My wife wants a Video Baby Monitor for our expectant arrival, so I have been trying to decide which one we should purchase. Two of the latest to market are the Luvion Grand Elite Premium Digital Babymonitor and the Samsung Smart Security Wireless Colour Video Monitor. As I currently have both in my possession (for reasons I will share later) I thought I should put together a quick head to head comparison for you all.
Both of these units offer the same functionality including:-
- 3.5” screen
- Two way talk back
- 2 x Digital zoom
- Night vision
- Temperature sensor and display
- Micro SD card for recording
- Up to 4 cameras
Look and feel
Comparing both of these side by side my first impression is that I would not be surprised if these were actually manufactured by the same company (having now finished the review I am convinced of it) . Whilst the cases, buttons and menus all look different they are all fundamentally in exactly the same place, even right down to the micro SD slot and little MIC hole. The Samsung unit is slightly deeper but generally they are the same size.
One advantage that the Luvion does have is that it comes with a charging base for the Parent Unit, something not included with the Samsung. This means that rather than just placing the Parent Unit in the cradle on your bedside table with the Samsung you will have to fish around for the end of the charging plug which has disappeared under the bed.
The picture quality on both units is good and both allow the brightness to be adjusted. Comparing the two side by side I thought the Samsung picture was ever so slightly better. In the dark again each unit is good and I was clearly able to make out the room. In this case I thought the Luvion performed slightly better.
There is no discernable difference between the two units in regard to sound quality.
Pressing the menu button brings up the menu. The menu system is implemented differently on each unit. Whilst the Samsung menu looks more appealing I actually found the more traditional implementation on the Luvion easier to work through the different options.
The initial menu on the Luvion consists of four options.
- Settings – used to configure the various options
- Record – to set the options for recording, including quality, scheduling a recording and if to overwrite if the SD card becomes full.
- Auto mute – enables the sound to be on all of the time or turned off unless sound activates the camera which can be set to different sensitivities.
- Pairing – Enables you to pair up to four additional cameras
The menu on the Samsung is slightly less intuitive. All of the options are there it just takes a little bit more time to figure them out.
The cameras with both systems can operate from batteries or the supplied 9v power adaptors. They each have a Temperature sensor that extends out of the back of the camera, an on/off button, a sensitivity dial, a microphone, a night light, volume control, and a button for pairing. The Luvion camera also has an “Eco switch” which reduces transmitting power if the camera is operating off of the batteries.
Both cameras come with wall plugs and screws to secure them to the wall if required. The power leads are about 2m in length. When not secured to the wall the base on the Samsung is a little larger than on the Luvion camera, which provides a bit more stability.
I found talk back on the Luvion camera to be louder than on the Samsung.
Use with multiple cameras
Pairing with additional cameras is very straightforward. You simply need to choose the option from the menu and press the pairing button. Once paired you can automatically swap between cameras or manually choose the one you want to monitor. My biggest disappointment is that a sound on the camera that is not being watched will not automatically swap the unit over to that camera.
Monitoring the temperature of the room is an important aspect of caring for your baby and I am concerned by the fact that neither monitor is able to provide satisfactory readings. In one room, at the same time, the Luvion told me it was 22C and the Samsung told me it was 24C, in the other room the Luvion told me it was 24C and the Samsung told me it was 22C. Our trusted BT, sound only monitor read that it was in fact 19C in both rooms. The temperature sensor is built into the camera and what was interesting is that I actually had two different models of camera from Samsung, the one that was supplied with the unit and an add-on and they both gave different readings for the same room.
Both units can be connected to an external TV using the cables provided, however the Samsung unit also has a USB port. The USB port enables the Parent unit to function like an extended distance webcam, displaying the picture from the remote cameras in applications like Skype or MSN. I downloaded the latest drivers from http://www.samsungsv.com/Model/Detail/19/SecureView plugged the Parent Unit in and fired up Skype. Whilst I could see the webcam driver in the Skype Video preferences when I made a call the video could not be seen. I updated to the latest version of Skype and restarted. This time round I was able to see the webcam as could the person at the other side. However I was very underwhelmed by this particular feature. It is video only, and not great video at that, no sound or two way talk back and appears that the camera only works in 2x digital zoom mode when plugged in via USB.
So why do I currently have both the Luvion and Samsung monitors? Originally I decided on the Samsung SEW-3035 with an extra camera so that I could monitor both children. Unfortunately when I received and installed it one of the cameras goes out of range when the Parent unit is in the room we will spend the majority of our evenings. Therefore I ordered my second choice the Luvion to see if it would be any better.
Before I continue talking about range I should say the room in question is a converted double garage that is insulated and sound proofed and is at the opposite end of the house to the camera that drops out of range.
So what about the Luvion, well unfortunately for me, I have exactly the same issue. It is slightly better in that it intermittently picks up the camera in question which would suggest a fractionally better range than the Samsung, but it is not stable enough to trust.
Everywhere else in our standard detached house both units worked flawlessly.
Price and Supplier
Both of these solutions are available online and are the same price, somewhere around £245.00 for a solution with two cameras. I ordered from babysecurity.co.uk, who have been very good in terms of allowing me to return both products.
Basically both monitors are very good. If range had not been an issue I would have chosen the Luvion over the Samsung, mainly because of the the addition of the charging cradle.
So what next?
I am clearly going to have an issue if relying on 2.4Ghz wireless video. I think my only option now is to go with an IP camera, probably something like the Y-CAM. This will have to be combined with a traditional sound activated baby monitor, but at least I will be able to view the camera’s on my iPhone or iPad and over the internet should the need ever arise.
More on this solution in the next few weeks…