When I first got my dog, the first year of us living together was, let’s just say interesting.

I used to have a fairly large ficus tree in my front room. Yes, I did say ”used to” because about three weeks after I got my dog, he decided he wanted to go crazy in my house if I wasn’t home.

During his first episode, he decided he didn’t really like the tree that much, and knocked it over.

This thing was about five feet high and weighed a fair amount. (Though, to his credit, Max is a brindle-colored Boxer and even as a puppy, he was pretty big and rambunctious!)

Knocking the tree over, of course, was not enough for Max. He had to then dig in the pot, pulling out a fair amount of the black soil and rubbing it all over himself and what was at the time fairly new white carpet.

It’s all good, I mean, he didn’t really know what he was doing was wrong, and honestly, he was a puppy. Sometimes puppies are just gonna puppy. Max kept at it though. After he conquered the tree, he learned about my magazine rack under the stairs. Tore that up. I wish I could have seen him ripping up the pages of the magazines, though…honestly, just because it would have been funny. Luckily that incident was pretty much the end of any negative situations with my dog, but still, it made me worry when I wasn’t at home. (We’ll just ignore a couple of small incidents he’s had with some of my shoes. Those are anomalies, and hey, we all backslide occasionally.)

It was around that time that I thought, hey, if I’m going to be at work a lot or out of town, I should really board him or get a friend to watch him, and I should think about getting one of those pet cameras.

If I was to just check on him occasionally, say hello to him, let him get excited etc, maybe even give him a treat as a reward for not destroying any of my possessions, everything would be cool.

And honestly, those things have worked. That, or maybe he was just going through some sort of punk rock phase as a teenager, and now he’s over it.

Who knows. It was during that time that I began to research pet monitors.

Here’s what I’ve found out, and I decided to publish it, so that anyone else who might be in a similar situation can use whatever info they need.

TOP
  • Pawbo Life
  • Price: See Here
  • Connectibility
  • Treat dispenser
  • Easy sharing
BEST VALUE
  • Petzi Treat Cam
  • Price: See Here
  • Ease of connectivity
  • Treat dispenser
  • Nominal night vision
  • Petcube Play
  • Price: See Here
  • Attractive design
  • Dedicated app architecture
  • Live video in HD

Good luck to all of you, and I’ll pray for your house plants.

Oh yeah, one more thing; people have told me this guide also works well for people looking for baby monitors/ baby cameras as well.

I personally don’t have a child (that I know of) but if I did, I wouldn’t feed it dog treats.

I repeat, this guide does not recommend feeding Puppy Chow to newborns. Do not do this.

Otherwise, I hope this guide helps parents as well.

BEST PET CAMERAS

PAWBO WIFI PET CAMERA

FEATURES

I’m not going to lie, at first I saw the Pawbo as something that was overpriced. It costs about $200, and a lot of the other wireless cameras and pet monitors run at around $50-$75. So I went into this pretty skeptical of whatever powers the Pawbo had as something that could be worth double what some of the others cost. Honestly, my initial impressions were wrong. This is the best and most fully-functioning device on this list. If you have the money to spend, I would recommend the Pawbo over anything else.

In every guidebook, there has to be a leader. When it comes to pet cameras, this one is it for me. Not only does it have the most features of any of the pet cameras, the integration and ease of use with this machine is top-notch. The machine has its own app, and to our surprise, it actually works. Both with iOS and Android, even.

Sharing pics and things to social media is easy, connections all seem to work and stay pretty stable, and honestly the no-hassle operations are what put this device over the top. We would recommend this pet cam to anyone who wants one.

It’s a cool little device, and as I’ve mentioned earlier in the guide, I think it saved the lives of at least a couple of my house plants. As hinted at throughout this review, this camera is extremely easy to use and set up.

It’s literally worked every time for me, and it’s achieved the goal I wanted it to achieve…which is simply to chill out my pet and give me something positive to look at a couple times a day. The Pawbo is the device for me, and it wins this comparison.

Yes, i’m hoping that in the future things like the resolution of the camera will improve. I’m hoping that some of the features from security cameras etc. make their way over to the Pawbo. But let’s face it, it’s a camera that I use to mess with and spy on my dog. It doesn’t have to shoot full-HD 4k video or anything. Who knows, when Acer comes out with some of the Pawbo accessories like the toys, I may pick them up!

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PETZI TREAT CAM

FEATURES

The Petzi Treat Cam, not unlike the Pawbo, is a well-connected and well-thought-out device. It’s one of the best in the list for sure. There are some small issues with durability and connectivity that keep it from taking the top slot, but honestly those issues are minor.

