The first step of choosing a baby monitor just right for your needs.
At today market, video baby monitors are mainly divided into 2 types of data transmission, FHSS and WiFi. Knowing their characteristics and difference will surely help you to choose a correct baby monitor right for your needs.
FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum)
FHSS, or namely frequency hopping, is a proprietary transmission protocol. Developers create their own transmission protocol under the regulations from international authorities like CE and FCC. Therefore, baby monitor from different manufacturers or even different own models may not compatible to each other.
FHSS is operating at 2.4GHz scope (2,400 MHz - 2,483 MHz), same as WiFi. One different thing is, the operating channel is not static. It hops rapidly among different channels insides the scope. That’s why we called frequency hopping.
The bandwidth of each channel is usually ranged from 2 MHz to 4 MHz. It determines the transmission data size, the larger the bandwidth, more data can be transmitted in each packet. However, the larger the bandwidth, the lesser penetration power which may results in a shorter transmission range.
A well known and most common wireless transmission protocol today. It is also working at 2.4GHz scope but with a static frequency channel. The bandwidth is comparatively wider and ranged from 20 MHz to 40 MHz depends on the type of 802.11 standards.
With the basic understanding between FHSS and WiFi protocol, let's make some comparison based on different concerns.
1. What you can get from the package ?
FHSS baby monitor comes with a monitor unit and a camera unit. It is a complete kit dedicated for monitoring purpose, and needs no extra device.
WiFi baby monitor usually comes with only a camera unit and an apps to connect the camera to your smartphone or PC. You need to consider if this smartphone or PC is always free for monitoring purpose. Furthermore, you should expect extra power consumption of your smartphone when the apps is running at background continuously.
2. Security concern. Can it be hacked ?
As above told, FHSS is a proprietary protocol. Except the developer himself, no one knows how the data is encrypted as well as how the channels are hopped. In addition, it is a domestic device and does not connected to the internet, so hackers cannot steal any data from your router or internet devices. Theoretically, it is not possible to hack into a FHSS system.
WiFi is an open protocol with a standard encryption, like WEP/WPA. The security measure counts on your password strength. News reporting baby monitor being hacked are mostly due to factory default setting or passwords with low protective strength. It is always recommended to strengthen up your password and improve your internet security when using WiFi baby monitors.
3. Transmission range
When talking about transmission range, at FHSS baby monitor, you should consider the distance between you and your baby. On the other hand, you should consider the distance between the router and your baby for WiFi baby monitor.
Both FHSS and WiFi baby monitors have a similar emission power. However, FHSS baby monitor have a narrower bandwidth (2-4MHz vs 20-40MHz) which gives a better penetration power and result in a better transmission range.
In general, latest FHSS baby monitor have a transmission range at around 1,000 feet. A well calibrated WiFi devices have a transmission range from 600 to 800 feet. Anyhow, a WiFi repeater can help to extend the transmission range, but not available at FHSS baby monitor.
It refers to the time delay between actual motion and the video displayed on screen. FHSS baby monitor is working at peer to peer mode so latency is barely noticeable at around 0.3 second. Some WiFi baby monitors have peer to peer mode too, with similar latency. However, when the WiFi baby monitor is connected to router, the latency depends on the number of relays required and may vary from a few seconds to over 10 seconds.
5. Video quality
FHSS baby monitor have a relatively narrow bandwidth (2 to 4 MHz) due to frequency hopping limitation, so it limits the data size of video streaming. In general, common video resolution are 320x240 (2.4" to 3.5" display), 480x272 (4.3" to 5” display) and 720p (5" display) in today technology.
WiFi baby monitor have a clear advantage and wider bandwidth (20 MHz+) to handle HD 1080p video streaming.
6. Add on features
FHSS baby monitor is dedicated for baby monitoring purpose. All functions tailor-made for baby monitoring, like VOX , auto-mute, lullaby, multiple cameras... etc.
Some WiFi baby monitors are actually surveillance cameras / IP cameras / webcams and repack as a baby monitor. However, check carefully their available functions and if they are suitable for your needs.
All in all, both FHSS and WiFi baby monitors have their pros and cons. Most importantly, know well their difference, and choose a right baby monitor just right for your own needs. I hope this article will help you to understand better about different types of baby monitors. Feel free to drop me a message.
Happy baby monitoring!