Gadget king Samsung makes everything from HD TV’s to security cameras . . . so why not video baby monitors?
Samsung’s dozen offerings in this segment unfortunately have confusingly similar names (BrightVIEW . . . BrilliantVIEW, etc.). Like most video monitor brands, Samsung offers a mix of both fixed and PTZ camera options. Parent units have screens that range from 2.4″ (EzVIEW) to 5.”
Samsung’s flagship monitor is the BrightVIEW (SEW-3043), a $230 PTZ camera with five-inch parent unit. It features two-way intercom, four lullabies, feed timer alert and support for up to three additional cameras. If you don’t care about PTZ, then consider a fixed camera model like the SimpleVIEW (SEW-3040W) for $150. Same basic features like the two-way intercom but the screen size is a bit smaller (4.3″).
None of this is terribly innovative—most of Samsung’s competitors in this space offer similar specs. As for pricing, Samsung monitors are priced at about the same as similar offerings from competitors like Infant Optics and Levana.
So like all baby monitors, our review comes down to three basic factors: ease of use, picture quality and overall reliability.
As you might expect from this brand, Samsung monitors score well on ease of use, in our opinion—most functions are no more than two clicks away from the main screen or menu.
Samsung’s voice activated mode (VOX) has its fans and detractors. In a nutshell, VOX mode saves on battery—it turns off the screen unless sound is detected above a certain level within one minute. Fans love the VOX’s ability to stretch battery life. Critics hate having the screen turn on in the middle of the night when a stray sound sets off VOX.
Let’s talk picture quality. In past reviews, we’ve given Samsung monitors good marks, noting their decent night vision. However, as we survey the field today, competitors have surpassed Samsung’s picture quality. That’s because many of the top-rated video monitors today stream in high definition (1280 x 72o). Most of Samsung’s cameras (like the best-selling SafeVIEW SEW-3037W) stream at 640 x 480 or VGA quality. Compare the picture of the Nest Cam or Summer’s newer HD models and the difference is clear.
Specifically, we found the Infant Optics DX-8 to offer better picture quality than Samsung’s models. Since they both have similar resolution, you might think both cameras would perform the same. But Infant Optics ships with a separate optical zoom lens for a much clearer zoomed-in picture. By contrast, Samsung uses “digital” zoom which basically just enlarges the picture in the viewer, making it more pixelated/fuzzy.
Samsung does have one model (the BrightVIEW) with higher resolution (800 x 460), but that’s the exception.
Overall reliability is another issue for Samsung. We gave Samsung good marks for this in a previous review, but in the past year, we see more reader complaints about Samsung monitors failing in one way or another after a short period of use. Battery issues (units not recharging after six months of use, for example) are common across the line. Range also crops up as a major frustration—Samsung monitors are again falling behind competitors. Samsung’s promised 900 feet of range is more like 90 feet or less, say readers.
Bottom line: we’re dropping Samsung’s rating this year to reflect declining parent reviews of their units. Samsung needs to upgrade this line with HD cameras and fix quality issues. Rating: B-