Who is the Best Baby Monitors

Best Baby Monitors to Buy in 2022 1. Nanit Pro Camera. Best overall Wi-Fi monitor. $281 at Amazon. … 2. Nanit Plus. Best for sleep tracking and data. … 3. Lollipop Smart Baby Camera. … 4. Withings Move ECG + Sleep Tracking Watch. … 5. VTech VM5271-2 Safe & Sound Video Baby Monitor with Pan & Tilt Camera and Automatic Infrared Night Vision…

Nanit Pro Camera. Best overall Wi-Fi monitor. $281 at Amazon.

Best overall Wi-Fi monitor. Nanit Pro Camera. ‘>$281 at Amazon.

Best Baby Monitors to Buy in 2022

The Nanit Pro is a Wi-Fi baby monitor that tracks your child’s sleep and breathing, while providing audio monitoring and night vision so you can peek in on your baby at any time.

As your baby grows, you’ll want a baby monitor that lets you see and hear what’s going on with your little one. Here are the best baby monitors we’ve tested in 2021.

Gone are the days of silently tiptoeing into the nursery to peek on your napping baby, only to be thwarted by that creaky floorboard or a stumble in the dark and then…whoops! You accidentally woke them up. A baby monitor can help you avoid that, helping to reassure parents with a 24/7 view of your little one no matter where you are in your home.

Wi-Fi baby monitors

Wi-Fi monitors are great if you want to be able to check in on your baby from anywhere. “Range” is not a concern with Wi-Fi monitors, because you can tap into the feed from your phone wherever you get an internet connection. When testing Wi-Fi monitors, I was able to spy on my son from the airport as I prepared to leave on a work trip before he’d woken up for the day. Wi-Fi monitors also tend to have more bells and whistles, with smartphone apps and sleep-tracking capabilities that will appeal to data geeks. 

The downside of using a Wi-Fi monitor, besides the potential for a security breach, is connectivity issues. I live in an apartment building with lots of competing Wi-Fi signals and I’m at the mercy of my building’s AT&T contract when it comes to broadband strength. I experienced a lot of trouble setting up the Wi-Fi monitors I tested and once online, several of them lost connectivity in the middle of the night, leaving me with no way to see or hear my son. However, when I tested the same monitors in a large house (with a stronger signal), I experienced no issues. Your mileage with Wi-Fi monitors will vary depending on the density of your living situation and the type of internet connection you use (DSL, fiber and so on). Individual monitors also perform better or worse depending on the quality of their Wi-Fi radio.

Read more: How to Turn an Old Tablet or Phone Into a Baby Monitor

Non-Wi-Fi video baby monitors

Because of my internet connectivity issues, I prefer a baby monitor that transmits via radio frequency. Another benefit of this type of monitor is the ease of setup — many are plug-and-play, with no need to download an app or pair anything. A dedicated parent unit frees your phone for whatever else you want to use your phone for and your risk of hacking goes way down. Non-Wi-Fi models also tend to include remote pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, which allow you to adjust the positioning of the camera and get a view of different parts of your child’s room without actually entering it. None of the Wi-Fi monitors I tested could pan or tilt remotely.

The audio and video output of the non-Wi-Fi models did tend to be slightly lower quality than the ones that feed to your smartphone and several of them were just too quiet, even at the loudest volume. And of course, range is a concern with a non-Wi-Fi baby monitor. The ones I tested all promise up to 1,000 feet, but if your house is large or the signal has several walls to traverse, you may still experience a spotty connection. 

best-baby-monitors-2021-cnet-reviews-infant-optics-screen
Karisa Langlo/CNET

Wearable smart monitors and audio-only baby monitors

If your budget is tight, an audio-only monitor offers peace of mind without the price tag. Most parents today, however, will opt for a video monitor, especially if you’ll be moving your baby to their own room before the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official recommendation of 12 months

Wearable devices that monitor heart rate, blood oxygen, breathing, sleep patterns and other metrics bring an added layer of peace of mind, but experts caution that they should be taken with a grain of salt and shouldn’t supersede safe sleep habits. The wearables I tested were bundled with their own video monitor. Smart monitors tend to be expensive and sometimes unnecessarily complicated, but they just might help you get a little extra sleep yourself. Nanit Pro CameraBest overall Wi-Fi monitor

Karisa Langlo/CNET

The Nanit Pro is well known in the field of baby monitors, and for good reason. If you’re looking for high-quality audio and video, lots of bells and whistles, add-on accessories and an overall high-end experience, the Nanit is a good place to start. With a sleek design and several mounting options (sold separately), the Nanit Pro is a great choice for style-conscious parents. The Nanit Pro is a premium product, with a price tag to match. Many of its features are more nice-to-have than must-have, but if money is no object, it’s a solid baby monitor.

Features: Nanit’s features range from the familiar (two-way audio, built-in nightlight and white noise) to the gimmicky (“smart sheets” — sold separately — whose sole purpose is to measure your baby’s length as they grow). The Nanit Pro also provides a few “peace of mind” features, like push notifications when movement or sound is detected, or if the temperature or humidity slips outside the desired range. The app saves video clips that correspond to each alert so you can go back and review any activity. You can also save photos and video clips to your phone. 

Sleep tracking data is available with a Nanit Insights subscription, the basic level of which is free for the first year. Every morning, you’ll receive a sleep report that breaks down stats about the baby’s night, much like many fitness trackers do, and some cool (but potentially useless) reports like a heat map of the baby’s position in the crib and a time-lapse video of their night.

One of the coolest features unique to the Nanit Pro is its Breathing Wear (sold separately as pajamas, swaddle, sleep sack or a simple band of fabric to wrap around the baby’s torso) that monitors the baby’s heart rate. The camera uses an ingenious sensor-free method that instead measures the movement of the fabric’s geometric print down to the pixel. 

Setup and mounting: No Wi-Fi monitor is going to be as easy to set up as an analog video monitor, but the Nanit makes the process as smooth as possible. Of the Wi-Fi cameras I tested, the Nanit had the least trouble connecting, even when I moved it to different outlets or networks. The monitor comes with a wall mount, or you can upgrade to a floor stand for $80. You can also purchase a table mount for another $49, which will be necessary if you want to take the Nanit on the go. Both mounting options take a fair amount of effort, but I found them easier to construct than other models I tried. 

Audio and video quality: Nanit’s video and sound quality are also a leg above the competition, though most people don’t need iPhone-quality videos or Bose-level sound from a baby monitor anyway.$281 AT AMAZONMiku Pro Smart Baby MonitorBest breathing monitor

Mikucare

The best thing about the Miku Pro is its real-time breathing monitoring, which appears as a waveform atop the live video feed, alongside a live respirations-per-minute readout. Unlike its competitors, the Miku Pro measures your baby’s vitals without any wearables, using a technology the company calls SensorFusion. No wearables means no laundry, no charging and no worrying about middle-of-the-night dislocation. And you don’t have to buy any peripherals either. Miku’s approach adds convenience to peace of mind, making it a truly premium experience — with a premium price tag to match.

Features: Like other smart baby monitors, the Miku Pro offers a number of nice-to-haves: A selection of lullabies and white noise options, two-way audio, sleep tracking metrics and pinch-to-zoom. There’s even a section in the app’s analytics menu for tracking nursery conditions — temperature, humidity, light — throughout the night.

It differentiates itself from the Nanit Pro by offering cloud storage free, no annual subscription fees required. This is a big deal, and a major consideration if you’re looking at smart monitors and plan to use one for more than the first year. (Nanit’s most basic subscription is free for a year but then costs $50 annually.) The Miku will record events (sound, movement and so forth), and clips are saved for seven days, or you can download them to your device for posterity.

Setup and mounting: The Miku Pro packaging is as premium as its array of features, and each monitor includes everything you need for wall-mounting. Yep, even the screwdriver. But the floor stand is $99 extra, which is a pretty hefty upcharge for a product that already retails for $399. (Then again, you do save money on wearables and cloud subscriptions.)

Audio and video quality: The Miku’s 1080p HD video is as clear as its competitors’, and you can toggle between low, standard and high video quality in the app. But despite its many competitive advantages, the Miku Pro stumbles when it comes to the app itself. I found the alerts and recorded video snippets a little inconsistent, and on my Android phone, I experienced issues with a spotty, laggy feed and had to reset the connection. Even once it was fixed, the app takes a few seconds to load the feed every time I open it, and the audio cuts in and out, which is impossible to sleep through. All the features in the world can’t compete with a reliable video feed.$398 AT AMAZONCubo Ai Plus Smart Baby MonitorPosterity and peace of mind

Karisa Langlo/CNET

As its name suggests, the Cubo Ai monitors your baby with more than just a video feed: It uses artificial intelligence to alert you when your baby rolls over or has their face covered. The camera is bird-shaped, with various cheeps and chirps when the device boots up or pairs with your Wi-Fi, and the whole aesthetic gives the product a bespoke feel. This monitor would blend right into a well-designed nursery, nixing the whole surveillance vibe that most cameras bring. Where the Cubo Ai really stands out is in its photo and video capture. The app will automatically save photos to your “Moments Wall” every once in a while, and you can manually save your own photos or videos, too. And with 18-hour video playback, you can scroll back in time to see what happened at any point in the night. Creepy or cute, you be the judge.

