October 22, 2006

Gratuitous Product Review: Philips Baby Monitor

My friend Charlie struck again. This time, he sent a baby monitor my way. Specifically, the Philips DECT model. Now, I have to say there's almost nothing sexy about baby monitors. In the spectrum of electronics and small appliance purchases, a baby monitor rates pretty low, somewhere between a hair dryer and a vacuum. The bottom line is that, while it was cool getting free stuff, I was skeptical. I'm actually pretty well qualified, however, to evaluate a baby monitor. Beth and I are on our second set. I guess we're picky.

The monitor advertises itself as a digital monitor and the payoff for this digitization is quite convincing. The sound quality is fantastic - I can hear Mia breathing (admittedly not as tough lately since she's had a sinus infection) and I'm pretty sure I can hear all the goings on in the neighborhood if I crank it enough. Better are the features. From the remote unit, parents can not only hear their child but turn on a nightlight on the base unit, flip on one of several lullabies or even talk to their child (I have the feeling this is a feature best used with older kids; it would just freak Mia out). It even displays the temperature in the baby's room and it'll let you know if its getting too hot or cold. Almost every aspect of the monitor can be controlled from the remote unit. Of course, with more features comes a greater degree of adjustment getting used to it. I have to admit, I actually cracked the user manual to see how to scroll through the menu. But I only had to look at it that once.

There are a few drawbacks. The battery life is okay but not stellar. Unlike many of the monitor models out there, it only comes with one remote unit. So when the batteries die, you don't have too many options. And while it helpfully tells you the temperature, it doesn't tell you the time. I don't know why that bothers me but it seems like it would be an easy feature to include.

The retail price on the monitor is steep - Amazon has them listed for $200. Is it worth it? Maybe. If you've tried other monitors and never been satisfied, yes. If you're concerned about sound quality and want a few great extra features, yes. It is better than the monitors I've had experience with. Parents have a lot to spend their cash on. I'm not sure it's realistic to pay $200 for a monitor. But if you've purchased all the diapers, books, blankets and clothes you want and you have a little extra cash burning a hole in your pockets, well, this is a good way to spend it.

Posted by Chris at October 22, 2006 11:13 AM

Thanks for the review! We actually have to go buy a monitor very soon, we'll keep this one in mind.

Posted by: donna at October 22, 2006 12:08 PM

Ummm - if my dogs bark in the middle of the night I just yell SHUT UP!!!! Guess that doesn't work on kids, does it. Oh well, I now have $200 to spend on CDs instead.

Posted by: Heather at October 22, 2006 12:09 PM

Being as our house is less than 1000 square feet, I never felt the need for a baby monitor. :-) I could hear them clearly no matter where I was. However, my brother and his wife live in a much larger home and are expecting their first baby. I'll pass the info along.

Posted by: Alissa at October 22, 2006 12:14 PM

Might be a good shower present for Gestational Countessa.

I am sure they will have everything else.

Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Wicked H at October 22, 2006 12:17 PM

I want a friend like Charlie!!!!

Posted by: linda at October 22, 2006 02:21 PM

Think I need to get one for Greta and her puppies?

Posted by: Maribeth at October 22, 2006 03:28 PM

I'm glad I'm past that age at least for awhile. It always made me ervouse in the beginning to listen to my girls breath. Glad you got that though.

Posted by: Melissa at October 22, 2006 05:50 PM

I am back reading blogs and had to come here, now I have to get caught up on it as I still love this blog!

Posted by: Nina at October 22, 2006 07:40 PM

We bought a fisher price monitor but found we could hear the monkey better without it (there was so much feedback and sound travels fast in our house)....Thanks for the review, though! :)

Posted by: Haley-O at October 22, 2006 08:28 PM

Seriously, I need to get to know this Charlie guy.

That baby monitor has more bells and whistles than my car, apparently. But why no clock? That's just bizarre-- the only thing more bizarre would be if the clock was on the baby side of the equation.

Learning to tell time in the crib? That would be worth the $200. But then again, most kids I've dealt with don't need a clock to wake up for their 2 AM feeding. Internal baby clock? Priceless.

Posted by: Sassy at October 23, 2006 03:28 AM

You forgot about the benefits of the two way system:
1. Unconscious suggestion (you know, while they sleep you can repeat stuff like, "you no longer want to pull all the remotes off the table")
2. Voice Of God Effect (for older kids... when you know they got too quiet too quick and they're up to something, out comes THE VOICE OF GOD to scare them into behaving)

Posted by: Jeff at October 23, 2006 02:44 PM