There are a host of nanny cams you can use to keep an eye on your pets as they laze away the day, or trash your house when you’ve left them alone too long. But the Petcube goes one step better.
Not only is it a HD video monitor with speaker so you can talk to your pet, but it also comes with a laser beam that can help create interactive games to keep the pet occupied and engaged. All that fun comes via the mobile app, that also lets you share your pics and meet fellow pet owners, if you like that sort of interaction.
At $139, as of this writing, (see here for latest) this is a product that you might invest in because your cat or dog has issues, as there are far less expensive cameras on the market. So, does the laser game make it worth the extra expense, or is it a mere novelty. The successful Ukrainian-originated Kickstarter project has proven a big success, but is it right for your pet or home? In this Petcube review, we’ll break down the specifics.
Contents (Jump to)
Key Features of the Petcube
There are some pet lovers that will buy anything for their animal, spending more on the furry critters then their family. For those people there is a huge range of pet stuff available, but it hasn’t taken long for makers to borrow some smart home technology and make it pet friendly. It fits neatly on any shelf and also comes with a tripod mount if you want to put it somewhere else.=
- Specs: The Petcube plugs into the mains power, and uses WiFi to connect to the rest of the world. It ships in a neat 4-inch aluminum cube with a black plastic face that shields the camera and laser. The camera offers 720p HD and offers a wide 138-degree lens so you should be able to see your pet in its main room.
- Laser Pointer: The laser is a mere 5 milliwatt model, so there’s no risk of singe marks on your cat or dog, but by dragging your finger across the smartphone screen, you can guide the laser across the floor or up a wall for the pet to play with, helping coax them out of destructive behavior.
- Access Control: Users can share access to the camera and app with family, allowing them to play with the pets too – and there’s a special Petcube social media site where owners can gather and show off their pets in action. That public mode may be too weird or unwelcome for some, but it is there.
Pros of the Petcube
- Relatively Proven: Having launched in America in 2014, the Petcube has proven its place in the market. Video helps owners keep an eye on their pet’s activities, while the two-way audio allows owners to calm their pets down.
- App Works Well on Many Devices: The apps work with iOS devices, recent Android models and the Apple Watch. You need the app to register the product and link your Petcube to your phone. Once set up, you can play with the laser, which is no stronger than that in a PC mouse. Even so, it is recommended that you don’t point it at your pet’s face.
- Ability to Share with Others: The app also has a beneficial use, allowing others to see and play with rescue center pets, which can help get these creatures out of these places and into homes, or just help keep them occupied while waiting for new owners.
Cons of the Petcube
- Some Issues at Launch: At launch lots of Android users had trouble with the Petcube app, with no app originally available. While some buyers couldn’t even get it to connect to their WiFi running WEP mode, as its limited network can interfere with other app settings. It also can’t see 5GHz or hidden routers.
- Struggles with Android 4.x: Judging by comments (we personally didn’t test it on Android), it still struggles with many Android devices running 4.x version software, which is a large percentage of users. There are firmware updates available for the Petcube, but since you need to contact customer support to get them, this doesn’t sound like the most advanced piece of technology inside the box.
- Some Complaints About Camera Quality (no big deal, IMHO): In use, some complain the camera picture isn’t particularly bright, but we had no issues. Others say the laser isn’t visible against most surfaces, but that’s really down to what’s on your floor or wall. Certainly for this price, a 1080p camera would be preferable and make things clearer, and an auto mode would be preferable. UPDATE: Petcube has since introduced their new 1080p version, called the Petcube Play (see this listing for details).
- No Night Mode: There’s also no night mode, that a lot of cheaper cameras have, this seems like a major omission, since lots of people go out for the evening and like to check up on their pets. UPDATE: The new Petcube Play ALSO has night vision!
- That should be able to detect if your pet is being noisy, pacing out of boredom and could then call your pet, to get its attention (using a voice sample perhaps) and then play the laser across a random or pre-set path to keep it occupied. That would be more practical if your job doesn’t let you play with your phone for periods, or if your work means you can’t have any screen time.
- Possible Security Vulnerabilities? Finally, the pet social linking, is an interesting and innovative idea, but one potentially puts your valuable pet or home at risk. How long will it take criminals to realize that some very expensive breeds are being put up for show – and when the camera is on, the owner is likely out.
Petcube Alternatives to Consider
There are definitely plenty of new competitors on the market, but I’ll highlight some of the main ones below.
Best for Dogs? You might want to check out the Furbo if you just have Fido. While the Petcube is versatile enough for basically any pet, the Furbo has a built in “treat dispenser” which makes it ideal for dogs. You can read my full analysis here.
Other Options Like the Petcube? You can read my full overview of the best pet cameras here, but a few other names to consider are the Petzi and the PetChatz (which has a “petcall” feature to speak with your furry friends).
Bottom Line: If a high quality pet camera is all you need, the new Petcube Play is one of the better options. If you want additional features like calling your pets, something specifically for a dog, and/or treat dispensing capability, see the above options.
Final Recommendation – Is the Petcube Worth it Today?
If your pet is a bit of a menace when you are away, or you can’t bear to be apart from your loved one, then the Petcube is a brilliant idea, with the interactive feature. However it is priced at a large premium over a typical pet cam.
That won’t stop a lot of pet lovers who blow small fortunes on their furry friends. However, if you are on a budget, or just want to keep a more casual eye on your pets, then a less expensive solution would be more appropriate.
Where to Buy the Petcube
Petcube Play: You can check out the new Petcube Play here, although it is a bit more expensive the 1st generation (below).
Petcube (1st Gen): There’s usually a a good price at this listing, so be sure to check it out first.
UPDATE: You can also order directly from Petcube and save off of the list price right here.
iOS users definitely seem to get a better deal, so consider your existing mobile devices before making a buying purchase, and also consider that most Kickstarter ideas will be cloned soon enough, so a better designed, less expensive, or better featured option might be just around the corner.