Road test | WiFi Baby (video baby monitor)
During the months leading up to the birth of my twins, my husband and I spent a ton of time researching all of the gadgets and gear on the market. Based on my interview with a baby registry consultant for TOC’s Babies Issue, I knew we wanted a video monitor—which eliminates unnecessary trips to the nursery by allowing parents to determine if a noise really requires a personal visit.
But the more we learned about video monitors, the less sure we were about which one to get. I listened to disconcerting reports from friends about how they could hear the conversations of other families in their apartment building or neighborhood. And then, there were alarmist newspaper headlines and Today Show reports warning parents about the dangers of thieves tapping into video monitor frequencies and viewing the image to case the inside of houses for potential robberies.
Then we came across WiFi Baby, a new video baby monitor that launched in December. Unlike other video monitors, this version uses a wireless camera to stream password-protected video and audio footage to your Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad via your existing home WiFi network, which means no ones else can eavesdrop or peek into your nursery. We purchased it and have spent the first eight weeks of our twins’ lives oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over this monitor. We're obsessed: I highly recommend it to folks on the hunt for a high-quality video monitor sans privacy concerns.
- You can monitor the baby(ies) from several devices—it works with iOS devices (iPhone, iPad) as well as PCs and Macs. (The Android-compatible version is in the works and expected to be released in 2011.) Multiple people can monitor the babies at the same time on computers or after downloading an app ($9 per iTunes account for use on an unlimited number of devices). This is especially awesome if one parent is traveling or works outside the home, and wants to be able to check in on the little ones.
- Unlike other video monitors, it doesn't cross signals with other baby monitors in the vicinity. So you won’t have to worry about your family's conversations being picked up by other folks in your building (and you won’t have to hear theirs). And even more important, safety-wise, your video and audio stream can’t be accessed by strangers looking for easy robbery targets.
- The color image is crystal-clear. This is a welcome difference from other video monitors on the market, which have interference and can be static-y. The night-vision mode is also exceptionally crisp.
- Second cameras are available for purchase, and it is easy to access a second image stream on your computer or iOS device. (By mounting ours high enough in the nursery, we only needed one camera to get both babies in the image.)
- There's an alarm setting that only alerts you about noises above a certain decibel level (you choose that level) so you don't wake up with every innocuous yip in the night. (We love this because we experience double the yips with twins.)
- As long as you have an existing WiFi network, WiFi Baby is the same price as other video monitors on the market.
- Bonus: We plan to use the camera as a nanny cam once the babies graduate from needing monitoring all night every night.
- If you have a crappy Internet connection, the monitor could go on the fritz. It’s a huge problem if you’re counting on the monitor to alert you when the baby needs attention in another room.
- The set-up is pretty technical; I offloaded the task to my tech-savvy hubs. That said, WiFi Baby offers free customer support should you run into troubles—we haven’t had to take advantage of that service.
- It took my hubs about an hour to get the camera installed just right. (Then again, we mounted ours near the top of a window frame to ensure that both of our babies would be in the picture....perhaps more complicated than your average installation.)
- You won't want to throw the camera in a suitcase and take this system to Grandma and Grandpa’s.
WiFi Baby is available to purchase online at wifibaby.net and will hit retailers late 2011/early 2012. Prices range from $279 for a single camera to $568 for a family pack. Use special discount code TIMEOUT2011 for $9 off through June 15. Apps range from $8.99–$9.99.