Now that I’ve had a few months to actually use all this stuff, I’ve decided to go ahead and start reviewing some of the baby stuff we accumulated in preparation for little Reese to hit the scene. The first thing is the Angelcare AC1100 Video – Movement – Sound baby monitor.
The system is quite simple – there’s a monitor that you position in sight of your baby’s bed and a portable monitor with a charging station that you can use to monitor your kiddo. The real important part, though, is the pad that slides underneath the mattress and connects to the monitor part.
The monitor looks kinda like a futuristic angel with a row of LEDs down the front, a circular ‘halo’ at the top, and two ‘paddles’ on either side that look kinda like wings (bonus points for making the product fit the brand name). One of these paddles is the power button, the other makes the halo glow a similar greenish color as Timex Indiglo backlights – nice, but not too bright or anything. The LEDs along the front house different things – one is a power indicator, another is the camera (with infrared for night-vision). There is also a microphone and speaker on this base unit, and the bottom has a standard mounting screw so you can attach it to a tripod if you want.
Due to the position of the camera, we ended up attaching it to a Gorillapod tripod and then wrapping that around the railing of the crib and it worked great. This also helped us since there is no other furniture around the crib. Just make sure the wires and monitor are out of reach of your kid or you could have problems.
The portable monitor looks like….a portable monitor. There’s a small resistive touchscreen (resistive means you have to apply pressure to press a button) on the front, with a huge speaker/microphone beneath. There’s a small stub antenna at the top and a belt clip if you want to be one of ‘those’ parents. Along the sides are the power button, volume up/down buttons, and a microphone button. This is kind of handy as the system supports a walkie-talkie mode (so not only can you hear your baby, but you can press a button and talk and the baby can hear you, too).
The software on this thing is REALLY rudimentary, but actually offers quite a few options. The display is really informative, with a top status bar that shows the current temperature in the baby’s room, a visual indicator of the baby’s breathing, wireless connection strength, and battery level. You can set alarms for several things, including a specific temperature range (alarm sounds if it gets too hot/cold), timer (if you only want baby to nap for 30 minutes, for instance), and of course, the Angelcare pad.
The pad is the ‘Angelcare’ part and it monitors for your baby’s breathing pattern. As long as it detects baby’s breathing, all’s good. If it stops detecting this small movement, it waits about 10 seconds to make sure, and then it sounds the alarm. This specific system is designed to help prevent infant death from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It’s a bit pricey, but I lost a nephew to SIDS when I was younger, so it’s an important subject for me.
The pad itself is pretty sensitive, but not too bad. As she gets older, Reese has started rolling around quite a bit in her sleep, and on a few occasions, has set off the alarm by rolling too far to the side of the crib. We’ve also set it off a few times by picking her up before pressing the PAUSE button on the portable monitor. The alarm is loud enough to wake at least one of us up in the middle of the night, and the screen also flashes red and black, so you have audible and visual alerts (the same alarm is used for any alarm feature, including temperature or time).
The video quality is good enough for us to see what Reese is doing and whether or not her eyes are closed, but that’s about it. The ‘night mode’ kicks on automatically, and offers a surprisingly good view, even in complete darkness.
The only two complaints that I have with the system are both related to the portable monitor. When the system is on ‘PAUSE’, there’s an audible beep every few seconds, I suppose just to remind you that it’s there. It’s really annoying, though, and I can’t find a way to turn it off. The other big issue is the display itself – it’s insanely bright. While you can press the power button once to turn off the display (but keep the audio going), there’s no option to adjust the brightness – it’s either all or nothing.
Aside from that, this has been a solid purchase for us. Admittedly, $250 is pretty expensive, and it does have some features that are probably more of a ‘nice-to-have’, but I would still buy it again if I had to.