VTech DM221: An Affordable Yet Reliable Audio Baby Monitor
Parents are always worried about their child, whether it is their first or second. If you are the parents of newborns, you want to make sure that your young children are safe and sound. Audio baby monitors like the VTech Safe and Sound monitor come as a useful tool to help you listen to your baby while he is sleeping.
This Vtech DM221 review will thoroughly evaluate this audio baby monitor. I will go through its specifications and what I like and do not like when using it. As you read to the end of this article, you will be able to identify whether this is the right monitor to purchase. Without further ado, let’s get started!
While new parents tend to prefer a video monitor, an audio monitor is less expensive but still lets you know if your baby is awake or crying. The best baby monitor should give you the peace of mind you need, and the VTech baby monitor DM221 is one of those.
It is not a fancy device with all of the bells and whistles, but it includes the basics that most parents need.
This little monitor features up to 1,000 feet of range, a vibrating sound alert on the parent unit, a multi-level sound indicator, a night light on the baby unit, and two-way talk. Read on as I explore its product details below.
- Dimensions: 7.4'' x 2.4'' x 8.2''
- Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Type: audio
- Micro: two-way
- Battery life: 18 hours
- Outdoor maximum range: 1000 feet
- Indoor maximum range: 150 feet
- What is included in the box: 1 Parent Unit, 1 Baby Unit, 2 Power Adapters, and 1 User Manual
- Connection: DECT 6.0 for crystal clear transmissions
- 5 level sound indicator
- Warranty: 1 year limited
- Excellent sound clarity
- Visual sound LEDs demonstrate sound level in the baby’s room
- The parent unit has rechargeable batteries with 18 hours of monitoring time
- Includes low battery pointer
- Can use 2 AAA batteries in the parent unit instead of the rechargeable ones
- The vibrating sound alarm on the parent unit allows you to be noiselessly cautious
- A two-way talk system enables you to speak with your child from the parent unit remotely
- Incorporates a belt clip for more noteworthy convenience
- The flag is digitized, ensuring all transmissions are secure
- It comes with a hands-free belt clip
- The language can be switched to French or Spanish for all screen displays
- The white-noise-canceling feature sometimes cancels out the baby’s sounds
- The buttons are difficult to press; users have to hold them in
- Sometimes the transmission between the baby monitor and the parent monitor is disrupted
- Not easy to program
VTech DM221 review
VTech was established in 1976 in Hong Kong and has expanded to many regions around the world. The company aims to design innovative, reliable, high-performing, yet affordable electronic products. In North America, VTech is one of the top makers of cordless phones and baby monitors.
Different factors contribute to the reliability of the VTech DM221, and I will go through them in this review, one by one.
1. Design and ergonomics
I bought this little device when I had my first child, and after a few weeks of using it, I could tell that it has a fine blend of design and function. The VTech DM221 audio baby monitor consists of a parent unit and an infant unit. Each of them comes in an egg-shaped design and a little antenna at the top. I find these feelers convenient for clipping onto belt loops while I’m doing my housework.
The parent unit has an LCD that shows essential information to ensure a proper connection. It captures excellent sounds from the infant unit and features five buttons to control the device's various features and settings.
The DM221 has excellent built-in features Via: Amazon
The infant unit has a grille and five-button, housing both the speaker and the microphone to gather audio. You can also find a small night light at the top of the unit to provide a soft and warm light source. This add-on feature provides a soothing glow to gently illuminate a dark nursery, helping me take better care of my little one.
Also, I bet VTech knows that you do not want to wake up your little one while he is sleeping, so they carefully designed the screen with a backlit display to make it easy to read, even when you are in the dark. You can take a look at this clip from VTech for a better illustration of how this monitor works:
2. Sound quality
This radio baby monitor from VTech provides crisp and clear sound. I can hear any cries or coos in my child’s room even when the parent unit is at far distances. The device picked up the audio well enough no matter where I placed the infant unit in my child’s room.
I have come across complaints from other users of some other radio baby monitors saying that their devices do not pick up sounds when they are mounted on the wall. This VTech is different; you can put it anywhere in the room, you can even tuck it behind the crib, and the audio quality is still fantastic.
