Gadgets are not usually marketed on the back of just one specific utility, and given that India is a highly value and price-sensitive market, this strategy rarely works. This is because buyers usually want their products to be good at everything. Take smartphones for instance, if a manufacturer attempts to sell a model by just highlighting the camera—like Nokia did with the PureView 808, it is difficult to convince enough people. The phone needs to be good at everything— calling, camera, games and even running heavy utility apps—in short, an all rounder.
In such a market, Motorola’s Blink 1 Wi-Fi Digital Baby Monitor comes as a surprise. After all, it is a Wi-Fi enabled motorised webcam, that can be used to monitor babies, but can also be put to many other uses. Given the relatively high asking price of around R10,000, the question is why sell it only for a single utility—what happens after the baby grows beyond the stipulated age of five years, do we throw the webcam away?
The point being made is that a motorised webcam has several other utilities, a cheap solution for home security for instance where it can be installed above the main door. It can also be used to keep a check on pets, patients, or the elderly. The current marketing strategy would limit the product to being used only by a limited few, because let’s face it, it is still more convenient and cheaper in India to hire a full-time nanny instead.
Now the review. In my use across a week, I found that the product functioned largely in a very smooth fashion though with some minor niggles. What is convenient is that there are hardly any wires apart from a charging cable. A keyhole at the bottom means that the unit can be put up anywhere high up on the wall that provides the lens with a wide angle covering the entire room and all the possible corners that your baby might get into. Build quality is good too, while there is also a clever night-vision feature that helps parents keep a check on their kids in a dark room.
Connectivity is the best part, which is where the Wi-Fi feature really helps. As long as you have a fast and reliable broadband internet connection at home and internet on your mobile or tablet, you can keep a watch over your baby wherever you may be. While the camera gets connected to the home Wi-Fi, an app downloaded from the Google Android Playstore, or Apple’s Appstore, helps you maintain a constant watch. The only problem I faced here is the stability of this app, which kept crashing on my Google Nexus 4. Through the app, one can even pan or tilt the camera, to cover a wider area.
Another thing that worries me is the service back-up. In India, the Motorola Blink 1 Digital Baby Monitor is being marketed not by the company directly, but through a distributor, Binatone. This puts a question on repairs and parts availability. All in all, I would say that this is an interesting concept but worth buying only if you are comfortable with the price. After your child grows older, it can always be put to other use as mentioned above.
Estimated street price: Rs 9,995