Why Furbo vs Petcube, Why Not A Security Camera?
I first started to realize the need to watch my two shih tzus, well one of them in particular, while I was away from home for some hours when my wife had to stay in a hospital overnight and I accompanied her. As some of my regular readers may know, Bruno has multiple health issues, including seizures. I felt the need to keep an eye on him as he was only going to have Charlie for company while we were gone. Furbo vs Petcube was not a comparison I was aware of at the time, so I opted for a generic indoor security camera.
Actually, I had to install two cameras. Although my chosen model had 360º of swivel, the actual lens angle was too narrow to capture all of my dogs’ domains in one field of view. Although the connectivity was good, the picture quality I can only describe as adequate and the two-way audio was poor. I wanted to interact with my boys but it proved impossible. On top of that, I received so many motion detection alerts on my iPhone that I switched alerts off. I thought that there had to be something better on the market.
That’s when I started researching cameras specifically designed to watch over pets. I found that the best ones had high quality HD video and high quality two-way audio enabling the viewer to see their pets in fine detail and also to have the ability to interact with their pets remotely.
I was particularly drawn in by the cameras that also featured treat dispensers. This feature, along with the clear two-way audio has the ability not only to entertain your dog while you are away but can also help with separation anxiety issues. Some even feature a clicker that activates just before dispensing a treat. This can help with any positive reinforcement training, particularly with controlling barking issues.
It didn’t take much research to discover that the two leading treat-dispensing pet cameras are the Furbo and the Petcube Bites 2. Both have individual features that may suit one dog parent and not another, so to help you decide which one is best for you, here is a comprehensive breakdown and comparison of what these two cameras have to offer.
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Not ready to make that decision yet? Then read on ……
How The Two Treat-Dispensing Cameras Compare
As the camera is, I suspect, usually the main reason for buying such a product, let’s start with image quality.
Both of these devices boast 1080p full HD and, as long as your viewing device can support this, gives crystal clear images as if you were actually there with your pet.
Where full HD really pays off is when utilizing the digital zoom. Anything less than full HD and the image tends to become blurry and pixelated. Both the Furbo and Bites 2 feature a 4x digital zoom that retains a reasonably sharp image of the subject.
Both cameras capture their images through a 160º wide-angle lens which allows you to view a large portion of an average-sized room in the field of view.
If you purchase either of these contraptions you won’t have to leave a light on to view your pet when you go out in the evening as both have an LED night vision facility.
Video And Image Capture
Each device connects to your WiFi to live stream video footage to your mobile device via a dedicated app. If your household has the greater capacity 5GHz WiFi, then the Bites 2 has the edge. The Furbo has only 2.4GHz WiFi while the Bites 2 has the option of 2.4GHz or 5GHz for a more solid, jump free live stream experience.
If you want to save any of the video streaming, you can use your mobile device’s screen recording and screen capture facilities. However, if you want to take advantage of the various recording features offered by the Furbo app or Petcube app, you will need to purchase one of their subscription services.
Two-way audio is present with either device, allowing you to hear and speak remotely to your pet or anyone that is within the range of the unit. When it comes to the quality of the audio, again the Bites 2 is the clear winner.
The Furbo audio quality is decent enough but it only has one microphone and one speaker. This compares to the four microphones and speaker bar of the Bites 2 which gives a much improved depth of sound for both pet and viewer.
Alexa, Should I Buy Bites 2 Or Furbo?
The reason a mere treat-dispensing camera has such an impressive array of audio components is because the Bites 2 also doubles up as a stand-alone Alexa unit.
But buyer, beware! The Bites 2 Alexa system does not have ESP (Echo Spatial Perception} installed. If you have multiple Alexa devices spaced around your household, this is the technology that deduces which speaker you are closest to. It allows only the closest device to answer you rather than all of them.
Therefore, if you already have an Alexa device or devices installed in your household, your better choice of treat-dispensing camera may be the Furbo. The Furbo can be controlled by your existing Alexa system. If you don’t have Alexa already, then the Bites 2 may be the better choice. If you don’t want Alexa at all, the Bites 2 has a privacy setting on the app that allows you to deactivate its Alexa capabilities.
When activated, Furbo will send an alert to your smartphone when your dog barks. The sensitivity level for this alert can be adjusted. Furbo does not send motion alerts to users of its free service.
Petcube’s free service offers a little more with notifications available for sound and motion.
Both devices have smart alerts available with their respective subscription services. Read on to discover more about these subscription services below.
The treat-dispensing capacity of the Furbo is around 8-ounces (227g) of dry kibble. Furbo recommends using round-shaped treats around 0.4-inch to 0.5-inch (1cm to 1.25cm) in diameter. This relates to approximately 100 pieces.
