If you have a pet, you might want to be able to keep an eye on it when you aren’t home. Or it might get lonely, and the sound of your voice helps to soothe it. Of course, tossing out a few treats won’t hurt either, and all of these are reasons why the Petcube Bites 2 exists. This pet-watching camera doubles as a treat dispenser, letting you keep tabs on your pet, talk to it with two-way audio, and fling treats out on command. It even features Amazon Alexa, serving as its own smart speaker. Its $249.99 price tag is pretty steep, though, when home security cameras that offer far more monitoring features are available for a fraction of the cost.
The Petcube Bites 2 is a tall slab of a treat dispenser, measuring 10.6 by 5.7 by 3 inches (HWD), with silver on the bottom and black on top. The top half is the treat hopper, with a removable lid and a motorized funnel at the bottom with three interchangeable ducts for using different size treats. The camera is mounted on the bottom of the front of the dispenser, on a black panel with indicator lights, a microphone, a speaker grille, and the treat dispenser door. A USB-C port on the side gets power through the included 6.5-foot USB cable and power adapter.
It has a textured rubber base for putting on any flat surface, but the tall, thin shape of the dispenser makes it vulnerable to large pets knocking it over, and the camera view from the floor looks awkwardly low and flat. Keyhole mounts on the back let you hang the dispenser higher on the wall, and wall mounting anchors and screws are included. Lifting the Petcube a foot off of the floor will provide a much better view.
Setup and App
To set up the Petcube Bites 2, install the Petcube app (for Android and iOS) on your mobile device and create a free account. Plug the dispenser in and wait for the light to flash green, which signals that it’s ready to configure. Go to your account profile and tap Connect New Device, then select the Petcube Bites 2 from the list of Petcube products. The app will find the dispenser and prompt you to connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Once this is done, just insert the correct size duct for the treats you want to give your pet, pour them into the hopper (a bag of dog treats are included in the box), close the lid, and you’re ready to watch your pets and toss them treats.
The Petcube app opens to a screen with a static photo indicating the Petcube Bites 2 across the top third and a list of any triggered video clips below. The device photo can be a default piece of art, or you can use a picture of your pet. A Play button in the center of the picture takes you to a live view of the camera, while four additional buttons let you change device settings, adjust camera sharing settings, toggle the built-in microphone for use with Alexa, and toggle Petcube Care’s event notifications.
The Petcube Bites 2 camera has a 160-degree lens and 1080p resolution, with pinch-to-zoom 4x digital zoom and built-in night vision. It covered my cat Pixel’s feeding area well, cutting off just half a foot of his mat directly below the camera with it mounted about 18 inches above the floor. The video feed is colorful when lighting is good, though it isn’t particularly sharp. The built-in night vision provides a monochrome view to cover the room you’re watching.
The camera offers two-way audio communication, thanks to a built-in speaker and microphone. This lets you hear your pet and even talk to it. Audio sounds a bit muffled, but you’ll recognize your cat’s meowing, and your voice will come through the speaker well enough to catch its attention.
The microphone and speaker adds another benefit to the Petcube Bites 2: Amazon Alexa. The camera acts as a smart speaker, letting you talk to Amazon’s voice assistant with the wake word “Alexa,” just like an Amazon Echo Flex. The small speaker in the device isn’t suitable for playing music very clearly, but you can use it to ask for general information like weather and sports, set timers, and control your smart home devices. It’s a useful extra feature that doesn’t make the Petcube Bites 2 work any better as a pet-watching camera, but it gives you some handy voice control if you don’t already have it.
The camera doesn’t feature a laser pointer to play with your pet like the Petcube Play 2, but its treat-dispensing function is almost as fun. Tap the treat button in the video feed, then drag the dog bone from the bottom edge of the screen to the middle. Instead of simply dropping treats on the floor, a motor will launch a treat a few feet. This is great for keeping your pet engaged, instead of just flinging them faceless treats with no context. My cat Pixel perked up and ran to chase after the flying treat when he heard the motor running.
On its own, the Petcube Bites 2 and Petcube app will store only the last four hours of activity and recorded video clips in the cloud. Those clips top out at 10 seconds, you can’t download them, and they’re gone four hours after they’re captured. You can still watch your pet live, interact with it, give it treats, and capture screenshots or record video from the live feed to your phone with the app. This makes the device useful without any subscription as a simple pet-watching device, but it limits its potential for long-term monitoring.
For $5.99 per month or $47.88 per year (or $3.99 per month for an annual subscription), you can get Petcube Care, Petcube’s subscription service. This service adds three days of video history, 30-second video clips, up to 10 video downloads per month, and smart alerts that can differentiate between barks, meows, people, and other noises. Petcube Care also enables a web interface for accessing recorded clips. You can go even further with the Petcube Care Premium subscription for $14.99 per month or $99 per year ($8.25 per month), which keeps the last 90 days of video history, allows unlimited video downloads, and supports unlimited Petcube devices on an account instead of just one.
The Petcube Bites 2 worked exactly as intended in my apartment. Once I set it up and mounted it on the wall, it let me remotely access a live view of my apartment entryway and Pixel’s feeding area. I could hear his meowing, and I could talk to him through the speaker. The treat-throwing feature worked reliably, launching his favorite crunchy treats a few feet and sending him chasing after them.
Amazon Alexa worked on the Petcube Bites 2 just as it did on my Amazon Echo Dot. In fact, its microphone tended to pick up my voice more consistently than my Echo Dot, which eventually forced me to disable the mic on one device or the other. Disabling the Alexa microphone doesn’t affect two-way communication, but if you already have a smart speaker in the room, you’ll want to keep it in mind.
A Pricey Pet Camera
The Petcube Bites 2 is a reliable pet-watching device that lets you toss treats to your dog or cat no matter where you are. It works well enough for what it sets out to do, but its $250 price is tough to swallow when its 1080p camera is only okay, and its recording capabilities are limited unless you get a subscription to Petcube Care. If you just want to keep an eye on your pet and don’t need to dispense treats, the Wyze Cam Pan offers mechanical panning and free cloud and local storage for just $30. Ultimately, the Petcube places a high cost on interactivity, and some pet owners will be more than happy to pay for it.