With the boom in connected devices for the home, it only makes sense that one of the niches being explored are gadgets that can keep us connected to our pet who stay at home while we’re away at work. Petcube was one the first on the scene, and their new Petcube Play shows all the signs of being a mature, well-designed, and well-built device.
First of all, the Petcube Play is a wifi camera that lets you check in on your pets via app while you’re out. It delivers 1080p video at a decent frame rate, and the lens provides a nice wide 138-degree view, allowing you to see most of whatever room your pets hang out in. It gives good visibility in low light conditions, and even has night vision if needed. There’s a microphone and speaker so you can call out and communicate with your pets from the app as well.
The other nifty feature is a laser, built into the little 3x3x3 cube that you can control from the app as well. This is perfect, especially for cats, giving you the ability to play with them remotely, shining the laser on the floor and moving it around with the swipe of a finger. Doing this while you’re able to speak to them as well provides real interaction.
Setup is straightforward, and well-guided by the device and the printed instructions (something that’s not always true for connected gadgets). I was able to get it up and running within a couple minutes. The app is very clear and simple. It even allows you to snap pictures and video via the cube, so you’ll never miss your pet’s antics.
There are caveats, however. First is, before buying this or any similar device, you want to make sure your pets will react to it. Many pets simply will not react to voices over speakers (this has been true of every dog I’ve ever owned), so if you think you’ll need to call your pet to come to the device when you’re using it, you might want to test this out beforehand. Also, not all pets will react to lasers. However, most cats, and many dogs will; just make sure you know before you buy.
And the Petcube suffers from the limitations all such connected video cameras do: they can only transfer information as quickly as the internet connections between the two ends of the line will allow. Until our ISPs eradicate latency and lag for good (it’s a dream!), we just have to acknowledge and understand that there will be delays between what happens for real and what you see and hear. When you call to your pet through the app, you’ll hear your voice returned a few moments later. When you play with the laser by tapping and dragging on the screen, the actual actions take fractions of a second to catch up. You can get used to it, but it still adds just a little bit of distance from what’s going on.
But for many of us, the ability to interact with our furry little loved ones while we’re off at work far surpasses and little niggles. If you’re such a pet lover, then Petcube could be for you.
[Note: Petcube sent us a unit for review. Opinions are our own. And we actually ended up buying one as a holiday gift for someone.]