either love or hate VOX, where the monitor is sleeping until movement or voice triggers it to come on.) Some users have also complained the night video is choppy and lacks the sharpness of other competitors, namely Samsung.
If the $150 price tag on the 36S is too much, Motorola makes a version of this camera with a smaller 2.8″ screen (the MBP33S, $81) for under $100. That 2.8″ screen is quite tiny; if you’d prefer a larger on, a 4.3″ monitor model, the 38S ($170), comes with two cameras.
If you don’t care about the PTZ feature, Motorola has several fixed camera options including the MBP25-2, $104 with two cameras (2.4″ screen).
In the past year, Motorola debuted what it dubbed as “smart connected baby monitors”—units that stream both to a parent unit and a smartphone via WiFi. Available in both fixed and PTZ models, the flagship model among this group is the Motorola MBP853CONNECT (yes, that is the model number). Price: $170.
This monitor uses a smartphone app to stream HD (720p) video to your smartphone, along with notifications of motion, sound or room temperature. Also offered: a cloud video storage service in partnership with Hubble Connected (hubbleconnected.com). This runs $2.99 per month for 24 hours of video storage, $9.99 per month for seven days storage and $29.99 for 30 days storage. You can have multiple cameras storing video to one account.
And that’s where the Motorola story starts to come off the rails. The iTunes ratings for the Hubble app are an abysmal 1.5 stars, with numerous reports of crashes and general failure of the app to do what it promises.
The reviews for Motorola’s connected monitors have been similarly dreary—parents complain of poor video quality, dropped signals and terrible battery life. If you want a streaming monitor, the Nest Cam is a better bet.
What about the regular Motorola video monitors? In a previous edition, we recommended these monitors as the feedback was mostly positive. However, in the past year, parent feedback on Motorola’s basic video monitors has turned largely negative, with numerous reports of monitors that simply stopped working after a few months. Sometimes the sound just quits. Or the video konks out. Or the battery won’t charge after a few months of use.
We’re not sure what happened here—Motorola needs to fix its quality control ASAP. Rating: F