At its core, a baby monitor serves one function: to let you
remotely listen to—and in the case of modern models, see—your
infant or toddler in another room, so you can ensure their
comfort and safety. VTech seems intent on making sure parents
are armed with an array of tools to do that, offering monitors
that do everything from play lullabies to send video streams
directly to your phone. The VM2251 is one of its latest, a
camera that includes advanced features such as room-temperature
monitoring and a sound-activated display. It’s available in
single- ($79.95) and two-camera ($99.95) packages.
As with the the other VTech baby monitors we’ve reviewed, the
VM2251 consists of a camera and a handheld video display called
the parent unit. The camera is extremely lightweight and comes
attached to its stand. The camera module can be tilted a few
degrees up and down on the stand’s ball joint and rotated to a
full horizontal position in either direction. A speaker,
through which you can speak to your child, is on the back of
the camera along with its power jack. A small indicator light
on the front beneath the lens glows green when the camera is
on, but it’s not nearly bright enough to disturb a sleeping
baby. A power switch on the side of the camera lets you turn it
on and off.
The base station feels considerably sturdier than the camera
itself. It includes a rechargeable battery, so you can carry it
with you around the house, or you can plug it into an outlet
and set it on a table using the extendable stand on its back.
The 2.4-inch color LCD screen takes up most of the unit’s face.
Five LEDs above that display the current sound level in the
nursery, and are power and battery-life indicators, a 2x zoom
button, a talk button, and a built-in mic for two-way audio.
Four-way directional buttons let you navigate menu items and
control the volume of the parent unit’s speaker.
Setup and usage
When I reviewed the
VTech VM5271 baby monitor, I remarked how simple it was to
setup. The VM2251 is every bit as turnkey. My base station came
with the rechargeable battery installed and fully juiced, so
all I had to do was plug it in, then the camera, and the two
were connected and displaying an image.
Most parents will probably just set the camera on a table or
shelf, but there is a wall bracket integrated with the bottom
of the stand. You must insert a pair of screws (not included)
in a wall until about 1/4 inch of each is exposed. Then you
line up the bracket and slide it down until it locks in place
over the screws. Given its small degree of tilt, you’d need to
mount the camera fairly high on a wall adjacent to your child’s
crib or bed to get a clear view.
The VM2551’s display isn’t very big—it’s less than half the
size of the VM5271’s, but it’s enough to accommodate a fairly
close-up view of your baby. You can get an even closer look
with the zoom button. Like the VM5271, the video quality is
good, but not great, with a fair amount of noise that’s visible
even from a few feet away. This likely won’t be an issue for
most parents—monitoring your baby’s movements doesn’t really
require HD resolution—but it can be taxing on the eyes if you
stare at the screen for long.
When the base station is powered on, it displays status icons
for the current signal strength from the camera, the number of
the camera being viewed (if using multiple cameras), night
vision (when activated) the current temperature in your child’s
room, and the charge level of the base station’s rechargeable
battery. When you adjust the parent unit’s speaker volume, a
five-level volume indicator displays over the video. The
default level is three, which I found just about right for a
quiet room. A mute alert will display if the parent unit’s
speaker volume is turned all the way down.
Parents will probably love the VM2251’s sound-activated screen
most of all. The base station’s display stays off to conserve
power until it hears a sound. When it does, the display
automatically turns on and remains on until it doesn’t detect
noise for 50 seconds. The feature worked pretty reliably. You
can adjust the the sound sensitivity level on a scale of 1 to 5
in the settings menu: At detection level “1,” according to
VTech, the base station will turn on only for your baby’s loud
cries or screeching, while a level “5” setting will allow
parents to hear pretty much any sound in the child’s room.
Sound activation can also be turned off.
If you want to keep the ambient temperature of you nursery at a
desired level, you can set a high and low range. If you do, a
warning icon displays whenever the detected temperature falls
out of that range. You can also activate an alert tone to sound
when this happens.
The VM2551 is a reliable, easy to use baby monitor for making
sure you child is secure and comfortable in their room. Though
it’s strictly an in-home monitor, it does have a range of 1,000
feet, which in my tests was enough for me to stay connected to
the camera even when I was in the yard or outside around my
home. That’s probably plenty for most parents. If you want
something that lets you keep tabs on your little one when
you’re away from home as well, check out the