Earlier, I wrote about the Nest Cam being my baby monitor of choice. It still is, though it isn’t an optimal always-on solution. You have to be near a smartphone, tablet, or PC to see the live stream.
Enter the VTech DM111 Digital Audio Baby Monitor. This inexpensive, always-on audio monitoring system includes a base station and portable parent unit. The base is powered by AC and the parent unit gives you the option to plug in to AC power or go portable with two AAA batteries.
The advertised battery life for the parent unit is 20 hours, however in brief real-world testing I found this to be an optimistic estimate. That said, you can probably beat that estimate with some high-capacity rechargeable batteries.
The VTech DM111 has five volume levels to choose from, which range from whisper quiet to a volume comparable to a typical adult’s indoor speaking voice. The audio is quite clear, and the microphone on the base unit is very sensitive. While it isn’t an audio quality you would want to record and broadcast, it does the job of letting you know when your baby is crying.
The same five lights that indicate which volume setting you’re on also give you a visual look at the volume level coming from your baby. I placed the base station near an air filtration unit and found that its noisy fan only triggered the first light. Speaking from a distance of five feet in a normal tone brought the level up to the fourth light.
There is a belt clip integrated into the parent unit. This makes it easy to take around the house. Its range, advertised at up to 1,000 feet, is more than enough to reach across my home. It does not, however, travel as well through brick walls to the outside.
When the battery gets low, it beeps to let you know you need to replace the batteries or plug the unit in. This is a handy feature – especially for folks that spend a lot of time away from the charging cable.
The VTech DM111 is an incredible value at under $18. It does almost everything the more expensive units do at a fraction of the cost. Its digital audio processor provides exceptionally clear audio, and it does its job as well as audio monitors that cost three or four times as much.