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Hands-on Gear Review
Angelcare AC420 Review
Price: $60.00 List | $58.95 at Amazon
Pros: Easier to use, sound activation, adjustable mic
Cons: Inconsistent sound, AAA batteries
Bottom line: Limited range, poor sound quality and lack of two-way communication are hard to overlook
The Angelcare AC420 is a sound monitor with some easier to use features that parents will be looking for like sound activation and an adjustable mic sensitivity. However, this unit has poor sound quality with intermittent sound dropping and poor range connection that had trouble staying connected. While it has a long battery life of 30 hours for the parent unit, the batteries are AAA instead of rechargeable so you'll be buying batteries regularly if you use this product without the plug-in base. It also lacks two-way communication with the baby, something many parents will think is a dealbreaker. Overall, it is disappointing compared to higher scoring options with similar or cheaper prices.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sound Baby Monitors of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Angelcare began in 1997 and has been creating unique products for parents designed for peace of mind for parents and their newborns. Angelcare strives to create innovative designs to help keep babies safe. The company has earned various awards for user experience and overall quality with their movement monitors and they continue toward their goal of reducing the stress of infant care with a constant connection to baby.
The chart shown here offers a comparison of the overall scores for each monitor tested in this review. The Angelcare AC420 scored higher than the AngelCare AC401 by 6 points but it is still not enough points to win an award.
The sections below provide details on how the AC420 performed during testing. The individual metric results were used to calculate the overall scores with weighting toward sound clarity and ease of use.
The AC420 earned a 6 of 10 for sound clarity. Six is the second lowest score in the group with the high being 10 earned by the Vtech DM221 and the both of which won awards.
With a maximum volume of 99.9 decibels, the sound from the parent unit is bright and distorted in a way that hurts the ears somewhat. This Angelcare had a similar problem to the Angelcare AC401 with problems transmitting sound continuously. Clarity of the sound at lower volumes is okay but given the inconsistency of the sound going in and out for several seconds and often out more than in we felt that overall the sound quality is poor.
Ease of Use
The AC420 earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use. This Angelcare earned a higher ease of use score than its brother even though it has a myriad of features that could make it difficult to use. Setting up the unit takes less than a minute and really only requires plugging in and turning on.
This monitor is simple to use with the volume control and channel selection on the front of the unit. The display is easy to Simple to use. The parent unit has volume control and channel selection buttons on the face of the unit. The display is easy to see and includes battery and sound level, temperature and channel. This unit doesn't require the involved menu process found on the other ANgelcare model we tested.
The AC420 earned a 6 of 10 for range connection tying with the Vtech DM221. The manufacturer claims a line of sight range of 820 ft and our outdoor line of sight tests found it worked intermittently up to 900 ft. At 650ft, the sound started to get somewhat staticky and started to beep that it was out of range. We were able to walk to 900 ft before losing the signal completely.
For indoor range, Angelcare claims a range of 262-328 ft. Our tests were significantly less with the unit working only up to 98ft through 7 walls. This distance and number of walls can vary base don home construction and interfering appliances, but we tested in an average house and wonder what test methods were used by Angelcare for such a large discrepancy between distance claimed and those experienced by our testers.
The AC420 earned a 6 of 10 for battery life with an average lifespan of 30 hours. Thirty hours is plenty of time for a long day of monitoring during napping hours and a full night's sleep. This level of battery life is probably sufficient for any parent and is far greater than the battery life of the sound monitors of yore. However, despite the long battery life, the parent unit only takes AAA batteries as opposed to rechargeable batteries and this hurt its overall score because you'll need to buy new batteries or purchase rechargeable AAAs for an added expense.
The AC420 earned a 7 of 10 for features. The AC420 has sound activation and adjustable mic sensitivity. We consider these to be some of the most important features for any sound monitor because it helps ensure a quiet monitor when the baby is sleeping so parents aren't being kept awake by a loud white noise monitor. The AC420 also has a temperature sensor that is somewhat accurate with a 63, 63, and 66 readings in a 66-degree room.
What the monitor doesn't have is the two-way communication talk to baby feature that lots of parents think is mandatory. While being able to potentially soothe baby from another room can seem useful and some parents use it frequently, not all parents use it as often as they think and some not at all.
This Angelcare also has the following features:
This Angelcare has an average EMF reading of 0.77 V/m at 6 ft from the unit. This is the lowest reading in the group, which is pretty impressive. To decrease exposure further, we suggest moving the baby unit as far from the crib as possible.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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