The treats are dispensed several at a time, usually five or more. The distance the treats travel cannot be controlled. Unless the Furbo is paired with an Alexa device, the intervals at which the treats are tossed out cannot be scheduled.
Just before a handful of treats are going to come out, the unit emits a loud click-click noise. This could be distressing for a puppy that is spooked by loud noises. On the other hand, if you are using a clicker to train your dog, the noise can be utilized for positive reinforcement training.
The treat compartment cannot be removed from the Furbo, making it difficult to get it thoroughly clean. The makers recommend using a damp cloth for cleaning.
A much larger treat storage facility is afforded by the Bites 2. 1½-pounds (680g) worth of treats can be accommodated in its spacious compartment. The manufacturers advise rounded treats and these can be up to 1” (2.5cm) in diameter.
There are three different inserts that can be put into the treat-dispenser compartment. The one to choose depends upon the size of the treat and how many you want to come out each time the device fires. Typically, the machine will launch between one and three treats at a time.
You have some control over the distance the treats are fired with three settings for short, medium or long range. You can distribute the treats via Alexa, the app, or you can set up an automatic dispensing schedule. The latter you can set up exactly how you would like to. If you want you may vary the interval between each firing and you can also vary the distance each time, which can help keep your dog guessing when the next treat is coming and where it is going to land.
The Bites 2 treat-dispenser tray can be completely removed from the unit for cleaning, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
Quality Of Build
Designed specifically for watching over dogs, the Furbo is built with a hard, white plastic body, rather like a kettle, and has a bamboo lid. It’s about as robust as a plastic kettle also.
The unit is designed to stand upright on a shelf or table top. To help prevent it from being knocked over and possibly damaged by an over enthusiastic dog there are industrial strength 3M double-sided sticky pads underneath the base. Be careful with these, though, as they may permanently mark the surface it is mounted on.
A more sturdy, slightly heavier, hard black plastic and aluminum construction is apparent with the Bites 2. This camera has been designed with both dogs and cats in mind.
It has a high-friction rubber pad on the base for grip when positioned on a shelf, floor or table. To save space, the Bites 2 can also be wall mounted using the kit supplied.
Expansion – What If You Need Multiple Cameras?
If you need more than one camera to watch over your dog while you are out, then your best option would be the Bites 2. With a Petcare Premium subscription you can operate an unlimited number of cameras from the Petcube range on the same account. This includes the Camera, Bites, Play, and Play 2 models.
It’s back compatible, so if you already have an older Petcube camera in working order, it should fit seamlessly into the same network.
With the Furbo, if you wanted more than one camera you would have to have separate Furbos with separate accounts. This means that when you have finished looking at one camera, you would have to log out of that account and then log in to the account of the next camera you wanted to view.
Both systems make it easy to share your video clips and photos with family and friends via their apps. Furbo, however, for some reason appears to encourage passing on your login details to allow family and friends access to your account, which doesn’t sound very secure to me.
Petcube seems to have its finger more firmly on the security pulse. They include a data security statement on their sales page confirming that they use TLS protocol and 128-bit encryption for data transmission. I’m sure Furbo adheres to the same practices, but it would be nice of them to let us know before buying.
Have you made your decision ……..
…….. or would you like to read about the paid subscription services first:
Furbo vs Petcube – The Paid Subscription Services Compared
Both of these devices are adequately usable without paying for the extras their respective paid subscription services offer. To tempt you into signing up for these extra services, both manufacturers offer free trial periods when you open your account to experience what they have to offer.
With Petcube you have 14-days to assess whether you want to continue with the premium services. Furbo gives you a more generous 30-days free usage before asking you to pay if you want to continue.
The Furbo Subscription
Furbo subscriptions are only available in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They have only one subscription level. At the time of writing, it costs 6.99 USD per month or 69 USD per year.
For your money you receive a service called “Furbo Nanny Cam”. This service has several features that you may find useful.
Perhaps the most important of these is the range of alerts now available. Apart from the free barking alert, if you subscribe you can then receive dog activity, dog selfie, person and home emergency alerts. Most of these alerts can be adjusted for sensitivity. The Furbo software has an in-built AI that learns about your dogs movements, making alerts more and more accurate as time goes on.
The dog selfie alert activates when your dog walks face-first in front of the camera. You are then sent the resultant snapshot. The person alert lets you know when there is a human in view of the camera. Home emergency alerts are triggered if your smoke alarm sounds.
Furbo promises to bring in new alerts for dog vomit, choking and seizures in the near future. As the alerts are app based, if you were to buy a Furbo and subscribe now these new alerts should be available to you when they eventually appear.