Features: The Cubo Ai Plus is absolutely packed with extra features. It has the standard temperature and humidity monitoring and two-way audio, but then there are also the built-in nightlight, lullabies and white noise machine. Then there’s the aforementioned Moments Wall and easy navigation of previously captured footage, and the ubiquitous sleep-tracking charts and graphs. The Cubo Ai will even let you set up “danger zones” in your home (more useful when employed as a nanny cam) that alert you when your child wanders into, say, the kitchen. Some features are available only with a Cubo Ai Care premium subscription, which is free for the first year.

Setup and mounting: Of all the Wi-Fi monitors I tested, I had the most trouble setting up the Cubo Ai. It was really tricky to connect, and I had to go through the setup process multiple times before it took. Even once it was connected, the camera would lose signal halfway through the night and shut off without alerting me. Outside my apartment, I still experienced issues connecting to Wi-Fi, but the camera stayed connected once it was paired. The base package comes with a wall mount that requires a moderate amount of effort (and a drill) to install. For $60 more, Cubo Ai sells a three-pack of mounts: one for the crib, a floor stand and a tabletop mount for traveling.

Audio and video quality: Cubo’s video and audio quality are both decent, compared to other Wi-Fi monitors I tested, but the feed is laggy at times and it lacks the noise-canceling feature of other models, making background noise a small irritation.$199 AT AMAZONLollipop Smart Baby CameraGood budget Wi-Fi monitor

Karisa Langlo/CNET

For Wi-Fi monitoring on a (slight) budget, check out the Lollipop, which stands out with its unique design and three fun color options. Though I found the app to also be less intuitive than its competitors, it’s still chock full of cool features. For a Wi-Fi monitor with lots of bells and whistles, you can’t beat the price. The Lollipop is the Goldilocks Wi-Fi baby monitor, and a great value for the budget-conscious who still want a few extras.

Features: One of the Lollipop’s most intriguing features is its true crying detection, which differentiates the cry of a baby from other noises and alerts you accordingly. This means you could turn the volume off (though you could alternatively choose to let it run in the background when you turn your display off) and hear only alerts — not every breath, cough and whimper from your child’s crib. The Lollipop also notifies for what it calls “crossing,” when it senses movement across a predefined border, such as a baby attempting to Houdini out of their crib. 

Crying, crossing and other “events” are recorded in 30-second clips that can be reviewed from the app. A host of other features is unlocked with a subscription to one of the Lollipop Care tiers (only the first month is free), including sleep tracking data and continuous video recording. 

The Lollipop’s built-in sound machine includes a selection of classical lullabies and white noise options. Weirdly, temperature and humidity tracking is not included with the Lollipop camera, but you can get a separate sensor for an additional $55. This would bring the total cost of the Lollipop closer to its competitors.

Setup and mounting: Unfortunately, I also experienced Wi-Fi issues with the Lollipop at more than one location and had to delete the app from my phone entirely one night to get the alarm to stop ringing. But mounting was a breeze. Shaped like its namesake, the Lollipop camera comes on a bendable silicone stick, which can be attached to a crib railing, molded into a table stand or wrapped around… pretty much anything. This makes it ideal for traveling because you can get creative about placement without sacrificing view (or breaking out a drill).

Audio and video quality: The Lollipop’s picture and sound were as expected for the price — not the best, but could be worse. The picture was a bit too washed out, with a short delay in the feed, and the camera had some trouble switching between night mode and color. The audio was fuzzier than other models, but certainly not a deal-breaker.$159 AT WALMART$149 AT AMAZONInfant Optics DXR-8 ProBest non-Wi-Fi video monitor

Karisa Langlo/CNET

Active Noise Reduction is the feature of note for the Infant Optics baby monitor, which is largely considered the gold standard of non-Wi-Fi baby monitors. ANR filters out background noise from fans, humidifiers and so on without silencing your baby’s cries. This feature is especially welcome on the Infant Optics, which seemed to have the most trouble with interference of any of the analog monitors I tested. After one night of staccato secondhand white noise from an intermittent signal, I was eager to switch to ANR mode. (Notably, Infant Optics doesn’t actually recommend ANR mode for use with white noise machines. The result is a bit of an alien-like warble, but I still found that more tolerable.) As with Wi-Fi monitors, interference with an analog monitor will largely depend on your particular home, the position of the monitor, and how many competing signals are nearby.

Features: Unlike smart baby monitors with sleep tracking apps, the Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro is more barebones, with features that focus on improving its core video and audio monitoring. Besides ANR, Infant Optics’ best feature is its remote pan and tilt, which allowed me to adjust the camera position and view any part of my son’s room without waking him. There’s also a 3x digital zoom function, and a wide angle lens you can swap in (sold separately). The parent unit also features an LED sound indicator, which lights up when it detects noise, even when the parent unit volume is off. This is especially useful for outdoor use, when wearing headphones, or for the deaf or hard of hearing. And like many competitors, the Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro includes a temperature sensor and two-way audio.

Setup and mounting: The Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro monitor is plug-and-play: Plug the camera into a wall outlet, plug the parent unit into a wall outlet (at least until the battery charges), and you’re good to go. Infant Optics also has one of the simplest mounting solutions, a single screw that connects to the base of the camera unit. 

Battery life: The parent unit has 6 to 10 hours of battery, depending on how often the screen is turned on. I found that it’s a bit risky to leave it unplugged overnight (it’ll wake you with an annoying, but welcome, beep when the battery is low), but it’s sufficient for evening use.

Audio and video quality: The Infant Optics has a dedicated volume control button on the top of the parent unit, and its loudest setting was much louder than the other units I tested. Audio was a bit more distorted than the Wi-Fi models but the clearest of all non-Wi-Fi monitors. Video is displayed in 720p resolution, which is more than sufficient, but not quite the best quality I’ve seen.$200 AT BUYBUYBABY$200 AT AMAZONEufy SpaceView ProClear video quality

Karisa Langlo/CNET

Better known for its security cameras and robot vacuums, Eufy offers a flagship baby monitor that lives up to the brand’s standards and delivers a high-quality monitoring experience that will accommodate most parents’ needs. But it lacks the upgrades and special features of some of its competitors, which keeps it from standing out from the crowd. The camera itself has a standard orb-like design, and the parent unit is surprisingly hefty, by far the heaviest of any I tried. Instead of a flip-out kickstand, the Eufy SpaceView Pro is wedge-shaped and freestanding, like an Echo Show. Its heft makes it less ideal for traveling, but it does lend the device a premium feel. The menu options on the parent unit are well organized and easy to navigate. Overall the Eufy SpaceView Pro is a great video baby monitor, but it’s a bit pricey for what it is.

Features: In addition to VOX mode (more on that below), Eufy offers a noise detection alert that’s reminiscent of a smart monitor feature. This is a good backup if you don’t want to use VOX mode or if you have trouble hearing the monitor even on its loudest setting like I did. The parent unit will beep and activate the display when noise is detected, with an adjustable threshold that’s separate from VOX mode. The Eufy also includes a temperature sensor (with attendant sound alert), two-way audio, five lullaby options that run for 30 minutes, and, for some reason, an alarm clock.

Setup and mounting: Eufy includes a wall mount kit that can be placed in the corner for monitoring a whole room, or flat against the wall for a view of the crib. Either way, setup requires only two screws. Pairing the camera with the parent unit took only about a minute.

Battery life: Eufy promises the longest battery life of any unit I tested: 30 hours total, or 12 hours with continuous monitoring. I had no trouble keeping it unplugged through the night.

Audio and video quality: Where the Eufy SpaceView Pro stands out is in video quality. Its 720p resolution is crisp and noticeably more detailed than even the Infant Optics’, especially in daylight. One small annoyance, though, is the lag between switching the display on and starting the feed. It’s only a few seconds long, but that makes a difference when your baby’s crying. What the Eufy gains in video, it loses in audio. The SpaceView Pro’s audio output was surprisingly quiet and fuzzy. Its VOX mode works like a hybrid of the Infant Optics ANR and the Wi-Fi models’ push notifications: Turn on VOX and the monitor will go completely silent when the display is off, until a sound (with adjustable threshold) wakes it back up. This is a great solution for parents with noisy babies, but I found I became mildly anxious when I didn’t have any audio at all.$170 AT EUFY$170 AT AMAZONHellobaby Video Baby Monitor HB32Good budget video monitor

Karisa Langlo/CNET

The truth is, you don’t need to break the bank for a baby monitor. The Hellobaby Video Baby Monitor will do what a monitor is supposed to do, and it’s significantly cheaper than most other models. Its no-frills approach means you’re not paying extra for features you won’t use. Small, lightweight and a little outdated-looking, the Hellobaby monitor is a cinch to set up and would make a good non-Wi-Fi travel monitor. Compared to its competitors, the Hellobaby has a tiny screen — only 3.2 inches, compared with the average 5-inch display. And unlike the other non-Wi-Fi video monitors I tested, Hellobaby doesn’t have remote pan or tilt, so what you see is what you get. 

