Best forParents who want an expandable video baby monitor with a great infrared camera, and who don't need to have a touchscreen parent unit
Top BenefitsEasy to set up and use, comes with a wall-mount bracket, the ability to add up to three additional cameras
ConsiderationsCamera occasionally moves on its own when not in use
Bottom lineThe VTech VM343 is a dependable, easy-to-use video baby monitor without a whole lot of bells and whistles
The VTech VM343 Safe & Sound Video Baby Monitor is as dependable and easy-to-use as they come. Unlike touchscreen monitors, the VM 343's parent unit features a handful of buttons, and there aren’t too many fussy features to master. Yet you can still connect up to four cameras—great for expanding families who want to set up a camera in each kid's room. The infrared camera is easily activated, and with a picture that's sharp enough to make out small details, it was one of the best that we tested. This model also comes with a wall-mounting bracket in the box, so you’ll be able to see your see your baby safely from a distance.
From unboxing to functioning, our experience with the VTech VM343 was a definite hit. It may seem like a small thing, but we really appreciated the "quick start guide" that was included along with a much more comprehensive user’s manual. Our hands-on parent testers agreed that the instructions were easy to follow, set-up was quick and they were able to see as much of their baby as they wanted to.
Both the user manual and quick start guide for the VTech VM343 are easily accessible on VTech's website, which is super handy if you misplace yours or need to access them remotely.
In our lab tests, we found the picture on the parent unit's 4.3-inch colour LCD screen was a little bit fuzzy and the colours were slightly faded. But our hands-on parent testers said the image was clear enough to see the rise and fall of their child’s chest while they slept and whether or not their child’s eyes were open or closed. All of our parent testers were happy with the size of the screen and felt that image was bright enough to meet their needs. One feature that we find particularly useful is the ability to turn the sound-activated screen on or off as needed.
Touchscreens aren't for everyone—some people don't like having to deal with a bright screen at night. If you're looking for something more low-tech, there's a lot to like with this monitor. The buttons on the parent unit are intuitive and easy to read. Also, to help conserve power on the parent unit, you can turn on the dim mode feature: If you don't touch the parent unit for 10 minutes, the screen will dim to prolong the life of the battery.
To test the sound quality in all of the monitors that we looked at, we started by using a sound meter to measure the existing white noise that the monitor was picking up. The VTech VM343 video baby monitor had one of the lowest readings that we took. Following that, we played a recording of a baby crying, and while the sound was slightly distorted, it was still distinguishable.
We also tested the monitor’s talk-back feature. With no distortion or delay, it was one of most clear talk-back systems that we tested. Our hands-on parent testers agreed that this feature was easy to use and their voices carried in a clear and understandable tone. But they were divided when it came to how effectively they were able to soothe their baby with the talk-back feature (not that surprising considering touch activates receptors in the brain that calm babies). It's the sort of feature that becomes more useful as your kiddo grows.
During our lab tests, we found that the camera had a slight lag time and the pan and tilt feature made a faint audible noise (nothing approaching loud enough to wake a baby) when it was moving. All of our hands-on parent testers were happy with the pan and tilt features of the camera, but they were divided on the zoom feature. Half found it difficult to zoom, and once they had zoomed, they felt that the image wasn’t immediately sharp enough. It’s worth noting that during our lab tests and the hands-on parent testing, the camera would move on its own from time to time when it wasn’t in use. Our parent testers found this irksome, but definitely not a deal breaker.
All of our parent testers noted that the infrared/night vision automatically switches on when they turn the lights out in their child’s room. One was particularly thrilled with this feature, noting that the picture was just as clear at night as it was during the day.
To test the range of all the video monitors that we looked at, we brought them to a four-storey house, placed the camera in an attic bedroom and walked around the house with the parent unit in hand. The VTech VM343 monitor only lost range at the very back of the bedrooms and in the backyard, but had good reception in the middle of the rooms. The "connection status" signal on the screen of the parent unit lets you know how strong the signal is. As you're nearing the end of the monitor's range, you'll get an onscreen notification, and once you're fully out of range, the parent unit will let you know with three loud beeps.
The parent unit of the VTech VM343 runs on a rechargeable battery and can also be plugged in, while the camera needs to be plugged in to work. Our parent testers reported that the battery life on the parent unit was good and they were able to fully recharge it in under five hours. A power indicator on the screen of the parent unit makes it easy to see when the battery is running low.
Easy to use, with good picture quality and minimal white noise, the VTech VM343 Safe & Sound Video Baby Monitor offers good value, and all of our parent testers agreed. Overall, we really appreciate how simple it is to use this monitor right out of the box: The quick start guide allowed us to set up this monitor in a snap, with the option to refer to the manual for a deeper info dive as needed. The simplicity of this monitor—from set-up to daily use—and its overall good performance make it a solid choice for families.