Owlet Baby Monitor review: The Owlet Baby Monitor boasts fresh design, but misses some basics

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The Good The Owlet Baby Monitor is well-designed and easy to use. It's comfortable for kids, and sends alerts very reliably.

The Bad For the $250 price tag, the features just seem way too sparse.

The Bottom Line The Owlet is reliable enough to help some parents relax, but it doesn't offer as many features as the price tag might indicate. It won't replace a more conventional baby monitor, either.

7.0 Overall
  • Features 4
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8
  • Performance 9

When you hear the phrase "baby monitor," the first thing you might think of is a set of old walkie-talkie-type devices that let you hear your sleeping child (along with some static). But the Owlet Baby Monitor, along with a wave of new devices like it, are redefining that term.

The Owlet is a two-part device. It includes a small bootie that fits on your child's foot and a base station that sits next to your bed. These two components communicate, so when the monitor senses abnormal oxygen levels or heart rate for your child, the base station then sets off an appropriate alarm. After working with the Owlet for a few days, I love the concept and performance. My wife and I really did sleep easier knowing our son's vitals were being monitored.

That said, I can't recommend the Owlet to everyone, simply because the $250 price tag is so much higher than what its straightforward features seem to justify. Plus, it just won't replace more traditional monitors that let you know if your kid wakes up at night.

The Owlet's components are well designed and durable. The socks are comfortable for babies, and they fit snugly and reliably even on squirmy children. They measure heart rate and oxygen levels with pulse oximetry -- a technology used in many hospitals.

I like the dual devices of the system. The plug-in base means the bootie recharges, rather than using replaceable batteries like some other monitors of this sort. Plus, having a separate piece for alarms lets me leave my phone silenced at night, so I don't mix up alerts regarding my son's well-being with, say, a retweet or favorite on social media.

Still, I want to see more smarts for the price before I'll be comfortable spending $250 on the Owlet. Right now, it doesn't include alerts if your child flips onto their stomach, or if your child has woken up and is crying. It also doesn't help you track any sleep patterns over time. All of these features can be found in other monitors for lower prices, and most of them wouldn't take significant changes to the Owlet's hardware.

So while I like the Owlet Baby Monitor, I can't recommend it as a priority purchase until the price drops or the feature list grows.