My everyday video baby monitor I use for my baby and toddler is the original VAVA Baby Monitor, which to me was a whole new world! (cue the Aladdin song).
You can watch your baby, talk to them, move the camera to see them better, and even keep an eye on them at night. All in crisp, clear HD. From anywhere in the house. Or the yard. It even monitors the temperature. On the huge display screen.
Now VAVA has introduced its New Split-Screen Baby Monitor which makes it much easier to see what is going on in multiple rooms with some other nice features.
Disclosure: VAVA sent us the original and the new split-screen monitors in exchange for this honest review and I kept and use the original but I was blessed to give the split-screen monitor to an organization that supports moms who can’t afford their own baby gear.
Here’s the full scoop on both VAVA Video Baby Monitors.
Let’s start with the monitor, since that’s the part that you are going to use every day.
Display and Picture
The new split-screen monitor and the original look identical except of course, for the split-screen on the new monitor.
This is a good sized monitor, with a 5 inch display screen. It uses IPS, which is a fancy type of LED display. That, combined with the 720P video feed, means that the picture is crystal clear. During the day, it was like watching something in HD on my phone.
At night, it was a bit less clear. This is no fault of the screen itself, but I think it had more to do with the quality of the night vision. Most of the image was whitewashed out, and it was difficult to distinguish between pillows, blankets, and my kids’ little faces. It was adequate, but by no means HD for nighttime viewing.
Note: One benefit of the new monitor is that the nighttime display is much clearer. This is because of a change to the camera that we will get to later.
If you have multiple cameras, up to 4 are possible, the old system would cycle through them showing one camera view at a time.
The new split-screen system will show 2 camera views at once, and cycle if you have more than 2. Every 15 seconds you hear what camera #1 hears, and then the next 15 seconds you hear camera #2. There is a sound wave symbol on the screen of the camera you are listening to.
The swapping back and forth between cameras or rooms means you don’t hear everything that’s happening in both rooms. You only catch half of it. This is just fine most of the time but takes some getting used to.
When you talk to your baby, you use the buttons on the monitor to choose which camera to talk through.
One cool thing is that for each separate camera you see the room temperature and light notifications when the camera is picking up louder sounds like baby crying or coughing.
The bright display screen shows you the signal strength, zoom level, night vision activation, the room temperature, the time, battery level, alarm, mute, talk back activation, and which camera you are viewing.
I didn’t really use the alarm function, because it was something I didn’t need. But, there’s the option to set a 2, 4, or 6 hour alarm. When it goes off, it will beep for 30 seconds unless you press okay. If you don’t press anything, it’ll beep for 30 seconds, stop for 1 min, then go off again. It’ll do this 3 times. That’s obnoxious, but effective.
Size and User Friendliness
The overall size of the monitor is slighty bigger than an iPhone 8 by a few inches, as you can see from the picture. It has a kickstand and antenna built-in. Plus, all the buttons are clearly labeled and easy to use. You can’t ask for much more in the way of ease of use.
I loved the battery life on this monitor! I plugged it in to play with it for a while, then used it for 2 nights in a row before I needed to charge it. Granted, it was in standby mode all night, but still! VAVA says that in standby mode, which is sound only, it will last for 15 to 18 hours. I can totally attest to that. When it’s in active mode, with both picture and sound running, you can still get a full night’s worth of battery power in with 8 hours of life.
The battery of the split-screen system is the same 4500mAh size as the original but VAVA says it will go 18 hours with audio-only, and 10 hours if the screen is also on.
Charging time is supposed to be 8 hours to get totally full, which is a looooong time to let it charge. But, thankfully, you can use it while it’s charging. So say you need to use it for a daytime nap, but it needed to charge from being on from the night before, you can still run it while it charges. This will lengthen the total charge time some, so be aware of that and add an extra hour or two on before you take it off the charger.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2020: Can we all agree that moving sucks?? Anyways, somehow the charger cord for my monitor got lost in the boxes and disappeared from the face of the earth. I contacted the company to ask if I could buy another, and they sent me one for free! Let me say, I LOVE THIS COMPANY’S CUSTOMER SERVICE. They actually care about their customers more than money, and it’s so refreshing.
Now to the camera! Because what good is a baby monitor if the camera is trash?
AC Power Source
The first thing I want to note is that the camera has to be plugged in because it is AC power only. No battery here. So you really have to plan ahead when you place it in your nursery or bedroom because you have to have it within a few feet of an outlet.
Wall Mounting and View
The camera has a hanging hole on the back for wall mounting. There are no screws included, but that’s not a big deal. Good anchors and screws aren’t terribly expensive.
Wherever you choose to hang or set the camera, it should be about 3 to 6 feet away from what you want to view. Now, if you want a full-blown room view, you can buy the very inexpensive VAVA wide-angle optical lens that will allow for wide-angle viewing.
Even without the special lens, you can pan and tilt 108 degrees vertically and 270 degrees horizontally, and zoom in either 2x or 4x.
You can also put it on auto-pilot circulating, which scans the whole room back and forth. This was cool, but I didn’t need the full view of my ceiling and messy closet and the wall behind the shelf. It was easier to pan from one child to the other manually.
