Petcube Camera Review: A Home Security Camera for Pets

Petcube CameraThe Petcube is a novel idea.  Take a home security camera and add in some features for pets, then market it to pet owners.  The home security camera is a tough one to crack into.  The pet camera market is fairly untapped.  In comes Petcube to fill that niche.

We were offered a test drive of the Petcube by the manufacturer and decided to take it for a spin.

(Disclosure:  We were provided a loaner product in return for our honest review which follows.  The loaner product was returned to the manufacturer after evaluation and publishing of this review.)

So let’s take a look at the Petcube Interactive Wi-Fi Pet Camera.

Software

The Petcube is accessed using a smartphone app for iOS or Android.  There is no web access.

The IOS and Android apps are half for the camera and half for the social aspect.  Petcube accentuates the ability to interact with other Petcube cameras.  I have never seen any camera app do that.  Clearly, this isn’t a home security camera, it’s a pet monitor.  When you get into the app, your camera will be located at the top.  Scroll down to add shortcuts to your favorite cameras, show a list of cameras recently viewed and to follow your friends cameras.

There is lag of about 5 – 10 seconds when starting the video.  Once it’s started, the video is near real time since there is no secondary cloud recording to create any delays.

The Petcube offers sound and motion alerts.   A motion alert sets off a loud snoring sound.  Scared the heck out of me.  Especially since I was alone on the house.  You can’t go back to see what set it off.  It’s an alert to let you know something moved.  There aren’t any means to adjust the motion sensitivity nor set any motion zones to avoid false alerts.  I didn’t try sound as they don’t seem to work properly on any home security camera.

There is no email function for alerts.  It’s an alert on the device where the Petcube app is installed.

I mentioned the social part of the app so let’s discuss what’s unique about that.  You can setup all sorts of sharing options.  For example, my mother loved dogs.  You can setup a family group and grant them access to your Petcube.  I can see my mom being entertained by this if the dog is in the room that the Petcube is in.  If the dog isn’t there, you can use the two-way microphone to call it.  I think this would entertain my mom more than the dog.

The app also allows you to connect with friends through Facebook and follow their Petcubes.

Connectivity

The Petcube camera connects to your wireless router at 2.4GHz using 802.11 n.  Connectivity was a bit sketchy from 40 feet from the router.  It dropped several times during my two days of use.

Hardware

The Petcube is pictured along this article.  It’s a large camera measuring 4 x 4 x 4 inches (hence the cube in its name).  The exterior is made of aluminum and the front is a very shiny black finish.

The video camera records at 720p.  The 138 degree wide angle lens is wide enough for seeing most of a room from the corner.  There is no night vision so you will need to leave some lights on in the room you wish to use the camera within.  You could also invest in a WeMo Light Switch to turn the lights on and off from anywhere with internet connectivity.

There’s an integrated microphone and speaker for two-way communications.  I have to admit, this was one of the better implementations of a microphone and speaker I have experienced.  Samsung and Nest could learn some valuable lessons from the Petcube in this department.  Activate the microphone from the live view on your phone and have a two way conversation with a human or pet.

The camera is located about halfway up the front of the Petcube. Therefore, the camera must be placed at the very edge of the table or shelf to get a full video.  Placing the Petcube near the back of a shelf gives you a nice video of the shelf with the top half being the room.

There is no on-board nor cloud storage with the Petcube.  What you see is what you get.  You cannot go back in time to view past events.

Mounts

There are no mounts that come with the Petcube.  There is a standard 1/4″ – 20 threaded screw hole on the bottom.  This means that a variety of mounts and tripods will fit the Petcube.  You need to ensure though the mount can handle the weight of the camera as it’s a heavy camera.

Fun and Different

Maybe the best feature about this camera isn’t the camera at all.  It’s a remote controlled laser pointer that’s integrated into it.  Drive your cats crazy without even being there.  That’s right.  Amaze your friends at work by messing with your cat during lunch time.  It’s fun to use the laser pointer.  Activate through the live view on the app and slide your finger across the screen.  The alser pointer goes where your finger does.  This might be the best part about the Petcube.

Summary

I must admit the Petcube Interactive Wi-Fi Pet Camera is a fun device to use.  It goes beyond the routine monitoring aspect of a home security camera.  The fact that it also serves the purpose of entertaining your pet is a bonus.  You might forget that you purchased it to watch your pet versus mess with him remotely using the laser toy.

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1280x720138 DegreesNoNoNoYes/NoYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Petcube

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).