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Angelcare AC401 Review

Angelcare AC401
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $110.00 List | $68.99 at Amazon - 37% off
Pros:  Reliable, AC w/ battery, temp, wireless parent unit
Cons:  Confusing parent unit, may require crib modification
Bottom line:  Lots of features & audio monitoring.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
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  • 5
Manufacturer:   Angelcare

The Skinny

The Angelcare AC401 is our Editors' Choice Award winning movement monitor. With no false alarms during testing, AC power plus battery back up, it earned our top score for reliability. Although similar in function to the Babysense 5s, relying on an under the mattress sensor pad for movement detection, but the similarities stop there. This monitor is packed with features not found on any other unit we tested, including audio and temperature monitoring. The other monitors we tested should be paired with an audio or video monitor, to extend there range and coverage, but this one can do it all. We feel you would be hard pressed to find a better unit in this category, and a host of bonus features pushed this one over the top.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Movement Monitor Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Lindsay Smith
Review Editor
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
March 4, 2014

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Angelcare has been in baby monitor business since 1997. They offer a comprehensive range of sound, video, and movement monitors. We previously reviewed the Angelcare AC701 as part of our Baby Monitors Review, focusing on it's function as a sound monitor. When selecting products for our Movement Monitor Review we knew that the Angelcare AC401 had to be in the mix, and it did not disappoint landing it once again as the recipient of our Editors' Choice Award. Peace of mind is one of the primary benefits of using a baby monitor, and nothing lets us rest easier than knowing we have the most reliable unit available. This monitor is a step above the rest when it comes to reliability. Once we had it set up correctly, we had no false alarms during our testing period. It features adjustable sensitivity allowing you to tune the sensor pad to not pick up background vibrations from exterior sources such as a heating vent. AC power with a battery back up adds another level of reliability not found on any other monitor we tested.

Performance Comparison



Reliability


This unit was our top scoring product earning a perfect 10! With the sensitivity set correctly we had no false alarms during testing. A sensitivity dial is found on the back of the nursery unit, and can be adjusted to an optimum level for your environment and mattress. We found that when the sensitivity was set above level 4, the background vibrations from a heating vent close to the crib would be picked up. While this will not create a false alarm, it does limit the effectiveness of the monitor because it will not alarm as designed when the heater is on. With the sensitivity set between 2 and 3 we had no false alarms and no interference from external sources. Some users have reported increased false alarms once their child is able to roll over, and get themselves to the edges of the crib. We did not experience this issue during testing, but we acknowledge that this still could be an issue. We hypothesize that all mattresses do not carry the vibrations caused by movement in an equal manner, so depending on the thickness and type of mattress you use your results may vary once baby is on the move.

We love the AC power with a battery back up. The other units we tested rely solely on battery power. With the AC power and fresh batteries in the nursery unit, we could rest easy knowing that if the power went out during the night our monitor would continue working. Other units we tested such as the Babysense 5s do have a low battery warning light, but this may not come on when the unit is initially powered on, and seeing this in the morning after the monitor has been in use all night is a bit disconcerting.

The included wireless parent unit is a feature not found on any other movement monitor we tested. If you already have a sound monitor this may not be a feature you are looking for, but we found that having both sound and movement on one parent unit was convenient and streamlined our bedtime routine. When using stand alone movement detecting monitors such as the Babysense 5s, Levana Oma, and Levana Oma+, we would occasionally leave the room and then second guess whether or not we had turned the unit on. The wireless parent unit eliminates this potential mistake, and simplifies things by only having to activate one system.

