The Petcube Cam 360 Isn’t Worth the Monthly Subscription Cost

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Home security cameras are not in short supply; almost every brand in the smart tech space makes them. Pet cameras are a little harder to find. They can usually detect barking and tell the difference between your pets and people and follow them as they move—some even dispense treats. There are compelling reasons for using cameras in the home when you have a pet, whether it’s for the safety of your pet or the safety of whatever you left on your kitchen counter.  Sprinkling these video pet sitters throughout the house can get pricey, but if you’re looking for a no-frills, reliable indoor camera, the Petcube Cam 360 is fine. But if you’re looking for pet-cam features, I’d recommend going elsewhere.  

Petcube’s only product is pet cameras. There are five models, and all of them are generally more affordable than their competitors with similar feature sets. For instance, the Petcube Bites 2 Lite offers a number of features similar to the Eufy N140, but is $100 less than the Eufy model (for the record, we reviewed and liked the Eufy N140, but haven’t tested the Petcube Bites 2). We tested the least expensive model, the Petcube Cam 360, on sale for $41.99. 

The Petcube Cam 360 is small and agile

As with most other security cameras, the Petcube isn’t designed to be hidden. It’s diminutive, but requires access to power. Since it can swivel 360 degrees around, you could put it in the middle of the room, but otherwise, you’d want it in a corner, to get the most access to the space. Unlike cams meant to be wall- or ceiling-mounted, the Petcube seems best suited to a shelf, which is where it landed in my home. Not even as large as the coffee cups it sat next to, the Petcube uses two different axes in the design to achieve both up and down and right and left motion. The entire unit twirls on a base, and the lens is mounted to a second swivel that goes up and down. Though the unit is plastic, it seems well-made. 

Easy installation and an easy-to-navigate app

Physical installation was as simple as unboxing; there are no parts to put together. Locate a plug, and just set the camera where you’d like it. Once paired with the Petcube app, which went swiftly and worked on the first try, you can get a sweeping view of any room the camera is in via your phone. The Petcube app is simple and easy to navigate. It does feature company ads, which came off as cheap, but were easy to ignore.  Like most of its competitors, Petcube prompts you to decide whether you’d like sound and motion notifications, and how sensitive they should be. Petcube has two-way audio on the camera, so you can tell your dog to drop the baguette they just stole off the counter while you watch them from a dinner party across town.

Basic pet cam features require an expensive paid plan

The way pet cams all promise to work is simple in concept: They’ll notify you if they sense movement or barking; you can watch a recorded clip of this activity or tune in live, and possibly interact with your pet. Each brand uses a different method of determining if the activity is human or pet-based, and it’s reasonable to expect they’ll do so at less than 100% accuracy. The thing is, Petcube only promises this if you engage their protection plan, which is $7.95 a month. Most home security cam plans are $3-10 a month for multiple cameras with a lot more features. In absence of the plan, the Petcube just senses sound and activity without discerning where it came from, which means you’re getting a lot of notifications for activity that has nothing to do with the pet. In fact, it was Petcube’s poor implementation around this AI discernment that made me appreciate how well the feature worked on the Eufy N140. After a few days of trying to adjust the sensitivity, I turned off the features altogether. It turned out that the Eufy, two rooms away, would still pick up barking when I was out.  

More concerning, the Petcube won’t record clips without this subscription, either. While you can save snapshots you grab while controlling the camera, and even save video while you’re watching your pet on the app, the main function, I’d argue, of any pet cam is that the cam catches things while you’re not there. The dog is barking, so the pet cam catches a clip, notifies you, and you check the clip to find out why. 

Great video and responsiveness show promise

With the Petcube Cam 360, you can always bring up live video quickly and reliably. This is an important feature and most of the cameras I’ve tested, whether for people or pets, aren’t great at this feature. With other cameras it can take up to 30 seconds for live video to come online; the Eufy N140 is particularly temperamental in this way. But every time I brought up the Petcube app, it quickly connected and never once gave me issue by going offline. The video quality itself is also stunning for a camera this little and inexpensive. The night vision doesn’t disappoint, either. The excellent responsiveness continues in the joystick functionality. In the new realm of pan and tilt cameras, most take a few extra keystrokes to bring up the joystick, and the action usually has a strong delay and can be sticky, resulting in overcorrection. The Petcube brings up the joystick immediately and the control seems to work in near real-time. 

There are some other delightful features the Petcube skips on that the Eufy has, like the end of day diary that it provides of your pet, since it doesn’t record clips without the paid plan. Your camera comes with a two-week free trial, so you could see what you’re missing, but I still think the price for the plan is too high.

Petcube Cam 360 is a great pan-and-tilt mini cam, but lacking as a pet cam

If anything, the Petcube Cam 360 would convince me to try a bigger or more expensive model from their line, based on the video quality and responsiveness of the 360. If paired with some features from a more fleshed-out product, Petcube could be a great alternative to the other brands. On its own, the Petcube Cam 360 is best as a pan-and-tilt mini cam, just like the Blink pan-and-tilt mini, with better video quality and responsiveness. I don’t expect it to record clips or detect noise; it’s just a camera I use to quickly pan a room and check up on something boiling on the stove or maybe check that a plant is still alive, while I’m out of town. But as a pet cam, it didn’t impress me much.

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