Features: The Hellobaby Video Baby Monitor HB32 features a temperature reading, eight lullabies, two-way audio, an alarm, 2x digital zoom and a VOX mode with two levels. Extra features are basic, but Hellobaby punches above its weight for the price.

Setup and mounting: Hellobaby is plug-and-play at its finest, and mounting only requires a single screw that attaches to the base of the camera. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Because there’s no remote pan or tilt, however, you’ll have to get the camera in a good position when you mount it, not after your baby hits the hay. This was the Hellobaby’s biggest drawback for me.

Battery life: Hellobaby doesn’t specify a battery life, but the parent unit lasted overnight with power to spare. 

Audio and video quality: Of the monitors I tested, Hellobaby’s had the lowest-quality picture — especially in the dark, which is probably how you’ll use it most. Similarly, the audio output is quieter than I’d like, though Hellobaby is by no means alone in this. Still, both the audio and video quality were good enough for the price, in my experience.$65 AT AMAZONVTech DM221 Audio Baby MonitorNo-frills audio monitor

Karisa Langlo/CNET

When you only need audio, VTech DM211 is the monitor of choice. VTech hits all the marks here: Easy setup, low price, portability and, most importantly, decent audio output. While the lack of a camera is an instant deal breaker for a lot of parents, team audio-only will love the few features that VTech’s monitor does include. This monitor is basically foolproof, which makes it a good choice for traveling or backup.

Features: VTech is another brand that obviates the need for a dedicated nightlight, because the baby unit has one built into its handle. And, like the Infant Optics, VTech’s parent unit lights up when it detects sound, even when you have the audio deactivated. The monitor offers a few other options for parents who want to hear the important stuff and nothing else: noise detection alerts that also work when the device is muted (you can even set a vibrate alert) and a VOX mode that gives Eufy a run for its money.

Setup and mounting: Since there’s no video component, there’s no need to mount the VTech DM221. And since there’s no Wi-Fi and no apps to download, setup is as easy as plugging in the baby unit and the parent unit and placing them near enough to link, which they do automatically.

Battery life: VTech says this audio monitor will last up to 16 hours on a charge, and I had no trouble keeping it unplugged all night.

Audio quality: I wouldn’t want to listen to music through the VTech speaker, but as a baby monitor, it accomplishes its purpose. The audio was a little quieter than I’d prefer at max volume, but the unexpected audio features more than make up for that.$39 AT AMAZON

Owlet Cam and Smart Sock (Update: No longer available)

Karisa Langlo/CNET

Update, Dec. 10: After receiving an FDA warning, Owlet stopped selling its Smart Sock in November. You can read more here. For now, we are removing the Owlet from our list of recommended baby monitors. In January, however, Owlet released the Dream Sock, which also pairs with the Owlet Cam. 

Original review of the Cam and Smart Sock follows.


Part video baby monitor, part wearable device, the Owlet takes peace of mind to the next level. The camera itself is small and unassuming (with the longest power cord of any I tried, a plus if you’re always on the go). A separate sock-like contraption tracks baby’s vitals with a built-in pulse oximeter, which communicates wirelessly with a base station and alerts you if heart rate or oxygen levels deviate from normal. The socks come in various colors and sizes (up to 55 pounds) and can fit easily inside footed pajamas — my son barely seemed to notice when he was wearing it. Like other smart monitors, the Owlet app provides you with historical data for your child’s vitals. It doesn’t record video though, so if you miss something, you won’t be able to hit rewind.

Features: The Owlet’s heart rate and oxygen tracking is a godsend for a lot of anxious new parents, and even though the Owlet Smart Sock is not a medical device — nor does it prevent SIDS — it really does help you relax when you can watch the graph of your newborn’s heartbeat right on your phone. (That is, if you don’t experience false alarms. For the record, I didn’t.) Push notifications for movement and noise can be turned on or off, with sensitivity calibrated to your needs. The peace of mind alone will be worth the steep price for many parents, but there aren’t a whole lot of other features to report, even though this is by far the most expensive baby monitor on this list. However, the Owlet doesn’t charge extra for a subscription to its app features like many of its competitors do — it’s all included.

Setup and mounting: The camera comes on a magnetic base, allowing you to rotate and swivel it to get just the right angle. That said, you’ll probably still want to wall-mount it for the best view. The camera comes with a pretty standard wall mount kit that should only take a few minutes to install. Pairing the Owlet with my Wi-Fi was a bit trickier, and the ease of setup will probably depend on your Wi-Fi signal, proximity to your router and how many competing signals are nearby. In my apartment, I consistently experienced issues with the Owlet’s initial pairing (and you have to do the process separately for the sock!), but it worked like a charm when I tried it in a large house and a condo. And once paired, it stayed connected. If you have trouble pairing like I did, you might have better luck pairing it close to your router, then relocating it to your child’s room once paired.

Battery life: The Smart Sock must be charged approximately every 16 hours of use. I found it was easiest to just charge it every morning on the base station, which doubles as a handy wireless charger.

Audio and video quality: The Owlet’s audio is clear with little background noise. The camera’s field of view is nice and wide, and you can toggle between 360p, 480p and 1080p definition.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.Wi-FiInfancyhttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlCNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Best Chest Strap Heart-Rate Monitors for 2022

No more slipping, sliding or shimmying with these chest straps.

Amanda Capritto headshot

Amanda CaprittoMarch 16, 2022 4:00 a.m. PT

The World Health Organization recommends that all adults should be exercising for at least two and a half hours every week if they’re doing moderate workouts. Those who do vigorous physical activity should exercise for a minimum of 75 minutes per week. Whether you’re working out a little or a lot, tracking your exercise can help you stay motivated and offer insights into the healthiest way for you to move more. A heart monitor with a stress chest strap can be your best workout partner. 

When it comes to optimizing your workout session — especially when your sport of choice is a distance-based activity, like running or cycling — data can empower you to get so much more out of each work on a short-term and long-term basis. Heart-rate monitoring can help you track your cardiovascular and overall health.

Gathering metrics like your speed, heart rate, distance, calories burned, stride length, cadence, altitude and elevation can help you fine-tune your training plan to reach a specific fitness goal. That’s why finding the best heart-rate monitor with a chest strap that’s comfortable to wear (and pairing it with a handy fitness app on your smartwatch or a fitness tracker like a Fitbit Versa or Fitbit Charge) is so essential for your fitness goals and health. 

Man running with heart rate monitor outdoors in the city.
Using a chest strap heart-rate monitor can give you accurate, actionable insights to help improve your running.Getty Images

Of all the different types of heart-rate monitors out there, chest straps are some of the best for distance athletes because they tend to get more accurate heart-rate data readings than an armband, wrist monitor or traditional fitness tracker. Chest straps have a reputation for being uncomfortable and chafing, but with a good heart-rate monitor, you’ll forget it’s even there — until you check your heart monitor reading at the end of your workout session. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best chest strap heart-rate monitors. We update this list periodically as new models become available.Polar H10Best overall chest strap heart-rate monitor

Polar

Polar’s H10 really wowed me, but I have to wonder if it was because I was using a Polar watch as my basis for comparison. The H10 is accurate (as compared to Polar Ignite heart-rate data), reliable, comfortable and compatible. It’s iOS- and Android-friendly, using Bluetooth and ANT Plus connectivity to pair with a variety of devices. 

The silicon friction dots along the strap minimize shifting and slipping, and the buckle easily adjusts for a good fit. The H10 supports two simultaneous Bluetooth connections, so if you wear a smartwatch and use fitness hardware such as a stationary bike or rowing erg, you can connect to both. If your gym equipment uses ANT Plus technology, you can potentially enable up to three bluetooth device connections at once.

The only negative that I noticed was that the Polar H10 only has enough onboard memory for one training session. No biggie if you remember to sync to your phone or watch after your run, but that data is lost if you forget and go for a run the next day. $82 AT AMAZONWahoo Tickr XMost comfortable chest strap heart-rate monitor

Wahoo

The extra-wide heart-rate chest strap on the Wahoo Tickr X makes this chest strap heart-rate monitor extremely comfortable. The fabric feels soft, and the band is easy to adjust. I was able to get the best, snuggest fit with this strap compared to the others I tested, but it’s unlikely that’ll be the case for everyone. It fits chests from 23 to 48 inches.

In addition to offering extreme comfort, the Wahoo Tickr X also offers comprehensive compatibility. This heart-rate strap connects to just about anything, including iPhone and Android devices, Garmin watches and more than 50 fitness apps. 

The updated version of the Wahoo Tickr X supports up to three simultaneous Bluetooth connections, which is convenient if you want to sync your heart-rate monitoring to both a wrist-worn activity tracker and your phone. However, you won’t need to cart along your phone while running with the Wahoo Tickr X, because it has 50 hours of onboard memory that stores heart rate, helping to track heart-rate variability, checking for target heart rate and calories burned data. 

