A publicly traded company based in Hong Kong, VTech started business as “Video Technology Limited” in 1986. Its first product was a home video game console. The company rebranded in 1991 as “VTech Holdings Ltd” in recognition of its diversified product lines. During the same year VTech unveiled the world’s first fully digital 900 MHz cordless telephone and in 2000 the company acquired Lucent Technologies’ consumer telephone business with exclusive rights for 10 years to market AT&T- branded wireless phones.
Today VTech is the world’s largest manufacturer of cordless phones and supplier of electronic learning products (ELPs). Globally it ranks as one of the top 50 electronic manufacturing services providers, supplying a large variety of consumer electronic products under contract, branded for numerous SME businesses. Thus baby monitors are but one of VTech’s many product lines.
VTech Baby Monitors Features
VTech baby monitors are available in both audio and video versions in essentially four models. Each model has a YouTube video that explains the functions and capabilities of the product.
VTech® VM333 Safe & Sound® Pan & Tilt Full-Color Video Monitor
The VM333 comes with a PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) camera (baby unit) and a high resolution, 2.8 inch (7.1 cm) color LCD monitor (parent unit). The PTZ camera pans up to 270° side-to-side and tilts 124° up-and-down with a 2x zoom. Up to four total cameras are supported from one parent unit. Available viewing modes include single view/one camera, split view (cycles through cameras on single view before stopping on split view) and patrol (single view that transitions to a different camera every 7 seconds). Two infrared LEDs and a low-lux camera automatically detect dim light, providing clear video even when the nursery is dark. Other features include:
- Temperature sensor
- 1,000 feet (305 meters) range
- Digital 2.4GHz transmission and FHSS technology prevents outside interference from other electronic devices
- Wall-mount bracket
- Vibrating/Sound alert on parent unit with volume control and five level sound indicator
- Low battery alert indicator on parent unit
Note that the User’s manual is specific to VTech VM333/VM333-2/VM303 baby monitor models. The VM333-2 consists of one monitor (parent unit) and two cameras (baby units); the VM303 is the PTZ camera (baby unit) only.
VTech® VM321 Safe & Sound® Full-Color Video and Audio Monitor
Winner of the 2013 Top Choice Award from ‘Creative Child’ magazine and the Silver winner from the 2013 National Parenting Publications Awards, the VM321 consists of one parent unit (monitor) and one baby unit (camera). Other components of the VM321 include AC power adapters for both units, parent unit rechargeable battery and wall mounting bracket/hardware. The VM321 camera (baby unit) features infrared LEDs for night vision, microphone, antenna, light sensor, temperature sensor, five-way power indicators, speaker for two-way talkback with baby, adjustable volume, lullabies (five from which to choose; total duration of 20 minutes) and a 2x zoom camera with angle tab. The monitor (parent unit) comes with sound level, signal strength connection, power, camera view and temperature alert status indicators. The 2 inch (5 cm) color LED screen can be automatically set to sound activation.
Note that the user’s manual is specific to the VTech VM321/VM321-2 baby monitor models. The VM321-2 consists of one monitor (parent unit) and two cameras (baby units).
VTech® Safe & Sound® DM221 Audio Baby Monitor
The DM221 consists of a baby unit, a parent unit, a battery pack for the parent unit and two AC power adapters. Two handy features available on the baby unit include a nightlight and a page button that is used to find lost or misplaced parent units. The parent unit with display screen has sound/vibration, signal strength connection and battery indicators. Five levels of sound sensitivity are included with two-way talkback capability. A built-in belt clip allows for easier portability. As with the video monitors, maximum range is 1000 feet (305 meters) and a maximum indoor range of 150 feet (45.7 meters).
Note that the user’s manual is specific to the VTech DM221/DM221-2 baby monitor models. The DM221-2 consists of two parent units and one baby unit.
VTech® Safe & Sound® DM111 Audio Baby Monitor
While this model is very similar to the DM221, it comes without nightlight and paging features and lacks volume control. It does include a visual sound and low battery indicators.
Note that the user’s manual is specific to the VTech DM111/DM111-2 baby monitor models. The DM111-2 consists of two parent units and one baby unit.
Overall, VTech baby monitors receive praise from both institutional reviewers and consumers. A specific model such as the DM121 audio monitor has received a four star rating aggregated over several hundred reviews on Amazon. However, the same model has averaged only two stars based several dozen reviews at the Canadian Toys ‘R’ Us website. Walmart shoppers, in a sample of over 200 reviews, rated the DM221 at slightly over 4¼ stars, or 88%.
Based on 13 reviews, Amazon customers rated the VTechVM333 video and audio monitor at 4¼ stars. Meanwhile, 10 of 12 consumers who bought the model at Walmart gave it 5 stars; the other two awarded it 4 stars. The VM321received four stars from 240 Walmart reviewers or 83%. This model is apparently unavailable from Amazon but can be found at Toys ‘R’ Us.
A number of sponsored reviewers — geekygamermom.com, ourfamilyworld.com, watchmytot.com, busymommymedia.com, ohsosavvymom.com etc. all uniformly rave over the VTech baby monitors, particularly the VM333 and the DM221. However, only Walmart gives a side-by-side comparison of all four models. One question that may occur to the discerning shopper: why does the flagship DM333 model (read most expensive) not have features found on the DM321 (lullabies) and the audio monitors (night light and vibrating sound alert)? Also note that none of the VTech products are internet capable; viz, a parent can’t use a smartphone app to check on baby from across town or across the country with a VTech baby monitor.
Some users report that the VTech baby monitors have very limited range (while others claim that the product works to its full advertised distance), sound level indicator glitches and limited service life. Powered by both AC and an included rechargeable battery (with a “short” operating time; the manual recommends using the parent unit on AC power), the VM333 parent unit (monitor) has a diminished battery life compared to many of its competitors. Also note that the VM333 baby unit (camera) does not run on batteries and hence is not rechargeable.
VTech Baby Monitor Buying Tips
VTech baby monitors are distributed through a wide network of consumer retail stores such as Walmart and Toys R Us as well as online from Walmart, Amazon, No Better Deal and the VTech company website. All VTech baby monitors come with a one year warranty, extended by three months if the warranty is registered online. To their credit, VTech service reps monitor Amazon customer feedback, inviting customers with complaints to contact them at 800.595.9511
While not as pricey as many video baby monitors but also without smartphone capability, VTech Baby Monitors deliver reasonable quality with fine customer service. VTech monitors, in particular the VM321, offer a reasonable compromise between price, number of features offered and reliability and are appropriate for babies, bed-bound senior citizens and other household surveillance needs. According to the reviews surveyed, VTech has many more satisfied than disgruntled customers. Since the company backs its products with a strong warranty and responsive customer service, one can feel comfortable with purchasing and using VTech baby monitors.