Video baby monitors or “baby cams” are surveillance cameras and monitors used to remotely observe and supervise the activities of infants, toddlers, small children and even pets and shut-in seniors. In recent years they’ve become increasingly in vogue with parents and caretakers. As more competitors enter an already crowded market, manufacturers have rolled out newer models with a plethora of handy features such as nightlights, lullabies, temperature sensors and WiFi connectivity.
Accordingly, Amazon now lists their most popular baby monitors on the “Best Sellers Rank.” There are two categories: ‘Security Monitors & Displays‘ and ‘Baby Monitors.’ While the two lists overlap to an extent, they do not exactly correspond. But by comparing both lists, a composite can be constructed that indicate the rankings that Amazon customers award video baby monitors. These ratings were current as of August 2014.
#1 Best Seller in Baby Monitors
Receiving 4.1 out of 5 stars (and well over 500 5 star reviews) based on about 900 reviews from Amazon customers, the Dropcam Pro is lauded for its “very good video quality,” premium material assembly, quick and easy setup/commissioning and a field of view (130° diagonal) wider than most of its competitors. It also has PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) camera and two-way talkback. Note that this product does not come with a separate, dedicated monitor; it uses mobile and web apps capability for PCDs such as smartphones, tablets and other computing devices. The Dropcam Pro supports dual band Wi-Fi (the standard 2.4 GHz and 5GHz) for improved wireless connectivity.
However, some customers complained that the video feed can only be viewed live unless one wants to pay between US$100 – 300 per year for the Dropcam monthly recording service. While Dropcam will send a “tiny” thumbnail to an email address when motion is detected, it has been noted that the image is so small as to be “worthless.” Others cite streaming delays on LTE (4G) and Wi-Fi, problems with talkback and a “blurry” zoom image. Related to the first complaint is an observation that video can’t be saved on one’s smartphone or computer; for a monthly fee, it can only be retained “in the cloud” on Dropcam’s web database. To their credit, Dropcam’s engineering team has acknowledged the talkback audio and camera zoom problems and have taken steps to correct the issues.
#2 Best Seller in Security Monitors & Displays
Receiving four out of five stars based on almost 400 Amazon customer reviews, the FBM3501 boasts of a price competitive with the Infant Optics DXR-5 (see below). It has features found only in much more expensive baby monitors such as a PTZ camera, two-way talkback capability and a built-in temperature monitor. It even includes optional alerts such as a feeding timer.
Perusing Amazon customer reviews, one readily sees why the FBM3501 is a popular choice. As one wrote, it delivers the “best bang for the buck.” With “clear” picture and sound quality, well-constructed and “solid” camera unit, the FBM3501 also has a handy, power-saving VOX setting that automatically shuts off the monitor after 20 seconds of silence and automatically turns it back on when noise is detected.
However, detractors note that the FBM3501 has no scan feature that automatically cycles to another camera every 10 to 15 seconds. Hence the Foscam monitor lacks a key feature essential to an expandable monitor system. To use the multi-camera monitoring system, one must choose the camera manually. This of course causes issues when remotely supervising more than one child in multiple rooms at the same time. Also, this monitor does not have smartphone capability.
#3 Best Seller in Baby Monitors
Long one of Amazon’s best-selling baby monitors, the DXR-5 has the benefit of almost 3,000 Amazon customer reviews (at 3.8 stars out of 5) — and almost half of the reviewers award the product a five star rating. With a very affordable price, clear audio and day/night video and a battery saving auto dormancy feature triggered by baby’s inactivity, the DXR-5 has been praised by a legion of parents and caregivers. Minor gripes include the monitor’s battery; it’s a camera battery as opposed to the standard batteries used by most other baby cam manufacturers. Also, in response to customer complaints, Infant Optics reprogrammed the DXR-5’s firmware to eliminate the “beeping” noise the monitor made when in dormancy mode.
#4 Best Seller in Security Monitors & Displays
Claiming to be the “first-ever monitor with interchangeable optical lens capability,” allowing customizable viewing angle and zoom, the DXR-8 represents a big leap in features — and price — from the reliable Infant Optics stalwart DXR-5 model. It has a larger (3.5 inch/9 cm) full color LCD display monitor compared to the DXR-5 (at 2.4 inch/6 cm) monitor screen. There is also an optional wide angle lens sold separately. The remote PTZ camera is also a step above the DXR-5 camera. The DXR-8 is commended for its ultra-long battery life — 10 hours on power-saving mode and 6 hours with screen on — which far outlasts most competitors’ products.
Despite the 4.4 stars out of 5 the DXR-8 receives (based on well over 200 reviews) from Amazon customers, some users report that the monitor conflicts with other devices on the 2 GHz wavelength, viz, the monitor drops the wireless signal from the camera. Others grouse that while up to four cameras can be connected to one monitor, only one camera can be paired to one monitor, viz, only one monitor can be used. This means, similarly to the Foscam FBM 3501 mentioned previously, a parent can only monitor one child in one room with the DXR-8 and not multiple rooms simultaneously. Also, the DXR-8 does not have internet streaming capability to one’s smartphone or tablet — a glaring omission considering the product’s hefty price tag.
Read more about Infant Optics Baby Monitors.