If you’re a pet lover, then you know how difficult it can be to leave your fur baby at home every day. Leaving can be even more difficult if you’re planning on being away for an extended period of time. However, there are a wide variety of products available on the market today that give you the ability to check in on your pets at any time.
Pet cameras provide real-time high definition videos of your pets, so you can see if your cat is the one digging up your plants, or your dog is the one chewing on your shoes. You want to be sure to select one that will provide you the features and capabilities that work best for you, so let’s take a look at a couple to get you started.
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Petcube (read my full review here!) grant does a great job of performing double duty by letting you check on your pet daily, which also keeping an eye on it for any length of time. The device provides great quality 720p video, which you can watch via its smartphone application. It also offers a speaker and microphone, so you can hear and speak to your pet, should you so desire.
The Petcube, as its name suggests, is a device with a cube-shape that measures four inches on each side. Where the side corners are rounded, the front and back panels lie entirely flat. However, they do have right angles that give them a more defined appearance.
Both sides consist of solid aluminum, and the front of the device is covered with transparent black glass. The glass provides a method of concealing and protecting the camera. On the rear, you’ll find the micro USB port. This port connects to the AC adapter, included with the Petcube. You’ll also see the power button on the back side of the device.
Additionally, the camera is held in place by a silicone square lining the bottom of the Petcube. There’s also a standard tripod mount, which lets you screw in the tripod if you want to secure your Petcube further.
You can set up the Petcube using either the Android or iOS smartphone apps, which can be found in their respective marketplaces. Once you’ve installed the app, just plug in your Petcube, power it on, and follow the prompts. You’ll be asked to enter your wifi network information by the onscreen guide.
Once you have everything configured, the camera will automatically connect to your wifi network. Then, register your free account with Petcube, and you’re all set. Now you’re able to access the camera from anywhere you have internet connectivity.
As you can see, set up of the Petcube is relatively painless, and doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge or expertise. Unfortunately, at this time, Petcube does not offer a web portal through which you can watch your pet while you’re away. If you want to view them, you’ll have to use either your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.
If you decide to go with the Petcube, you’ll be getting a device that provides plenty in the way of performance. The device has a microphone and speaker that work very well. The speaker lets you communicate with your pet through your smartphone. You can also hear your pet through the microphone, so if your dog starts unexpectedly barking, you can be aware of it.
The 720p camera looks great when it’s placed in a well-lit room. However, if the area in which you keep your pet is not as bright, the Petcube night vision capabilities still provides a good quality video experience. This is especially handy since some pets (cats, for instance), are more active after dark.
On the camera, you’ll find a 138-degree lens that displays a vast amount of the room it’s kept in. Keep in mind though, that the further away from your pet you keep the device, the more your picture and video feed are going to suffer. Of course, you want to have a wide enough view to watch your pet no matter where it goes, but at further distances, it may be a challenge to make out your pet against furniture or other background objects.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your viewing experience may not be as clear on a tablet as it is on your smartphone. Since the feed has to expand to fit on the tablet, the feed looks a little blurry and grainy. It’s a much better experience on a smartphone.
The features available within the smartphone app make the Petcube a solid choice when monitoring your pets. For instance, you have the ability to double-tap on the video feed to capture a still photo. While you do not have the ability to record and store videos locally, you do have the option to use Petcube’s video cloud service – for a monthly fee.
Unfortunately, the mobile application does not provide a way to create a timed recording event like some smart security do. So if your pet moves in front of the Petcube, the device doesn’t have the ability to capture the moment or send you a notification.
Don’t confuse the Petcube with a security camera, because that’s not what it’s meant to be. However, when compared with some smart security cameras that cost the same, the speaker functionality doesn’t make up for additional missing features.
You do have the ability to share the video stream with friends and family; however they have to have the Petcube app installed on their device to be able to view it. While this is an excellent feature for the Petcube, the drawback is that it only supports one user at a time, so you have to decide who you want to share it with.
It also means you can’t have multiple fans of your pet watching through a variety of cameras simultaneously. Again, this is an opportunity for improvement from Petcube, as many pet shelters who want to have an always live feed wouldn’t be able to use the device.
Pet owners who choose the Petcube to watch their pets while they are away from home will enjoy the ability to do just that. There are, however, a few areas where the Petcube could make some improvements. The inability for more than one person to watch a live video feed and a lack of notifications when your pet comes into view are a just a few.
That doesn’t mean the Petcube isn’t worth it if your only intention is to watch your pet. If you have no intention of storing videos, sharing streams, or needing notifications, then the Petcube might be right for you. You can view and talk to your pet while you’re at work or on vacation, and talk to them, so they hear your voice while you’re gone.
While the Nest Cam has uses other than that of keeping an eye on your pets, if you choose to use it for that purpose, you won’t be disappointed. Nest Cam is a 1080p home camera that integrates with your Nest smart home system.
The Nest Cam is simple to set up and has plenty of useful features for watching your pet while you’re away from home. Features like the ability to zoom in, and enhance the picture as just a few examples of some of the benefits you’ll get with a Nest Cam.
Setup, Features, and Design
Nest has a well-earned reputation for creating and developing clean and well-designed devices. If you’re looking for something that won’t look out of place in your living room or office, the Nest Cam fits the bill. It’s an attractive, simple device that is easy to setup and install.
