By Alex WardUpdated Jul 26, 2017
Best forParents who want to monitor their baby from anywhere
Top BenefitsGesture controlled touchscreen, impressive range, can add nine additional cameras
ConsiderationsYou’ll need a strong Wi-Fi signal
Bottom lineThe VTech VM991 video baby monitor lets you check in remotely, has a crystal clear picture and can be expanded as needed
The VTech VM991 Wi-Fi Pan & Tilt HD Video Monitor has a five-inch touchscreen and comes with a Wi-Fi camera that pans, tilts and zooms. Of all the monitors that we tested, the VTech VM991 had the best range in lab tests, and we found the touchscreen very intuitive. Plus, you can add up to nine additional cameras for ultimate baby and kid surveillance experience.
As with all Wi-Fi monitors, set-up is slightly more complicated and takes a bit longer than with monitors that don’t use Wi-Fi. You’ll need your network details handy when setting up the monitor, and it’s worth noting that the monitor will only connect to password protected networks. If your network is hidden, the monitor will not be able to find it. Once you've entered all of your Wi-Fi network details and plug the camera and parent unit in, it'll take about a minute for the picture to appear on the screen.
All of our hands-on parent testers said the provided power cord was long enough for them to set the camera up where they wanted. The monitor comes with a wall mounting bracket, which is a big help if there isn't a shelf or other piece of furniture you can set the camera on with good sightlines to the crib. And both the user manual and quick start guide are easily accessible on VTech's website, which is super handy if you misplace yours or need to access them remotely.
We're big fans of the gesture-controlled 5” touchscreen. It was very responsive and acted most like a smartphone of all the touchscreen's that we tested. Swiping and pinching lets you pan, tilt and zoom with ease.
The picture is clear and sharp on the VTech VM991's screen. Our hands-on parent testers were easily able to make out their child’s face and see the rise and fall of their chest. Both lab testing and parent testing found colours to be true to life. All of our parent testers were happy with the size of the screen and felt that the default brightness is a good level.
Overall, we found the sound on this monitor to be very clear in our lab tests, and our hands-on parent testers agreed. To test how true the sounds are, we played a recording of a baby crying in the same room as the baby monitor. The recording came through loud and clear. With only the slightest distortion, parents said that their child’s cries didn’t sound any more harsh than usual through the parent unit. Parents also said they were easily able to adjust the volume to a level that they were comfortable with.
When we tested the talk-back feature on the VTech VM991, we found that it has a slight delay, though it wasn't significant enough to deter us from using this feature. Our hands-on parent testers said the talk-back feature was easy to use and that voices are are clear and easy to understand. That said, their babies weren't always soothed by hearing mom's or dad's voice over the monitor (not that surprising since touch is important to calming babies). One tester who felt that her child was too young to use the feature noted that she and her partner enjoyed using talk-back as a walkie-talkie (hey, it's easier on your voice than yelling across the house if you need a little help in the nursery).
All of our hands-on parent testers felt that it was easy to pan, tilt and zoom the VTech VM991's camera. When we tested the camera in our lab, we noticed that there was a slight lag with the pan and tilt function, and the camera made a slight noise when it was panned or tilted—nothing that would wake a sleeping baby, though. In both our lab tests and hands-on parent testing, we found that the infrared/night vision camera would only turn on in a very dark room—something to keep in mind if your nursery is on the brighter side and you don't have blackout curtains.
The camera comes with an internal memory of 4GB, which allows you to take pictures and record video. Something to keep in mind: If you want to record a lot of videos, you’ll need to purchase and install a micro SD card.
To test the range of the monitor, we placed the camera in the attic bedroom of a four-storey house. Of all the digital video monitors that we looked at, this was the top performer for range—the signal on the parent unit was strong in every area of the house, including out on the back deck and in the basement.
It’s important to note that your Wi-Fi strength will have an impact on the monitor’s range (as it will with all Wi-Fi monitors). If you have a weaker Wi-Fi signal in the nursery, you may be better off getting a video baby monitor without Wi-Fi.
The parent unit of the VTech VM991 takes as little as three hours to fully charge, though it will take longer if the monitor is turned on and in use during charging. One of our testers noted that the battery runs out quicker than she'd expect. Like a smartphone, you can easily see the battery charge displayed on the screen of the parent unit.
A useful feature of Wi-Fi monitors is the ability to check in from anywhere—a great feature to have whether you're at work, away or just left the parent unit in another room. You can access your feed through the MyVTech Baby app, which is free, with no additional fees or monthly subscriptions.
While the VTech VM991 is at the top end of price points for video baby monitors, it has an exceptionally clear picture and the responsive gesture-controlled pan, tilt and zoom is very intuitive and easy to use. The majority of our hands-on parent testers said they would recommend this monitor to other parents. If you love tech toys with all the bells and whistles—remote app-based monitoring, expandable storage, and so on—this might be the monitor for you.