Samsung Wisenet BrightVIEW baby monitorSamsung.com

Gadget king Samsung makes everything from HD TV’s to security cameras . . . so why not video baby monitors?

Samsung’s dozen offerings in this segment unfortunately have confusingly similar names (BrightVIEW . . . BrilliantVIEW, etc.). Like most video monitor brands, Samsung offers a mix of both fixed and PTZ camera options. Parent units have screens that range from 4.3″ to 5,” among the largest screens in the market.

Samsung’s flagship monitor is the Wisenet BrightVIEW (SEW-3043WND), a $220 PTZ camera with five-inch touch screen parent unit. It features two-way intercom, four lullabies, feed timer alert and support for up to three additional cameras.

None of this is terribly innovative—most of Samsung’s competitors in this space offer similar specs. As for pricing, Samsung monitors are priced at about the same as similar offerings from competitors like Infant Optics and Levana.

So like all baby monitors, our review comes down to three basic factors: ease of use, picture quality and overall reliability.

As you might expect from this brand, Samsung monitors score well on ease of use, in our opinion—most functions are no more than two clicks away from the main screen or menu.

Samsung’s voice activated mode (VOX) has its fans and detractors. In a nutshell, VOX mode saves on battery—it turns off the screen unless sound is detected above a certain level within one minute. Fans love the VOX’s ability to stretch battery life. Critics hate having the screen turn on in the middle of the night when a stray sound sets off VOX.

Samsung RealVIEW HD baby video monitor

The RealVIEW is a high def monitor (720p) with features like night vision, two-way talk and longer battery.

Let’s talk picture quality. In past reviews, we’ve given Samsung monitors good marks, noting their decent night vision. However, as we survey the field today, competitors have surpassed Samsung’s picture quality. That’s because many of the top-rated video monitors today stream in higher definition (1280 x 72o). The SimpleVIEW ($130) system streams at 640 x 480 so the picture won’t be as sharp. The RealVIEW ($180; pictured left) does have 1280 x 720 streaming so that’s an improvement.

Overall, we found the Infant Optics DX-8 to offer better picture quality than most Samsung’s models. Since they both have similar resolution, you might think both cameras would perform the same. But Infant Optics ships with a separate optical zoom lens for a much clearer zoomed-in picture. By contrast, Samsung uses “digital” zoom which basically just enlarges the picture in the viewer, making it more pixelated/fuzzy.

Overall reliability is another issue for Samsung. We gave Samsung good marks for this in a previous review, but in the past year, we see more reader complaints about Samsung monitors failing in one way or another after a short period of use. Battery issues (units not recharging after six months of use, for example) are common across the line. Range also crops up as a major frustration—Samsung monitors are again falling behind competitors. Samsung’s promised 900 feet of range is more like 90 feet or less, say readers.

Although the RealVIEW adds a much needed high def feature, Samsung needs to upgrade this line with more HD cameras and fix quality issues. Rating: B-