Read more: 18 Health and Fitness Devices That Sync With Apple Watch$80 AT AMAZONGarmin HRM-TriBest chest strap heart-rate monitor for swimmers

Garmin

If you’re a duathlete or triathlete looking for a chest strap heart-rate monitor, I suggest going with the Garmin HRM-Tri, which is specifically designed to accommodate triathletes. This chest strap captures all the data that triathletes need to track and reports it all back to fitness apps on any compatible devices you sync it to.

Like the HRM-Run (below), the built-in accelerometer on the HRM-Tri measures cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time data while running, and when you’re in the water, the strap sensor stores heart-rate data, which it sends to your device later. (The heart-rate tracker can’t actually transmit data while in the water.)

In terms of comfort, the Garmin HRM-Tri is extremely lightweight, so much so that I barely noticed it while running. I didn’t wear it to swim, but I noticed that it seemed to soak up less sweat than the other chest straps I tried, alluding to substantial water resistance.$126 AT AMAZONGarmin HRM-RunChest strap heart-rate monitor for serious runners

Garmin

This heart-rate monitor is small, lightweight and captures six cool running metrics: cadence, vertical oscillation (“bounce” in your run), ground contact time, left/right balance, stride length and vertical ratio (oscillation height-to-stride-length). Wearing the HRM-Run made me feel much more like a serious runner than I am — or at least than I have been for the last six or seven months. 

The Garmin HRM-Run comes with an impressively long battery life: It lasts for an entire year, assuming you run for an hour per day, once a day. For me (and many other casual runners), this chest strap would last much longer than a year. For serious runners, the long battery life eliminates the need for bothersome weekly charging or, heaven forbid, heading out for a run only to realize your heart-rate monitor is dead. 

Garmin knew its target audience with this heart-rate sensor product, as it’s thin, lightweight and comfortable, too. This Garmin device accompanied me on my longest run throughout the testing phase for this project — an eight-miler — and I didn’t chafe or feel uncomfortable at all. $100 AT AMAZON$137 AT WALMART$100 AT BEST BUYCooSpo H6Best budget chest strap heart-rate monitor

CooSpo

If you’re looking for a heart-rate measurement budget buy to take your workout to the next level, this is it. The CooSpo H6 chest strap uses ANT Plus technology and Bluetooth, which allows it to sync and work wirelessly with the devices you probably already have.

This Bluetooth heart-rate monitor only works if you have a compatible heart-rate tracking app or device that can sync with the CooSpo device. For example, if you use Strava to track your runs, you can sync Strava to the chest strap to get your readings. The CooSpo strap also syncs to Zwift, Peloton hardware, Polar devices, Map My Ride, Wahoo Fitness, Endomondo, UA Run, Garmin devices and more.

This chest strap is soft and comfortable, and the battery life is impressive with 300 hours of use. The strap is also waterproof, and while I didn’t test it in water or rain, I did test it while running in Louisiana, where the humidity makes the air feel like soup — and it held up just fine. $30 AT AMAZON

How to choose a chest strap heart-rate monitor

When it comes to choosing the best heart-rate monitor chest strap for your workout, many of the factors in your buying decision will be based on personal preferences and your workout regimen. Here are a few factors to keep in mind while shopping.

Strap width: This comes down to personal preference, but before you buy, consider whether you’d be more comfortable with a heart-rate tracker that uses a slim strap or a wider one during your workout.

Module size: Some chest straps use tiny modules (the plastic puck-like part) that don’t extend over the edges of the strap. Others, however, use larger monitors to measure your heart rate. Which heart-rate sensor you choose to track your workout also depends largely on personal preference, as well as how tight your running shirts are.

Internal memory: If you don’t like to hold your smartphone during your workout, opt for a heart-rate training monitor that can store your heart-rate data on its own built-in memory to store maximum heart rate, heart-rate variability and target heart rate. You can later transfer your heart-rate reading to your smart phone apps via your HR monitor’s companion app.

Metrics: Consider what you want your monitor to, well, monitor during your workout. Higher-end models capture real-time data covering everything from run cadence to stride length, as well as things like blood pressure, calorie burn and heart-rate variability to help you reach your fitness goal, while more basic models might track only your heart rate.

Battery: A wearable chest strap monitor can have all kinds of power sources. Some have a rechargeable battery. Others may have super-long battery life, but the battery isn’t user replaceable or rechargeable. A longer battery life is always convenient — no one wants a monitor to peter out during a run — but there are lots of options. Make sure to check the description for battery life before purchasing a monitor.

How I chose chest strap heart-rate monitors

I ran with several heart-rate monitors to find the best chest strap monitors for runners. I wore each chest strap on every run for two weeks straight, which came out to six runs per monitor. (Between this project and testing face masks for running, my cardiovascular health must be better than it has been in a while.)

I rated them on comfort, breathability, battery life and accuracy as compared to my Polar Ignite watch, which captures my heart rate throughout runs. While this might not be the best method of testing for accuracy, it’s what I had available to me, and the Polar Ignite is very consistent, so it served as a good comparison.COMMENTSFitness TechFitbitGarminMonitorshttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://c68a78830783a1d8590c726db600b397.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlCNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Best Wireless Range Extenders in 2022

Does your home Wi-Fi network need an extra room’s worth of coverage? A range extender might be just what you need.

Ry Crist headshot

Ry CristMarch 18, 2022 5:15 a.m. PT

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No matter what internet speeds you’re getting at home, a good Wi-Fi network is essential if you want to put those speeds to work in whatever room you want. Too often, your router won’t quite cut it on its own and you end up with dead zones beyond its range where you can’t connect.

This is where a Wi-Fi range extender can come in handy. Plug one in near the edge of your router’s wireless range, pair it with the network and it’ll start rebroadcasting the signal farther out into your home. All of today’s top models are less expensive than upgrading to a full-fledged mesh router with its own range-extending satellite devices, they’re a cinch to set up, they’ll work no matter what brand of router you’re using, and in most cases, it’s easy to give them the same SSID and password as your original router. That creates a single seamless connection that you won’t need to think about much.

You’ve got lots of options to choose from, and I’ve spent the past few years regularly testing them out to find the best of the bunch. For the last two years, I’ve run those tests out of my own home. For 2022, I’ve moved things back to the CNET Smart Home, a much larger 5,800-square-foot multistory house in rural Kentucky. It’s the biggest challenge I’ve thrown at these things yet — and after weeks of tests, my data identified the range extenders that reigned supreme. Let’s get right to them.TP-Link RE605XBest overall

Chris Monroe/CNET

TP-Link makes some of the most popular picks in the range extender category, with a fairly wide variety of options to choose from at various price points. If you’re buying one in 2022, I think you should put the TP-Link RE605X right at the top of your list. At $100, it’s far from the most affordable extender on the market (keep reading for the value picks), but with a highly capable AX1800 design, full support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 speeds and features, adjustable antennas, and a helpful, easy-to-use control app with strong reviews on both Android and iOS, it’s about as well-rounded as range extenders get.

The performance is particularly sharp, too. In my tests at the CNET Smart Home, an RE605X in the basement was able to extend the router’s signal from upstairs just fine, giving my upload and download speeds a significant boost in every room I tested. Throughout the entire 5,800 square foot home, among all the extenders I tested, the RE605X delivered the fastest average upload speeds to both Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 devices, the fastest average download speeds to Wi-Fi 6 devices, and the second fastest average download speeds to Wi-Fi 5 devices.

By default, the extender puts out its own separate network when you first pair it with your router, and that network will use the same password as your original network, and the same SSID with “-EXT” added to the end. That’s better than extenders that put out an unsecured network by default — and if you use the app to delete that “-EXT” bit, it’ll automatically sync up with your original network and work invisibly to keep you better connected, which is ideal. All of that makes this extender an easy recommendation.$100 AT WALMART$100 AT BEST BUY$100 AT TARGETLinksys RE7310A solid second choice

Chris Monroe/CNET

TP-Link took the top spot in 2022, but the Linksys RE7310 was very close behind it, and would be almost equally as good on most home networks. In the CNET Smart Home, where we have a fiber internet plan with uploads and downloads of up to 150Mbps, the RE7310 returned average Wi-Fi 6 downloads throughout the entire multi-story house of 132Mbps. That’s only 4Mbps behind that top pick from TP-Link. As for the uploads, Linksys finished with an average whole-home speed to my Wi-Fi 6 test device of 124Mbps. That’s only 2Mbps behind TP-Link.

The only thing keeping me from saying that the two finished in a virtual tie is that the RE7310 was slightly less impressive with earlier-gen Wi-Fi 5 devices, particularly with respect to upload speeds. Still, the performance was solid across the board, and strong enough for me to take video calls in the Smart Home’s basement dead zones, something I would have struggled with using just the single router I ran my tests on. It’s a bit bulky-looking, but the RE7310 is the best Linksys range extender I’ve tested yet, and it’s an especially great pick if you can catch it on sale.

