When Petcube offered to send us a camera to review, I immediately thought that the best candidates to review the camera would be
Meet the testers
Each of them
Before we get to the review, let’s have a quick overview of what’s in the box.
We immediately loved the packaging design of the box, you slide the top and bottom parts apart and viola, a much smaller than expected cube. It’s actually only 3.1 inch cube which weighs about 10.7 ounces. The packaging reminded us of Apple design. Kudos.
The rubber feet helps to stop your cube from sliding off a table and there is a tripod screw mount which comes in handy if you want to position the camera up high on a tripod.
The Petcube Play is powered by a recessed micro USB port which powers it with an included adaptor.
The manual instructs you to download the app from your app store before beginning the setup.
You have to register your profile and your pets profile before setup can continue. It’s a bit of a process to get that done, so spend 5 minutes setting it all up before you fire up the cube.
The instruction manual takes the minimal approach of recent tech companies and we’re not sure that it’s always useful not to have a written manual. Small pictures can easily be interpreted wrongly. In our case we managed to follow the instructions and eventually connected the camera to the app. The initial sync happens over bluetooth with your phone before you configure the Petcube Play with WiFi settings.
We recommend placing your cube next to your router for the initial setup. That way you can be sure that there isn’t a distance or wifi issue if you run into issues.
There are several status lights on the cube:
- White - Online, and in standby mode
- Blue - Play Mode, someone is viewing right now
- Blinking Yellow - The Petcube isn't registered or the wifi details are incorrect
- Blinking Green - Wifi Setup mode
- Steady Yellow - Completing the startup sequence
When we initially added our wifi settings, the app said that it connected successfully, but the status light didn’t change to solid white. Even after waiting a few minutes the Petcube wouldn’t connect. The app suggested a reset using the pin provided. There’s a small hole underneath the Petcube Play. Hold the pin and push the reset button for a few seconds to reset it. Another attempt to connect also failed, followed another reset to try again. Stumped!
We double checked the wifi password and realised that we mistakenly entered the wrong password, but the app failed to tell us. Another reset and the correct password and we were up and running!
We also read that some users reported an issue with the Petcube not synching at the initial Bluetooth setup. Setting the phone in airplane mode solved that problem.
We just loved the quality of the video. At 1080p HD with a 138-degree angle, you get a really wide view of your living room. That means that there really is nowhere for your pet to hide if you’ve positioned the camera correctly.
Does the Petcube Play laser really work?
The laser is bright and safe for use. In short, it won’t blind you or your pet, don’t shine it in your pets eyes though, just to but to be on the safe side.
Digit was most curious about the Petcube and showed most interest in the laser. The laser is a really interesting addition to the camera. We would say it’s mostly aimed at keeping cats entertained as Digit loved the laser. It’s not as responsive as we would like but once you get the hang of moving your finger over the screen at a slow enough pace, you have control of how the laser moves.
Dougal showed some interest in the laser, mostly when we put it right by his nose, but he didn’t chase it. Ziggie and Murdo were more interested in seeing when the next treat or walk arrived.
We loved the auto play feature. You can give your pets a little workout with the laser when you’re not around. The autoplay feature allows you to set a time when the laser switches on by itself and plays around the room. You can even use a recording of your voice to call your pet over. That’s a good reason to train them to come to the camera when you call out from it.
The great part is that this session is recorded, so you can review it at a later time. You could also set your Petcube to public if you want other people to play from time to time. Just make sure you tidy the lounge, we saw a few messy pet pits when exploring other people’s cubes!
The Petcube plays a start up sound when a user connects to it. If we had more time we’d be training Ziggie and Dougal to come to the Petcube when the sound plays. A few treats nearby the camera when the sound plays should do it. That would make them come closer to the camera when we connect for a peak in.
The Petcube play has 2 way audio so that you get a notification and you’re able to hear when there is a noise at home. Obviously your pets can hear you when you speak to them too. We found the speakers pretty good, and the audio quality excellent. Dougal showed interest when we called him from the other room and sniffed the camera. He didn’t quite understand what was going on, but that might just be his IQ more than anything else!
How did other reviewers find the camera?
Looking elsewhere on the web, folk are mostly positive about the Petcube Play. They like its small compact size, the interface for interacting with your pets through the app, and the possibilities of future development of the app. It was mostly cats that enjoyed the laser and dogs enjoyed chilling out. Neither of them minded being watched which was good. It wouldn't be much fun if your furbabies were camera shy!
How does the Petcube play app square up?
We must stay that the app really added the enjoyment of the Petcube. We checked on the pups a few times during the day, and when we saw that they were fine, we had a quick look at who else was online.
Yes that’s right, you can view other shared or public cameras, even if you don’t have a Petcube yourself. We played with a few cats, saw some interesting living rooms, and even enjoyed a cat cafe. It was like we were there.
You can share your Petcube Play’s video feed with family members, friends or the general public by updating the sharing settings in the app. We found this feature to be most useful (next to watching your own pets of course). We also liked the Instagram feel of the app. You can post pics of your own furbabies and heart other peoples pics by double tapping as you do on Insta.
When sharing your app feed with your pals, or the world, it’s wise to disable the sound or laser feature if you don’t want strangers speaking or lasering your cats.
Petcube care is a cloud storage service which allows you to store your video in the cloud for later viewing. It can store 10 days worth of video for $10 a month or $30 for 30 days. We’re not sure how useful this is, but to sweeten the deal Petcube gives every member 4 hours video for free to try out the service. We found that handy when you wanted to to check back to see how your pets were doing, and it works great with the autoplay feature.
We also liked the motion detection and sound detection of the app, though with push notifications enabled, we received several over the day. We felt slight anxiety turning the notifications off as we didn’t want to miss a thing, but get how they can become bothersome if you have a particularly noisy pet.
Do we think it’s a worthy investment?
Yes! All and all, we loved the Petcube. It’s a great addition to keep an eye on your pets, heck even your kids. We thought the sharing of video is especially good. One handy use of it could be when you’re away on vacation and your pets are being looked after by a sitter. It would certainly give us peace of mind. It’s also great if you have a shelter near you. Why not gift one to a local shelter? You can then check in from time to time. We definitely plan on doing that.
What we loved
- We loved getting notifications when the Petcube senses noise or movement.
- The night vision is great. Such a novelty to see your cat sleeping
- The viewing area and HD video is top notch
- The app and social networking aspect of the app set it apart from other cameras
- Cats love the laser
What we didn't dig as much
- We struggled to set up the Petcube at the start, and plenty of users have connection issues too.
- The Petcube needs a reset every now and again when it gets stuck
- Dogs don’t really care much for the laser, they prefer treats
I can’t wait to try it out! - Woof
The Petcube bite is scheduled to be released in early 2017 and we’re very excited! They’ve added a treat dispenser to the Petcube bite, which means you can train your dog by dispensing a treat from anywhere. We also think that a future version of the app will allow a Petcube bite and a Petcube play to be used together. Perfect for that household which has a dog and a cat like ours.