- Secure digital transmission
- Wireless movement sensor pad (with battery); alarm will sound if no movement after 20 seconds
- Two-way communication so you can talk to your baby
- Audible and visual out-of-range alerts
- Vox mode: monitor wakes up due to sound but not movement
The Angelcare AC517 takes monitoring your baby to the next level. Not only is it a high-quality video monitor with a five-inch touchscreen, it also monitors your baby’s movements with a wireless sensor pad that you place under his or her mattress. The pad detects very small movements (like breathing) and will sound an alarm if there is no movement for 20 seconds, even if your baby wiggles to the far corners of the crib. If you’re a nervous parent (or suspect you will be), the Angelcare AC517 could provide you with the reassurance you need. That said, some parents find that too much monitoring can make them more anxious, and they just end up with eyes and ears glued to the monitor (instead of trusting that it will alert them if there’s a problem). So you’ll want to think about what is going to work best for you. The AC517 is also expandable; you can add up to four cameras, and view all cameras onscreen at the same time. This monitor doesn’t offer lullabies, a nightlight or a nap/feeding timer, so if those are important features for you, take note.
Set-up and menu
You’ll probably want to set aside about an hour to get the right set-up for the Angelcare AC517. Like most video monitors, the video function works almost right out of the box, but getting the sensor pad working properly can take a bit more time. Despite that extra step, all of our at-home parent testers strongly agreed it was easy to set up and start using this monitor quickly, and they all said the sensor pad made them feel more secure while their baby slept. We recommend you start by setting up the camera—but make sure you pause or turn off the sensor pad via the on-screen menu on the parent unit first, otherwise you’ll be subjected to a lot of loud beeping. The camera can be mounted to a wall or it can sit on a dresser or shelf using Angelcare’s handy magnetic stand. Make sure you place the camera where you’ll have a good view of your baby’s crib, because the camera angle can’t be adjusted (i.e., tilted) remotely. The cords for the camera and the parent unit can be used interchangeably, so that makes set-up a little easier, although one of our parent testers commented that they’d have preferred a longer cord.
Once you’re ready to set up the sensor pad, insert the battery, then slip it under your baby’s mattress with the Angelcare logo facing up. You have to make sure it is sitting on a solid surface, so if you have a mattress that’s supported by springs or slats, you’ll need to slide a hard board that is at least slightly larger than the sensor pad underneath it. The sensor pad can’t be used with hollow core mattresses (though these aren’t commonly used in cribs). You also have to be careful with mattresses that contain memory foam on the top or bottom layer, as the foam can form around the sensor pad and make it less sensitive. Turning the mattress regularly would help, but you could also just stick with a standard spring mattress.
Depending on the thickness of your mattress, you may get a few false alarms before you get the sensitivity set to the right level (it can be adjusted using the touchscreen menu on the parent unit). Once you’ve got it right, you’ll have to remember to pause the sensor pad when you pick up baby, and then remember to turn it on again when you put baby back in the crib. There’s a button on the top of the camera that makes it easy to pause and un-pause. You can use the monitor without the sensor pad, but you’ll need to turn it off from the main menu—if you only pause it, there will be a red icon in the way of your view of your child. It’s important to note that the pad can only be used for one baby; if you have twins sleeping in the same crib, for example, the movement of one baby could mask an issue with the other.
Our testers all agreed it was easy to navigate the menu on the parent unit, and they were able to figure out how to control all of the various features reasonably quickly. We felt similarly—some of the menus on other monitors we tested were a little more intuitive, but once we’d had a read through the instruction manual, everything made sense. We found the touchscreen to be a little finicky; sometimes it took a few taps to get a menu to pop up.
Our parent testers were very happy with the size of the AC517’s screen. They also felt the colour, sharpness and brightness of the image were very good—as did we. The image was clear enough for our testers to see the rise and fall of their child’s chest, and the night vision/infrared camera on this monitor is one of the better ones we tested—which is good news, since nighttime is when you’ll be using it the most.
The AC517 has excellent sound quality. When we played a recording of a baby crying through the monitor, the crying sounded very true to life. Our testers agreed the sound is clear, and they liked the two-way talk function and said it helped them calm their child. This monitor had one of the higher white noise levels of all the monitors we tested, but they were all very quiet, so it isn’t likely anything that will bother you. Either way, you can use the Vox mode feature, which turns off the sound but “wakes up” and starts transmitting again if it picks up any noise.
The camera on the AC517 can’t be tilted remotely to get a different view angle, but you can zoom in and pan around from the menu on the parent unit. With this limited movement, you’ll want to make sure you get the camera set up with a good field of view from the start. The camera also displays the temperature in your child’s room (the temperature is also displayed on the parent unit). There is no battery on the camera, so it always needs to be plugged in.
There’s one thing to know about the option to expand this monitor by up to four cameras: you’ll be able to view images from all cameras at once, but the sound will only transmit from the last room you selected at full screen.
We tested the range of the Angelcare AC517 in a four-storey house, with the camera in an attic room in the front half of the house. It stayed in range almost everywhere, with two small blind spots at the back of the house. Our testers were very happy with the range of this monitor, and were able to use it outside their houses (on decks or in backyards). They all felt confident that the monitor would let them know if they were out of range, since the monitor beeps loudly and an out-of-range icon flashes onscreen when that happens.
Our at-home testers were happy with how long the battery charge on the parent unit lasted, and agreed it was easy to see when the battery level was low, and very easy to charge it again.
Temperature sensor: The most helpful part of the temperature sensor on this monitor is that you can set a temperature range that you’re comfortable with, and if the temperature is warmer than the limit you have set, the temperature on the camera will turn red; if it’s too cold, the numbers will turn blue.
Screen saver mode: The screen will turn off automatically (the sound stays on, though) after a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of three minutes, depending on what you select. To reactivate the screen, you just give it a tap.
Movement and temperature reports: The AC517 will save up to two months of data about movement and temperature readings, and you can access that data from the main menu, should you need it.
All of our testers agreed this monitor deserved to be awarded the Today’s Parent Approved seal. They rated the quality and ease of use of the Angelcare AC517 as good, but were less enthusiastic about the value. But if using a sensor pad is important to you, it’s hard to find a movement monitor that performs as well, while also being a great video monitor. There are video monitors with a few more bells and whistles for a lower or comparable price, but if you’re looking for a movement monitor that you can depend on, we recommend the Angelcare AC517.
- Digital zoom and pan
- Night vision
- Temperature sensor with alerts on camera
- No rechargeable battery; has to be plugged in
- Can be set up with magnetic tabletop stand or a wall-mount
- 5-inch LCD touchscreen
- Rechargeable battery with low-battery alert
- Temperature display
- Tracks movement and room temperature for up to 2 months
- Screen saver shuts off screen automatically (but still transmits sound) to save battery life
- Up to 250 m (820 ft) outdoors (open area without obstructions)