Petcube Play: An in-home camera for watching your pets do stuff

Laser-pointer, microphone let you play with pets while you're away

PetCubePlay camera cat
PetCube
At a Glance
  • Petcube Play | 1080p Video, Night Vision, 2-way Audio, and Built-in Laser Toy, Matte Silver

Most people enjoy pets. Some enjoy them enough where they want to do things with them when they’re away from their house. That’s the idea behind the Petcube Play, an in-home camera that connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can watch your pets while you’re at work or not at home. In addition to the live camera feed, it includes a two-way audio speaker for speaking to your pet (“Max! Get off the couch!”) and a red laser-pointer that you can move around by pointing to locations on your smartphone’s display and hope that the cat or dog starts to chase it – hilarity ensues.

The Petcube itself is a cube – it’s about the size of a slightly larger Rubik’s Cube puzzle game. It doesn’t have a battery, so the first thing you need to figure out when placing the Petcube Play is to make sure it’s close enough to a power adapter. The instructions warn about making sure your pet doesn’t chew the power cable. It also comes with a small tripod attachment that you can screw into the bottom of the Petcube if you’re looking to place it higher than a table or desk. You have to pick a location that gives you a good view of the room, otherwise you’d be looking at a very limited field of view.

Petcube Play PetCube

The Petcube Play sits on a table or desk, waiting for pets to come into the room.

Once you’ve chosen the location and downloaded the Petcube app, you connect the app via phone/tablet to the camera (via Bluetooth), then tell the device the name/password of your Wi-Fi network. After that, the Petcube is connected and ready to send video and audio to your phone, and the fun can begin!

With the app running, you can turn on/off the audio, as well as the laser pointer. Moving your finger on the phone’s display moves the laser pointer, but in my tests it wasn’t 100% accurate. It wasn’t until I noticed a small white pixel on the display that I knew sort of where the laser was pointing to in the room. It also was shooting the laser a lot farther down the room than I had wanted to, which means any action you get from the pet playing with the laser would be ruined in case you wanted to film this on video. You’ll probably need to adjust the Petcube to point downward towards the floor.

My biggest problem is that my two cats don’t want anything to do with laser pointers, or even the sound of my voice. They’re 15 years old at this point, the only time I hear from them or see them is when their food dishes are empty. In reality, my 7-year-old daughter had more fun chasing the laser pointer around, pretending to be a cat, than my real cats.

There’s no motion sensor on the Petcube Play, so if you’re at work hoping to entertain your pets (or yourself), you have to try and coax them into the room with the audio and/or laser pointer and then hope for the best (again, having dogs and friendlier cats might make this more useful). A motion sensor with the ability to alert your phone when it could detect that a pet was in the room would be more helpful. Update: The Petcube Play does have a motion sensor and alerting function - it's in the Settings area of the app. With motion-detection and alerting available, when your pets wander in the room, you have a much better chance of playing with them if they don't usually respond to your voice. In the end, the most use I got out of the device was using it as an intercom system to tell my kids to come to the other room for dinner or announce when it was bedtime.

The app lets you take videos and photos of cute pet moments if you happen to catch them at the right time doing cute pet things, and you can share those through a social feed if you are into that kind of sharing.

Bottom line: Overall this is a cute device that might entertain you and your pets for a while, but if you have uninterested animals (such as old cats), the lack of other useful features only make this appealing to a small audience. it might be harder to enjoy this, or you try and find other uses for it (like a security camera or device to have fun with your kids).

Grade: 3 stars (out of five). Updated grade: 3.5 stars (out of five)

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At a Glance
  • Petcube Play | 1080p Video, Night Vision, 2-way Audio, and Built-in Laser Toy, Matte Silver

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