Also, keep an eye out for the Linksys RE7350, which features a nearly identical design and specs. Right now, it’s on sale for $20 less than the RE7310 at Best Buy. I haven’t tested that variant out just yet, but I’ll update this post when I have.$102 AT WALMART$147 AT AMAZOND-Link EaglePro AIBest balance of performance and value

Chris Monroe/CNET

It was never the speed leader in my tests, but it was never too far behind — and at $65, the D-Link EaglePro AI costs a lot less than the top picks listed here. That’s a good deal, especially on a Wi-Fi 6 model that boasts a newly-designed control app on Android and iOS, plus adjustable antennas and a design that automatically syncs up with your router to put out a single, unified network as soon as you first set the thing up. I even appreciate the touch of color with those pale blue accents, a nice break from boring white plastic.

Speed-wise, the EaglePro AI brought up the rear in my tests, but it was still able to return average download speeds of 114Mbps for Wi-Fi 6 devices and 112Mbps for Wi-Fi 5 devices across every room I tested it in, which is terrific for a multi-story home with a 150Mbps fiber plan. Uploads were lower, including a semi-concerning, single-digit average of just 8Mbps to Wi-Fi 5 devices in the home’s most difficult dead zone, but I can forgive that given that the 5,800 square foot Smart Home is a lot bigger than this AX1500 extender was designed to cover. If your home is any smaller than that, then the EaglePro AI should do just fine, and it’ll save you some cash, too. In fact, as of mid-March, D-Link’s got it on sale for an extra $10 off.$55 AT D-LINK

OTHER EXTENDERS WORTH CONSIDERING

TP-Link RE220The best on a budget

Ry Crist/CNET

At $35, the TP-Link RE220 was the least expensive range extender during my first run of at-home tests in 2020, but that didn’t stop it from outperforming everything else I tested at every turn. This Wi-Fi extender is fast, it’s reliable, it works with just about every Wi-Fi router out there, and it’s easy to use. And, as of writing this, it costs even less than I paid for it — down to less than $25 on Amazon (just make sure to check the box that applies a coupon for an additional couple of bucks off).

Plug it in and press the WPS button to pair it with your home network, and it’ll begin broadcasting its own networks on the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. Both offered steady Wi-Fi speed throughout my home, including average download speeds on the 5GHz band of at least 75Mbps in every room access point I tested, along with strong upload speeds. The RE220 never once dropped my connection, and its speeds were consistent across multiple days of tests during both daytime and evening hours.

It’s a little long in the tooth at this point, and it won’t wow you with Wi-Fi 6 speeds, but the strong ease of use and the steady, dependable level of performance it offers means it’s still an absolute steal. It’s not as fast as the top models I’ve tested in the years since, and I haven’t had a chance to re-test it at the CNET Smart Home just yet — but it’s still a great choice if you want to boost the signal from the Wi-Fi router to a back room that sits beyond the router’s reach, but you’d like to pay as little as possible to get the job done.

Read more about improving your home’s Wi-Fi.$28 AT AMAZON$40 AT WALMART$30 AT HPAsus RP-AX56Great performance (with a big caveat)

Chris Monroe/CNET

TP-Link and Linksys each put in strong performances during this latest round of tests, but it was arguably Asus that led the way with the RP-AX56, a Wi-Fi 6 range extender that retails for $100. It finished in a virtual tie with TP-Link for the fastest average download speeds to my Wi-Fi 6 test laptop, and it led all range extenders when I re-ran my tests with a Wi-Fi 5 iPad Air 2. On top of that, the RP-AX56 delivered the fastest average download speeds to both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 devices in the CNET Smart Home’s basement guest bedroom, which was the most persistent dead zone throughout my tests.

That said, the RP-AX56 requires a bit of futzing. After I first paired it with the router, it put out its own, separate Wi-Fi network with a generic name and no password at all. That’s something you’ll want to change immediately, but on iOS, the 1.5-star reviewed Asus extender app doesn’t offer a quick option for changing the SSID and password. Instead, you’ll need to enter the extender’s IP address into a browser bar and log in using its default admin credentials — and by the way, those credentials were username: admin and password: admin. So, yeah, you’ll want to change those, too.

Once you’ve done that, you can change the SSID and password to match your router, at which point the extender will work seamlessly within your existing network. Still, that’s a pretty low level of default security for a plug-and-play device that most people won’t want to futz with at all, and that keeps me from recommending it outright. I’ll keep an eye out for updates on this one — if Asus makes some changes to the app and to the default settings, the RP-AX56 could jump right up into the top picks.$99 AT AMAZON$100 AT WALMART$100 AT BEST BUYTP-Link RE505XSolid performance for the price

Ry Crist/CNET

Last year’s top pick, the RE505X is just a slightly less powerful version of the RE605X that costs a bit less. I wasn’t able to re-test it at the CNET Smart Home yet, but I’ll update this post when I get the chance. For now, I think performance-minded users will be glad they spent up for the better upload speeds of the RE605X or the Linksys RE7310, and value-minded users will likely be better served with the less expensive D-Link EaglePro AI and TP-Link RE220 range extenders.

That leaves the RE505X as a bit of a middle-child at this point, but I’d pounce on it if the price dropped substantially below its current price of $90, as it was an extremely capable and consistent performer in my 2021 tests.$80 AT AMAZON$90 AT WALMART$90 AT BEST BUYNetgear Nighthawk X4S (EX7500)Great ease-of-use, so-so performance, poor value

Chris Monroe/CNET

As soon as you plug the Netgear Nighthawk X4S range extender in and pair it with your router, it’ll start working with your router to put out a single, unified network, one that automatically routes your device between the router and extender as needed. That’s great, and the extender offers a well-featured app for quick controls, too.

The main problem is that this model doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but still typically costs more than $100. It features a tri-band design that’s quite fancy by range extender standards, and the performance was better than every other Wi-Fi 5 range extender I’ve tested. Even so, it couldn’t quite keep up with the dual-band Wi-Fi 6 models I tested, and it costs more than some of them, to boot. If you catch it sale for less than $100, it might be worth a look, but in most cases, I think Wi-Fi 6 is worth prioritizing at this point.$101 AT AMAZON$159 AT WALMARTD-Link DAP-X1870Wait for a sale

Ry Crist/CNET

Another strong model from my 2021 tests, the D-Link DAP-X1870 is an excellent performer that does a great job of creating a single, unified network as soon as you pair it with your router. That keeps things easy, but at a retail price of $120, it feels a bit too expensive here in 2022.

 As of writing this, Amazon has it on sale for $105, which helps somewhat, but I’d still have a hard time recommending it at that price. I’ll keep an eye out for any good sales and update this post as I spot them, and I’ll give this post an update when I’ve had a chance to re-test the DAP-X1870 at the CNET Smart Home to see how it stacks up against the newest models, too.$104 AT AMAZON$120 AT WALMART

smart-home-timelapse-1-3-497077
I spent weeks testing these range extenders at the CNET Smart Home.tristan rinehart

How I tested them

Like a lot of people, I spent much of the past two years working from home, and that included my yearly roundup of range extender tests. Now, in 2022, I’m happy to say that we’re back testing gadgets at the CNET Smart Home, a 5,800-square-foot multistory home in the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky that we use as a living lab. It’s a much better environment for testing wireless devices at range than my semi-cramped, shotgun-style house — and with more ground to cover, it’s a much bigger challenge for these extenders.

The CNET Smart Home has a fiber internet connection with matching upload and download speeds of up to 150Mbps. That’s a far cry from the gigabit connections more and more of us have access to (not to mention the new, blazing fast multi-gig internet plans emerging in some parts of the country). However, it’s in line with the average internet speed in the US, which makes it a great place to test how home networking products will work for the average consumer.

cnet-smart-home-single-router-wi-fi-speeds-control-graph.png
This is the control graph, showing you the average speeds in each room I tested with no range extenders in play at all. On its own, a single, entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router in the laundry room was able to deliver decent speeds on the main floor of the home (the first four rooms in this chart), but speeds plummeted in the basement (the last four rooms), especially the upload speeds.Ry Crist/CNET

For my purposes, I started by setting up a router in the Smart Home’s laundry room where the modem sits. I went with the Netgear R6700AX, a perfectly decent model I reviewed last year. It offered reliable performance but limited range when I tested it — and that’s exactly what I wanted for these range extender tests.

Sure enough, the router was able to deliver strong speeds on the home’s main floor, but as soon as I headed down to the basement level, speeds started to fall. That includes single-digit upload speeds in the bourbon room and the mud room. (Yes, the Smart Home has a bourbon room that the previous owners used to age their own barrels. We don’t have any barrels of our own, but it smells *amazing* in there. Kentucky, folks!)

With my control speeds established, it was time to start adding in the range extenders and seeing which ones improved things the best. Pairing each one with the router only required me to plug it in nearby and press the WPS button on both devices — after that, I relocated them downstairs, to the basement rec room, which was the farthest point from the router that still had a decent signal and speeds. Whenever you’re using a range extender, that’s typically the best place to put it: just shy of the edge of your router’s range, where it will still receive a strong enough signal to put out a strong signal of its own. The best way to find that spot? Grab your phone or laptop and run some speed tests.