The first step to setting up the Nest Cam is downloading and installing the smartphone application onto your device. You can find both the iOS and Android apps on their respective marketplaces. Once you launch the app, you’ll scan the QR code on the back of your Nest Cam, and it will get to work connecting to your network.
For what it’s worth, it takes more time to unbox and hook the Nest Cam up than it does for it to connect to the network.
The camera itself has the ability to pop off its metal cradle, so you can place it anywhere you want. The cradle tilts 180 degrees and is robust enough that you don’t have to worry about hurting it. You’ll notice that a wall-mounting kit comes with the device, so if you want to hang it somewhere out of the way, you can do so.
Its 130-degree view lends itself to be mounted in a higher location since it has the ability to cover most typically sized rooms. Keep in mind that you’re working with an indoor camera, so it has its limitations.
The Nest Cam has the ability to record video in 1080p, and if you prefer to have that as your default recording setting, you can change it. However, the default setting is 720p to prevent overloading your network. You can record and stream at a rate as low as 360p, but it’s not advised since it makes it difficult to make out your pet, or much else for that matter.
One feature that the Nest Cam has that the Petcube does not is the ability to send you a notification when it senses sound or motion. Like the Petcube, the Nest Cam has a built-in speaker, so if you want to talk to your pet, you can.
You can also program a status light to behave a certain way as well. It can stay on while active, only come on when someone is watching, or you can set it to remain off permanently. Additionally, you can determine when the camera comes on by setting a specific schedule, or you can program it only to come on when your status in the app is set to away.
The beauty behind the Nest Cam is that it integrates with other Nest products easily. For instance, if you already have a Nest Learning Thermostat, it can detect when you are home and when you leave. As a result, the Nest Cam can use the thermostat’s status of home and away to switch the camera on or off.
If you don’t have a Nest Learning Thermostat, you’ll have created a schedule, or remember to change the status when you leave and arrive at home. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but there is something to say for having one less thing to remember.
To use the video cloud storage, you have to have a Nest Aware subscription. This monthly fee provides 10-day video history storage, which is much more than the Petcube offers. Enrolling in the service also enables many additional features. For instance, with Nest Aware, you’ll have Action Zones, which let you determine a specific area which you want to receive alerts about, superior motion detection, and the alternative to create and save video clips.
If you don’t have the Nest Aware, you’re primarily limited to having the live stream capability and receiving notifications. This is plenty if all you need to know is what’s going on around the camera; however there’s no local network storage or onboard storage capabilities with the Nest Cam device if you want to store videos locally.
Just like with other subscription plans, the Nest Aware has its good and bad aspects. It’s nice to know that if your home is broken into, you’ll have the video stored on the cloud to access in the future. However, pricing with Nest Aware adds costs to your camera which customers may not have expected to have.
The cost can rise quickly when you sign up to use Nest Aware, but it’s nice to have the additional features. You’ll also have a web console, which lets you create clips and set up your action zones. It’s also nice to have the ability to watch your pet from a web page, instead of having to pull out your phone every time you want to check in.
Lastly, with the Nest Cam, you’re not going to get a lot of false positive notifications. If your pet is up and moving around, it’ll recognize it for what it is and alert you, but otherwise, you won’t be bothered. Nest Cam does a great job in the performance department. If you choose to go with this smart camera to watch your pet, you won’t be disappointed.
Pros and Cons
No smart home device is perfect, so it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of a device you are considering. Here’s a quick view of the Pros and Cons of the Nest Cam:
- Integrates easily with other Nest devices
- Setup is simple and straightforward
- High-quality day and night video feed
- Excellent motion detection capabilities
- Cannot set “Auto-Away” unless you have a Nest thermostat
- Subscription plans can get expensive
Unfortunately, there is no black or white answer for using a Nest Cam to watch your pets while you’re away. The camera does a great job of monitoring your home and your pets, but if you don’t have a Nest thermostat to turn on the camera when you leave automatically, it’s easy to forget to do so.
Of course, the drawback is the subscription service, which can get very expensive, very quickly. Even with these areas that could use improvement, the Nest Cam is a complete, easy to use system to use to view your pet while you’re at work or away on vacation. If you don’t need a lot of the extra features provided with subscription fees, and you can remember to turn the camera on each time you leave, then the Nest Cam might be just the device for you.
How does the Nest Cam compare to other cameras?
Here’s a quick, high-level view of what both the Petcube and Nest Cam have to offer if you’re interested in finding a device that lets you monitor your pets while you’re away from home:
|Integration w/ Other Devices||No||Nest Platform Integration|
|Video Cloud Recording||Yes w/ subscription||Yes w/ subscription|
Both the Petcube and Nest Cam offer quality, reliable devices for keeping an eye on your pet when you’re away. Each offers basic functionality without a subscription, and if you want to have additional features and capabilities, you can always sign up for the monthly fee.
The Nest Cam offers a better viewing experience and can be mounted on your wall for greater visibility, but there’s no shortage of features with the Petcube as well. Both offer night vision capabilities, along with the ability to speak to your pet whenever you want. No matter which device you choose for you and your pet, you’re making a solid choice.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!