D-Link DCS-825L baby monitor review: A strong camera with lots of features
By Michelle Mastin
TechHiveJan 19, 2015 3:00 am PST
At a Glance
Direct connect option
Pricier than monitors with dedicated screens
Does not fully integrate with D-Link’s connected-home platform
D-Link’s Wi-Fi enabled baby monitor gives you lots of viewing options with apps for iOS,
Android, Windows Phone, and a web viewer so you can keep an eye on your little one from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Our homes are getting smarter than ever, so why not our nurseries? Check out the monitor aisle at popular baby stores and you’ll see a bunch of audio-only monitors or video monitors that require carrying a bulky chunk of a receiver with a screen in the 3-inch range. This just feels dumb when I’m already carrying a 5-inch 720p screen in my back pocket and generally within grabbing distance of a laptop and an iPad during nap times.
The camera is a cute sphere with interchangeable colored accent rings in pink, blue, or white. The adorable little tail coming out of the back actually contains a temperature sensor and a round light on the top of the camera will show you at a glance if the temperature is in a good range, too hot, or too cold. There’s also ring of infrared LEDs that come on automatically when the light gets low.
Setting up the camera was easy. I just had to plug it in, connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi network (using the secure password included in the set up guide) and the MyDlink Baby Camera Monitor app on my Android phone did the rest. I didn’t have to mess with IP configurations or ports or anything. The app walked me through connecting the camera to my home network as well as creating an account with MyDlink.com to log in remotely.
You don’t actually need to connect to your home network though. You can leave the camera in broadcast mode, use any smartphone or tablet with the MyDlink Baby app connected directly to the camera’s network (with the same secure password from the set up), and watch streaming video directly.
The MyDlink Baby app also has settings for adjusting the temperature, noise, and motion levels, as well as choosing which lullabies to play, how long they will play, and how loud.
Once you have your camera set up, you can view the video stream through your web browser on Windows or OS X. You can also access some of the camera’s settings and watch the video stream through the MyDlink Lite or MyDlink Home app, but integration with Dlink’s connected home platform is limited. You’ll want to stick to the Baby Camera app to have full control.
My baby is four months old and still takes three or four short naps throughout the day in his crib upstairs. Having a good video monitor made it possible for me and my toddler to head outside while still being ready to get him as soon as he woke.
Remote viewing came in handy on a number of occasions. Our backyard is big enough that the Wi-Fi signal gets weak in the back, but I didn’t have to worry because the app could still connect over 4G.
The camera switches automatically between day and night modes, but there’s an audible click when the IR filter moves in front of the lens. It wasn’t enough to wake a sleeping baby, but it was enough to trigger level-2 (on a scale of 5) noise alerts. I wondered why I was getting alerts in the afternoon when no one was in the room until I figured out that the light was right at the threshold and kept triggering the filter on and off. I set my noise alert back up to level 3 and the random noise alerts stopped. Level 3 was still plenty sensitive to get a timely notification when the baby was making noise.
Since my baby is not mobile yet and only flops his legs and rolls his head back and forth when he wakes, I needed a sensitive motion detector and the D-Link delivered. I kept it set to the second most sensitive level of five and got alerts when he kicked his legs (likely meaning he was waking) without it being overly sensitive to head rolling (likely meaning he would go back to sleep).
The viewing angle is not very wide, but the goal is to watch the crib not the whole room, and the whole crib easily fits in the shot. Even on the lower quality video setting, both day and night mode were clear enough to see if my baby’s eyes were open. That way, I could tell if he was flopping around and then going back to sleep, or flopping around then lying awake waiting for someone to come get him.
Battery life on my phone didn’t seem to be adversely affected by streaming audio and video during naps. The app will continue to run in the background, giving you alerts and playing audio, if you want to use your phone or tablet for other things while monitoring nap time.
I ran into occasional disconnects, but the video stream always came right back. It took some trial and error to find the best times to watch in local mode versus remote.
Is it a good buy, baby?
The D-Link Wi-Fi baby monitor does exactly what it needs to do: It monitors my baby when I’m out of the room, and it does it easily and reliably from any one of the many screens I’m already carrying around.
But, D-Link already has a connected home platform, and while you can view your video stream from the Home app, you can’t really manage this camera along with all of the other D-Link connected home devices. This seems like a huge omission for what could have been an integral part of your whole connected home.
If you just want to watch a baby, this is a good camera. But if you want to watch your baby as a part of your smart, connected, automated home set up, keep looking.