In the end, I ran a total of at least 96 speed tests for each extender, two rounds of 24 tests to find its average speeds to a Wi-Fi 5 client device (an iPad Air 2 from 2015) and another two rounds of 24 tests to check its speeds to a Wi-Fi 6 client device (a 2021 Lenovo ThinkPad laptop). In each case, I started the first round of tests with a fresh connection in the laundry room, closest to the router, and then started the second round of tests with a fresh connection in the mud room, farthest from the router. With each test, I logged the client device’s download speed, its upload speed and the latency of the connection.

Solid results from the 2022 crop

Ready to see how the range extenders did? Let’s take a look.

cnet-smart-home-range-extender-tests-wi-fi-6-download-and-upload-speeds-by-room
These graphs show you the average download speeds by room (left) and average upload speeds by room (right) for a Wi-Fi 6 laptop connected to each extender. All five models I tested were able to deliver noticeable improvements to the connection, but some did a better job than others.Ry Crist/CNET

On the left, this first set of graphs shows you the average download speeds by room for each extender I tested. On the right, you’re looking at the average upload speeds. All of these speeds are to my Wi-Fi 6 test device, a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop from 2021.

So what jumps out? First, all five of these extenders did a decent job of boosting speeds in those last four rooms, down in the basement. With all of them, I had a faster connection throughout the house than I had when I connected through the router alone. The D-Link EaglePro AI struggled a bit with upload speeds in the basement, but still kept things above a minimum of 20Mbps or so.

That was with a Wi-Fi 6 device, though. How did the performance look with an older Wi-Fi 5 device from several years ago?

cnet-smart-home-range-extender-tests-wi-fi-5-download-and-upload-speeds-by-room
Again, this is average download speeds by room on the left, average upload speeds on the right — this time, to an older Wi-Fi 5 device.Ry Crist/CNET

Things get interesting here — you can see a greater gulf between download and upload performance, as well as some more distinct weak spots and dead zones throughout the house. Each of the five extenders struggled to keep uploads speedy in the upstairs dinette, for instance. With Wi-Fi 6, we barely saw any issues in there at all, save for the Netgear Nighthawk X4S.

Meanwhile, in the basement, our top picks from TP-Link and Linksys (as well as the high-performing Asus RP-AX56) were each able to keep download speeds above 100Mbps, which is great. Uploads were another story, as all of the extenders struggled. None of them failed to deliver a usable upload connection outright, though the D-Link EaglePro AI came close with single-digit upload speeds in the basement’s farthest reaches.

Another key takeaway from these tests is that Wi-Fi 6 delivers some of its most noticeable speed boosts on the upload side of things. If you’re looking to make lots of video calls, upload lots of large files to the web, or anything else requiring sturdy upload performance, then upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 hardware should be high on your list of priorities (assuming you haven’t already made the jump).

The bargain picks

In 2020, I tested four bargain-priced range extenders to see which one offered the most bang for the buck. It was the start of the pandemic and people were scrambling to bolster their home networks — I wanted to be sure we could point them to a good, budget-friendly pick that would do the best job as a signal booster offering an extra room’s worth of coverage in a pinch.

In the end, the TP-Link RE220 was the runaway winner. Currently available for $25 or less, it remains a solid value pick.

I’ve separated these four models from the other six because the test setup was different in 2020 and it wouldn’t be fair to make direct comparisons to those results. You’ve already read about the best of that bargain-priced bunch, the TP-Link RE220. Here are my takeaways from the other three I tested:

d-link-dap-1620-wi-fi-range-extender
With two adjustable external antennas, the D-Link DAP-1620 is pretty powerful for a budget-priced range extender, but it wasn’t as consistent as our top pick.Ry Crist/CNET

D-Link DAP-1620: This was the only range extender that ever managed to hit triple digits during my 2020 tests, with an average speed of 104Mbps in my bedroom during evening hours. Setup was just as simple as what I experienced with TP-Link, too. I was able to stream HD video, browse the web and make video calls on the extender’s network without any issue.

Network speeds were inconsistent though — and much slower in daytime hours, with a bigger dropoff than I saw with TP-Link. The device also dropped my connection at one point during my speed tests. On top of that, the app was too finicky for my tastes, refusing to let me log in and tweak settings with the supplied device password. It ultimately forced me to reset the device.

netgear-ex3700-wi-fi-range-extender
The Netgear EX3700 wasn’t powerful enough for the price.Ry Crist/CNET

Netgear EX3700: It’s a dated-looking device and it wasn’t a strong performer in my tests. The 2.4GHz band was able to sustain workable speeds between 30 and 40Mbps throughout most of my home, which was strong enough to stream video with minimal buffering, or to hold a quick video call with a slight delay. But the 5GHz band was surprisingly weak, often dropping into single digits with only a single wall separating my PC or connected device from the range extender. 

I wasn’t a fan of the web interface, as it seemed more interested in getting me to register for the warranty (and opt into marketing emails) than in actually offering me any sort of control over the connection. WPS button-based setup lets you skip all of that, which is helpful, and some outlets now have it listed for as little as $20, but even so, this is one you can safely skip.

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The Linksys RE6350 left a lot to be desired.Ry Crist/CNET

Linksys RE6350: My speeds were consistent with the RE6350 — they just weren’t fast. 

By default, the device automatically steers you between the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, but with download speeds ranging from 10 to 35Mbps throughout all of my tests over multiple days, it might as well just default to the slower 2.4GHz band. The device supports automatic firmware upgrades, which is great, but you can’t use the Linksys Wi-Fi app to tweak settings — instead, you’ll have to log in via the web portal.

On top of all that, the RE6350 seemed to be the least stable of all the extenders I tested in 2020, with more than one dropped connection during my tests. Still priced at about $50 from most retailers, there’s just too many negatives and not enough value for me to recommend it.

tp-link-re220-wi-fi-range-extender-app-controls
Most plug-in range extenders only offer basic features at best, but the TP-Link Tether app includes a signal strength tester and a High-Speed Mode in the app.Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Other things to consider

Aside from my speed tests, I made sure to stream video on each extender’s network, and I made several video calls while connected through each one. I also spent time playing with each extender’s settings. You shouldn’t expect much, but most will at least make it easy to change the extension network’s name or password. Some include app controls with extra features, too.

My top pick, the TP-Link RE605X, makes it easy to tweak settings via TP-Link’s Tether app on an Android or iOS device. Again, the features make for slim pickings, but you can check signal strength or turn on High-Speed Mode, which dedicates the 2.4GHz band for traffic from the router to the range extender, leaving the 5GHz free for your normal Wi-Fi network traffic. That mode actually wasn’t as fast as sharing the 5GHz band like normal when I tested it out, because those incoming 2.4GHz speeds are limited, but it still might be a useful option in some situations.

It’s also worth noting that setting a range extender up is about as painless as it gets. Most support Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS, which is a universal protocol that wireless networking devices can use to connect with each other. Just plug the range extender in, wait for it to boot up, press the extender’s WPS button and then press the WPS button on your router within two minutes. Voila, connected.

It’s also worth making sure that your range extender includes at least one Ethernet port (almost all of them do). If you can directly connect your wired device (like a smart TV), then you’ll enjoy speeds that are as fast as possible.

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A mesh router with its own, dedicated range extenders will do an even better job of spreading a speedy Wi-Fi signal throughout your home — and you can get one for less than you might think. For instance, this three-piece setup from Netgear Orbi is far from the most powerful you can buy, but it’s currently available for just $100.Netgear

Should I just get a mesh router?

One last note: If you’re living in a larger home or if you need speeds that are reliably faster than 100Mbps at range, then it’s probably worth it to go ahead and upgrade to a mesh router with its own range-extending satellite devices. You’ve got more options than ever these days, and just about all of them would likely outperform a stand-alone router paired with a plug-in range extender like the ones tested here.

For instance, I had a three-piece TP-Link Deco M5 mesh router on hand during my 2020 tests, so I set it up and ran some speed tests alongside the four range extenders I initially tested. My average speeds stayed well above 100Mbps throughout my entire house, even in the back. Everything was consolidated to a single, unified network by default and the mesh automatically routed my connection through an extender whenever it made sense. Simple!

Better still, a three-piece version of that system with a router and two extenders currently costs $150 — and it’s just one of several decent mesh setups you can get for under $200. For instance, the 2019 version of Eero’s mesh system now costs $169 for a three-pack. Meanwhile, the AC1200 version of Netgear Orbi is my top value pick in the mesh category, with a three-pack that’s available for just $99 at Walmart. None of those systems support Wi-Fi 6, mind you, but even so, options like those are why I don’t recommend spending much more than $100 on a range extender.

If you’re willing to spend more than $200 on a mesh router, you’ll start seeing options that support the newest, fastest Wi-Fi 6 speeds, as well as tri-band models with an additional 5GHz band that you can dedicate to traffic between the router and the extenders. If you can afford it, my recommendation is to invest in a system that does both, as tri-band design paired with Wi-Fi 6 makes for one of the most powerful combos you can get in a mesh router . 