If the Pawbo isn’t available in your area, the Petzi will probably take care of your needs. Like the Pawbo, the Petzi has a dedicated app that handles things in the connectivity department. It has a pretty good reputation online, but some users have reported negative issues…so if you purchase the Petzi, try and procure from a reputable shop.

As long as you test out the connection properties within the return/repair window, you’ll probably be fine. Also: make sure you have small treats for the dispenser. The few people online who expressed displeasure wth this unit usually talked about the dispenser jamming or treats being too big for the device.

Obviously, if you’re intelligent enough to buy small treats for the unit, you won’t have that problem. The Petzi Treat Cam is a good unit. I might recommend it over our top-rated camera if the ”lazer tag” and night vision features appeal to you, or you can find one of the latest units that seems to have a two-way microphone. As we tried to reflect in the numerical score given to the two, this unit is basically the same thing as our #1.

Assess your needs and make your decision accordingly.

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PETCUBE PLAY 

FEATURES

All right, so the first thing you notice about the Petcube Interactive WiFi camera is how cool it looks. I mean, this thing is almost on an Apple level of svelte. This product was originally designed and sold on Kickstarter…where products that look nice get funded, and other ones don’t. Obviously, this one got a lot of cash from donors and is now in full production. What it does, it does very well for some people; which is connect with users via the app, beams high-to-decent-quality video and audio, and once again, looks cool while doing so.

For most people, the video and photos are fairly high quality. Like most of the other quality products we’ve reviewed, The Petcube has its own dedicated app and also has a sort of online ”community” that allows even public sharing of the feeds to take place. A lot of people actually seem to like setting their options on this to ”public” and letting friends and other random people keep your pet amused! I’d personally be a bit sketched out by this, just on some sort of security paranoia, but in all realities it’s probably safe to do that sort of thing.

Now, what the Petcube WiFi Camera doesn’t have: any sort of treat/food dispenser apparatus. Yep, there’s none of that here. There’s also no night vision. I would have taken more points away for the lack of features here, but there’s a positive turn here; the Petcube is cheaper than most of the top-end devices. On Amazon right now it runs about $150, and you could get it when it was a Kickstarter for $99. Some other websites are still selling the Petcube at that price. At half off, I can give Petcube a break for not having the feeding feature or the night visionWhat it does have is the laser pointer game, which kind of explains why the first 4 reviews of this product researchable online show the product in use with cats. This is the Spartan, minimalist choice for people who still want a quality product. It’s also the choice of consumers who favor product design pretty much over all other factors.

(Hint, hint, Apple fans.) As we noted previously, many of the online users of this product seem to own cats. Cats do seem to respond well to the laser game, being hunters, so maybe this is why? It’s a good quality product that of course suffers from some small connectivity issues…but if you need just a camera and don’t care for a feeding mechanism or other bells and whistles, this device could be for you.

We recommend it.

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PETKIT SMART WIFI MONITOR

FEATURES

So the Petkit Smart Wifi Video Monitor is all about movement and control. The design and overall feel of the product were created to basically give you sweeping views of your place and your pets. Basically, this is the camera for people who want to see a lot. Both online and in the field, it’s sort of the feature that testers and users rave about; that the camera can tilt and move 340 degrees.

It comes in two flavors, basically; ”Pro” and ”Style.” Though, honestly, they’re pretty much the same. The Pro version comes in a sort of silver metal finish, and has an LED accent light on the bottom. They all have the same 720p HD cameras, and are the same basic heights and weights. The main difference is in the finishes; the Pro is made of aluminum, while the ”Style” series seems to be plastic covered with whimsical prints. I get why they named the ”Pro” the way they did; it looks like something Will Smith would hold and carry as a weapon in a Jerry Bruckheimer film. It almost looks like a bullet or some sort of light saber or something. Something expensive, to be honest.

One can literally walk into a room, set this metal canister thing with a robotically-controlled camera in it, and say ”yeah, I got the Pro version.” This is pretty much why these two product lines exist. Sadly no such imagery exists for the ”Style” version, but the Style line has something the Pro one does not; a whole lot of cutenessAnd when you’re seeling pet accessories, cuteness goes a long way. Of course it comes in your choice of dog and cat themes. If you have a rabbit, gerbil, ferret, or marmot, you’re out of luck.

This PETKIT product is ”close, but no cigar.” For the money, or even a little more or a little less, you can probably find a device that suits your needs better. What I would do if I was in charge of this company would be two things: the first would be to tighten up the installation and fuctionality of the app. Half of what you are buying with these devices is communication and integration with and through your smartphone and tech devices. This area seems to really need a fair amount of work with the PETZI.

