There are a million reasons one might want to purchase a pet camera, and a single reason one might not: the cost. Dedicated, decent-quality pet cameras are more often than not pretty expensive. That makes Petcube’s latest entry uniquely enticing. The company’s new “Cam,” launched commercially on Tuesday, is a compact unit with 1080p full HD resolution, night vision, sound and motion detection, two-way audio, and 8x zoom... for $39.99.
Price alone would make it a worthy option, but after playing with it for the last few weeks we can also say it’s just a great, no-frills little system that does exactly what you want it to.
Simplicity at its best — Apart from Wyze, whose barebones security cameras have essentially been the only budget-friendly option until now, top names including Petcube, Furbo, and Pawbo go above and beyond with features — like dispensing treats or shining laser pointers to entertain your cat. All that comes at a premium; these pet-cams will run you $150-250. It only gets more expensive as you tack on subscription prices and additional devices. For someone on the fence, that’s no small commitment.
Many people (myself included) have resigned to buying baby monitors or indoor home security systems, which accomplish the same tasks often at a fraction of the price. So I pitted Cam against a Blink XT2, which I currently use to keep an eye on my ferrets while I’m out and about.
Cam is extremely straightforward. It pairs with an app as expected so you can spy on your pets, speak to them from afar if you want to, and be alerted to anything unusual (or just any movement at all, because you have separation anxiety). That’s all pretty standard. What I loved, though, was that all it takes to launch the live feed is turning the phone to landscape mode after launching the app.
This was a quick and painless process — an easy experience I have not encountered with other under-$100 systems. Both Blink and the Project Nursery baby monitor that preceded it in the task of pet-monitoring were horrifically finicky, taking forever to load up the feed and often getting stuck on a single frame. Save for a few hiccups, I was able to smoothly connect to the camera and start watching within seconds almost every time, be it from within the same house, a different town, or from out of state. That is the whole point, but it’s often where these systems get tripped up.
The camera itself is compact and cute. At roughly three inches tall, it will fit neatly on any countertop without drawing much attention to itself, or can be easily mounted on a flat surface. Again, simplicity here works in Petcube’s favor. Like the company’s other models, Play and Bite, it’s minimal in design, but Cam is nestled in a small plastic stand that allows you to point its gaze up or down (no side-to-side motion here, unfortunately) for better views.
Video quality is pretty sharp, even at night — comparable to its more expensive competitors — and the microphone is clear enough to deliver a terse warning to the ferret you’ve just caught trying to flip a litter box. Since there's next to no delay in the stream, you'll be able to watch her hear you and then blatantly ignore the command, all in real-time. Or, you know, something to that effect...
Let’s talk specs — As already noted, Cam is no-nonsense. It offers all the basics you’d need for checking in on your pets while you’re not home and not much else. And that’s fine. It packs:
- 1080p full HD
- 110-degree wide-angle lens
- 1/2.7″ CMOS sensor
- 8x digital zoom
- A single IR light for night vision, up to 30 feet
- Two-way audio with a noise-canceling microphone
- Sound and motion detection
If all you’re looking for is a decent camera that can reliably connect to your phone while you’re not home, that’s really all you need.
A few perks, too — That said, the standout extra feature it does come with is potentially a significant one: vet chat. The Petcam app comes with the ability to message a veterinary care professional thanks to a partnership with Fuzzy Pet Health. It’s a good way to get some guidance in a pinch, especially during pandemic times. Anyone who buys the camera will get one free consultation, anything beyond that requires a subscription.
As with most things, the free offering won’t give you much in the way of storage and playback (or anything, after the free trial). If you’re more concerned about real-time check-ins than watching incidents later, a subscription might not be necessary. Petcube’s subscriptions start at a reasonable $3.99 per month, though, and will unlock useful add-ons like Google Cloud storage, automatic 30-second recordings for noise and motion alerts, and the ability to distinguish between barks, meows, and human voices. Not too bad.
If all that suits you, Petcube Cam is now selling for $39.99 exclusively on Amazon.