We’re also seeing a new crop of mesh routers that support Wi-Fi 6E, which adds in exclusive access to the newly opened, ultrawide 6GHz band. I’ve got plenty of information on systems like those in my full mesh router rundown, so be sure to give that a look, too.

That said, if all you need is for your current router to maintain a steady signal one or two rooms farther into your home, then a simple range extender will probably do just fine — especially if you buy the right one. For my money, the TP-Link RE605X, the Linksys RE7310, the D-Link Eagle Pro AI and the TP-Link RE220 are the best places to start.

Range extender FAQs

Got questions? Look me up on Twitter (@rycrist) or send a message straight to my inbox by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile page. In the meantime, I’ll post answers to any commonly asked questions below.

How effective are range extenders?

Plug-in range extenders like these can help boost your speeds when you’re connecting far from the router, but they can only do so much. The actual speed boost will depend on a multitude of different factors, including the layout of your home, the type of router you’re using, the type of device you’re trying to connect with and your internet plan’s speeds. 

If your home’s internet connection offers top speeds of 100Mbps or higher, then a decent, well-placed range extender should be able to boost your download speeds in a dead zone or when you’re in range by at least 50Mbps, if not 100Mbps. That’s enough to browse the web or stream video online. Upload boosts are typically a little lower, but should still be enough to ensure that you can make a video call or upload a file to the cloud.

Is a range extender good for Wi-Fi? Does it slow it down?

Most range extenders will put out their own separate network — usually the name of your original network with “_EXT” added to the end, or something like that. Having a separate network like that under the same roof as your main network could potentially cause a small amount of interference, but I haven’t seen any noticeable slowdowns on my main network during any of these tests. And, in most cases, you can rename the extender’s network and password to match your main network, at which point you’ll have a single, seamless network that automatically passes your connection back and forth as you move throughout your home.

That said, keep an eye out for client devices (phones, laptops and so on) that automatically connect to whichever network offers the best signal at the time. If you’ve used a device like that on both your main network and the extender’s network, then it’s possible that your device will jump from one to the other without you realizing it. For instance, if your laptop is on your main network and you move a bit closer to the extender than the router, then your laptop might lose its connection and jump over to the range extender’s network for the stronger signal strength, even though the speeds on that extender network might be slower.

How do I know if I need a range extender?

Plug-in range extenders are a good fit when you need to boost the signal in a single dead zone. If you have more than one dead zone in your home where the speeds plummet, then you might be better off just upgrading to a good mesh router (we’ve got plenty of recommendations there, too).

The best way to figure out how many dead zones you’re dealing with is to grab your phone or a laptop and run some speed tests in each room where you need to use the internet. Start with a fresh connection to your network in the same room as the router, and then pull up a good speed-testing site (I like the Ookla speed test, but there are several good ones you can use). Run at least three speed tests in the room, jot the download and upload results down for each one, then move to the next room and repeat. 

Once you have average speeds for each room, look for spots where your speeds fall below 30% of whatever ISP speeds you’re paying for each month. Those are the rooms that could use a boost — if it’s just one (or two that are close together), then a single range extender might be all you need. If there are more than one, then maybe mesh is the way to go.

How to Choose the Best Baby Monitor

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The basic baby monitor exists for one purpose only: to make sure you know what’s going on with your child when you’re not in the baby’s room. Baby care is essential, and because they can’t come to you, it helps new parents to keep tabs so that you can go to your infant the moment that chortle or cry comes to tell you that sleep time is over.

That said, the whole baby monitor sector is jam-packed with options these days and baby monitors that do a whole lot more than their first iterations ever did. There are now baby security cameras with countless features; some of these video baby monitors even have a night vision mode. And if a camera with night vision isn’t an impressive enough feature, you can get a two-way audio model with a baby and parent unit, or a wearable baby monitor for when you’ve got to be on the go.

Life for new parents never slows down, so a baby monitor that lets you get things done while you keep an eye or ear out is basically a necessity. And these days, you can even get a smart baby monitor to track your baby’s heart rate, breathing and sleep, adding to your peace of mind. You can swap out your sound machine and nightlight for a baby monitor that does both jobs, or grab a model that can record photos and videos, alert you of temperature and humidity fluctuations, and many other available features. 

Baby monitors aren’t apples-to-apples comparable. A smart baby monitor with Wi-Fi connectivity and a dedicated app is a different product than a non-Wi-Fi video monitor that has a separate parent unit. There are also audio monitors without video and, on the other end of the spectrum, wearable devices for monitoring vitals like your baby’s breathing. The technology backing the most popular baby monitors continues to improve, offering noise cancellation, HD video and smart alerts that take some of the guesswork out of taking care of a baby and protecting their sleep from disturbances. New parents need all the help they can get, and if you’re in that boat, your first decision is going to be figuring out which kind of baby monitor is for your household. CNET’s David Priest lays out the four questions to ask yourself before you shop for a baby monitor

Read on for the pros and cons of each type of baby monitor and our list of the best baby monitors to try. And while you’re here, check out the best baby food delivery services and subscriptionsbaby apps we love, how to get your baby to fall asleep fast and ways to get more sleep when you have a newborn. Plus, are smart bassinets and smart breast pumps worth it?

best-baby-monitors-2021-cnet-reviews
From left: Cubo Ai Plus Smart Baby Monitor, Owlet Cam, Hellobaby Video Baby Monitor HB32, Lollipop Smart Baby Camera, Motorola MBP50-G, VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor, Eufy SpaceView Pro, Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro and Nanit Pro Camera.

Do You Need a Baby Monitor?

If you sleep in the same room as your baby or live in a small space where you can always hear or see what your baby is up to, you probably don’t need a monitor. Otherwise, most parents enjoy the convenience a baby monitor provides. Instead of needing to stay close to the nursery or constantly checking on your child, you’re free to rest, catch up on Netflix or get things done around the house anytime baby is catching some zzs. Monitors can also double as a nanny cam to keep an eye on your child and their caretaker when you’re not at home.

What Type of Baby Monitor is Best?

There isn’t any best type of baby monitor. The one you choose depends on what’s going to make you feel the most comfortable.

  • Audio monitors let you listen in on baby
  • Video monitors keep an eye their every move
  • Baby movement monitors track baby’s movement and sometimes also track vitals like breathing, heart rate, oxygen saturation and room temperature

Audio monitors are the most inexpensive type of baby monitor but are also the most basic. Depending on the layout of your home and your comfort level, however, they can be a great choice for lots of families. Some parents also decide to purchase an audio monitor for travel or to keep at the grandparents’ house since these types of monitors are affordable and portable.

Video monitors are the most popular choice of baby monitor for most parents. With features like large screens, night vision and the ability to zoom in on your little one, lots of parents like the peace of mind video monitors can provide. The cost for these types of monitors varies and can range from about fifty dollars to upwards of a few hundred.

Breathing movement monitors have increased in both popularity and prevalence over the past several years as technology has advanced. Some breathing monitors use wearables like a sock or a band to track your baby’s movements and vitals, while others use a clip or special sensors that go under the crib mattress. Some movement monitors also work alongside a video monitor and are sold as a bundle.

Movement monitors are often the most expensive type of baby monitor, especially those that are paired with a video component. Just keep in mind that these types of monitors are not medical devices and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, give little or no protection from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Always be sure to follow safe sleep practices regardless of which type of baby monitor you’re using.

How to Choose a Video Baby Monitor

Many parents who decide on a video monitor are quickly overwhelmed by the many choices and on how much money to spend. A quick breakdown of features can help you decide how to choose the best video baby monitor for your family.

  • Display quality/screen size: Some video monitors have larger screens with higher resolutions that offer a clearer image. Others come with smaller screens, and still others rely on an app you view on your cell phone—which may not make for the greatest viewing, depending on the size of your phone, but is great for portability.
  • Range: How far away you can be from the nursery and still get uninterrupted monitoring varies. This is an especially important factor to consider if you live in an older home with thick, plaster walls or a home with multiple floors.
  • Portability: Some cameras must be wall mounted while others can stand alone and travel away from home.
  • Two-way communication: This popular feature lets you speak to your baby over the monitor.
  • Battery life: This determines how long you can carry the monitor screen around before having to plug it in to charge.
  • Remote adjustments: The ability to use the monitor to remotely adjust the camera’s view (often referred to as “pan, zoom and tilt”) can come in handy.
  • Wireless encryption: This ensures that no one else can tap into your monitor’s “feed” and see what’s going on in your house. WiFi-enabled monitors are great for portability and range, but may be more susceptible to hacking. If you go this route, be sure to secure your home wireless network and keep the monitor’s firmware updated. Otherwise, look for digital monitors with a 2.4 GHz FHSS wireless transmission.
  • Specialized features: Besides watching your little one, some cameras also monitor the room’s temperature and your baby’s vitals.

