Top positive review
91 people found this helpful
Everything I wanted and more!
on November 17, 2014
I have previously owned 2 older Levana monitors and loved everything about them. However, after many years of daily use causing one’s battery to no longer hold a charge unless plugged in, and the other being involved in an unfortunate incident that won’t let it charge at all, we were looking to upgrade with #3 on the way. I researched monitors for hours and hours and finally decided to just try the Astra based off of the features and price.
The main feature I absolutely loved about our original Levana monitor was the VOX feature. Basically, you can put both the camera AND audio to sleep when the child is quiet in the middle of the night. Most other brands of monitors let you turn off the video screen but it leaves the audio active with no way to silence it other than to turn it all of the way down. My 2 year old sleeps with music and an air purifier on and I don’t want to listen to that all night but if I turn the audio off, I won’t be able to hear her if she cries. It seems as though Levana’s new monitors no longer have VOX but instead have “PEEP,” however it was unclear if they were the same thing. Even an email to customer service, while returned in a timely manner, didn’t really answer my question.
If others are also confused by this, let me clarify that they are the exact same thing. With the Astra monitor, when you put the unit into “PEEP” mode, if the child is quiet then the screen is dark and the unit is COMPLETELY silent. You can put it right up to your ear and you will not hear even the faintest amount of static. In fact, one of my tiny complaints is that you have no way to know if the unit is actually turned on by just looking at it since it is silent and no lights are on. Other reviewers have mentioned a bright blue light that stays on in PEEP mode, but Levana must have listened to the customers and changed that since the lighted ring only lights up as a noise indicator when the child actually makes noise.
I will note that there is no way to keep the audio on while having the video off. I know some reviewers have said it’s possible, but I’ve played around with every setting (PEEP on/off, battery save on/off) and every time the screen goes off, whether automatically or manually, the audio also goes off and I see no way to change this. Since I have no desire to hear every little benign noise my child makes while they sleep, this was not an issue for me whatsoever. If I'm awake to need to listen to every little noise then the screen can be on. When in PEEP mode, if baby makes a one-time loud noise such as a cough, the audio/video turns on but will automatically put itself back to sleep after 60 seconds of the child being quiet.
More about the PEEP mode: You are able to change the sensitivity of how loud the child needs to be to trigger the audio and video to turn on. When I’m standing approximately 5’ away from the camera, the highest sensitivity will go off with very low talking, while the lowest sensitivity goes off with regular talking. Obviously the amount of noise needed to trigger the camera will vary by how far away you are from it, but across a 9 foot room the camera was always triggered with a cough or a louder noise such as a cry, even at the least sensitive setting.
Handheld unit: Very sleek and lightweight. You’re able to lock the buttons to keep curious little fingers from picking up the unit and messing with the settings. There is an easy to use kickstand and the screen is a great size. I don’t see a need for a screen to be much bigger, especially if it means losing resolution.
Video quality: Excellent given the price of the camera. The day vision doesn’t have super vibrant colors but it’s very clear and easy to see what is going on in the room with almost no delay. The night vision is good as well even when the camera is placed on the other side of the room. I can easily see whether my daughter is laying down, sitting, or getting out of bed. When the camera is closer, I’m able to see if her chest rising and falling as she sleeps. I added a picture of the same view with the lights on and lights off (room completely dark), though a picture of an electronic screen doesn't quite do the video quality justice. It's much better in person.
Lullabies: They’re OK. They’re much harder to access on this unit compared to the older monitor which is a good thing…. You don’t want to accidentally turn them on when baby has just fallen asleep. There are 3 songs to choose from (Canon in D, Brahms, and Twinkle Twinkle) and it plays about 15 seconds of whichever song you select before repeating. There is no way to change the volume of the lullabies. It’s not super quiet, but it wouldn’t startle a child either. The quality of the music is decent. Not stellar, but I doubt a child would notice that it could be better.
Invisible LEDs: Truly invisible! There’s no bright red infrared light glaring into your child's face. There is a very small green light on the back of the camera to let you know it’s on, but it’s not bright or obtrusive at all.
Temperature monitor: There isn’t one. Do people really feel this is necessary?
Range: I’ve had zero issues with this monitor within our 1,900 sq ft, 3 story house (including finished basement). I’m able to take it outside to do yard work in our 0.5 acre yard and it only loses its connection at the very end of our property. I’m not sure why the reviews are so mixed on this… it must just be house dependent.
Talk to Baby intercom: After reading the reviews I was prepared for this to be absolutely awful. While not an amazing quality, it’s not *that* bad. It sounds how you might hear someone who is talking through a low static walkie talkie. It might not be perfect to soothe a small baby back to sleep, but it works well for my purposes of telling my daughter to get back into bed when I see her sneaking out.
Pan/Tilt/Zoom: It’s virtually silent so would not wake or disturb a child at all. It’s quite very responsive and the range is excellent too. If you do pan to its end range the screen will blink, but I only noticed that when I was testing just how far it could go. The zoom is simply a digital zoom so not that great, but that’s common for monitors at this price point.
Cost: I had been watching the prices of all of Levana’s products for months so I knew when the Astra dropped to $102 on Amazon to jump on it. Be patient and keep your eye on the price as it fluctuates heavily, but for just over $100, this is worth every penny and then some. I'd even pay $145 for it.
Other factors: You can add up to 4 cameras to one unit however for a few reasons my husband and I decided to buy 2 separate Astra units (one for the 2 year old, one for the new baby). First of all, I found out that if you have 2+ cameras on one unit, you can only pick one camera to put into PEEP mode while the other camera(s) would need to be manually checked on. So basically, you have to guess which child is going to be the one to wake up since the monitor isn’t set to pick up on anything in the other child’s room. I did confirm this with a customer service rep and believe it is how all of their multi-camera units operate. This was a huge issue for me personally since the 2 year often wakes us to go potty so we need to hear her as well as the baby. In addition, we typically share nighttime duties where my husband tends to the 2 year old while I tend to the new baby, so it was much more convenient to have two separate monitors to put on our respective night stands. Also, if the handheld unit should break, you are now out a monitor for all cameras. The price of an additional camera wasn’t much less than a whole new set so it just worked better for us to buy two, especially at $100 each. I do like the idea of potentially adding a camera in our basement play room at some point since that wouldn't need to be monitored at night.
All in all, this is an excellent monitor with great features for the price as long as you’re not the type of parent who wants to hear their child’s every movement in the middle of the night. In fact, you’ll definitely get spoiled by sleeping in a quiet room and not listening to idle static all night long!