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Lifewire / Sandra Safford
Records in 1080p
Optional subscription for more video storage
Great audio quality
Laser toy for cats
Laser may not work in very bright rooms
The Petcube Play 2 has everything a cat owner could ask for; from a laser to encourage your cat to exercise while you’re away, to two-way audio to check in on pet sitters, 1080p recording quality, and automatic night vision for when it gets dark.
Making the most of time away from our pets is a big concern for pet owners. Even leaving for work has its own requirements, like checking for food, water, and hazards to your pet's health. The Play 2 is made for those pet owners who just can't look away for a whole day. Improved field of view and newly added Alexa functionality make an amazing quality pet camera even better.
The Play 2 has a subtle design that blends in with other home electronics. The reflective black plastic on the front face hides fingerprints fairly well, but the matte black plastic on the top is easily smudged. Unless someone got close enough to read the word “Petcube,” they would never know that this little camera marks you as pet-obsessed. The wide field of view and small size of the Play 2 means it can fit just about anywhere without being intrusive.
The Petcube Play 2 is so easy to set up it doesn’t even include a manual. The Petcube app prompts you through creating an account and profiles for your pets, which can include their names, pictures, and birth dates if you know them. The app guides you through the process of pairing the Play 2 to your phone and connecting it to Wi-Fi. The laser requires no setup, but it can be recalibrated if necessary. Mine worked just fine with the default calibration.
I tested the Play 2 in my house lit by the unrelenting Texas sun. The Petcube Play 2, like its predecessor, records in 1080p. In daylight, the picture quality is so good that I can make out every whisker on my cat’s face. It’s a bit grainy at times, but there isn’t a pet cam on the market that performs better. Even the wealthiest pet owners aren’t going to pay for a cam that records in 4K. Pets don’t do much at night, but with the laser, I was able to entice my pets to cooperate for testing the automatic night vision. The recording quality at night is still very good, but grainier than during the day.
In daylight, the picture quality is so good that I can make out every whisker on my cat’s face.
Ultimately, no one is picking a pet cam for the video quality alone. Cute videos are nice, but without something to encourage them, you’re not likely to find your pets doing anything more interesting than sleeping or barking at neighbors.
Petcube's Play 2 has an interactive laser for just this purpose. When I tested this, I was lucky to find my cat already sleeping on the couch. I made a bit of noise to catch her attention, then activated the laser. The laser tracks across the floor in a jumpy line, not a smooth transition, but that didn’t seem to bother her at all. The Petcube Play 2 can automatically start the laser to play with your pets so they’re entertained while you’re away. Trying various locations in my house, the only problem I ever had with the laser was when I tested it near a very large window. The Class 2 laser isn’t as strong as a handheld laser pointer, so it can’t compete with bright daylight. This is an important safety consideration to keep the laser from injuring your eyes or your pet’s eyes when being used automatically. As long as the laser was shining into an area around five feet away from a window, my pets were able to see it with no trouble.
The Petcube Play 2 can automatically start the laser to play with your pets so they’re entertained while you’re away.
The Play 2 added Alexa compatibility to its list of features, making this the first Alexa device I ever had. I immediately started trying to figure out how to use Alexa specifically for pets, and at last, I found it. I told Alexa to read an audiobook while I shut myself in the spare room to get some work done. Typically my dog, an overprotective German Shepherd, spends half the day barking at every car door shutting, neighbor dog, and stranger as they walk past the house.
With the white noise of an audiobook, all those unexpected sounds bothered him less and he napped peacefully for hours. While the audio quality was a little tinny when I used two-way audio to talk to my pets, that was an issue of latency. Music was beautifully clear on the Play 2. It’s definitely good enough to remain the sole Alexa device in my house, and the Petcube skill on the Alexa app gives you access to new commands like “play with my pet” that will make using the Play 2 even more convenient.
Rather than relying on the chance that your pet will be in the same room as the device, the Play 2 chimes when you look in on your pets with the app. If that’s not enough to get their attention, the two-way audio should be. Whether or not they recognized my voice, both animals were curious enough to come check out the Play 2 when I called them. After a few play sessions, my pets came to the device every time it chimed.
When purchasing a fairly expensive pet cam, no one wants to feel like they were forced to pay an additional monthly cost. Petcube offers subscribers a lot of extras to make the cost worth it. Subscriptions start at $3.99/month and have bonuses like notifications, video history, clips that save automatically, and video downloads. At the $8.25/month level, the subscription covers an unlimited number of cameras and extends the warranty on each device to two years. Various services like pet DNA kits, Wag! and the Ollie box offers discounts to subscribers as well. Giving free users the basic functions of their pet cam but reserving so many extras for subscribers is a great way of balancing the needs of both.
Subscriptions start at $3.99/month and have bonuses like notifications, video history, clips that save automatically, and video downloads.
Any way I look at it, the Petcube Play 2 is a serious splurge. There are more expensive pet cams on the market, but not many. If you just want a camera to be able to look in on your pets and ensure that no one has broken in, a security camera can do that for much less money. You could add an automatic laser toy and still not come close to spending $200. Pricey or not, the Play 2 is good enough to justify the price if you feel like getting a gift for your pet and for yourself.
Pricey or not, the Play 2 is good enough to justify the price if you feel like getting a gift for your pet and for yourself.
The Petcube Play 2 has a lot to offer, but there is an alternative that can save a lot of money. At around $150 on Amazon, the Pawbo Life Wi-Fi Camera has the best features for pets, such as a treat dispenser and the laser that cats love. Quality had to be cut somewhere to keep this option affordable, so clips are recorded in 720p and there is no night vision at all. Pets don’t care either way about picture quality, so the Pawbo is a good choice if you just want to give them some treats and playtime while you’re at work during the day. Pay a little more for the Petcube Play 2 if you want to share the clips or need night vision.
A great combination of features and price.
The Petcube Play 2 is at the sweet spot of features and price. The crisp, clear recording quality will allow you to enjoy your pet’s playtime even if you can’t always be there with them.