It does all of the movements completely silently. I checked that because I have one very light sleeper and I wanted to make sure it didn’t make a whirring sound when moving.
Like I mentioned earlier, this camera has night vision. There are 12 high-intensity LED lights built in to help capture the images. These lights are noticeable at night, but not obvious or disruptive. What is obvious is the power light that stays green when the camera unit is on. My kids weren’t bothered by it because it was far enough away and they have a night light anyways, but I found it annoying in my totally dark room.
The new cameras whether you buy them with the split-screen monitor or separately have a technology called IR-CUT which makes night vision extremely clear. Sometimes it is so clear you have to check the room to make sure you didn’t leave the light on.
Another fab feature is the talkback. My 6-year-old son and I played with this and I listened in on both ends. I could hear him talk, and he could hear me talk. Now, it’s just like a walky-talky, so we couldn’t talk and hear each other at the same time. But most parents will use this to listen to their kids cry, then comfort them, then listen again, so it’s fine.
I already mentioned that the camera measures temperature, right? This will alert you if the temperature gets over 95 degrees or less than 32 degrees. I think that’s a strange range, considering that a baby in a 90 degree room is already overheated and a baby in a 40 degree room is already freezing cold. I think a smaller range for alerts would make a whole lot more sense, but it’s nice to still be able to monitor the temp.
I tried to think of a clever name for this category, but I just thought I’d throw all the other intel here and call it good. You’re welcome.
You can go up to 900 ft and still get connection between the camera and the monitor. Now, that’s counting on wide open space, which not all of us have. But in my house, which is old and solid and kind of a bunker in the basement, I was still able to connect and spy on my children upstairs despite the thick plaster walls.
As for quality and reliability, this baby monitor is top-notch.
My kids have knocked down the camera at least twice, and it’s handled it like a champ. No scratches or dents or breaking. And that’s falling from a 5 ft tall shelf, too.
The same goes for the monitor. It was dropped, kicked, covered in peanut butter, and dripped on by sippy cups. It even got lost under the bed for half the night. And it survived it all. Just a quick wipe with a damp cloth and it was ready to go again.
Summary: this is a durable unit! Not some cheap thing that will break the first chance it gets. Now, time will tell how the electronic elements hold up, but I have faith that they’ll be durable as well. But in the couple of weeks that I’ve used this, I’ve had nary a problem.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2021: My camera broke. It started to become loose where the AC cord plugged into the camera itself. The power was spotty for a week, so I tried moving it around a bit, to no avail. It finally died and I couldn’t get my camera to turn on at all. I contacted the company and their customer service was stellar! They said that since I was still under warranty, they’d send me a new unit right away! And somehow, the new camera seemed even better than the old one: crisper, clearer, and more solid. Five-star service for sure!
Privacy and Setup
And a quick note on privacy: since none of the sound or picture goes online, and you don’t have to connect to your home WiFi, you don’t have to worry about somebody hacking this system through WiFi. It uses a secure 2.4GHz FHSS connection.
The other really nice benefit of the way the monitor and cameras connect is that it is really easy to setup the system. You don’t have to connect or enter passwords.
To set up your VAVA baby video monitor you:
- charge the monitor (you can use it while its charging, even the first time)
- plugin your cameras
- push and hold the “PAIR” button on the bottom of each camera for 3 seconds
Done! That’s it. You should see the view from both cameras on your screen with no extra steps. Then you can tweak settings by navigating through the menu. You’ll want to have your manual handy the first time because a few of the menu icons aren’t obvious.
Fun Feature Recap!
- 480 ft to 900 ft operating range
- 7 levels of volume control
- 8 levels of brightness control
- 90 degree rotatable antenna
- 4x zoom
- 2 way talk back
- Auto circulating view of whole room
- Up to 4 cameras pair with 1 monitor
- Pan and tilt
- Optional wide-angle lense
- Black and white night vision
- Night vision
- Great range
- Long battery life
- Can pair up to 4 cameras
- Great sound sensitivity
- Night vision is just so-so on the original, but great with the new cameras!
- Has green light that’s visible in the dark
- If you have multiple cameras but only want to see a single camera most of the time, you have to manually switch back and forth using more buttons than seem necessary
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy It?
If you are shopping for baby monitor that has all the bells and whistles that you absolutely need, don’t discount the VAVA Baby Monitor. And if you want 2 cameras, great night vision and a split-screen get the new improved VAVA.
No one had heard of VAVA a few years ago but it is becoming known as it outperforms many of the leading brands.
This baby monitor is a keeper, especially if you need a multiple camera baby monitor. It is also ideal for parents who like audio-only monitors, but want the option of a great camera when they want it. That’s how the standby mode operates, and I loved it!
I loved the talkback and the sensitivity of the sound sensor. I heard everything I needed to hear and saw it all in HD on the large and clear monitor. I was a bit disappointed by the night vision, but then again, no camera is going to get a totally clear picture in a dark room.
It’s held up to my children for 2 years, which is more than a lot of toys and electronics can say. It’s well made, has easy instructions, and is priced just right for what you get.