Editors’ Choice Smart Home
Petcube Bites 2
Review by Angie Kibiloski
Our pets must be loving life right now. With many of us still staying safe at home, our furry friends get more of our time and attention. However, when we all start going back out to work, and leaving our dogs and cats to while away their daytime hours alone, animals and humans alike may want a way to connect with each other over distances. Enter the Bites 2, from Petcube, a camera company with a range of interactive smart HD pet cams. The Bites 2 ($249 retail) is specifically for dogs, and lets you not only see and hear your pooch, but talk to him, and toss him treats for being a good boy too. Play with your puppy from across town or across the country, and let him know that you didn’t disappear forever. Thanks to a sweet local pup, and his treat providing humans, for helping out with this review!
The Bites 2 has a lot of great features. Let’s start with the technical stuff. The 1080p HD, 160° lens provides wide coverage of your room, and has 4x digital zoom and automatic night vision. Two-way audio, provided by a 4-microphone array and speaker bar, let’s you and you pet hear each other clearly. You can also mute either side of the interaction if you have the need. If you have an Alexa, your voice assistant will also be able to hear you clearly, and control your device for you. There’s a motion sensor, to trigger recording and alerts when someone gets near, and send smart notifications to your phone when this happens. This can be a fun feature as well as being used for security. The Bites 2 might just pick up some of your pup’s crazy antics, caught in gloriously silly detail on video. The top half of the device is a container for treats, with 3 different sized adapters, to fit treats up to an inch in diameter. The mechanism inside is like a bubblegum dispenser, chambering a designated number of treats at a time into the fly wheel, ready for you to activate their release. The dispenser portion has a sensor inside, which lets you know when your treats are running low, so you’ll know when it needs to be refilled. The unit can live on a tabletop or other flat surface, or mounted to the wall with the included screws, as long as it’s near a power outlet, to plug in the 3M anti-chewable cord. The device body is made from durable aluminum and hard plastic, so it’ll hold up to even the most rambunctious canines, though if you have a larger dog, wall-mounting is probably a better bet than tabletop dwelling.
The functionality of the device is controlled through the Petcube companion app, and has several levels of features, depending on whether you stick with the free version, or decide to access one of 2 subscription levels. All of the levels will give you access to the camera and 2-way audio via live stream, and let you capture photos and video clips while actively on your phone, as well as use the remote treat dispensing. The treat feature is really fun, because you can control the amount of treats dispensed, and the distance the device flings them, so it really becomes an interactive moment between you and your dog. All you have to do is access the live video screen, touch the bone icon, and move it with your finger. Our pet parent reviewer managed to get a treat to fly a good 15 feet across the room! When you get into the subscription plans, called Petcube Care, you unlock many more features which both I and our pet parent friend think are well worth the small fee. The Optimal level ($3.99/mo.) gives you access to 3 days of 30-second video clip history, stored in their secure, encrypted cloud, the option to download 10 of those videos each month to keep, smart alerts when the camera or microphones pick up motion or sound, smart filters for the camera, and pet care discounts and perks from partner companies. The Premium level ($9.99/mo.) expands that to 90 days of cloud stored video history, unlimited video downloads, and access to multiple cameras as well. Both paid levels provide you with 24/7 access to other Petcube users, for live chats, photo and video sharing, and advice. If you need more help than other users can provide, you can connect to their network of licensed vets, directly from the app, which is a very helpful feature, especially if you’re out of town. If you want to take the subscription out for a test drive, you can get a 14-day free trial of the Optimal level before committing.
The Petcube Bites 2 is fast and easy to set up, and the app is user-friendly and works seamlessly with the device, providing sharp, lag-free video and crisp audio. Our adorable reviewing doggy was quite pleased with the treat dispensing, and had a great time chasing them as they were flung across the room. He quickly figured out where they came from, and associated paying attention to the device, and hearing his human’s voice coming out of it, with getting a reward. His pet parents were only a closed door away this time, but he’ll really benefit from the long-distance interaction with them once they’re back out in the world, especially since he’s one of many dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. I’d definitely recommend the Bites 2, along with one of the paid subscriptions, as a great addition to any pet-friendly home. You can learn more about the Bites 2, and see videos of it in action, on the Petcube website. Are you more of a cat person? Check out their Play 2, which shares all the great features of the Bites 2, but lets you control a laser pointer to play with your kitty, instead of throwing treats. You can then find the Petcube app with Petcube Care, for both Android and iOS on their respective app store sites, and read more about all of the included functions and co