A baby monitor is one of those hallmark piece of baby gear that parents have to have. I suppose one could live without a monitor, but I can’t imagine it especially since the nursery is on the other side of the house from our room. But parents today are spoiled. Forget simple sound monitors, video monitors give parents an extra layer of comfort, plus they are really cool too.
When my first was born, video monitors were just becoming really popular. Married to a techy, we had to have one. But our options were limited, and the quality was pretty low. In the end, my husband ended up buying a security camera to use in conjunction with a traditional monitor. It worked great, and we loved being able to peak in on our daughter without disturbing her.
When we moved her into her big girl room, the initial plan was to leave the video camera in the nursery for the new baby. But we quickly discovered we wanted video on our toddler… mostly so we could tell if she was trying to go to sleep or just playing around. So we set out to find a new monitor for the new baby.
We found The First Years Home & Away Portable Digital Monitor. Wow have videos come a long way in three years!
No longer just black and white, the Home & Away monitor offers a color picture on a 3.5 inch LCD screen with sound monitoring and a talk back feature so we can talk to the baby. Plus with the Home & Away monitor features the ability to hook the monitor up to your computer to record videos, take pictures and even Skype. So many cool features!
We decided to “test” the monitor out in K’s room until we need it for the baby. While we love it’s functionality, it may not have been the wisest decision because my daughter loves the talk back feature and has already informed us that she wants to keep the new monitor and her baby can have her old monitor! It has become her new nightly routine to tell daddy that she wants us to both call her on the monitor to say goodnight, after we have just left the room. I am still hopeful that the novelty will wear off and we can move back to the old monitor for her because using the new gadget for the new baby makes the most sense… We’ll see.
The good news is that we are loving our new monitor. I can’t get over how clear the picture is – it really puts our old camera to shame.
The one drawback that I have discovered about this monitor over the last month is that the noise detector is uber sensitive. My daughter falls asleep to a sound machine every night, and while out old baby monitor was “smart” enough to filter out the white noise from the sound machine and “shut off,” the Home & Away monitor remains on the entire hour that the sound machine is on. This means that both the picture is displayed on the screen and you can hear the sound machine on the monitor (although we did recently discover there is a way to turn off the screen during this time so we don’t kill the batteries). In addition to picking up the white noise, it is also sensitive enough to pick up sound in other rooms. The other night I could hear my husband and daughter talking in the family room through the monitor in the bedroom. It isn’t the worst problem to have though, and at least I know I will hear any tiny noise from the baby.
When the monitor isn’t detecting noise, it is completely silent. So you don’t have to worry about any of that weird static noise.
Using the fancy features of this monitor is actually very easy (I was a bit concerned it would be complicated, but it wasn’t). Basically, once you download the software all you have to do is plug the monitor (parent end) into your computer via a USB cable, and it does the rest. Within the user-friendly interface, you can use your computer as a giant monitor (much like a security camera), take videos, snap shots and Skype. If you don’t have a webcam, the monitor eliminates the need for one because you can use it as a straight webcam for Skyping, which is fun.
To show you the quality of the monitor, here is short video I took using the monitor at night in a dark room.
Overall, we are very happy with this monitor and recommend it to anyone looking for a video monitor. Another plus for this monitor is that it is in the same class as some of the really expensive monitors (like $250+) out there with a price tag of only $189.99. Right now, The First Years Home & Away Monitor is available on Amazon for $169.00.
Disclosure – I received the Home and Away Monitor to facilitate this review and the prize pack provided for the winner, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.