We've been using motorola's monitor system for some time, which comes with both monitors and cameras, and can be expanded with their proprietary devices. (You can add another camera and see both on the same monitor, etc.) We're trying alternatives because that line has a crazy-high failure rate for the speaker in the monitor.

We're considering systems like Dropcam, where it's just a camera, and you use your existing devices (iPad, iPhone, etc. as the screen/speakers).

Setting aside brand-specific features, my question is this:

What are the pros and cons of a setup with a dedicated monitoring screen vs. a one that uses your mobile devices?

Assume that:

  • We use it for both audio and video monitoring
  • We need it on all night, and to let us hear any noises when we're in bed
  • We also run it while we're up and about in other rooms in the evening or at nap time, when the kids are up, but we're not.
  • Ease of initial setup is not a consideration, as I'd be using a system I'm confident I can get set up over wi-fi or whatever in any case.

1 Answer 1


Speaking as one who's used both, cost and cross-brand compatibility are key to me. We use Foscams, and a couple of different iOS apps to monitor the kids' rooms via our iThings (and a standard browser on our Macbooks). Compared to the Samsung and Motorola systems we used in the past (and the audio-only ones we used early on) we have much fewer failures and lost connections using the IP cameras.

We set up one on each side of the bed at night, tuned to each individual kid, and have no issues hearing and seeing each one. We can also adjust the iThing we're using so that the monitor brightness doesn't affect our ability to sleep, while still allowing us to keep an eye and ear open for anything going on with the kids.

I honestly cannot think of a single pro for a proprietary monitoring system (not one of the ones we used) that gives it any sort of advantage over using the IP cameras + free apps that we use today. The IP cameras are cheaper and more reliable than any of the other systems we've used (one camera did have a tendency to lose its IP address, but the manufacturer replaced it quickly and kept us happy as consumers), the audio and video quality are quite adequate to our needs, and they have those little perks (like being able to record audio and video for giggle purposes later (for example, last night at bedtime my nearly 3-yr-old son dismantled his potty; we shared the video with his grandparents so we could all chortle a bit at his inventiveness in avoiding sleep)) that make these things not just essential but fun.

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