Nov 4, 2022
Wi-Fi Baby Monitor vs. Non-Wi-Fi Baby Monitor
Baby monitors are becoming more and more popular among young first-time parents - after all, we can't be with our baby 24 hours a day, and with a baby monitor we can keep track of our little ones’ safety.
But when it comes to actual shopping, it becomes clear that things are far from as simple as one might think. Video baby monitors on the market can be broadly divided into Wi-Fi models and non-Wi-Fi models, each with a dazzling array of features - how do we choose the right one for ourselves?
“Wi-Fi monitors are the recent development.”
How does a non-Wi-Fi baby monitor work?
Many parents assume that most baby monitors should be connected via Wi-Fi -- much like a home security camera. The only way to access the monitor is through a home Wi-Fi connection. In fact, Wi-Fi baby monitors are a recent development. Before that, most video baby monitors were connected and transmitted via the radio frequency band -- yes, like the radio waves used for radios and walkie-talkies.
Incredible as it may sound, radio waves are not some backward technologies. The Wi-Fi router in your home is also using radio waves to communicate with various devices that need to be connected to the network. So it's easy to see why most of the hot-selling baby monitors on the market are non-Wi-Fi models.
Devices that use radio wave technology usually require a transmitter and a receiver, such as a walkie-talkie, where one walkie-talkie transmits a signal and the other one receives it so the conversation can be made. Baby monitors also consist of a transmitting device and a receiving device, but the transmitting device is integrated into the camera, and the receiving device is integrated into a compatible display. The camera transmits the captured images to the display so you can see what's going on in the baby's room in real time, without the need to connect to the home Wi-Fi. Of course, this technology has its limitations. For example, the coverage of the wireless band is limited, you may not be able to use the baby monitor properly if you’re out of range.
Non-Wi-Fi models of baby monitors usually use a radio wave technology called FHSS. Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) is a technique for transmitting radio signals by rapidly changing the carrier frequency between many different frequencies, which means FHSS signals difficult to intercept because the frequency-hopping pattern is unknown. This technique makes FHSS baby monitors hacker-proof.
What's different about Wi-Fi baby monitors?
The camera transmits its signal to the Wi-Fi router, which in turn transmits the signal over the Internet to any authorized device (such as your phone). This means that the Wi-Fi baby monitor can be used without providing a separate paired receiver, because any device that can connect to the Internet and has a screen can, in theory, be a receiver.
Also, because they don't provide a separate receiver, most Wi-Fi baby monitors require you to use an app to remotely control the camera and view the live feed on your smartphone. These apps can even provide some additional smart features, such as detecting the baby's movements, analyzing the baby's sleep quality with AI algorithms, and even tracking the baby's sleep patterns.
Sounds convenient, right? But because it requires a Wi-Fi connection to work, the experience depends a lot on your home Wi-Fi environment -- if your home Wi-Fi is running slow or even drops out in certain places, you'll notice a significant delay or even unavailability when using the Wi-Fi baby monitor.
Head-to-head performance comparison
There are two key factors that affect our viewing experience: screen size, and screen resolution. In addition, the picture quality of the video file itself is also important (just imagine streaming a 360p YouTube video on a 4K UHD monitor, what a bummer!). That is, the camera responsible for capturing the picture, as well as the monitor used to view the picture, all affect the actual viewing experience when in use.
Obviously, all these factors have little to do with whether you are using a Wi-Fi baby monitor or a non-Wi-Fi one. Many parents may mistakenly think that the picture quality of a Wi-Fi baby monitor is better, but that's probably because the device you're using to view the picture (such as your iPhone) has a better screen.
That said, the quality of the camera and the display quality of the monitor will both affect the picture quality experience. Non-Wi-Fi models can also deliver good picture quality, enough to allow you to see the conditions in the nursery clearly. Some brands claim to be able to provide full HD images, but in fact the camera can only capture 720p or even lower resolution images. So pay attention to the camera's shooting resolution and the monitor's display resolution when purchasing.