In addition to the alerts, there is an automatic “Cloud Recording” service and an automatic “Doggie Diary” service. Cloud Recording saves 15-second clips of your dog when in view of the camera for you to play back later. In a similar vein, Doggy Diary makes a daily highlights video of your dog’s activities.
The Petcube Care Subscription
Petcube has a free basic level plus two levels of subscription services. Here is an at-a-glance chart showing what you can expect for each level of service:
Petcube Care Subscriptions Compared
|Cost||Free||$5.99/month, $47.88/year||$14.99/month, $119.88/year|
|Live Video Streaming||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video History||No||3 days||90 days|
|Video Clips||No||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Pet Care Perks||No||30 plus||30 plus|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||2 years|
Petcube Care sends you Smart Alerts when your dog barks, if there is pet activity in front of the camera and if a person moves in front of the camera. As with the Furbo, the sensitivity levels of these alerts can be adjusted and AI within the Petcube app ensures that these alerts become more accurate as time passes.
You can potentially save up to 500 USD should you take advantage of all of the partner deals Petcube has set up in its Pet Care Perks package. You can enjoy large discounts on such items as dog clothing, dog furniture and accessories, dog walkers and sitters, dog treats, dog DNA kits, and more.
Furbo vs Petcube At-A-Glance Comparison Table
|Furbo||Petcube Bites 2|
|Designed For||Dogs only||Dogs and cats|
|Video Resolution||1080p full HD||1080p full HD|
|Zoom||4x digital||4x digital|
|Field of View||160°||160°|
|Microphone and Speaker||1x microphone and 1x speaker||4x microphone array and 1x speaker bar|
|Dimensions||8.86 x 5.9 x 4.72 inches (22.5 x 15 x 12 cm)||10.58 x 5.7 x 2.88 inches (26.9 x 14.5 x 7.3)|
|Treat Size||Rounded dry treats up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter||Rounded dry treats up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter|
|Power Source||Outlet adaptor or USB||Outlet adaptor or USB|
|Build||Hard plastic body and bamboo lid||Hard plastic and aluminum|
|Location||Tabletop or shelf||Tabletop, shelf, or wall mount|
|Weight||2.1 pounds (952g)||3.5 pounds (1.58kg)|
|Free Standard Features|
|Treat Capacity||8 ounces (227g) 100 treats (approx)||1.5 pounds (680g) 3 inserts to control treat portions and allow for small, medium, or large treats.|
|Treat Scheduling||Only when connected with Alexa.||Yes|
|Alerts||Bark detection only||Sound and motion detection|
|Sharing||Family and friends via the app||Family, friends, and public via the app|
|Subscription Free Trial Period||30 days||14 days|
|Subscription Paid Extras|
|Subscription Name||Furbo Dog Nanny (Available in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan only.)||Petcube Care|
|Subscription Price||6.99 USD/month or 69 USD/year||Optimal: 5.99 USD/month or 48 USD/year
Premium: 14.99 USD/month or 119 USD/year
|Cloud Based Video Storage||Up to 24 hours video history||Up to 3 days (Optimal) or up to 90 days (Premium)|
|Smart Alerts||Dog activity, person, home emergency, dog selfie, doggy diary. Coming soon: dog vomit, dog choking, dog seizure.||Bark, meow, pet detection, human detection|
|Multi-camera Support||No||Yes, unlimited cameras on Premium only.|
|Partner Discounts||No||Yes, up to 500 USD|
|Extended Warranty||No||Yes, 2-year on Premium only|
|Connectivity and Compatibility||#3#|
|Connectivity||2.4 GHz WiFi, iOS 10 or higher, Android 6 or higher||2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi, iOS 10.3 or higher, Android 7.1.2 or higher|
|Alexa||Compatible with Alexa, separate Alexa device required.||Built-in Alexa|
|Price Guide||169.99 USD||199.99 USD|
So, Which Is The Better Treat-Dispensing Camera?
I believe the answer to this question depends upon your individual needs. They are both efficient treat-dispensing cameras with spade loads of after sales back up that makes them worthy of their respective price tags. I hope that I have given you enough here to make an informed choice.
If you are only going to have a single camera, have an existing Alexa system, or do not want to pay the higher price tag, then perhaps the Furbo is for you.
If you are going to have a multiple camera set up, want a treat-dispensing camera that doubles up as an Alexa device, or price isn’t a major issue, then I would opt for the Petcube Bites 2.
If you have any questions or comments relating to this Furbo vs Petcube comparison review, please use the comments box below or, if you prefer, send a message using the contact us form.
Happy treat tossing!
Shih Tzu Steve.