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Motorola MBP853 Connect review - web-based baby monitoring

Ben Pitt
27 Jul 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
110
inc VAT

Web-based access could be handy but the Motorola MBP853 Connect feels clunky in use

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Specifications

Screen size: 3.5in, Audio display meter: Yes, Talkback microphone: Yes, Temperature Sensor: Yes, Mat motion sensor: No, Dimensions (camera and parent units): 88x110x109mm and 124x82x25mm

The Motorola MBP853 Connect is a video baby monitor with the ability to join a Wi-Fi network and stream video over the web to a mobile device or web browser. I’m not sure what higher purpose this serves — I can imagine nervous parents using it to keep an eye on their baby when they really should be putting more trust in the babysitter and enjoying a night out. Then again, it might be nice for parents to see their babies sleeping soundly while on a business trip or commute home.

Wi-Fi set-up is done via the Hubble app for Android and iOS devices, using a Bluetooth connection in order to enter Wi-Fi log-in details so the camera can get online. However, it failed to connect just as often as it succeeded. After a successful initial set-up, there were numerous occasions when I was unable to access the camera via the app. App reviews on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store suggest that other users have had similar experiences.

Motorola MBP853 Connect

There are lots of features packed into the app. It can display the temperature, summon music to be played and take a photo or video of the current scene. You can talk to your baby via the app and receive notifications when motion or sound is detected or when the temperature surpasses upper or lower thresholds. The lowest upper threshold is 26 degrees centigrade, which seems pretty high.

The camera is motorised and there are controls to pan and tilt it to look around the room. However, this was pretty cumbersome to control because there was a four-second delay between pressing the button in the app and the resulting movement being shown in the video feed. Another irritation was the huge number of Motion Detected alerts I received. This can be turned off, of course, but it would be more useful to be able to set it to a 24-hour schedule. Motion-triggered video recording is only available as a subscription service, costing from £3 to £30 a month depending on how long you want the recordings kept for.

The above features make the MBP853 Connect sound more like a web-connected security camera than a baby monitor, but it also comes with a parent unit for use in the home without needing a Wi-Fi network. It has a generous 3.5in screen and includes a row of LEDs to show sound levels — useful when the volume is turned down and the screen is off. There’s a microphone for talking to your child and it can show the temperature. It can play soothing piano music from the baby unit speaker, but it’d be more soothing if playback wasn’t interspersed with glitches and interference.

The controls are mostly well laid out but it’s odd that there’s no dedicated volume control, so this requires a visit to the menu. Control over the pan and tilt function was more responsive when using the parent unit than it was over Wi-Fi, but it was still a little unwieldy.

Motorola MBP853 Connect profile

The video feed turns off automatically after five, 30 or 60 minutes when running off batteries, but stays on permanently when on mains power. Battery life with a constant video signal was poor at four hours and 40 minutes, but audio-only mode was respectable at eight hours and 38 minutes. Wireless range was in line with other video baby monitors, but the low video frame rate meant jerky motion.

The MBP853 Connect is an ambitious product at a competitive price, but the web features are too clumsy and temperamental for my liking. If you want something simpler but effective, you should also consider the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature.

Hardware
Screen size3.5in
TouchscreenYes
Infrared night modeYes
Remote pan/tilt controlMechanical
Features
Digital zoom2x
Web-based accessYes
Sound-activated videoNo
Audio meter displayDedicated
Talkback microphoneYes
Music playbackYes
Night lightNo
Light showNo
Mat motion sensorNo
Camera motion sensorYes
Temperature sensorYes
Temperature alarmYes
Video battery life4hr 40m
Audio only battery life8hr 38m
Physical
Camera dimensions (WHD)88x110x109mm
Parent unit dimensions (WHD)124x82x25mm
Charger connectorMicro USB
Camera power cable length2.7m
Camera mounting optionsScrew mounts
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Detailswww.motorola.co.uk