How We Chose Our Best Baby Monitors

We asked thousands of real Babylist families about the baby products they love the most, then took the top products they shared with us and added our own research and insight to tell you about the best video monitors.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

Best Baby Monitors at a Glance
BrandPriceRangeScreen Size
Nanit Ultimate Bundle$399Unlimited (thru WiFi)Cell phone
Vava$159.99900 ft5”
Wyze Cam Pan 1080p$37.97Unlimiteed (thru WiFi)Cell phone
Babysense V24R$74.99900 ft2.4”
VTech DM221 Audio$31.99160 ftN/A
Motorola VM36XL$179.991000 ft5”
Google Nest$129.99Unlimited (thru WiFi)Cell phone
Infant Optics DXR-8$165.99700 ft3.5”

Best “Does It All” Baby Monitor

Nanit Nanit x Babylist Ultimate Bundle$359.97Add to BabylistBuy NowBabylist$359.97

The Scoop
  • Tracks sleep, motion, vitals and growth
  • 1080p HD livestream from anywhere in the world
  • Babylist exclusive
What Our Experts Say

Looking for a baby monitor that does it all? Look no further than the Nanit Pro, the ultimate in baby monitoring. It’s truly unlike any other baby monitor on the market and, although it comes at a price, is a dream come true if you’re a parent who appreciates all the stats and info on your snoozing baby.

The Nanit Pro tracks your baby’s sleep, movement, vital stats and even growth, all via a livestream right from your phone. The camera features 1080p HD and provides a crystal clear look at your baby both during the day and overnight. The Breathing Band, a soft fabric band that fits over your little one’s pajamas, monitors breathing motion with no sensors. There’s also a Smart Sheet that measures your baby’s height and growth. Everything is tracked and analyzed via the Nanit Insights app which also provides personalized, science-backed sleep guidance from experts. Other fun features include two-way audio, white noise, and temperature and humidity sensors.

This Babylist exclusive bundle comes with a Nanit Pro Camera, Wall Mount, Small and Large Breathing Bands, Smart Sheet, Multi-Stand, Travel Case and one year of Nanit Insights.

What’s Worth Considering

The Nanit is definitely an investment. You’ll also have to pay for Nanit Insights, the sleep trends and timelapse highlights real app, after the first year. And if you don’t want a baby monitor that works via your phone, you’ll want to skip the Nanit and look for a more traditional video or audio monitor instead.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Every morning I love reading the summary of the night before and the ratings on how he slept. It’s also great that we can use our phones to monitor, and I’ve even put the app on an iPad that sits in the main room.” -Jessica M.

Additional Specs
Monitor TypeVideo, via smart phone; iOS and Android
RangeNo limit if connected to WiFi
Power SourceCamera: electrical outlet; Phone acts as parent unit
TransmissionWiFi
MountWall, floor stand or table stand

Best Video Monitor

VAVA Baby Monitor$179.99Add to BabylistBuy NowBabylist$179.99Walmart$139.00Amazon$159.99Target$179.99Buy Buy Baby$179.99

The Scoop
  • Large display offers wide, clear view of your baby
  • Good battery life
  • Super easy setup
What Our Experts Say

Video monitors can be notoriously finicky. Lots lose night vision clarity over time. Many have a battery life that’s less than stellar when the parent unit isn’t plugged in. And some just stop working for no apparent reason, even after a short time of use. But the Vava? It shines in all of these categories and gets rave reviews from Babylist parents across the board.

The Vava baby monitor has a 5-inch high-def display that offers a clear view of your little one—the feature parents love the most about this video monitor. There’s a two- and four-time zoom, as well as a pan and tilt feature, and a seven-level sound volume (plus LED indicators) so you have lots of different options when you want to listen in to what’s up in your nursery. Other features to note include temperature monitoring, two-way audio and a rechargeable battery that gives you 10 hours in livestream mode and 24 hours in audio-only mode.

What’s Worth Considering

While you can connect up to four cameras with this monitor, there’s no split screen viewing option, so you’ll have to toggle between them if you’re using it for multiple kids.

What Babylist Parents Say

“We wanted a monitor that did not use a phone app to view. Great connection with VAVA. Works throughout our two-story home. It was also very easy to install and pans throughout the room well.” -Marissa

Additional Specs
Monitor TypeVideo
Range900 feet
Power SourceElectrical outlet
Transmission2.4GHz
MountWall or table

Best Budget Baby Monitor (WiFi)

Wyze Cam Pan 1080p$37.97Add to BabylistBuy NowAmazon$37.97

The Scoop
  • Under $40!
  • Live HD streaming + pan, tilt and zoom
  • Easy setup
What Our Experts Say

Leave it to enterprising parents to find a hack for everything. The Wyze, originally designed as a home surveillance camera, is used by tons of parents as a baby monitor. And with its easy setup, live HD streaming and incredibly affordable price tag, it’s a great choice.

The Wyze is controlled remotely via an app and can be shared by multiple family members. When used as a baby monitor, you can view the live stream in real time or set up push notifications to alert you to motion and sound. (You can also adjust the sensitivities on these so you’re not being constantly bombarded with a message every time your little one makes a move.) The camera has night vision, two-way audio, can pan, tilt and zoom and can even record 12-second video clips. And it works with Alexa and Google Assistant.

What’s Worth Considering

You’ll need your phone around (and always charged) to use the Wyze cam, which isn’t ideal if you’re using a sitter and want them to be able to use the monitor. (Although you are able to let them access the camera if they download the app and you give permission.) Some parents also don’t love the cloud-based storage—but there is an option to insert a micro SD card instead and store the files locally.

What Babylist Parents Say

“The night vision is excellent, even in a totally dark room (at night with blackout curtains). The panning ability and motion sensing are handy as well, but the motor that moves the camera is kind of loud so we don’t recommend doing it when baby is sleeping. The two way communication is nice to remotely talk with the baby and the audio/video quality from the camera is great.” -William

Additional Specs
Monitor TypeVideo, via smart phone; iOS and Android
RangeNo limit if connected to WiFi
Power SourceCamera: electrical outlet; Phone acts as parent unit
TransmissionWiFi
MountWall or table

Best Budget Baby Monitor (Video)

Babysense V24R Baby Video Monitor$74.99Add to BabylistBuy NowAmazon$74.99

The Scoop
  • Lots of good features for the price point
  • Can add second camera
  • Can zoom but can’t pan or tilt remotely
What Our Experts Say

The V24R from Babysense is our pick for a non-WiFi video monitor that won’t break the bank. Considering the features and the price, it’s a solid choice that lots of parents really like.

The standout features of this monitor include the color LCD screen, the compact (and easily portable) parent unit, the room temperature monitor and the ability to add on a second camera. Typically features of higher-priced video monitors, you’re getting them here for a lot less. We also like the monitor’s ECO mode, a sound-activated power-saving mode that shuts off the parent unit to conserve battery life when there’s no sound being detected.

What’s Worth Considering

You can’t pan or tilt the camera using the parent unit; you’ll have to do that manually. (You are able to zoom, however.) Another common complaint is the brightness level of the LED lights along the top of the monitor.

What Babylist Parents Say

“I really like this baby monitor. It isn’t as expensive as other brands and it works just as fine. I really enjoy its eco mode, where it only turns on when baby cries, this way the monitor lasts the whole night.” -Paulina

Additional Specs
Monitor TypeVideo
Range900 feet
Power SourceCamera: electrical outlet; Parent unit: electrical outlet or rechargeable battery
Transmission2.4GHz
MountTable or wall

Ready to Add a Baby Monitor to Your Registry?

With Babylist, you can add any item from any store onto ONE registry. Start your registry today and get a Hello Baby Box full of free (amazing!) goodies.

Best Audio Monitor

VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor$31.99Add to BabylistBuy NowAmazon$31.99

The Scoop
  • Two-way intercom
  • No white noise static, clear sound transmission
  • 160-foot indoor range and 1,000 feet outdoors
What Our Experts Say

Don’t discount the value and usefulness of an audio monitor. Audio monitors are affordable, functional and portable. They can also be a lifesaver for anxious parents who are often overwhelmed by the thought of being glued to a video monitor screen trying to keep an eye on their baby 24/7.

This VTech monitor has all the features you need in an audio-only monitor. It picks up the quietest of sounds very well, but won’t emit the constant (and annoying) white noise you often hear from other audio monitors. It features a two-way intercom, a feature that’s especially useful during the toddler years, and a visual five-level sound indicator on the parent unit so you can visually monitor the noise level even when the unit is muted.

What’s Worth Considering

The biggest complaint about this monitor is battery life; lots of parents say it quickly loses its charge once unplugged from the wall, so you’ll need to keep it plugged in as much as possible when in use.

What Babylist Parents Say

“These are fantastic. Great price, no unnecessary bells and whistles. I have yet to encounter a single dissatisfying feature of this monitor. I’d buy it again.” -Ren

Additional Specs
Monitor TypeAudio
Range160 feet indoors, 1,000 feet outdoors
Power SourceAudio base: electrical outlet; Parent unit: electrical outlet or battery
TransmissionDECT 6.0 digital technology
MountTable

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