Philips makes one of our top-rated audio baby monitors, so does their video offer similar quality? Let’s take a look,
Philips offers two video options: the Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor (SCD630/37) and the Smart baby monitor which streams video to a smartphone or tablet.
At $146, the rather generically named Digital Video Baby Monitor features a fixed camera with private/secure connection (using a new technology, Adaptive FHSS), night vision and enlarged 3.5” viewing screen.
Recent upgrades include an energy saving “eco” mode to reduce power consumption when baby’s room is quiet, temperature sensor, nightlight, lullabies, two-way communication, sound level indicator, rechargeable parent unit with up to ten hours on a charge (up from six in the older version), and a setting for microphone sensitivity. Whew! they upgraded this monitor with quite a few impressive features.
Readers tell us they get great reception with the Digital Video Baby Monitor and the night vision works well. The two way communication is a plus for many parents and they also like that the parent unit is easy to use. One the other hand, the monitor often breaks or dies within a year and when it does work the video pick wasn’t always great. Some folks mentioned that running another appliance like a microwave interfered with the monitor.
The Avent Smart baby monitor is a $198 streaming baby monitor with no parent unit—you stream the video over WiFi to an app (iOs and Android) via a smartphone or tablet. While that sounds much like the Nest and other streaming cams, the uGrow does have one unique feature: it switches automatically between WiFi, 3G or 4G to maintain a connection to your phone app. The Smart monitor also monitors temperature and humidity (alerts can be set) and has an intercom feature that lets you talk back to the nursery via your smartphone microphone.
Many smart baby monitors are long on promises and short on delivery, so we were pleasantly surprised to find the uGrow delivers on the promise of easy installation and picture quality. Set-up is straightforward (you download the app and it walks you through the process). The cameras shoots at 720 HD—yes, actual high definition and you can see the difference with cheaper baby monitors immediately.
The biggest issue with the Smart baby monitor is the same problem that plagues many smart monitors where you bring your own device for viewing—the lack of continuous connection. More than one parent told us this monitor will drop the connection after an hour or so. That will make night-time monitoring a no-go. And if your WiFi drops, the Smart baby video can stream video to your phone via 3G or 4G . . . and that means you’ll be chewing up a significant amount of your cellular data limit in a hurry. Limit cellular streaming to an occasional check-in.
The ratings for the Smart Android app on Google Play sum up the problem with smart monitors: the software often sucks. For the Smart app, 55% of the reviews are 1-star—common complaints include signal drops and general unreliability.
The Smart monitor and app were released at the start of 2016, but Philips doesn’t appear to have fixed the issues with the monitor. Bottom line: we’d stay clear of the Smart baby monitor.
As for the regular Digital Video Monitor, we’d give that monitor a C rating—definitely only average in quality. Rating (Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor only): C