Secondly, I would do everything I could to get the price down. At present, the PETZI is right in the middle of the price bracket, and surrounded by products that look nicer and have better ratings online for connectivity and useability. The only thing that really seems to separate the PETZI from the pack in a positive way is the device’s original and whimsical wallpaper. In many way’s it’s cute, and you can’t really underestimate the power of cute sometimes! I would recommend this product to people who like the whimsy and cuteness of the PETZI, and also can get the thing connected and working. Make sure you buy it from a retailer that has a liberal repair policy, but if after all that, it works, then by all means, this product is for you.

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IFAMCARE HELMET REMOTE MONITOR

FEATURES

O.K., so now we’re technically stepping out of the world of strictly ”pet cams” and into the world of baby monitors and security devices. Of course, these devices can also be used most of the time to check on and entertain your pets. The obvious positive that comes with reviewing and using these devices is that they have multiple uses. If you have a baby or even just a younger toddler that you want to check in on via video, this might be able to help you out. Then when out of town (hopefully you have your baby or toddler with you, or at least at a babysitter’s!) you can us the camera to check in on your pets.

The price of the iFamCare is very reasonable; on Amazon it only runs around $100. Speaking of the name, it seems to be called the ”helmet” because of the way the camera looks…the unt resembles something a Formula One or NASCAR driver would put on his head before a race. We say this only to discourage people from mounting this on their heads, or the heads of their pets. We assure you this is not the intended use of the device. It has 2-way sound, so you can hear your pets, and the design of the camera allows it to have a lot of free-range motion.

This iFamCare has one thing going for it in a major way; the camera is of very good quality. It claims 1080p, and depending on your wireless internet and the gear you’re using to route your signal, it seems as if their statement rings true. Another thing is that the night-vision feature, unlike those on other cameras, actually seems to work fairly well. This is a well-spec’d camera with a great hardware design and a very competitive price. It looks good in a room and has wonderful resolution. People seem to rave about the night vision feature, which makes this unit sort of unique in that way. However, as noted above in the ‘Cons’ section, the connectivity and application seems to need a lot of work for a lot of people.

If you want to take a chance on this iFamCare unit, make sure to purchase it from a retailer that has a liberal return policy. Basically, if you can get it to work on your phone, this camera could be pretty cool. One quick word about all the negative reviews; a lot of times, when things work perfectly, people don’t take the time to write in a review online about a product. Since we don’t know the sales numbers for the iFamCare unit, we don’t know if the people who’ve complained about the product online are a majority of users. There’s a chance that they are just a small minority of people for whom the app didn’t work, so they complained and wrote bad reviews. A lot of this stuff comes down to how tech-savvy you are about Internet connectivity, router setup, and even what brand of phone you use. Don’t take our reporting of others’ grievances as a 100% assured fact that the camera won’t work for you. If you *do* get this machine to connect and work well, the high quality hardware specs would make this unit a bargain, and one of the best in our guide.

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ZEBORA BABY MONITOR 960P

FEATURES

So ths Zebora is a rock-solid barebones camera with good picture quality. Unlike a lot of the previously reviewed units, the Zebora Baby Monitor was not engineered for pets in mind. (Just in case you couldn’t guess by the product’s name!) However, don’t let this dissuade you from giving the Zebora a long hard look in your quest. It has a sturdy and svelte design in piano black, has good tilting and panning features, and ha a fairly legit 960p resolution and picture quality. The price is very good; Amazon has it listed at $79. Yes, you could buy 2 of these for the price of a few of our previously-reviewed units.

What you don’t get, of course, is a lot of the extra pet-specific features like the almost-ubiquitous ”lazer tag game” or treat-dispensing features common on other units. Zebore seems to make up for this lack of features here with a very very big plus for a lot of users; the app seems to work well. Connectivity and setup for a large majority of users seems to be fairly seamless. Again, for most, this is a pretty big deal. Most people just want their stuff to work.

What a camera, and what a great company. This is sort of a textbook example on how to integrate hardware and software. It’s also a textbook example on how to set up your company so that it combines the technological advances, manufacturing efficiency, and cost savings of overseas production with US and EU knowledge and technical support. Even though this unit sits at #3 in its overall sales category in Amazon (meaning they move a lot of units) there are almost no negative reviews of the product online. Specifically, setup and connectivity issues are basically nonexistant. Obviously there are some downsides to this device. Namely, most of the pet-centric features that live on the other devices do not show up here.

