Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium
Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium Review
When my children were born baby monitors were like walkie-talkies that kept their transmit button pushed all night. Simple radios relayed the sound of a cough, a sneeze, easy breathing, the hum of a humidifier or the click at the end of a cassette tape.
Technology has come a long way in 30 years, and baby monitors now exist in echo systems of connectivity, full of sound and video, advice, and engagement.
The $179.99 Hubble’s Nursery Pal Premium broadcasts high-quality video without the need for Wi-Fi, but extends its reach via Wi-Fi. The basic hardware and software work well, but the battery that could last longer. The HubbleClub subscription service needs some work, as does the product’s integration with other services like Amazon’s Alexa.
What we like
The lack of need to connect to Wi-Fi was the first thing I appreciated about the Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium. I didn’t need to set anything up. I plugged in the camera, turned on the monitor, and it worked. After many struggles with Wi-Fi-enabled devices and their finicky acceptance of protocols and channels, it was a pleasure to just turn on a device and have it work. Hubble complies with ISO 27001 to ensure its connections are encrypted.
The Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium consists of three components, a camera, a tablet/monitor, and an app. For basic monitoring, you need do nothing but set up the camera and charge the monitor. If you want to engage in the echo system, you will need the app, and you will want to look beyond the monitoring features of the tablet. The app runs $99.99 a year but may be discounted. A freemium version comes with the first year.
And those features and fun, if limited. They include stories, games, videos, and other curated content. You won’t find the more popular songs and videos, however, but your child may find an earworm in one of Hubble’s songs, giving you a break from Wheels on the Bus or Baby Shark.
The system also stores images and video in the cloud. 1 day on the standard account and 7 days on the premium version. The app also provides manual video recording and the creation of a paper zone to monitor for activity. The premium version of the app supports up to 4 cameras.
The ecosystem is a bit like getting a Hubble version of “What to Expect Your First Year” and an electronic baby book. The premium subscription includes new parent advisory content and a wide range of metrics to track such as length and weight, and schedules for feeding, diaper changes, and breast pumping. Premium subscribers can reach out to professionals for advice 24/7. A video sleep diary provides insight into your child’s sleep patterns (requires a premium subscription). And you can share the diary with family and friends.
The included monitory/tablet comes fully equipped with a built-in stand, finger holder, and a protecting bumper/case. No need to reach out to Amazon and buy accessories. All the hardware pieces are included, including a privacy shield for the camera.
The camera and monitor combination includes several features including:
- Remote Pan, Tilt, and Zoom
- Two-Way Talk
- Soothing Nature Sounds
- Private, Secure Wi-Fi Connection
- Flashlight on Touch Screen Viewer
- Room Temperature Sensor
- Infrared Night Vision
- HD Live Streaming
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Compatibility
Most of these features work very well. The camera clarity is superior to other baby monitors I have evaluated, even in night vision mode. Control of the camera’s orientation is as easy as pushing a finger around a screen. You can even record your voice to playback on the camera’s speaker if your child needs a little comforting at a time you don’t really feel like getting up.
The entire package is small enough and light enough to travel. And if you don’t take it with you, you can always point it at a door and use it for extra security when on the road.
Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium comes with a 1-year warranty.
What could be improved
The tablet portion of the Nursery Pal Premium would benefit from longer battery life. It can, of course, be plugged into its USB-C power supply overnight, but an 8-hour battery would make lend to more carefree use. I’m not sure what battery technology Hubble Connected included, but it comes with instructions to charge for 16 hours before first use, which seems like an inordinate amount of time in a world of quick charging and batteries that suffer less from charging memory issues.
Once I did connect the camera to my Wi-Fi network to explore HubbleClub service, all of the regular issues with smart home devices manifested, like the camera being connected one minute, and offline the next.
While the hardware is universally good, a higher resolution display would be an improvement, especially when using the included games.
Full echo system access, like so many things these days, requires an annual subscription. Once connected, the app includes Basic Hubble Club for one year. Besides the video storage and tracking enhancements already noted, the premium subscription includes more personal recording time, more books and songs, and the video sleep diary. A full list of plan features can be found here.
HubbleClub holds a few features hostage, like the ability to set a sound timer. The app allows for a variety of lullabies and sleep sounds to play, but only once. If you want repetition you need to move up from HubbleClub to the Premium level. So the free year is a level you can’t buy, it’s kind of a trojan horse for the version you can buy. I get it, because baby monitors, especially more sophisticated ones like this, offer value well into the toddler years—but the sweet spot, the time when parents really need monitoring features, runs the first 12 months.
I would rather Hubble Connected include a premium in the price and not force harried new parents to decide about locked-out features while they are just trying to get some sleep. The number of Premium gates got annoying after a while.
Comments on the Alexa skill aren’t kind. 78% of the reviews give it only one star. Ideally, the Echo Show would, well, show the video. It doesn’t. The basic integration includes temperature checking and control of recording and music playing. Any company with a poorly rated app integration should either fix it or kill it. Touting integration on the product page but delivering a poor customer experience does not do the product any favors.
Good movies require good scripts. Good technologies require good software. Hubble Connected did a good job with their hardware. They need to up their software game, with full tablet versions of the app, more sophisticated content on the monitor (and perhaps access to curated partner YouTube channels), and content search. The quality of the child learning content does not get anywhere near the Alia Sit & Play tablet. Parents with both will likely migrate to the more comprehensive and engaging content on the Sit & Play. The parent content is OK, but navigation and a lack and search make it less useful than it might otherwise be.
It would also be great if Hubble Connected went to a paper-based interior packaging, or at minimum, employ recyclable blister packing.
Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium: The Bottom Line
The Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium is an outstanding monitor and camera combination. That it runs without a Wi-Fi connection is a plus. That it requires a premium subscription for its more advanced features, is a negative. Parents looking for a monitor that will continue to provide value beyond infancy should consider the Nursery Pal Premium.
We were recently asked to babysit my daughter’s cats while her family was on a trip. They stayed in my granddaughter’s guest room. The monitor worked as well for cats as for children. Unlike my granddaughter, the cats jumped up on the table where the camera lives. I often found a nose and eyes staring back at me, however, rather than seeing the room.
Hubble Connected provided the Hubble Connected Nursery Pal Premium for review. Images courtesy of Hubble Connected.
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