VTech’s user guide mentions that several wireless gadgets can interfere with the audio signals. I have several connected devices in the house like a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, wireless LED light bulbs, a Sony smartwatch, and an Electrolux Eco Dish Cleaner, but I did not experience any problems.
3. Battery life
This VTech baby speaker monitor has excellent battery life. Even though VTech claims that this DM221 monitor’s battery is 18 hours on a single charge. Its runtime was always 20 hours when I used it in the last few years. I find this runtime more than enough to monitor our little one the entire day, and I only need to charge the parent unit at night while I’m sleeping.
VTech claims that it has a range of up to 1,000 feet. Even though my house is not this large to test this claim, I can tell that the VTech baby monitor DM221 provides a clear and instant connection. My place is around 600 square feet, and the audio signal was excellent even when there are three or four walls between the parent unit and the infant unit.
DM221 is a long-range audio monitor Via: Amazon
Thanks to the DECT 6.0 digital technology, the units do not interfere with or pick up signals from other wireless devices. My friend, Sarah, is also using this VTech DM221. She lives in an apartment, and she also said that it has excellent sound clarity in her confined space. So if you are living in flats, you do not have to worry about this device’s wireless connection.
For those wondering what DECT 6.0 technology is, here is a quick explanation: DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications - a standard used for creating cordless telephone systems operating on the 1.9 GHz frequency. DECT empowers advanced sound transmission by dispensing with background noises. The result is you can hear only sounds that originated from your little one.
DECT is the term used in the EU, Asia, and Australia. In the USA and Canada, there is the DECT 6.0 because of regulations regarding radio frequencies. Even though their names are slightly different, they are the same technologies, and buyers need to pay attention to their relevant countries' model.
5. Two-way communication
The VTech DM221 is a talk back baby monitor, allowing users to have two-way talk back communication. When your baby wakes up, you can hear him and talk to him over the parent unit so that he knows you are on your way to his room. I remember I even sang to my little lullaby when I heard that he seemed a bit upset when he just woke up.
DM221’s two-way talk back feature Via: Amazon
When your baby grows and starts to chit chat with you, you can start having some little conversations with them via this device. This two-way communication feature is fantastic as you can also communicate with your partner if they are also in the nursery. Alternatively, you can consider the VTech DM221-2, which has similar features to the VTech DM221 but includes two parent units.
6. Ease of use
Advanced technologies give us modern devices with the inclusion of multiple features. While these added functions make our lives easier, it can sometimes be more complicated to use. Given this, I prefer using a baby monitor for basic tasks like the VTech DM221.
Setting up this compact device is an absolute breeze. You only need to plug it in, turn both devices on, and wait for them to pair with each other. You will find a startup guide in the box, but I reckon you will not need it until you want to find out about further details.
There are power, menu, select, and volume buttons on the front of the unit. The menu button is easy to understand and navigate, so you can quickly set up sound sensitivity, sound alert, vibration, and language.
7. Other features
The VTech DM221 audio baby monitor has a vibrating alert, so if you turn the sound off on your parent unit and wear it on your belt, it will vibrate when it senses sound from the baby unit to alert you.
This little audio baby monitor also has sound activation and microphone sensitivity. These features determine what kinds of noise and what noise levels the baby unit needs to pick up.
Newborn babies between 6 and 9 months old usually start to babble, so if you feel that you do not need to be alerted when your little one is babbling and only want to hear when he cries, you can set it up in the sensitivity control feature.
You can also choose to hear sounds from the baby unit all the time or only hear sounds that exceed a certain level. I think this feature is critical, especially for parents that are light sleepers.
While other audio baby monitor reviews do not include a buying guide, I think I should have a short section listing key features that buyers need to look for when buying a radio baby monitor. It would be helpful for our readers, especially first-time buyers or new parents.
1. DECT technology
As briefly explained above, DECT is the radio technology that uses a low-frequency band to transmit the most apparent radio sounds coming through the monitor to the handset. Therefore, it is essential to pick a baby monitor that features the DECT. Otherwise, you can consider those options that let you choose between different frequency channels so that you can select the clearest signal available.
2. Rechargeable batteries
Even though most modern baby monitors have rechargeable batteries, I think it is still worth a reminder. A baby monitor is always on, and it is best to choose a model that can recharge.