A lot of people with young or rowdy pets may need the treat dispensing features, lazer games, and chat features that the other pet cams have. If so, this is obviously not a good choice for you. However, if you just want to see your pet when you’re not home, or talk to it, this may be your deviceThe solid connectivity + the low price + the good desgn of the item ensures a quality product. Recommended.

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NEXGADGET PEAKTEC IP CAM

FEATURES

So this PeakTec is another affordable and easy to use security camera. It’s camera resolution is only 720p, slightly less than the last camera we covered, but it’s still a pretty solid unit. Just like the Zebora, it has 2-way audio, tilt functions, night vision, and motion detection. It’s also geared toward the ”Nanny Cam/Baby Cam” and security markets, but works just fine as a pet monitoring device. Similar to the Zebora, this camera has a pretty decent motion sensor that sends you ”push notifications” or records directly to an SD card in the camera if you have one installed.

Basically, the NexGadget is very similar to the Zebore. And we really like the Zebore. The only things that really bring down the NexGadget, (especially as compared to the Zebore) is that for one reason or another the Zebore has slightly better reviews online about the connectivity of the device with the app. If you can find the Zebore, we recommend it; but if the Zebore isn’t available, the NexGadget will probably suit you well.

Just remember that the Zebore has a US-based company with an excellent service record, whereas we couldn’t almost find anything at all online about NexGadget. This is a big big plus for the Zebore, but if you’re not extremely worried about the long-term use of a 65 dollar product, feel free to grab a NexGadget.

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JUNING 720P SECURITY CAM

FEATURES

So this Juning is on the level of the NexGadget, and many of these middle to lower-level cameras are very similar. Like the Zebora and NexGadget, this camera wasn’t really designed as a pet-specific device, but instead is made for everything from baby monitoring to security applications. These types of cameras aren’t all bad; it may be a good choice for you if you’re on a budget. The Juning has an attractive two-tone color scheme with great tilting and panning features. The price is right on Amazon at only around $50.

Obviously, you lose out on a lot of the pet-centric features found on a lot of the other units, but if you’re not really looking for that stuff, you might as well pocket some of that extra cash and grab one of these units. Unfortunately for the Juning, about half of the online reviews of this device mention that they have problems connecting to the unit. Especially if you have an iPhone, read this review carefully and compare it to some of our other reviewed units before purchasing.

The hardware of this unit is on par with the other two cameras higher up on the list. Sadly, with a 50/50 chance of the software working with the camera, we can’t really recommend this unit. Yes, you can do what some of the Amazon and YouTube reviewers do with these, which is to take a chance on it and if it doesn’t work you can send it back. But there’s no real reason to do that when some of the units we’ve tested and researched have solid integration between hardware and software.So unless you get this unit for free or at a substantial discount, we would recommend one of the other devices on the list in the same price bracket.

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OUVIS VEEZON VZ1 SECURITY CAMERA

FEATURES

Well, the Veezon is also part of this group of cameras like the Zebora and the PeakTecBy now, you should know the laundry list; 720p camera resolution, teardrop shape, swivel ability, plastic housing. Night vision, dedicated app, and this one has a QR code for easy setup, like some of our best-rated units. Much like the others in its segment, this camera is also geared more towards overall home and business security and baby monitoring than it is a designed ”Pet Cam.” But as mentioned before, this item works great as a pet cam as long as you’re not looking for the extra features of those high-dollar units. This is a great product.

Basically on the level of the Zebore camera, which is our highest-rated non-pet camera. The dedicated customer service and long record online of satisfied customers is a really good sign of a legit company. The only thing that keeps it out of a Zebora-like ranking is the low quality of password security. There aren’t too many accounts online of people getting their cameras hacked and manipulated by others from afar, but it seems to have happened to multiple people who bought this device.

If you do buy this product, be sure to change your password frequently and do your best to make it something that isn’t easily guessed.

It’s the one downfall of waht otherwise is a wonderful camera.

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WANSVIEW 720P WIFI WIRELESS NIGHT VISION CAMERA

FEATURES

So, the Wansview is the cheapest camera of the bunch. You could honestly buy six of them for the price of the Pawbo WiFi Pet Cam, which tops our list as best pet camera. But just because something is cheap, does not make it low-quality. A lot of the utility provided by the higher-priced models is the same utility provided by this device. It has a 720p HD camera that streams quality video, and it has a 120 degree viewing angle.

The Wansview is basically a mini security camera, and if you don’t need extra features, this might be the camera for you. Another group of users might not need features, but might want to put cameras in multiple rooms in a shop or business. If this sounds like you, you might also want to read on. Easily the bang-for-the-buck winner here. Basically, if you don’t need recording options or 2-way communication, this is your winner. We kind of can’t say too much about the price, it’s just such a good deal.

