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Hands-on Gear Review
Motorola MBP160 Review
Price: $40.00 List | $39.99 at Amazon
Pros: Easier to use, lower price
Cons: Fewer features, below average sound
Bottom line: Unimpressive bare bones option with poor performance compared to similarly priced competition
The Motorola MBP160 is a bare bones no frills sound monitor with average sound and unimpressive range. This budget-friendly product is super easy to use with few buttons on the parent unit, but the lack of buttons translates to a lack of popular features like two-way communication for talking to baby and a temperature sensor. The parent unit doesn't even have a handy way of carrying hands-free while monitoring baby around the house. While we liked the sleek look and the simplicity, we think the limited range and poor sound quality will leave parents frustrated. If your baby sleeps right next door and you don't mind missing features, then you might be drawn to this option, but there are higher scoring products available with fewer compromises that cost the same.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Motorola is a popular company with a recognizable name. They make a variety of electronics including cordless and mobile phones, baby monitors, modems, and more. Motorola has a long history in consumer electronics and most parents think of them as a quality go-to product when looking for new gear. Historically, Motorola has been known for creating quality items at competitive prices.
This comparison chart provides a quick look at the overall scores for each sound monitor tested in this review. The Motorola earned an average score coming in about the middle of the pack.
The sections below include details on how the Motorola compared to the other products we tested. The metric results are used to calculate the overall score with weighting toward sound clarity and ease of use.
The Motorola earned a 7 of 10 for sound clarity. This product has sound quality that is about average, but not the best, even at this price. With a maximum volume of 86.8 decibels, the sound received through the parent unit is extremely choppy making it hard to tell if the sound quality is clear, distorted or eve staticky. Users won't be able to use the monitor at full volume if the goal is to hear what is happening in baby's room with any kind of accuracy.
At a lower volume of 82.6 the sound is clearer and a little bright, but able you can hear sounds from baby's room with ease and without distortion. The sound filtering on this monitor works well and it earned a high score for this feature with a relatively silent parent unit until baby makes noise. If you need a loud monitor for a deep sleeping parent this is probably no the b est choice given the poor sound clarity at max volume.
Ease of Use
The Motorola earned a 10 of 10 for ease of use. This product has a very simple user interface and is so easy to use largely because it lacks a variety of features. However, some parents might be looking for simplicity and aren't that interested in a variety of features they are unlikely to use.
Setup for the Motorola is easy and plug and play with less than a minute to be up and operation. The user interface has a power button and a volume button with nothing else to clutter or confuse sleep deprived parents in the middle of the night.
The Motorola earned a 4 of 10 for the range between parent and baby units. The Vtech DM221 earned a higher score for sound clarity and range making it a better option with a similar price point.
The manufacturer claims a line of sight range of 990 ft. Our outdoor line of sight test kept a connection to almost 1325 ft. We started losing consistent sound around 900ft (close to the manufacturer claims), and it was choppy after that. The out of range alarm never went off, and we lost all contact at 1325 ft.
For indoor range, we were able to use the Motorola through 4 walls and about 65 ft. Motorola doesn't list an indoor range which can be affected by walls and surrounding appliances. We still had some connectivity with 6 walls and 95 ft, but it started beeping after the 5th wall and the connection was spotty, not something you want in a baby monitor. The Vtech DM221 worked up to f walls and 90 ft with no interruptions and managed to stay connected up to 8 walls, though connectivity was intermittent. If there is a large distance between baby's room and the master bedroom, then the Motorola is probably not the best option for you.
The Motorola earned a 4 of 10 for battery life. This product has a rechargeable battery in the parent unit that lasted about 20 hours on average in our tests and no backup battery in the child unit. The manufacturer makes no claims on battery life, but they do list 15 hours for a drained battery to recharge.
While 20 hours is ample time for nap time monitoring and a full night's sleep, some of the products we tested lasted over 30 hours and earned higher scores for this metric. The Vtech DM221 has a battery life of about 46 hours. We suspect parents won't need more than 20 hours battery life, especially when the baby unit must be plugged in, so there is no chance of using when the electricity goes out or while camping.
The Motorola earned a 4 of 10 for features. This product has just enough features to get the job of monitoring baby done without all the fluff that can make a monitor hard to use.
The Motorola has sound activation to keep the parent unit stay quiet unless your baby is making noise. This feature can help parents get a better night's sleep because they aren't listening to a loud monitor all night. Other than sound activation there isn't much to this product. It features out of range alert, low battery alert, and sound level indicator. The Motorola also has sleep mode and mute, but it is missing the two-way talk to baby some parents feel is mandatory.
The parent unit has a kickstand on the back that helps it stand upright. There is no belt clip, so if you plan to carry it with you getting chores done, then you'll be disappointed.
The Motorola has an average EMF reading of 2.41 V/m at 6 ft from the unit. This is the fourth highest reading in the review. While a higher reading than about half the options we tested, you can decrease your baby's exposure to EMF by placing the baby unit as far from the crib as possible and unplugging the unit when you aren't using it. You will still be able to hear baby assuming your nursery isn't super huge.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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