Mellow Mummy: BT Smart Audio Baby Monitor Review : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 8 October 2013

BT Smart Audio Baby Monitor Review

I have been trying out the brand new Smart Audio baby monitor by BT which allows you to use your own smartphone or tablet as a parent unit for listening to your baby. This is genius!

Usually when I put Holly to sleep in the evenings, the first thing I do is head downstairs and have a tinker on my iPad and now I can listen to her through my iPad too! The BT Smart Audio features a baby unit monitor which sits in your baby's nursery and instead of the traditional parent unit, you simply connect your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone to the monitor to act as the monitoring device.

Setting up the monitor was phenomenally easy. I downloaded the free Smart Audio app from the app store, opened the settings on my iPad to connect to the wireless signal that the monitor was transmitting and then the app walked me through the rest of the set up. Then, all I have to do to be able to listen to Holly through the app is to press the 'listen' button and I can hear her as clear as day.

When Lara was little we had a BT audio monitor that I absolutely loved until one day Lara dunked it in the bath. I've tried many baby monitors since and have never yet come across one with such clear audio as my original one until I tried this BT Smart Audio. The sound quality is by far the best I've heard on any baby monitor to date. I guess one of the reasons for this is that the monitor only monitors sound - it doesn't do anything else fancy like video, lullabies, temperature control or movement sensors and so it can concentrate on doing one thing, well. The other reason is that it uses my home network to send me the sound signals wirelessly and so it can be as fast and powerful as your network can be (which for me, is pretty fast and powerful!).

I would say that I do miss some of the features of my old baby monitor - specifically the lullabies. It seems like it would be a small but beneficial enhancement to the Smart Audio monitor in the future to allow you to stop/start playing lullabies remotely through the app. The app does allow you talk-back to your baby's room through your device's microphone to allow you to calm your baby down with your own voice. This setting was on by default when I first used the app and I couldn't work out why Holly wasn't falling asleep until I realised she could hear everything myself, Lara and Mr. B were saying.

The accompanying app is very easy and intuitive. A simple dial shows you the sound level in the room and you can manually alter the volume settings for the app. You can choose to personalise the app with your baby's name and photo. When the app is in listen mode it will run in the background so that even if you are using other apps you can still hear your baby - this is very cool. The app keeps a log of all your monitoring sessions. I'm not convinced how useful this - maybe it would help you to understand your child's sleeping patterns if you looked at all the times the app or the monitor had been used?

And security is a big issue when you are using a wireless device so it is good to see that the app has controls built in to restrict those people who can connect to the monitor and listen to your baby. In order to connect, other devices need to be registered through the 'home' network. Additionally, you can govern which of the registered devices can connect remotely over 3G or 4G networks and which devices can only connect using the local home wireless network. I would say that I found the app to have forgotten my wireless settings between my daily uses, which was very annoying.

There are several other features that you can subscribe to, should you so desire. For a monthly or annual fee you can choose to upgrade to the premium service from evoz which captures crying data from your monitoring sessions so you can build a picture of when your baby cries and based on this it can send you videos with tips for better sleep for your baby.  Neither of these things feature highly in the Mellow Mummy guide to chilled out parenting so I don't think I will be subscribing!  The premium service also enables you to receive 'cry notifications' by text or email - unless you are away from your baby from the night and want to feel some level of connection with them, this service feels somewhat alarming - ordinarily I'd expect to be able to either hear my baby, or see the volume control on the app if they were crying; I can't think of a situation that I would be in where I would need this service.

The BT Smart Audio Baby Monitor is available from Amazon, John Lewis, Argos and Mothercare with a RRP of £79.99

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