For the price of maybe 2 phone chargers or 1 dinner in a restaurant by yourself you can have one of these.We see this camera being ideal for people who literally just need them for monitoring in real time.

Specifically, those looking to keep an eye on pets or young kids.

 

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WHAT IS IT? WHAT KIND SHOULD I BUY?

Yes, it is 21st century, and this means that for the price of a dinner or a night out, you can install cameras in your home that wirelessly send photos and video directly to the tiny personal computer you have in your pocket. We haven’t cured cancer or AIDS yet, but we have figured out how to let me talk to and entertain my dog when I’m not at home. Crazy. Here in this guide, we’ll review a fair amount of these cameras. Most of them look similar, but their feature sets are different, and we also want to see how they perform in real life.

If you’re on Amazon or eBay, just looking to pick up one of these things like I was, you might get intimidated looking at a bunch of features and things that you might not even know you need. I’m basically here to try all this stuff out and see if any of it even works. Half of the time it does, and works well, and half of the time the ”feature” is just something listed on the side of a box printed in China. The top-end pet monitors send video and pics to your smartphone or computer. Some of them even have a ”treat dispensing” option, which, in my personal experience, really gets your pet to pay attention to the camera.

Some devices have ”laser game” options to keep your pet entertained, and a lot of them have the ability to transmit the sounds of your voice directly to the speakers of the unit. Just this ability seemed to do wonders in terms of my pet’s sanity.

If I called a couple times a day and ”checked in” with Max (my dog) he was much more likely to stay in areas of my home that didn’t have fragile or dangerous items in them. He was more ”chill” and relaxed, and less likely to go crazy or make messes in my home. Just these features and solutions provided by these cameras made them worth their purchase price alone. Plus, honestly, it’s kind of cool to check in on your pet. I have to admit I really enjoy it. If I’m having a tough day at work, it’s nice to be able to go outside the office, have a coffee break or something, and say hello to my doggie.

As much as it affects my dog in a positive way, it might affect me positively even more. When i come home late from work he doesn’t go as crazy anymore, and I like knowing that I’m keeping an eye on him for safety’s sake as well.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A PET CAMERA

The first thing you have to think about when you’re interested in a camera is what the primary use will be for you. Basically, what are you going to use it for? If you’re looking specifically for a pet monitor, it’s probably worth it to grab one with the extra features like the treat dispenser and lazer games. If you want the pet to see the camera as a ”person” or as a source of entrtainment, the treat dispenser and michrophone go a long way in doing this.

Imagine if there was a little machine in your house that occasionally spit out tacos, or dollar bills. You’d pay more attention to the thing than if it was just some sort of camera that sat there, right? That’s sort of the difference between these ”pet-centric” models and a few of the others. All that being said, if you don’t need those features, you can probably save yourself some money. We reviewed and did research on a number of cameras under $100 that connect to their apps well, have SD card storace and cloud storage, and work great in many ways.

Specifically, a lot of these models can store a fair amount of video in the cloud and on an SD card. Most of them in the middle-range can be set to start recording at a certain time every day, like an alarm. Some of them can start recording when the motion sensor trips on. Most of those have 2-way communication. Basically, if you have a baby, young children, or well-behved pets that you’re trying to check up on but not play with, the middle or low range is for you.

Now we have to discuss the other main factor; are you a tech geek? Do you update the OS on your phone when a new one comes out? Do you know how to work the network settings options on routers and smart devices? Do you know what an IP address is? If you answered ”no” to most of these questions, then it’ll be a good idea to look in our guide specifically for models and brands that seem to play well with non-techy users. There does seem to be a big difference between companies here. Even though they all have similar hardware specs, some companies have dedicated tech support. Others don’t seem to have it at all.

Again, if you’re not the most tech-savvy of people (hey, it’s OK, Einstein didn’t work on his own car!) make sure to check out that stuff in the guide. A lot of the companies have spent a lot of their resources streamlining the install process to make it as no-fuss as possible. Others have a lot of negative reviews…and those are probably due to user error, not inferior hardware. Almost all of these devices are made with similar or the same components in China. They are differentiated by their design and by their integration of software and hardware. Look through them all, check out your preferences with the pros and cons listed in the guide, and pick a good one!

WHAT TYPES OF PET MONITORING CAMERAS ARE AVAILABLE

Well, if you’re talking about the absolute best Pet Monitors, they’ll have six things:

 A feeding feature that lets you give treats, food, or medicine to your furry friend. This has an unbelievable ability to get your pet interested in the camera. In cases of medicine etc. this may also prove extremely useful.

