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Cubo AI Plus Baby Monitor Review
Stand-up performance at a price.
Quick verdict: Cubo AI Plus review
The Cubo AI Plus has some truly outstanding features that make it one of the most expensive baby monitors on the market. The included stand, humidity and temperature monitoring, a crisp 1080p stream that works day and night, in-built lullabies, white noise and night light. Many of these accessories and features are things you'd typically have to pay extra for but the Cubo AI Plus is an all-inclusive purchase, but an expensive one at that. There are a few notable omissions for its price too, like a standalone monitor or rechargeable battery. We wouldn't recommend it for anyone shopping on a budget, but if you're willing to splash out, the Cubo AI Plus (mostly) makes up for its premium price with its suite of advanced features.
- Near faultless 1080p streaming day and night
- Temperature and humidity readings and alerts
- Night light, lullabies, and white noise
- Stands and attachments all included in the box
- WiFi-only operation
- No rechargeable battery
- No standalone monitor
Babies. They don't do much. They sleep, eat, piss and poop wherever they like. They've got an insane blanket-to-body ratio, like five blankets per baby on an average day. They're as predictable as the setting sun, yet, these little lemmings must be monitored and monitored often. Because as good as babies seem to have it, they're also dumb as hell. They roll over on their chubby little faces, scratch themselves with their tiny little fingers, and knock their own dummies out. All of this usually results in tears, of course. But this isn't a review of babies; this is a review of the Cubo AI Plus Smart Baby Monitor.
With more smart baby monitors hitting shelves at your local Baby Bunting, picking the best product for your own needs has boiled down to one question: do you need a camera and display? or can you get by with a connected smartphone or tablet. If you're in the second camp, the Cubo AI Plus is an exceptional piece of kit that's only faults are common in the growing market of connected monitors.
How much does the Cubo AI Plus cost in Australia?
The Cubo Ai Plus Smart Baby Monitor costs $579 in Australia. It's available via Cubo's website or Amazon Australia at the same price.
At the time of writing, Cubo and Amazon have discounted the Cubo Ai Plus to $409 for Black Friday, though this deal ends on the 1st of December 2020.
Pricing is only accurate at the time of publish on 23/11/2020. Changes may occur.
What's in the box?
The Cubo AI Plus comes with a bunch of cords and attachments. Here's what you should find in the box:
- Cubo AI Plus Baby Monitor unit
- Baby monitor stand (assembly required)
- Weighted baby monitor stand base
- Mounted monitor cradle
- Portable monitor cradle
- Portable monitor cradle
- USB-C power cable
- Power brick
- USB-C humidity/temperature passthrough
By far, the most impressive feature of the Cubo AI Baby Monitor is its detailed 1080p stream. Day or night, the resolution never falters (as long as your home WiFi is up to speed). 1080p streaming might seem like a given in 2020, but baby monitors are still sold with less-than-ideal live streams. You also might not necessarily need an HD stream; for some, any baby monitor that has enough resolution to show whether the baby is awake or not will be enough.
But I'd be lying if I said I'd settle for anything less, personally. Opening the app to see your sweet cherub staring you dead in the eyes is never not funny, and while there might be long stretches of sleeping, the Cubo AI does manage to capture some very sweet moments. The first little smile, her tiny head cocked to the side suspiciously as you stealth your way down the hall, or the adorable laughter brought on by something as simple (and categorically unfunny) as a ceiling fan. As small as these moments seem, I'm not about to tell you a tear didn't well up in my eye just thinking about it right now.
Mounting, battery and power
One incredible feature of the Cubo AI Plus is that it comes with a weighted stand straight out of the box. The included stand allows you to set up the monitor wherever you see fit. One of our biggest gripes with the Arlo Baby is that it didn't come with a mount, which is fine if you plan on setting it up on top of a bookshelf or wardrobe, but it gets tricky when your bedroom or nursery setup doesn't cater for that kind of arrangement. I can move the Cubo AI Plus from room to room without struggling to find a spot for it.
