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Even the best baby monitors provide an imperfect view of their subjects. Indeed, as little ones spend much of their time lying flat on their backs, cameras have to be placed fairly high and at an angle to provide a decent view. That typically requires mounting the monitor on a wall or an adjacent shelf, and even then it might not be possible to get an unrestricted view. Enter the $300 Motorola Halo+, which solves this problem by attaching to your crib to provide an overhead view of your baby.
The Halo+ system consists of three pieces. The 1080p camera comes with night vision, motion-and-sound activated two-way audio, and a lullaby player. There’s also an overhead mount that includes a night light and light-show projector, while the remote unit for parents features a 4.3-inch full color screen.
As the Halo+ works on Motorola’s Hubble Connected platform, you can also use it with the Hubble smartphone app to monitor your baby when you’re away from home, receive activity alerts, and even track you child’s sleep patterns.
Halo+ setup and performance
New parents already have a whole new life to figure out, so the Halo+ is mercifully simple to set up. The overhead mount fastens to the crib with a plate that hooks over the top rail and is secured through the crib bars with a screw and mounting knob. A telescopic leg extends to the floor for further stability.
When the mount is in place, you just attach the camera to it and plug it in, then plug in the parent unit. Turn both devices on and you’ve got live video. Even the most sleep-deprived mom or dad should be able to complete this process in 20 to 30 minutes.
The parent unit’s display is flanked on either side by a row of buttons. There’s a dedicated push-to-talk button and one for accessing sleep activity data (this requires a Hubble Connected subscription, which I explain below.). The other buttons are for accessing and navigating the parent unit’s menu options, which include optical zoom, brightness settings, the lullaby selection, night-light controls, and multi-camera views.
The parent unit provides a nice, clear picture, though with a slight purple color cast common to these types of baby monitors. It also displays the current temperature in your child’s nursery, wireless signal strength, and the battery level of the unit. If the camera is unplugged or if the parent unit otherwise loses connection to the camera, the unit beeps repeatedly to alert you.
The night light provides a soft glow that’s meant to soothe your child to sleep, and it’s dim enough to prevent waking kids if you leave it on once they’re slumbering. The parent unit also lets you choose from seven colors and three brightness levels. The lightshow option projects a celestial scene of planets, stars, spaceships, and a baby astronaut on the ceiling, and can be used independently or along with the night light.
The camera uses eight infrared LEDs to provide night vision. These activate automatically when the camera’s built-in photo sensor detects low ambient light. The LEDs provide plenty of illumination to see your child in the dark but are virtually invisible to the eye, so you don’t have to worry about them waking your baby.
The Halo+ provides a playlist of audio content stored on the camera that includes 10 lullabies and 10 audio books. The lullabies range from traditional sleepy time tunes like “Rock-a-bye Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to sea waves and other calming nature sounds. The audio books include a selection of Ken Brown’s Mucky Pup and David McKee’s Elmer stories among others. These are read by both male and female voices in an animated style appropriate for kids.
The Halo+ is a pretty powerful baby monitor out of the box. To unlock its full capability, though, you need to download the Hubble app and add a Hubble Connected subscription. The setup is akin to Wi-Fi- home security cameras: The app guides you through the process of connecting first to the camera then to your home network.
The app provides a much more elegant way to interact with the Halo+ system, while providing the same control over the camera’s video stream, night light, and audio content as the parent unit. But in addition to live video, the app also lets you capture and review video triggered by your baby’s movements and sounds, and will push you notifications of these activities.
The app offers a few ways to manage event detection so you’re not bombarded with alerts every time your baby stirs. The motion and audio sensors can be adjusted independently or turned off altogether, and motion detection can be scheduled to be active only during certain hours. You can also have the app notify you when the temperature in your child’s room falls outside a desired range.
If you want to dig deeper into your baby’s behavior, the app makes it easy to view visual data on sleep patterns, movements, and sleep quality. The information is gathered via Hubble’s Sleep Insights Service, which recognizes when your baby is in her crib and captures and analyzes her movements using a cloud-based algorithm.
There are four Hubble Connected plans: Free, Basic, Standard, and Premium. All of these include unlimited live video streaming and real-time motion, sound, and temperature alerts. But only the Basic, Standard, and Premium options—at $29, $99, and $299 yearly, respectively—enable video recording (a 7-day free trial is offered) and only the two priciest plans include the sleep analytics.
The Halo+ is an impressive baby monitor but with the exception of the admittedly clever overhead mount, it’s not all that unique. The Arlo Baby, for example, offers many similar features to the Halo+, including 1080p full HD video, unintrusive night vision, sound and motion detection, two-way audio, a multicolored LED nightlight, and library of lullabies. And you get seven days of event-triggered cloud recordings free with purchase of the Arlo camera, whereas the Hubble Connected free plan only allows you to save photos of motion-triggered events—and only for 24 hours. Compared the $299 Halo+, the Arlo Baby is also a bargain at just $179.95 through Amazon.
If price isn’t a concern or you can convince a generous family member the Halo+ is a must-have baby shower gift, you’ll likely find it’s the next best thing to having a night nanny. Just remember to consider the added costs of the cloud subscription that unlocks everything it has to offer.