 Some sort of roving light feature that gives pets some interesting visuals to play around with. Again, right now you’re just trying to entertain your pet from afar while making it aware of the camera.

 The best cameras all have two-way microphone and speaker setups. Trust me, nothing weirds out a dog more than hearing the tone and sound of it’s owner’s voice coming out of a tiny plastic box.This feature isn’t just for pet monitors obviously. If your camera detects motion, you can set a lot of them to make audible noises. Some people talk about admonishing their kids, or having the ability to tell robbers that the cops are coming. I just like the idea of being able to ask my spouse if we have any more milk in the fridge of if I need to pick some up on the way home.

 The ability to record video and take pics of what you see. Yes, this seems fairly elementary, but some cams make this kind of stuff kind of hard to do. Some of them make it so you have to be on the app and watching in real time to record.  Others record every time there’s motion or during predescribed times. Obviously this is a super big differentiation, so if these types of security features are important to you, then look for them in the guide.

 Easy connectivity and setup. You have to ask yourself a few questions first to really understand this situation: does this sound like you? Are you someone who updates the OS on your phone when a new one comes out? Do you know how to work the network settings options on routers and smart devices? Do you know what an IP address is? If you answered ”no” to most of these questions, then it’ll be a good idea to look in our guide specifically for models and brands that seem to play well with non-techy users. There does seem to be a big difference between companies here. Even though they all have similar hardware specs, some companies have dedicated tech support. Others don’t seem to have it at all. Again, if you’re not the most tech-savvy of people (hey, it’s OK, Einstein didn’t work on his own car!) make sure to check out that stuff in the guide. A lot of the companies have spent a lot of their resources streamlining the install process to make it as no-fuss as possible. Others have a lot of negative reviews…and those are probably due to user error, not inferior hardware. Almost all of these devices are made with similar or the same components in China.

So hopefully after assessing what you need you’ll find something in here that fits both your price range and your needs.

BEST PET CAMERA BRANDS

A Word About Brand Names of Pet and Baby Cameras aka ”Who Makes The Best Baby or Pet Camera?” A lot of peoplelook around online shops and stores asking this question. The truth is, most of these ”brands” are just Chinese holding companies. Most ”brands” are assembled in the same place and have similar components. Yes, sometimes the name on the from of the machine matters, but more important is that you get something that fits your needs. Read through our guide of ”Who Makes The Best Baby or Pet Camera?” and read our own rankings and reviews. Then go assess your needs. Figure out if you need a pet feeder, or a machine that has good night vision options. Then go through the rankings online and find a good one. The name on the front of the thing doesn’t matter so much.

Pay special attention to after-sale service. Most of these Chinese holding companies all make the same stuff…but some have customer service and tech support, others do not. Some have great return policies, others do not. Just read our guide and all the info is there.

 Pawbo

Pawbo is actually an Acer brand…yes, the company that makes laptop computers and phones. According to them, they look to expand in the future with toys that you’ll also be able to control via apps. Seriously. One is called ”the Punch” and is a whack-a-mole game, while another is ”the Catch” and spins a bird-like toy around. They only started making pet devices this year, but if this is any indication of their prowess, they’re in for a market success. The Pawbo device is the market leader, with good connectivity and the full complement of features. Only real downside is the price, but if you factor in what you’re getting for the money it could be a good deal for you. Yes, i’m hoping that in the future things like the resolution of the camera will improve. I’m hoping that some of the features from security cameras etc. make their way over to the Pawbo.

But let’s face it, it’s a camera that I use to mess with and spy on my dog. It doesn’t have to shoot full-HD 4k video or anything. Who knows, when Acer comes out with some of the Pawbo accessories like the toys, I may pick them up!

 Petzi

Petzi is a San Francisco startup company that according to their Kickstarter is focused on the ”IoT” aka the ‘Internet of Things.’ This concept is basically about automation, and what will happen when theoretically in the future many of our household gadgets and devices will have Internet connectivity. Petzi takes that ethos to the world of pet parenting.

The Petzi Treat Cam is a good unit. I might recommend it over our top-rated camera if the ”lazer tag” and night vision features appeal to you, or you can find one of the latest units that seems to have a two-way microphone. As we tried to reflect in the numerical score given to the two, this unit is basically the same thing as our #1. Assess your needs and make your decision accordingly.

 Petcube

Not unlike Petzi, Petcube was founded a few years ago not in San Jose, but across the bay in San Francisco. The slightly more upmarket environs of the founders must be the reason why the Petcube looks so fancy compared to the others. (Actually, we have no idea why the design of the unit is what it is, but it’s a nice theory.) This is the Spartan, minimalist choice for people who still want a quality product. It’s also the choice of consumers who favor product design pretty much over all other factors.