Battery runtime is also essential since the longer the battery can last, the more convenient it is to use. I would recommend buyers to pick a unit that can last for at least 15 to 16 hours. Otherwise, you will find yourself running to the store for batteries every two or three days.
3. Sound activation
Taking care of a baby is hard work, and I have heard an awful lot of parents saying that it is more exhausting than their day jobs. Things can become worse if you can’t sleep at night because you are wide awake listening to ambient sounds from your baby monitor.
The best baby monitors should have the sound activation feature that turns its speakers on only when your baby cries. So you do not have to lie all night in bed without sleeping just because you hear all of the trivial sounds from your baby’s room.
Most baby monitors have a bright display screen, which tends to quickly run down your device’s battery. An energy-saving baby monitor with sound activation feature will turn the screen light to black until it detects a sound. The screen will only automatically light up when sound is detected in order to save the device’s battery.
4. Night light technology
This feature is necessary as your baby monitor's screen might not be as bright as you want it to be. Given this, I would recommend you choose a device with night vision display so that you can see clearly what is shown on the screen. Some models let you control the brightness on the screen, so pay attention to this detail when reading the product specifications.
5. Built-in belt clip
You might disagree with me on this, saying that a belt clip is unnecessary. If you live in a small apartment, this feature might not be that important. However, if you are busy parents or live in a large house, having a monitor with a built-in belt clip would greatly benefit you thanks to its portability. The unit lets you conveniently attach it to your belt and move freely around the house to take care of other house chores.
1. Arlo Baby monitor
If you are interested in a video baby monitor, the one from Arlo is worth your consideration. It has a cute design with removable rubber bunny ears and feet. Still, it’s no toy, and this little monitor is packed with many useful features: night vision, temperature, air quality sensors, a night light, and a speaker. I will go into more details in this Arlo baby monitor review so you can decide whether it is the right device for your family.
Arlo Baby monitor Via: Amazon
With a measurement of 4.3 x 2.6 x 2.5 inches, the Arlo Baby Monitor is compact. It also comes with a wall-mount feature in case you want to hang it on the wall, or you can also tuck it away on the bookshelf.
The camera has a 720p resolution, but you can adjust it up to 1080p for better visibility. This smart device also lets you specify which areas to trigger a motion alert. For example, if you only need to watch your baby and ignore the canine or feline wandering around the room, you can adjust it accordingly.
The Arlo also features two-way talk, allowing you to listen and talk to your baby right on your smartphone. Additionally, its multi-colored night light provides your nursery with warm and soothing lighting. Taking care of your little one could never be more comfortable and more convenient, thanks to advanced technologies embedded in the Arlo video baby monitor.
2. Infant Optics DXR 8
Infant Optics made the DXR 8 with a commitment to provide their customers with the best product. It is indeed a dependable device that offers a perfect balance between size, weight, audio, and video.
Infant Optics DXR 8 Via: Amazon
The company has spent years of iterative research and innovation on continuously improving its products. The result is a perfectly designed device that offers zero load time playback on an antenna-adorned monitor of 4.88 x 3.13 x 0.88 inches.
Users of a digital camera might be a little concerned about the privacy of video baby monitors. Fret not! You have your digital privacy 100% guaranteed by Infant Optics - an industry leader - so you are safe from hackers.
Even though this camera is heavier than others, it is worth the weight as it is super sturdy, can also zoom, pan, and tilt in different directions. The included optical zoom lens is an excellent add-on feature as it is extremely helpful when you need to place the camera further away. When the camera is on, it has a soft green light, so you do not have to worry that it can wake your child up.
I hope this Infant Optics DXR 8 review has inspired you to further investigate this Amazon Choice’s baby monitor. It has been awarded by “The Bump Best of Baby Awards'' in 2018 and Babylist Best Baby Monitors in 2020.
The DM221 is a budget-friendly and reliable audio baby monitor. This compact device comes with more useful features than other average products in the same price range of around $30. It has excellent sound clarity with sound activation and two-way communication, which are the two most sought after features in baby monitors.
I hope this VTech DM221 review has provided you with sufficient information to make a well-informed purchase decision. If you are interested in video baby monitors, scroll up to the Alternatives section, where I briefly reviewed the two best-rated models on the market.
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