As mentioned earlier, the radio wave technology used in non-Wi-Fi baby monitors is limited in coverage -- they rarely cover more than 1500ft, and in practice, signals attenuate when they pass through walls, and the available transmission distance becomes shorter. Fortunately, most models are able to meet the transmission distance requirement for home use, so just pick one that supports wider coverage.
Wi-Fi models do not have such distance limitations. As long as you are connected to the Internet, you can view the monitoring screen on your phone anytime, anywhere. But unlike point-to-point radio wave transmission on non-Wi-Fi models, Wi-Fi baby monitors need to upload videos to the Internet first, and then transmit them to your phone over the Internet. This means that there is a delay in transmission, especially when you are out and about, so the picture you see is not necessarily real-time. The stability of the transmission also has a lot to do with the Wi-Fi signal at home. If you want to buy a Wi-Fi model, make sure that you have a good Wi-Fi network at home.
For non-Wi-Fi baby monitors, most of the operations are done through the receiving device - the monitor. The monitor provides both a live feed and a series of buttons for parents to use remotely -- such as rotating the camera, zooming in, and so on. Most models also typically have volume detection and VOX mode, so the screen will only light up when it captures sound in the room, alerting you to what's going on in the room. Functions like temperature monitoring and two-way talking are also implemented via the receiving device. Due to the transmission distance limit, parents basically need to carry this little monitor around with them all the time. It isn't as convenient as a Wi-Fi model, but it works stably and reliably, with low picture latency, and does not consume your phone's power; you just need to pick one with longer battery life.
The Wi-Fi baby monitor mostly relies on smartphones and apps to access and control the camera and various other functions. You can receive push notifications on your phone when your baby is crying. Some brands will use intelligent algorithms for advanced functions, such as setting up no-go zones on screen -- and once the baby is found to be moving towards the no-go zone, an alert will be sent. Or perhaps by capturing the baby's breathing and sleep movements to analyze the baby's sleep quality. These features, although they may require additional subscription fees, are also quite popular among some tech-savvy parents. Some parents might say that if their child cries all night, they don't really need a full report to tell them that their child didn't sleep well. However, the greatest value of Wi-Fi monitors is being able to check the status of your child anytime, anywhere. Assuming you have a babysitter to help with the kids at home, you can easily check on your child at work or out to dinner.
There has been some horrific news about Wi-Fi monitors being hacked at night, causing parents to lose faith in Wi-Fi baby monitors for a while. But the need for remote monitoring via Wi-Fi does exist, and if you do need to buy a Wi-Fi baby monitor, try models with AES 256-bit encryption -- it's the highest level of security you can buy, and it's relatively more secure in terms of privacy.
Non-Wi-Fi baby monitors are relatively more secure -- since FHSS radio waves are used for point-to-point transmission, the frequency channels used to transmit signals are non-static and theoretically almost impossible to hack.
If Privacy comes first
The answer is obvious enough: All you need is a non-Wi-Fi baby monitor. Although most Wi-Fi monitors now claim to have bank-level security encryption, we recommend that you purchase a non-Wi-Fi monitor that does not require an Internet connection at all and is theoretically impossible to hack into.
If you value easy-to-use and practical products
The non-Wi-Fi monitor pairs automatically when you turn it on, and there's no app to download and register, and there aren't too many high-tech features that take time to learn, so it's perfect for parents who value ease of use and practicality.
If you need remote monitoring
A Wi-Fi baby monitor is your only option. We understand the dilemma young parents face today - juggling home, work and kids can take a lot of courage and a little extra help. A Wi-Fi monitor allows them to check on their baby anytime and anywhere, giving them a little more peace of mind while they are busy. Most Wi-Fi monitors also support family sharing, allowing all family members to access the camera. Just be sure to remember to choose models that support the highest level of security encryption algorithms when shopping for a Wi-Fi baby monitor.