(Hint, hint, Apple fans.) As we noted previously, many of the online users of this product seem to own cats. Cats do seem to respond well to the laser game, being hunters, so maybe this is why? It’s a good quality product that of course suffers from some small connectivity issues…but if you need just a camera and don’t care for a feeding mechanism or other bells and whistles, this device could be for you.

We recommend it.

 PETKIT

So the Petkit Smart Wifi Video Monitor is all about movement and control. The design and overall feel of the product were created to basically give you sweeping views of your place and your pets. Basically, this is the camera for people who want to see a lot. Both online and in the field, it’s sort of the feature that testers and users rave about; that the camera can tilt and move 340 degrees. Petkit is a Chinese company headquartered in Shanghai, and they actually make a full range of intelligent pet products. They also sell a bowl for pet food that automatically measures the portion size and temperature. They make a water bowl for both cats and dogs that has a built-in filtration system called ”Eversweet.” They’ve only been around a few years, but have already won a couple design awards and have products sold in many countries.

 iFamCare

O.K., so now we’re technically stepping out of the world of strictly ”pet cams” and into the world of baby monitors and security devices. Of course, these devices can also be used most of the time to check on and entertain your pets. The obvious positive that comes with reviewing and using these devices is that they have multiple uses. If you have a baby or even just a younger toddler that you want to check in on via video, this might be able to help you out. Then when out of town (hopefully you have your baby or toddler with you, or at least at a babysitter’s!) you can us the camera to check in on your pets.

iFamCare is part of a larger company called iBabyLabs, and they like many of these companies are headquartered in San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley. They claim to be the first manufacturer of a cloud-based baby monitor in 2011. They also make a full range of products, and sell their products in brick-and-mortar stores like Nordstrom, Toys-R-Us, and Target.

iFamCare products, of course, are also sold online.

 Zebora

Zebora was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, and their listed phone number is in the 978 area code, meaning you can actually call them and speak to someone in the United States about their products. In a group of cameras basically all manufactured overseas, this is nothing short of a small miracle. They are ambiguous about their supply chain, but they say they are spread across multiple countries like Spain, Japan, China, and the USA. They also offer other products besides cameras; they sell some noise-canceling headphones as well as an iPhone screen protector among other things.

They make a good camera, and they’re a great company. This is sort of a textbook example on how to integrate hardware and software. It’s also a textbook example on how to set up your company so that it combines the technological advances, manufacturing efficiency, and cost savings of overseas production with US and EU knowledge and technical support. Even though this unit sits at #3 in its overall sales category in Amazon (meaning they move a lot of units) there are almost no negative reviews of the product online. Specifically, setup and connectivity issues are basically nonexistant. The solid connectivity + the low price + the good desgn of the item ensures a quality product.

Recommended.

 NexGadget / PeakTec

The PeakTec seems to be made by NexGadget, and this is where the public information on the company stops. NexGadget seems to be sold by a store called NexTech on Amazon.com and a few other online retailers. We are guessing that NexGadget is a placeholder brand stuck on many types of electronic devices made in China. Obviously, this can pose a problem if you need after-sale help or service

It also explains why many of these middle-range and lower-end devices look and work the same; lots of times, they are! Even if they don’t look the same, they sometimes use a lot of the same parts. ”Companies” simply trademark a name, ask some Chinese factories about parts and a MOQ (minimum order quantity) then get things assembled. So there may be other products similar or the same as this PeakTec.

However, it doesn’t keep it from being a good device

 

 Juning

Juning is another one of the Chinese ”placeholder” brands, meaning there’s no real ”Juning factory” or Juning board of directors. Juning is just a name that certain importers put on various products, and they may or may not even be related to each other in any way. We’ve seen Juning smart phones, phone cases, cameras, even Juning smart TV boxes. This helps to explain why people seem to have problems using the app and connecting it to the camera; because a customer service team probably doesn’t exist. Things like software updates and compatibility are usually not high on the list of these types of importers and holding companies.

So Juning cameras are on the level of the NexGadget, and many of these middle to lower-level cameras are very similar. Like the Zebora and NexGadget, this camera wasn’t really designed as a pet-specific device, but instead is made for everything from baby monitoring to security applications. These types of cameras aren’t all bad; it may be a good choice for you if you’re on a budget. The Juning has an attractive two-tone color scheme with great tilting and panning features.

The price is right on Amazon at only around $50.

