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 vision.
What 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.
As stated earlier, this unit looks good, and could basically be called a no-frills pet cam. ”Camera” is for sure the operative word here, because there’s not a lot of extra features going on with this device. No night vision, feeding trays, alarms, or video recording here. Petcube gets a bit of a pass though, because the price of it’s product is lower than other more full-featured devices.
Connectivity seems decent, and the Petcube certainly earns high marks for the clarity and power of it’s video signal. Like some of the other devices that have less than perfect connectivity ratings, it would be wise to buy the Petcube from a retailer that has a liberal return policy, because you never know what’s going to work with your router or mobile device.
Brand and Model History
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.)
No treat-dispensing or feeding features. Yep, just what you think it means; this device is meant to improve and create interaction between you and your pet when you’re not around to actually be in the same room as the animal. This can be a pro as well, as some people aren’t interested in this feature. One of the reviewers online even said something like ”my dogs eat enough as it is!” The other positive thing is that because it doesn’t have a feeding mechanism, it’s cheaper. I’m also guessing this might make the Petcube device a decent choice for baby monitoring or even home security on a budget, because you’re literally only paying for basic camera and microphone style back-and-forth monitoring.
Some users had problems with connecting / networking with the unit. As mentioned above, this unit connects and works basically through the app on your phone. So if you can’t seem to download the app, or the app isn’t available for your device, or your router isn’t playing nice with the camera itself, you may be headed for problems. The downside to our wireless society, right? At least the unit has good picture quality for those who do seem to be able to connect, and those people seem to be in the majority.
No video recording as a free service. You can choose to ”upgrade” the app and record video, but it costs extra. Rather self-explanatory. Many of the other pet cams let you record video for free. Some of the others even have social networks that let you store this video remotely. This device, sadly, is not one of them. Obviously as mentioned previously, you can do it, but you have to pay extra to ”unlock” this capability, sort of like an ingame purchase during video game play might unlock a level or some special super powers. This sort of goes along with the ‘a la carte’ theme of the device…pay only for the features that you use.
No night vision capabilities. If you plan on being a ninja and spying on your dog or cat in the darkest of night with this device, you’re out of luck. We recommend going with other brands if this is something you’re interested in.
No beeping or other alarm sounds built-in to the device to initiate Pavlovian responses in your pets! This to me is actually kind of a bummer. I feel like it wouldn’t have upped the cost all THAT much if they had some sort of built-in beeper or something. Pets are very auditory at least in my experience, and this is the one feature i with this unit had. Of course the way around it is simply to turn on the microphone and let your dog listen to his masters voice (to paraphrase the famous old slogan of RCA records!)
Attractive design. This seems superficial, but the Petcube Interactive WiFi Camera is probably the nicest-looking decvice on the list. That contest isn’t even close, to be honest. The top-rated units seem to have rather indiscreet branding on the fronts of them, with silly and overly-large fonts. The overall structure of most Pet Cams suggests either your standard webcam, or maybe something like a battery charger or something. Not this one. It’s fancy-looking. Surely this design language helped it attract those Kickstarter dollars.
Dedicated app and connection architecture. Like many of the top units, this pet camera is a product of a bunch of people in the tech-startup hubs of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. So the obvious plus is that these machines all have dedicated apps fully integrated with the hardware. Like the others, this one works on in-app situations only, so make sure that you’ve go a good data plan set up for your mobile phone or have good access to WiFi. One caveat with this device, the app only works with Android 4.0 or greater, so make sure you update your phone or your software verson if you’re planning on using this with an older Android device.
Live video in HD with quality wide angle lens. The Petcube really seems to have this area of the game taken care of. Many reviewers and researchers really praise the quality of the video and pics that come out of their camera. Most reviewers say there isn’t many issues with lag and that overall clarity is fairly high.
”Laser tag” feature. The ”laser tag” works really well with this unit. It’s set up like a computer touchpad/mousepad, with a little dot centered in a square on the app. To move the laser, you just move your finger around the screen with the app. There’s even a convenient calibration feature so that you can dial in the ”point” of the laster to work perfectly with your fingers.
2 way radio/microphone for monitoring. The lazer tag feature really segues into this feature…before you can get your pet to start playing with the lazers, you have to get it in the room first! Luckily, having that dual-way interaction is sort of what this whole device is about.
Social media network features. Again, like the other top-of-the-line units, this Petcube has the ability to share to things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But that’s not all. The Petcube has it’s own ”community” of users, and you can show off your pet there and also let others in on the action if you want.
Price is less than full-featured cameras from other brands. It’s awfully nice to find something as well-designed and marketed as this product that is also rather easy on the wallet. The top-ranked pet cams on our list usually retail at $200 or around that area. The Petcube Wifi Cam had a Kickstarter price of $99. Some online retailers have it now around $150, but if you really dig you may be able to find it closer to that Kickstarter initial price. For us, this represents a great value, and one not normally seen in consumer electronics.
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.Melissa