What makes a smart baby monitor "smart?" Some devices are app connected. The Wireless Home Baby Monitoring Kit from Panasonic, shows off its smarts by integrating with a larger system -- the Panasonic Home Network., measuring heart rates and oxygen levels. Some are
At $180, Panasonic's video baby monitor is more affordable than much of the competition. Part of the way it cuts that cost is by excluding a standalone base station monitor. Instead, users can pull up the app on their phones to live stream their sleeping child. Like competitor iBaby, Panasonic maintains an impressive app and reliable connection.
The problem is, when you just use the monitor around the house, your phone gets tied up with the app, which can be frustrating if you're hoping to multitask with it.
Panasonic's Kit also includes a hub that can connect with devices like door/window sensors, motion sensors, and more -- all for a more integrated and secure nursery environment. Without those additional purchases, the hub really only functions as an audio alarm when the camera senses motion. But for customers interested in setting up a DIY monitoring system for their child, the hub adds a lot of potential.
Panasonic's device has a few major drawbacks. Most notably, the camera is one of the few in its price range without pan/tilt controls. In other words, once the camera is pointed in a direction, that's where it stays until you physically move it. The second issue is the lack of sensitivity personalization when it comes to motion and sound alerts. Under the default settings, I was able to walk across the whole field of view for the camera. As long as I went slowly, the alarm never went off.
The final problem with Panasonic was actually my first impression. Setting up the hub and the camera, connecting them on my Wi-Fi, and installing the multiple firmware updates required -- the whole process took over an hour (yes, you read that right). I'm glad to see Panasonic updating the firmware on these devices, as it shows at least some level of ongoing support. But setup for a baby monitor shouldn't take more than a few minutes, let alone 60.
Panasonic's baby monitor isn't the best device for its price. But for parents with an interest in DIY setups and large monitoring systems, it could be a good foundation for future investments.