 

 Ouvis

The Ouvis is once again one of many many Chinese-made cameras that are basically identical. This one stands out because they use a QR code to make installation on mobile devices easier, and they have a great customer service team! Real, actual customer service is rare with this type of product, and this company actually employs two real live Americans who speak English and know their way around the products and their setup. Invaluable! This is a great product.Basically on the level of the Zebore camera, which is our highest-rated non-pet camera.

The dedicated customer service and long record online of satisfied customers is a really good sign of a legit company. The only thing that keeps it out of a Zebora-like ranking is the low quality of password security. There aren’t too many accounts online of people getting their cameras hacked and manipulated by others from afar, but it seems to have happened to multiple people who bought this device. If you do buy this product, be sure to change your password frequently and do your best to make it something that isn’t easily guessed. It’s the one downfall of what otherwise is a wonderful camera.

 Wansview

The Wansview camera is part of the larger Shenzhen Smarteye digital electronics company in China. They were founded in 2002 and are one of the first batch manufacturers that do R&D, production, and sales of these cameras. Smarteye’s been around for over a decade now, and as per their website they say they’re now in the top 3 of Chinese IP camera companies when it comes to monthly production figures. Smarteye makes 720p and 1080p cameras, as well as smarthome solutions and weatherproof cameras.

They have a decent reputation online, and that’s also reflected in their reviews on YouTube and Amazon. The most encouraging thing I found online was a user who returned a Wansview because they had trouble connecting it to their WiFi network. The company contacted them quickly, and sent out a replacement camera which worked!

Good to see this kind of thing happening, especially with a unit that has such a low price.

TIPS, TRICKS AND ADVICE

So once you get your camera, you’re gonna have to set it up. And once you do that, you’ll want to get your dog or cat involved. The easiest way to get it to notice the camera is to give it a treat! But before you do that, we wanted to go through a few tips and tricks for feeding your pets using one of these automated pet monitors.The first thing sounds easy, but we need to mention it; make sure the treats are small enough to not jam the cam/feedling device! Also make sure that your camera is mounted to a wall or desk with some sort of permanent mounting device, like screws or something. You don’t want your dog or cat to get too rowdy and knock the camera down to get at more treats!

The reason the treats work so well in getting your dog or cat to come close, even if you’re 5000 miles away, is mainly the smell. A cat’s sense of smell is greater than a human’s, and a dog’s nose is very very sensitive. Think about how a dog can literally smell something like a treat from 50-60 feet away. Giving your dog or cat this kind of positive reinforcement does two things:

1) it gives them positive reinforcement

2) it keeps them entertained/keeps them from being bored

Think about it, when do you do destructive or silly things?Usually when you’re bored or annoyed, which a pet surely is if it’s forced to be in an empty house. If you have a pet cam, and talk to/feed your pets when you’re gone, you’re telling them subconsciously that they’re doing good things by not wrecking your belongings while you’re not around. You’re also just on a basic level entertaining them, letting them hear the tone and sound of your voice which is a soothing and exciting thing for them. And oviously everyone likes treats! Chocolate wouldn’t have been invented and synthesized otherwise!

Here’s how to use your treat cam most effectively:

When you speak through the microphone to your pets, let them get excited when you first turn the unit on.That’s a natural reaction; let them experience it. Talk to them for a little while if you see fit, or if you have the time. Your dog or cat has probably been doing a fair amount of napping, relaxing, sleeping… let the wake up a bit and experience some stimulation. Now, finally, after your pet has calmed down, then and only then should you hit the button on the app to dispense a treat. This is basic behavioral science. If you let them go crazy for a while (let them play as long as you can, or as long as you have time for) they’ll release energy. This is good, because you want them to have fun and not spend that energy later wrecking your plants or eating your pillows.

After and only after they’ve gotten some of that out of their system should you feed them a treat.

 

The best thing to do, especially with a dog, is to tell them to calm down or tell them to sit or stay.Any sort of submissive command is a good idea here. As we noted before, the dog or cat can surely smell the box with the camera and probably knows treats are in there. What we’re trying to do is to make sure the pets stay submissive after a period of playtime, so the realize if they relax they’ll get a treat. If you feed them while they’re getting crazy, they may go ahead and knock the pet cam down, simply to break it open and enjoy the rest of the treats inside. You don’t want that, so that’s another reason to have your pet relax before you get on the microphone and press the ”treat” button on the app.

Finally, try and give them treats between/after meals.

If you know your dog or cat eats at a certain time every day, wait a few hours on either end of that time to feed them or check in on them with the cam.

This way, you’re maximizing your interactions with them and also doing the most good with any sort of talking/treats.