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If you leave your pet home alone for long periods of time and you want to see what they're up to, the Bites is a great option. The video looks great, and the treat option adds a bit of fun.
Have you ever wished that you didn’t have to leave your beloved pet at home while you go to work? Do you wonder what your furry friend is up to while they’re home alone?
If you’re a pet owner, these thoughts have probably crossed your mind at least a few times, and Petcube aims to close that distance between us and our pets by allowing us to listen to, watch, talk to, and provide treats to our pets while we’re away with its Bites camera.
While the Bites isn’t the only camera on the market that lets you give your pet treats (there’s also the Furbo Dog), it is the one most people have heard of. In terms of price, both the Bites and Furbo list at $249, but as of this writing, the Bites is going for $179 on Amazon and Furbo is going for $199.
The big question here is whether or not the Bites is worth the price. Are you better off spending your money on a more traditional security camera to keep an eye on your dog or cat? We’re going to figure that out right now – and at the end of this review, we’re giving one away to one lucky reader!
In terms of the numbers, the Bites is actually quite impressive. Here’s a quick look at some of the basics of what this camera and treat feeder can do:
- 1080p camera with 138-degree viewing angle
- 3x zoom support
- Night vision support
- Motion/sound detection and alerts
- Two-way audio
- Holds up to 2-pounds of treats (up to 100 depending on size)
- Amazon Dash support for automatic treat reordering
- Flings treats up to 6-feet
Initial Impressions and Setup
Overall, the Bites makes a positive first impression. It’s a little bigger than I expected it to be, but in retrospect, it needs to be fairly large in order to hold all of the treats. Otherwise you’d need to restock them constantly, and that would be downright annoying.
For our test unit, we received the matte black camera base, but it’s also available in white, rose gold, and silver. The treat bin on the top of the camera is black on all four models. They all cost the same, so it’s just a matter of what you think will match best in your home. Personally, I like the look of the black model and I’m quite happy with the style it offers.
To get the camera all up and running, first you’ll need to download the Petcube app (iOS, Android). You’ll use the app to control the camera, fling treats, monitor your pet, and so on. There’s no controller or anything in the box, so the app is absolutely critical.
You’ll need to sign up for a Petcube account to use the app, and you’ll get a free trial to the premium version of the cloud-based service (we’ll dig into the premium plans in a bit). Signing up is quick and painless, especially if you sign in with Facebook. You can add a little picture of your pet if you like, and then you’ll be ready to jump in and start keeping an eye on your fur-baby!
You’ll also need to load the treats into the bin if you’re going to take advantage of that functionality. Petcube includes a small bag of treats in the box to get you started. Once those are gone, you can use any hard, dry treat that’s an inch or smaller.
As far as getting everything up and running goes, the Petcube Bites is incredibly easy. Unlike a Foscam or other more basic camera, there’s no complicated IP addresses to enter or anything like that. You download an app, connect the camera to Wi-Fi, and you get on your way. Whether you’re tech-savvy or not, you’ll be able to get started with the Bites.
Petcube Care is an important part of what makes Petcube worth getting. This is the service that alerts you when your pet makes noise or moves. It’ll automatically record video when one of these alerts happen, or when you perform an interaction with your pet.
I have a dog with separation anxiety, so the app tends to be pretty busy with notifications for him barking or whining while he’s in his crate. Because I live in a condo, this is useful to know. When the alert pops up I can fling a treat at him or try to calm him down through the microphone.
That’s where the premium plans come in. Videos are automatically recorded so you can go back and watch what happened. However, the free plan is a bit limited in this regard. It’s difficult to ask buyers to spend at least $150 on a camera only to then ask them to sign up for a month subscription in order to take advantage of all the features.
Petcube Care comes in three different levels, each offering different features. The main thing you’re paying for is the length of time your videos are stored. With the free plan, you only get the last four hours of video. This is good enough for users who are willing to check multiple times throughout the day.
If you want to be able to keep videos longer so you can go back and watch any alerts, you’re going to need one of the premium plans. The cheapest is $4.99 a month and comes with three days of video history. The $9.99 a month plan comes with 10 days of history, and the $24.99 plan has 30 days of videos. The more expensive plans also include some other perks such as two months of DOGTV, Q&A Vet Tech by Vetted, two months of RelaxMyDog, and others.
If you’re on the free plan, you’re also limited to 10 second clips, compared to 30 second clips on premium. You can’t download videos either with the free plan (though you can use your device’s screen record option as a workaround).
Fortunately, you’ll get a free trial of the premium plan, so you can see if you actually need the extra features. I found that the free plan was sufficient for me. I never ran into a situation where I needed to go back and view older videos.
Living With The Camera
As mentioned before, getting everything up and running is easy. The same holds true for actually using the camera itself.
The camera comes with a rubberized bottom so it’ll grip if you want to set it down. It also comes with an area on the back that’ll let you mount it to a wall.
Once you have it all ready to go, you just need to launch the app and click the play button to view a live feed of your camera.
Below the live feed button is the Care switch. This allows you to decide whether you want to record and receive notifications when there’s movement happening. When you come home from work, you probably don’t want the camera to record every time you walk by it or make a noise, and turning this off makes it so that won’t happen.
Below the main options is a list of recordings. The plan you’re on will determine how many videos are displayed here and how long the videos are. You can watch any of your videos back and even share them on social media.
Playing with @websterrjh's Petcube. Get the Petcube App to play with real pets right from your phone! ??? https://petcube.com/mobile-app/
Posted by Dave LeClair on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Speaking of social media, you can actually use your Petcube to go live on Facebook. If you really want to show off your pet and the antics they’re getting up to, this is a cool feature to have.
For the treat portion of the Petcube, you simply tap the little bone icon on the bottom of the screen then drag it based on how far you want to fling. Just a little will cause the treat to dribble out, and going far will get you to the aforementioned six foot range.
I should note that there was one occasion where the treat feeder became jammed, despite using the treats that came in the box. I had to shake it out when I got home. If you’re relying on the treats to keep your dog calm, this could be a pretty big issue. It was easy enough to fix, but still something to keep in mind.
Other Features Of The App
Outside of keeping track of your own pet and flinging treats at them, the app has some other fun features. If you tap Play on the bottom of the screen, you can actually get access to public Petcube cameras. For anyone looking to see some other cute pets living their lives, you’ll love this feature.
If you have friends that use Petcube, you can tap the Feed button to see their videos.
These aren’t going to convince you to buy the Petcube, but they are a bit of added fun.
Should You Buy The Petcube Bites?
Some of the usefulness of the Petcube Bites will depend on your lifestyle. If you crate your dog when you’re not home, landing treats in the right spot can be tricky. If your dog roams free, there’s no guarantee they’ll settle down in the room in which the camera resides.
But if your dog is contained within one room, or you have a very open space, the Bites is definitely worthwhile. Even if you don’t, the camera is still useful for hearing whether your dog is being quiet. If your pet is obedient, you can use the voice feature to call them over the camera and fling treats to them.
Additionally, the device does make a noise when it’s preparing treats, and many pets will learn that the sound means yummy treats and they’ll come running.
In the end, I have to say that the Petcube Bites is a really solid device. It does everything it promises and it really does allow you to connect with your pet when you’re not home. It’s definitely a worthwhile purchase, especially at its current price of $150. At the full list price of $250, it’s a bit of a harder sell, though.