But as much as I love the pack-in stand, it's also conducive to one of the Cubo AI Plus's most significant inconveniences: relocation. The Cubo AI Plus has no onboard chargeable battery. So wherever you take it, the USB-C cable and power brick are coming too. This is incredibly painful for nights away.
You have the option of removing the stand to sit the monitor atop an available flat surface, but that involves rethreading the USB-C power cable through the base. It's not an overly complicated task but also not something you want to burden yourself regularly. If the Cubo AI Plus even had enough juice on board to get you through the night, it would give you a lot more freedom when transitioning between rooms (e.g. from the main bedroom to the nursery).
WiFi and connectivity
WiFi-only operation and no standalone monitor.
WiFi-only operation and no option for a standalone monitor were among our biggest criticisms of the Arlo Baby, so it's only fair that we spit the dummy about it here too. WiFi-only operation is a dangerous proposition for Australians with subpar home broadband. I'm lucky enough to have a reasonably stable connection in my home (though my PlayStation 5 wishes it was faster), and as such, I rarely run into issues connecting to the Cubo AI's live feed.
Maybe we should expect this in a world where everything but the kitchen sink requires an internet connection (and sometimes the kitchen sink too). Still, there are baby monitors out there, like the Nanit Smart Baby Monitor, that remain connected even when your WiFi is down. The Nanit Smart Baby Monitor stays connected over your home WiFi signal, even when your internet connection is chucking a tantrum. Then there are baby monitors like the Infant Optics DXR-8 that don't require a WiFi connection at all.
The second common issue between the Arlo Baby and the Cubo AI Plus is that neither offers an optional standalone monitor. This means that you've either got to have a spare smartphone or tablet handy, lest someone's iPhone or Android ends up bearing the responsibility of streaming the baby monitor's livestream.
The Cubo AI app
I've been using the Cubo AI Plus app on my iPhone. It's a great app if a little janky at times. It has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to covered face alerts, and the crying alerts don't always come through as quickly as you'd hope, but it also offers some surprisingly handy features. It curates photos of your baby, gives you temperature/humidity readings and alerts (which you can tailor), graphs out sleep analytics, has a push-to-talk speaker, and lets you play soothing tunes through the Cubo's speaker.
But all those benefits aside, having to dedicate my iPhone for baby monitor duties is still an inconvenience I could do without. Having a standalone monitor means you can set it down in your periphery and only check it occasionally. Requiring an app adds more steps and makes checking up on your wee bub a more active responsibility.
I don't need a standalone monitor, just a smarter solution, something like a web app that I can keep open in a Chrome tab throughout a typical workday.
It's worth noting that a few features are exclusive to Cubo's subscription service, Cubo AI Premium. The 30-day storage of sleep analytics and moments (photos) and download clips are a paid feature. However, you get a year of Cubo AI Premium free when you first purchase the monitor without providing any credit card information, so there won't be any unexpected charges when your free year runs out. These features are also a luxury I could easily do without. If you do want to pay for Premium, a year's subscription will cost US$80.
Is the Cubo AI Plus Smart Baby Monitor worth the price?
The Cubo AI Plus is simply an outstanding baby monitor. Answering the question "is it worth it?" is not so simple. It's one of the most expensive baby monitors we've reviewed at $579 RRP, but its packed-in crib stand is such a good value-add and I don't know what I'd do without it.
That said, it's still a steep price to pay for that convenience and not everyone will need to pay that premium. Most of the other benefits, like 1080p day/night streaming, the in-built night light, and lullabies/white noise playback, are common among cheaper alternatives, it's just rare you get everything in one package.
Then there are the features you don't get with the Cubo AI Plus that make the price a little eye-watering. Missing features like a standalone monitor or chargeable battery call the higher price into question.
Ultimately, I think the combination of advanced smart features warrants the higher price tag but there's no way I would recommend paying the premium for anyone shopping on a budget.