Ease of Use


The front screen provides a large temperature readout  a volume meter on the left  and icons to indicate battery life  signal  what sensors are active  and movement.
The front screen provides a large temperature readout, a volume meter on the left, and icons to indicate battery life, signal, what sensors are active, and movement.
During our testing, we found this unit to be relatively easy to use once we got familiar with the parent unit interface. It scored lower than our Top Pick award winning Babysense 5s, primarily due to its more complicated parent unit. Initially we found changing alarm settings and other functions such as audio sensitivity to be a bit confusing. It is important to note that the difficulty we had getting familiar with the parent unit functions was due to the incredible level of customization the unit is capable of. Both visual and audio indicators are available for nearly every metric the monitor tracks. Once we mastered the use of the parent unit, we found it to be a pleasure to use. The parent unit runs on a rechargeable battery, and can be used while sitting in the charging cradle in case you deplete the battery while the monitor is in use. The nursery unit must be powered on each time you place your child in the crib, and promptly turned off when you take them out, or the alarm will sound after 20 seconds. We love the optional nightlight function on the nursery unit, which makes finding the on/off switch easy in the dark.

Set Up:
Sensor pad installed. Note that the sensor pad must be placed on a hard surface.
Sensor pad installed. Note that the sensor pad must be placed on a hard surface.
Installation and setup was similar to the Babysense 5s. You must have a hard surface with minimal flex under the mattress for the sensor to work properly. If your crib has slats or springs under the mattress you will need to custom cut a piece of plywood or Masonite to fit in your crib. It is also important to note that the sensor will not work with memory foam mattresses. A sensor pad is placed under the mattress, and the wires must be routed under the mattress and over to the nursery unit. We recommend routing the wire down the leg of the crib and Angelcare recommends that the nursery unit be a minimum of 39" from the crib. This means you need some sort of elevated surface to set the parent unit on, such as a table or bookshelf, so that it is within easy reach. The sensitivity function is located on the nursery unit, allowing you to dial in the sensor pad to filter out external vibration sources that may be present. As we stated before, the nursery unit has a battery backup, and can be used without AC power but it should be plugged into an outlet with the included AC adaptor, preserving the batteries for an emergency. The parent unit is rechargeable and has it's own charging cradle and power cord, that we recommend placing outside of your child's room, so that it can be charged without disturbing your sleeping child.

Portability


This monitor is the least portable unit we tested. It has more separate components than any other monitor in our test group, and requires more set up time. While we did travel with it during testing, and compatibility with hotel cribs was hit and miss. In addition, most travel cribs do not have a rigid enough base under the sleeping pad for the monitor to work correctly. The Top Pick Babysense 5s scored higher, due to it's easier set up, and fewer components.

Best Applications


The AC401 is out of site once installed properly  except for the parent unit on the shelf.
The AC401 is out of site once installed properly, except for the parent unit on the shelf.
This is an excellent movement monitor, best suited to daily use at home in your baby's crib. Specific crib requirements, involved setup, and the multiple components limit its functionality for travel. We recommend it for parents who do not already have a sound monitor, and are looking for a do-it-all unit. Sound, movement, and temperature monitoring are top notch in this feature -packed, reliable unit.

Value


This unit runs between $91-$110 online. We feel that this is an excellent value and the cost is on par with or below comparable monitors, such as the Babysense 5s. Plus, the quality is top-notch. Unlike stand-alone movement monitors, you can continue to use it long after your baby is past the high-risk first year of life. The sensor pad can be removed, and the monitor can be used to simply monitor audio and temperature. The other movement monitors in our test should be paired with a sound monitor to extend the range of the audio alarm, but the AC401 has it all in one package.

Conclusion


This product is a top-notch, high quality movement monitor, and the winner of our Editors' Choice Award. In our tests, its reliability was stellar thanks to an adjustable sensor pad combined with a battery back-up in case of a power failure. Loaded with features such as temperature and sound monitoring, it truly is a do-it-all unit. The wireless parent unit allows you to move around the house and get things done while still keeping tabs on your baby.

Other Versions


Angelcare manufactures a range of movement, sound, and video monitors. From stand-alone units that only monitor one thing, to combo units that do it all. Some of these are:
  • The Angelcare AC701 was included in our baby monitor review. It monitors movement and sound, and offers a two way talk back feature, a touch screen and a few other minor upgrades from the AC401.
  • The Angelcare AC300 is an additional movement monitor that you can use along with the system you already have, either to get that extra sense of security with one child, or to use with two infants in separate beds.

For more information on all of the available options check out their website.
Lindsay Smith and Curtis Smith

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Most recent review: March 4, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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