The world of baby monitors is a complex one. There are split screens, plug-in socks, mattress pads, audio-only models, cot-side cameras, systems that stream to smart phones – and prices range from £50 to nearly £400.
The Vacos is at the lower end of mid-range, and is characteristic of this price point: you get one camera and no Wi-Fi connection. To get more, you’ll need to pay more; and if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you’re looking at a smaller screen or maybe even losing visual all together.
So, is the Vacos a good buy at this price point?
Design and build
Long power cables
In the box, there’s a camera, an LCD monitor, two cables, two power adapters, a user manual, a wall mount with a packet of mounting screws that usefully includes wall plugs. You also get a pair of camera trims: a pair of pink ears and a pair of yellow antlers.
The camera is sturdy, as well as cute. It has a white plastic housing that clasps a black plastic eye and iris, and the circular base has rubberised feet to prevent it skating. There’s no on/off switch at the back, simply a USB socket for power and two needle buttons to rest and re-pair. Vacos suggests you use the 1.2m cable for the camera, which is a decent length. If you want to wall-mount the camera, the mounting hole is in the base.
The monitor isn’t quite as sturdy as the camera, and feels a touch plasticky, but the 720P HD screen itself is 11.5cm long and 7cm high, with the antenna standing an extra 6cm from the top and the flipped-out stand giving you a footprint about 6cm deep. A 1.3m metre cable gives you capacity to place the monitor in a viable viewing spot.
The power button is on the top of the monitor, and the controls are on the front on the right. The two buttons at the top are for volume, brightness and launching the menu. The central button is the zoom and okay button, with the surrounding pad of arrow keys controlling direction. The bottom two buttons switch the camera feed (if you have more than one camera) and launch the intercom.
The USB socket for plug in power is on the right-hand side of the monitor, the speaker is at the back, and there’s an SD slot on the bottom of the monitor.
The monitor stands up well, although if you accidentally knock the top left-hand corner, it can fall backwards. We suspect a wider back stand might have solved this problem.
Setting up the Vacos baby monitor
Charge before use
Easy to set up
Slight lag when connecting
You need to fully charge the monitor before use, but the camera and monitor pair immediately and the system is easy to set up. Just plug in the camera and the monitor where you want them, and you’re good to go.
We did find, however, that sometimes after switch-on, the monitor took a few seconds to find the camera feed, even though the signal strength was a full four bars – this was particularly noticeable if we had let the monitor battery run down to zero.
720P display a bit grainy
10.8cm by 5.8cm screen
The monitor has an 720P display. The brand is calling this HD, although by current benchmarks, it’s really SD and we found the picture a little grainy compared to other brands. The actual picture size is 10.8cm by 5.8cm. The camera view covers an area of 155cm wide (roughly 5ft) with a significant depth field, and there’s a one second delay between movement in front of the camera and the relay to the monitor screen.
One interesting detail is that, although Vacos says the camera pans 355 degrees and tilts 55 degrees, we found the camera panned a full 360 degrees and more, so if you want a camera with an eye in the back of its head, the Vacos is a serious consideration.
Oddly, one observer detected a slight high frequency noise from the monitor while other people swore blind the monitor was silent. If you find that pregnancy has noticeably sharpened your – or your partner’s – hearing, it might be worth checking this out before you buy.
The Vacos also comes with night vision boost, which, again, seemed a little more lossy than other brands but still did the job well. You can zoom in 1.5x and 2x.
At the top of the display are icons that show signal strength, recording status, camera volume, nursery temperature, the time and the monitor battery strength, plus icons for other options if you select them. You can also set the monitor to show the date and time on the bottom of the video feed.
Vacos claims that the 3000mAh monitor battery will work for a maximum of eight hours from one charge. We found this to be more like six to seven hours, as we lost a bar every 90 minutes or so. This suggests that if you are monitoring an older toddler who is likely to sleep through, you’ll need to keep the monitor plugged in overnight.
Sound and talkback
Somewhat tinny speaker
Sound quality and voice relay is the area where most baby monitors tend to fall. The Vacos is no exception, although the sound quality is better than some competitors. We noticed a one to two-second delay in both the sound and intercom relay, and we could often hear sound through the wall before it played on the baby monitor, but this is an issue we’ve found with most baby monitors in smaller houses with modern internal walls.
That said, the Vacos can play five lullabies, at five playback volume settings, through its speaker. We were impressed by the relative audio quality, although it is not going to beat your Alexa speaker. Some of the tunes can be a little tinny, but the first piano lullaby is rather lovely.
Temperature and sound alerts
The menu is easy to navigate via the menu button, which opens a coloured icon list on the left of the display. Here, you can choose your lullaby and other features.
Vacos gives you the option to set sound detection at low, middle, or high. This setting will activate your audio and video feed and set off an alarm if your baby’s crying reaches a certain level. There’s also a temperature alarm that you can set for both low and high temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, and a feeding timer that sets off an alarm at 2, 3, 4 or 5 hours, or you can set a custom time. You can also set a sleep mode for the monitor at 30 seconds, one minute or three minutes.
But the feature that is likely to initially appeal to most parents is the ability to record the video feed onto a 256GB SD card, which will roughly give you about 21 to 24 hours of video storage.
In settings, you can also set the date and time, change the frequency, alert volume and language (options are German, French, Italian and Spanish).
Range and signal strength
1000ft (304m) range (on paper)
No Wi-Fi connection
Vacos says the baby monitor has up to a 1000ft (304m) range in open areas, which is comparable to other brands, but getting anywhere near this really depends on your environment. Our test with the camera behind one external stone-built wall on the first floor gave us about 82ft (25 metres), which was a good distance from our house beyond the back garden.
Vacos is not a Wi-Fi enabled system, so you cannot stream to your smart phone, but it does have a private connection across a 2.4 GHz frequency with FHSS technology, so it is virtually impossible to hack and you don’t need to rely on your wireless router.
Vacos expects you either to wall mount or stand the camera on a unit, so you don’t get a cot mount with this system.
You can pair up to four cameras to the monitor, but there’s no facility for split screening, and, at present, you don’t seem to be able to buy additional standalone Vacos cameras. So if you are looking for a multi-camera set-up, it might be an idea to investigate this further before you buy.
Price and availability
The Vacos baby monitor is available from Amazon in the UK (£129.99) and in the US ($129.99). The prices are correct at the time of writing, and considerably better than buying direct from Vacos, although Amazon’s pricing can fluctuate.
The Vacos system has good features for its price point, but we didn’t find that any of its specs quite lived up to their on-paper claims. However, if a cute camera, lullabies and capacity to record are on your checklist, the Vacos may be just what you’re looking for.
For more options, have a look at our round-up of the best baby monitors we’ve tested, all fully reviewed and rated.
Vacos baby monitor: Specs
Five-inch colour LCD
SD card slot
Temperature, motion & sound alerts
Infrared night vision