The Withings Smart Baby Monitor is, for many, the best in its sector – and it’s certainly one of the most expensive. More often sold in the Apple Store than it is in Mothercare, this little clamshell beauty borrows the clean white Apple-style aesthetic along with the brand’s easy-to-use demeanour – straight out of the box.
Launched in 2009, specialist tech company Withings added the Smart Baby Monitor to its high-spec range of Smart health-related products in 2011.
Pitted against the BabyPing W-Fi Video Monitor (£130), the Samsung SEW 3037 VN Babyview Baby Monitor, (£145), and the Philips B120E/10 In.Sight Wireless HD Baby Monitor ( £149.95), it is perfect for parents who want their child’s safety package have great functionality without compromising on looks.
Unlike other baby monitors the Withings does not have a range limit, you can monitor your baby from anywhere, provided you are connected to Wi Fi.
You can buy the Withings Smart Baby Monitor on Amazon.
Ah. There’s something special about opening up an Apple box. The Withings, as an officially sanctioned Apple product, delivers that same perfectly packaged, special anticipation. And once the seal is opened, this box of tricks delivers.
Inside you’ll find the Smart Monitor unit itself, a nifty magnetised support stand which attaches it to the side of the cot if you want (I loved this! So clever! Er, but the cable was too short to reach so instead it sat on a table).
There’s also a lightweight travel bag, plus a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, cable and adaptors, and manual. It’s what’s not in the box however, that makes everything work.
What devices does the Withings work with?
It can connect to a laptop, tablet or Smartphone (it’ll work with iPads, iPhone (3GS and up) iPad Mini, and IPod touch ( 3rd Generation), as well as Smartphones running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream) and higher.
How easy is it to set up?
Very, it takes just five minutes to download the free WithBaby app, then syncs via Bluetooth in order to register your account. Each Smart monitor can simultaneously feed data to three devices, owned by, perhaps, mum, dad and grandma.
And each account can watch and listen to baby from the next room, or anywhere else in the world as long as they are connected via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1 or a 3G connection.
What’s the picture quality like?
Internet speeds in my house aren’t the best (3.6 mb on a good day!) and I was worried about how the monitor would cope. But all was good. There were a few incidents of buffering (where the image sticks for a bit) but this didn’t affect my ability to use the monitor too much.
Watching over daytime naps was a breeze with images clear and bright in the nursery’s sunlight (just perfect for one of the monitor’s functions, picture capture, where 3mp snaps are saved to your phone’s camera roll). Night-time images, which you’ll need more often, were reasonable too.
There is an LED night vision mode, which helps visibility (but did seem to darken without warning) and a 4x video zoom, to make images larger. This works alongside the camera’s wide-angle field of vision, compensating for the fact that unlike many video cameras, you can’t adjust the camera angle remotely. Those images were a bit fuzzy, but I was satisfied I could see what I needed to see in the room.
How about the sound quality?
Another nice feature is the ability to run the App’s non-stop listening feature (sound only) in the background, even when you’re not giving the monitor your full attention.
Admittedly there seemed to be a couple of seconds delay in broadcast, both in hearing baby and during the clever parent talkback feature. However the latter often helped me to settle my five month old without heaving him out of his cot.
What about the additional features?
As well as monitoring functions, the Smart Monitor has a subtle if somewhat spooky nightlight, (which you can turn on and off remotely in any colour of the rainbow you wish), plus humidity and temperature gauges. There are also seven lullabies built in to soothe your baby, (wouldn’t it be nice if you could access your iTunes library? One to think about Withings) my son’s asleep by the third track on the Blue Nile’s Hats.
Anyhow, the status of all of these functions can be adjusted by touching the screen on your Smartphone, and there is even a graph showing levels of sound and movement over the last15 minutes.
As your child grows, it’s great that the monitor’s functionality can adapt to your needs. You might need to rush through to a newborn pretty quick when you hear him waking, so the Withings will register and alert you if baby moves just a little, but once he’s self-soothing, you can reset it to wait til he’s been tap-dancing on his toys for a full five minutes before an alert lets you know.
How did you find the movement monitor?
Well, I took possession of the Withings at a crucial stage. It was the week my son finally learned how to roll (just the one way, mind) and it was the start of a summer heat wave, where, whatever I did, I couldn’t get his room temperature below 25 degrees at night.
As a first time mum I worried on both counts, and this monitor helped put my mind at rest. However, before contentment came frustration -– mostly because, if I took my phone into the nursery to pick the baby up, it kept alerting me to movement in the room – loudly. Needless to say, each time, an almost-soothed bubs lost his calm demeanour once again!
Does the App make watching baby easy?
Yes – with a few provisos. I found the whole thing super-simple to use. I added ‘checking baby’ to my itchy phone finger routine – facebook – twitter – news – email – in the evening while I was sitting watching the telly.
However be aware that software will need updated from time to time, and if you intend to use the Withings for more than one child, you’ll need to pick a model that’s compatible next time you upgrade your mobile (I suppose there’s an outside chance you’ll be forced to upgrade, depending on the operating system its optimised for by then).
Also, the App asks you to create a user profile with your child’s info, which I wasn’t 100% at ease with – but then I was impressed when, a few days later, they sent a proactive email offering genuine help to get the most out of the machine.
What about the battery life?
When plugged in the monitor is great, but the rechargeable Li-Ion battery only lasts a disappointing ten minutes! That would be ok in a short power cut maybe, but not good if you wanted to move around or take it out and about.
Your Smartphone or tablet will also need to be plugged in most of the time when using the app or it will rinse your battery good style.
Can I take it on holiday?
This neat creature comes with a lightweight travel bag and rechargeable battery, so in theory, yes – it’s ready to go when you But the battery life is not great (mentioned above) and be warned – overseas push notifications can cost a lot through your mobile network.
What’s more, the Withings’ great strength – Wifi/3G connectivity – could be its biggest weakness if you’re off somewhere remote or with poor coverage (for me, a technophobe Luddite, if lovely, Granny’s house). You can use Bluetooth at a push – but I have concerns about the security of leaving a Bluetooth connection open all the time.
What’s in the box?
- Smart monitor
- Support stand
- Travel bag
- Recharageble battery
- Connection cables
- Power adaptors
Any additional extras?
Made For Mums verdict:
The Withings Smart Baby Monitor is an excellent collision of form and function. The intuitive controls make keeping an eye on baby easy – but of course there are much cheaper ways to achieve a similar goal.
Those able to spend the extra cash, however, won’t be disappointed – you pay extra for the Withings’ Apple magic at its core.