If budget is at the top of your list when you shop for a video baby monitor, you could reasonably expect to skimp on a few features — but maybe not every important feature. That's the problem with Levana's Keera PTZ Baby Video Monitor ($150). Across the board, it just doesn't stack up against other models that have more advanced features. The areas where it does top the competition simply don't justify picking it over the other choices.
Two parts make up the Keera PTZ offering — a camera and a dedicated hand-held monitor. The camera itself is a pretty well-made unit, standing 4.5 inches high with a nondescript antenna standing up in the back.
The monitor is about the size of a point-and-shoot camera (4.5 x 3 x 0.75 inches) and weighs 6 ounces, which is about average among the monitors we've tested. The Keera monitor doesn't feel heavy in your hand, and the housing doesn't feel cheaply made.
An antenna swivels out of the top, and Levana built a belt clip-style kickstand into the back battery cover. Behind the removable battery is a microSD card slot, where you can pop in extra memory for preserving photos or video recordings. (The unit comes with a 2GB card already inserted.)
After a relatively easy setup process of plugging in the Keera camera and waiting for the hand-held monitor to find it, connectivity was a major problem, even just about 5 feet away through a bedroom wall. After a while, the issue seemed to resolve and steady itself, but for a day or so, connectivity was a constant issue.
We got about 6.5 hours of constant video streaming from a single monitor charge, which is above average, but there's also no charging indicator light when you do plug it into your wall socket.
Camera Range: 300 degree pan, 110 degree tilt
Handheld Monitor: Yes
Mobile App: No
Temperature Sensor: No
Humidity Sensor: No
Handheld Viewer Size: 4.5 x 3 x 0.75 inches
Weight: 6 ounces
Video Recording: Yes
Keera's monitor has a lock button on the left-hand side — a strange inclusion aimed at keeping you from accidentally pushing a button you didn't mean to press — with all the functionality accessible through the home button on the front screen. In there, you'll find lots of basic but necessary features, including camera mode for taking pics, video mode for recording motion, an adjustment for the low battery tone and the ability to play three different MIDI-style lullabies. You access these features by cycling through home screen buttons, like you would on a camera, so the interface doesn't feel very modern or user-friendly.
The front screen of the Keera monitor also has buttons for push-to-talk and for directing the camera remotely (though you also can't remotely move the video camera while it's in record mode). Unfortunately, the directional pad that encircles the Select button is depressed enough that you will often have to press it repeatedly. About the only good, practical feature with the d-pad is that it lights up to indicate sound in the room.
The Keera monitor had the worst display of any unit we tested. In daytime, the color video feed was barely adequate — muted and softer than others we tested — but during the nighttime feeding it was as if my child's room had suddenly filled with fog. Levana says the night vision has a range to 12 feet, but even at 7 feet from the camera to my child's pillowcase, I could barely make out his head.
Credit: Erik MalinowskiThe speaker sound was acceptable but not as good as, say, the VTech VM343 we tested. The camera itself pans 300 degree horizontally — one of the best of any unit we tested — and 110 degrees up and down. It rotates fast and makes a barely perceptible sound when moving up and down (and only slightly louder than that when going left to right).
As good as the camera range is with Levana’s Keera PTZ, it's of little value if those images are beaming to an unsatisfactory display. The Keera's price tag may be compelling, but overall, we recommend the iBaby M6T instead for its superior images and user-friendly app.