VTech VM342 Baby MonitorWeb site: babymonitors.vtech.com

Cordless phone and educational toy maker VTech joined the baby video market craze in the past year with a variety of both traditional video baby monitors and wifi cameras. The video cameras are all called Safe & Sound but carry different model numbers.

The most interesting traditional baby monitor in the VTech line is the full featured VM342 with both a wide angle and a standard lens. In fact, the wide angle will give you a 170° panoramic view of your baby’s room or you can switch to a normal view if you prefer. It comes with a 4.3″ high res LCD screen, sounds and lullabies, auto infrared night vision, intercom, temperature sensor, sound activation mode, rechargeable battery, and nine-level sound indicator. You can buy an option with two cameras for $180.

VTech’s VM343 camera ($144) is similar to the 342, but features a point/tilt/zoom camera with pan of 270° side to side and 120° tilt up and down. Additional cameras run $52 each and you can add up to eight cameras total.

Unfortunately, parent feedback on these monitors is mixed. Many parents found that it worked well only for a short time before they had issues with the camera connection to the parent unit, problems with battery indicators not working, poor picture quality and sound that stopped working. Parents did praise the pan/tilt/zoom of the 343 camera and many said their problems weren’t with the camera but with the parent unit.

FYI: VTech also makes a fixed camera version, the VM341, for $70.

VTech’s most affordable model is the VM311-13 ($80). It has many of the same features as the 321, like night vision, intercom, full color video and more, but it comes with a smaller parent unit and very small 2″ video screen. Feedback is not very positive with complaints about short battery life, poor picture quality and range. VTech’s model VM312 is virtually identical to the 311 and priced at $60.

VTech also makes a couple wifi baby monitors. These offer free live remote to a smartphone or tablet, plus they include a 5″ touch screen monitor. Most wifi systems do not include a monitor, so VTech is unusual. The VM981 comes with a 720p high def camera, allows you to zoom in up to ten times the normal vision and has infrared night vision for $162. The VM991 adds pan/tilt/zoom, wall mount and motion alert. It runs $212.

VTech VM981 wifi video monitor

VTech’s wifi monitors can be set up as a network of up to 10 cameras throughout your home.

VTech monitors get lukewarm ratings from parents—most folks are happy with the basic video quality for the monitor that runs close to $100. But, don’t expect a HD quality picture.

Critics also knock the battery life of VTech’s parent units (usually no more than a couple of hours), as well as the lack of a belt clip and the fact you can’t remotely trigger the lullabies that the camera plays. And the VOX feature is hit or miss, as far as parent feedback goes.

The VM342 is one of VTech’s most popular cameras since it offers the wide angle zoom. To get a wide angle lens for competing cameras like Infant Optics, you have to buy it separately and attach it. With the 342, it comes with the camera and can be switched back and forth easily.

If you would like a PTZ camera, we’d recommend the VM343—it is our runner-up pick overall among all video monitors. Nice screen and easy to use, but the short battery life holds it back from being a top pick.

Opinions of the wifi monitors are similar to feedback on the traditional video monitors.

Bottom line: VTech baby monitors are a solid B. Not the best units out there, but better than the most. Rating: B