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Lifewire / Emily Isaacs
Easy to set up
Great video quality
Built-in games with automatic and manual controls
Behavior-based mobile notifications
Subscription model limits functionality
Only one user can view the live stream at a time
Fixed camera angle
The Petcube Play is a splurge, but with its well-developed 1080p camera, night vision mode, and manual and automatic laser games, it’s a great value for the price.
With the Petcube Play pet camera, pet owners no longer have cause to wonder about what their beloved furry friends are up to while away. It boasts crisp 1080p video, has a night vision mode, and comes loaded with games. It’s a good way to monitor your pet while away from home while also keeping them from being bored.
The Petcube Play arrives in a box which includes three small stickers, a manual reset tool, start guide, and a power cord. The Petcube Play itself is tiny, its dimensions are an impressive 3 by 3 by 3 inches (HWD) unboxed and it weighs in at 1.1 pounds. It comes in three different color palettes: carbon black, rose gold, and matte silver. With its chic glass and metal design that fits into your hand, the Petcube Play blends comfortably into any home without standing out.
The night vision mode also works great in conjunction with the laser games, since the red laser dot really stands out in the dark.
The biggest question you have to ask yourself is, which room do your pets spend most of their time? That’s the best place to put the pet camera to capture moments while you’re away. Petcube recommends that the Petcube Play be placed at least three feet above the ground. Like many pet cameras, the camera angle on the Petcube Play is fixed, so we weren’t able to adjust it during use.
This isn’t a big deal, however, because the Petcube’s 138-degree wide-angle camera lens was able to capture a clear view of the room and what our pets were up to at any given point. If this is a concern, there is an attachment available through the Petcube store for the Petcube Play Mount (MSRP $19.99), which screws into the mounting socket on the bottom of the Petcube Play and allows the user to tilt it as-needed, although we didn’t find this to be necessary.
Setup was simple. Following the instructions in the start guide, we connected our Petcube to its provided power cord and downloaded the corresponding Petcube app on our Samsung Galaxy S8 through the Google Play Store (iOS devices are also supported).
Once the Petcube’s light began blinking green, it was ready to connect. From here, we followed the in-app instructions to connect the Petcube Play to Wi-Fi and finalize the setup. It’s worth noting that Bluetooth does need to be enabled for mobile devices to locate the Petcube. Once this process is complete, the Petcube Play will take 5-15 minutes to connect to the cloud to download and install the latest firmware updates prior to use. This ensures users have the best experience right out of the box. Overall, we found this process to be quick and easy, and we had no trouble setting up the Petcube Play or connecting it to the Petcube app.
Petcube’s app features a variety of highlights, from two-way talk, manual and automatically controlled laser games, to behavior-based mobile notifications. As mentioned, the Petcube app can be found in either the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store so both Android and Apple users have support. Games are an important feature of the Petcube Play, so important that the word “play” is even highlighted in the device’s name. Not all pet cameras include the ability to play with pets, which is one way that the Petcube truly stands apart from its competitors.
We found the controls to be smooth and easy to navigate. You simply need to tap your mobile device’s screen and the laser will shift to where the tap occurred in the Petcube’s field of view. Users can also set the laser games to play automatically if significant movement is detected, which is a fun way to entertain pets during the day. If playing with pets while away from home is a necessity, pet owners should seriously consider investing in the Petcube Play.
Pet owners looking to connect with or monitor pets while away from home won’t be disappointed with the Petcube Play’s well-developed features.
Another feature we loved was the two-way talk. The sound quality was crisp, clear, and responsive. From soft meows to loud barks, if a pet is near the Petcube Play it captures their voices well. The two-way microphone also enabled us to talk our pet’s in real-time—or respond to pets if we caught them acting naughty, thanks to the app’s handy mobile notifications.
Petcube’s mobile notifications are another important highlight of the device. Pet owners looking to monitor their pet’s activity while away from home have the option to put the device into sleep or awake mode, which allows the Petcube Play to send notifications to the users mobile device based on activity the camera picks up on. These notifications can be triggered based on bark, meow, pet, or person activities. While these were useful, allowing us to keep up with the secret lives of our pets during the day, we couldn’t help but feel that the subscription model undercut the effectiveness of the app itself.
Free subscribers only receive the ability to view 10-second videos from within the past four hours, whereas paid subscribers receive 30-second videos and up to 10-days of video history cloud service which allows a much larger window for saving or sharing videos. Users have to decide if they prefer the free functionality or if they’d rather splurge $2.99-$9.99 a month, or $29-$99 a year, for the subscription service.
The camera quality is great, featuring a 1080p night vision camera. It takes clean, low-blur video of the space in which it’s set up. In low-light or no-light conditions, users are treated with a sharp view of the room, which is great for monitoring pets overnight. The night vision mode also works great in conjunction with the laser games, since the red laser dot really stands out in the dark. This is good if a pet has difficulty tracking the laser’s movement in daylight. One drawback, however, is that the Petcube Play can only stream to one connected device at a time, so if you’re eager to watch pets in real time alongside friends and family then the Petcube Play may not be the best fit.
Pet cameras tend to range from $100-$400. With an MSRP of $199 and a focus on games and monitoring, the Petcube Play is a very targeted device. It’s not a basic model and it’s not at the high end of the spectrum, either, but it includes key features such as night vision, two-way talk, laser games, and mobile notifications based on pet activity. It’s also taken the time to develop these features very well. As with any pet camera, it’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s a great price for the targeted features it uses.
The Petcube Play’s main competition is the Pawbo Life Pet Camera. The prices between the two are close, but there are key differences between the products pet owners should consider.
The Pawbo Life, in contrast to the Petcube Play, is a bit of an everyman. Its main leg up on the Petcube is the remote treat feature, which allows users to fill a rotating chamber with small treats that they can later dispense through the app to hungry pets. While the Petcube lacks any remote treat feature, Petcube Play supports night vision and behavior-based mobile notifications, which are key features the Pawbo Life is missing. If monitoring or keeping up with your pet’s day is important, the Petcube is the clear winner as you never have to miss a moment due to its mobile notifications.
A versatile, functional pet camera with great features.
Pet owners looking to connect with or monitor pets while away from home won’t be disappointed with the Petcube Play’s well-developed features. The main drawback is the subscription-based model which requires you to subscribe if you want to retain your video history beyond the 4-hour window the free subscription permits. Overall, the Petcube Play is a fun, versatile way to stay in touch with pets while on the go, and its features set it apart from competing devices without breaking the bank.