As a new father to a five-month-old baby boy, I’m still learning a lot of things. Since we’re currently in the process of getting him to upgrade from his bassinet to his crib, quality baby monitors are extremely important to my household.
Even though a lot of parents these days seem to obsess over being able to see their little one at all times through cameras, dedicated tablets, and mobile apps, sometimes I just want the sound.
Cameras are great, but they’re not always practical to use. For example, if you’re out doing yard work, cleaning the house, or even just sleeping, you might prefer audio cues of your baby’s distress since your attention is otherwise occupied. Even though most video monitors also include sound, it’s much easier to clip something like the DM223 on your belt or pocket than it is to carry a tablet around.
An affordable and high-quality audio-focused baby monitor is a must-have in any new parent’s arsenal. At just about $39.95 (about £30 / AU$50), the VTech DM223 definitely fits the bill.
Design and build
Just like any standard baby monitor, the VTech DM223 comes as two separate units: one for baby’s room and one for the parent. The face of the parent unit has a small, two-inch backlit LED screen that displays signal strength, whether or not vibration is turned on, and the battery life.
Below the screen are buttons to increase or decrease volume and to open up the menu to toggle options with the select button. The side has buttons for “Talk” which turns the parent unit into a walkie-talkie device for speaking to your baby, as well as a power button.
One clever design decision is that the top of the parent unit, just above the screen, is a colored light bar. It stays a dim green when sound is inconsequential, but turns orange and eventually red if there’s a lot of sound coming through. This is a subtle, but nice to have, feature that lets you monitor the sound from your baby’s room even if your parent unit is muted.
The unit for baby’s room has a night light, but I rarely had a use for it because of how dim it is. If the two units lose connection then the parent unit will emit a loud beeping sound. We’ve seen reports of some people indicating loud, intermittent beeps despite the connection being strong, but we never noticed that during our review.
Perhaps the VTech DM223’s strongest feature is that it’s just dead simple to use. No settings need to be tweaked at all, so once both units are plugged in and turned on, they’ll automatically search for each other and link up. It’s as simple as it could possibly be.
In addition to the light bar and obvious sound coming from the speaker, the parent unit also has a strong vibration function when baby’s volume puts the light bar into the red range.
VTech’s DM223 model utilizes a secure DECT 6.0 audio transmission signal with very little background noise. We have a white noise device in his room near the monitor and if we turn it down to about 3 instead of maxed out at 5, even that sound is barely audible. It does a very good job of filtering out noise that isn’t your little one.
Luckily the operating range was always more than sufficient. When outside or unobstructed it can go for up to 1,000 feet -- which is fantastic. Indoors it’s stated as 150 feet. Our house is about 2,000 square feet and even when our son was asleep in his room, at the back of the house, the monitor worked great while I was out mowing the front yard.
The VTech DM223 is simplicity at its finest. Without all of the bells and whistles of more advanced monitors, it gets the job done as an efficient audio-only solution. The range is great, the battery life is sufficient, and the features are just wide-ranging enough to do everything you need in a standard baby monitor.