Petcube Play Review: Have Fun With Your Pet, Remotely

by Reads (757)
  • Pros

    • Pets loved the laser pointer
    • Clear video
    • Recent pet interactions automatically saved
  • Cons

    • A bit pricey
    • No manual Night Mode
    • No Windows/Mac app

Quick Take

A bit pricey, but the laser pointer makes this the best petcam we've ever used.

Cameras to watch your dog or cat when you can’t be with them are old news, but the Petcube Play adds a new wrinkle: it sports a laser pointer so you can also interact with your furry friend.

Petcube Play Build & Design

Petcube Play Review

Petcube Play in Silver Casing

It’s not hard to puzzle out where Petcube‘s name comes from: it’s a 3 by 3 by 3 inch cube. The front of the Play is black, and the rest can be either silver, black, or rose gold. It’s relatively attractive in a “space age” sort of way, which is important because this product needs to be in clear view at all times: it can’t see your pet if you try to hide it behind something.

The bottom of the casing is covered in rubber so it won’t easily slide around. And the developers realized that some people will want to be able to point the camera downward, so there’s a standard tripod mount on the bottom, too. We tested this with a camera tripod without any problems.

Setting up the Petcube Play the first time is a snap. Just plug in the hardware, launch the Petcube application on your phone or tablet, and follow the on-screen prompts.

Petcube Play Performance

Petcube Play Review

Petcube App iPhone Homescreen

Interacting with the Play hardware requires the Petcube app. This is only for iOS and Android, as there’s no Windows version. Also, the iOS version isn’t optimized for the iPad; it’s quite usable on an Apple tablet, but there’s some wasted screen space.

The homescreen for this software includes a large button to open the viewing window. This button also does double duty to indicate whether the Play is online or off. Next to this is a button to open the Petcube Care settings. This is where the you can configure the Petcube Play to notify you whenever there’s movement in front of the camera, or a loud noise.

Whenever motion or noise is detected, the Petcube Care online service will automatically record a video, whether you tune in to watch immediately or not. Included in the price of this accessory is video history from the last four hours. A $10 monthly subscription will save videos from the last 10 hours, or a $30 subscription will save the entire month.

Also on the homescreen is a button that activates sharing, so family, friends, or even the public can see and interact with your pet, if you wish. Below this are links to other Petcubes that have already been shared.

Video with Two-Way Audio

The viewing window is the real heart of the Petcube Play, allowing you to see your cat or dog as well as control the laser pointer.

Petcube Play Review

Petcube App Video on iPhone

Video quality is great, definitely better than with the inexpensive security cameras we’ve used as petcams in the past. The best quality requires a fairly speedy connection, but 4G LTE is fast enough. During our testing, we spent some time in an area with poor cellular connectivity. The image quality was reduced, but we could still see our test cats, just not very clearly.

In low-light conditions, the Petcube Play will switch to Infrared “night mode”, which works very well. It would be nice if the user were given the option to manually switch to night mode, as the device would sometimes stay in regular mode in quite dim lighting. It’s easy to take a picture of your pet with the software, or record a video, that are saved to your phone or tablet. Or the video can be shared on Facebook Live.

Two-way audio is a nice touch, allowing the user to talk to their pet. There is a second or so of lag, both coming and going, so if the user says “Sit, Ubu, Sit!” there will be a pause before the command is heard coming over the remote device.

Our test cats seemed bemused by us talking to them, examining the Petcube Play to see if they could find us. This feature can be easily deactivated/reactivated.

Our favorite use for this feature was to be able to talk to our pet sitter. We were automatically notified when she started moving around in front of the camera, so we turned on the audio to say Hi.

Laser Pointer

The inclusion of a laser pointer is what sets the Petcube Play apart from simple security cameras. With it, we were able to interact with our test cats while on vacation in another state. The laser is bright enough that our test cats saw it immediately, and being cats they attacked it. This is the same reaction they have to a handheld laser pointer.

Petcube Play Review

Petcube Laser Pointer in Night Mode on iPad

However, controlling the Play’s laser isn’t as fluid as a handheld one. The laser dot jumps from point to point in the room, rather than moving smoothly. There’s a second or so of lag in movement as well. We found it slightly frustrating that we couldn’t quite get the laser to move exactly the way we wanted it to, but our test cats couldn’t care less. They happily chased the dot, no matter what it did.

Petcube Play Final Thoughts

This is undoubtedly the best petcam we’ve ever used. The video is crystal clear and the software is simple to use, but it’s the built-in laser toy that really makes the Petcube Play a great accessory for pet owners who travel a lot, or just want to check in on Fido and Fluffy while at work.

One of the few drawbacks of this product is the cost: $199. A simple security camera can also be used as a pet monitor, and they cost $100 or less. Adding premium features like two-way audio pushes that up to $150 or so, however. And none of these are going to have the Petcube Play’s best feature: the laser pointer.

Pros:

  • Pets loved the laser pointer
  • Clear video
  • Recent pet interactions automatically saved

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • No manual Night Mode
  • No Windows/Mac app



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