Lots of fun features for cats and dogs
Great video quality
Concerns about the safety of laser toy
No night vision
Poorly designed treat dispenser
Many pet cameras are tailored more toward dog owners, which is why the Pawbo Life Pet Camera is such an appealing product. This popular camera is equally useful for both cat and dog parents thanks to its numerous features, including a treat dispenser and laser pointer toy—but does it perform well?
To see if this pet camera is worth your hard-earned money, I used it to monitor my puppy and cat over the course of a few weeks. Here’s what I—and the pets—ultimately decided.
Setup: Easy, but the instructions are terrible
Upon opening the box, I couldn’t help but think the Pawbo Life Pet Camera resembled a miniature space ship! There are only a few items in the package—the unit itself, a power cable, and some poorly written instructions. The “manual” it comes with is incredibly sparse, walking you through the basic setup process but including no instructions on how to use the device.
Despite the subpar directions, setting up the Pawbo was a painless process. Essentially, you just have to plug it in and then sync it with the Pawbo app. The app walks you through the necessary steps, and the whole process only took a few minutes.
Design: A few questionable features
At a glance, the Pawbo Life Pet Camera has a sleek, minimalistic design—the white, rounded form will look great in just about any room of your home. It also had slots on the back that you can use to mount it to a wall, but there’s no mounting hardware included.
However, after getting more familiar with the Pawbo, there are a few features that left me scratching my head. Most prominently, the unit comes with a yellow sticker on the front that reads, “Avoid exposure. Laser radiation is emitted from this aperture.” On the back, another warning label notes that “Class 2” laser radiation is used when the laser toy is being used and you should avoid looking into the beam.
You may want to use caution when using the laser feature around children or pets.
This was definitely concerning, so I went to the Pawbo website to see if there was any further information. In the FAQ section, one query reads, “Is the laser harmful to human or pet’s eyes?” The answer provided is as follows:
“Pawbo’s laser source follows strict safety standards. Our laser pointer will not remain on the same spot for more than 3 seconds. It will be deactivated automatically if the laser pointer doesn’t receive any commands over 3 seconds.”
This doesn’t really answer the question, so I did more research. OSHA explains that class 2 lasers are generally considered safe because humans automatically blink if exposed to bright light. However, you may want to use caution when using the laser feature around children or pets.
Video: High-quality footage, but no night vision
I was impressed with the overall quality of the Pawbo’s camera. It has a 130-degree wide-angle lens, you can see lots of detail on the 720p HD video stream, and there’s very little lag in the footage. I even tapped into the feed while on vacation several states away and was able to get a clear picture of what was going on in the house. Plus, I like that there are designated buttons to capture still photos and videos right from the video stream, and the files are automatically saved to your camera roll.
The Pawbo is automatically programmed to make a doorbell sound when someone logs onto the video feed, which is helpful if you share the stream with multiple people (the camera supports up to eight users). However, I found it to be kind of annoying, as it would wake the puppy up, so I opted to turn it off—a task easily accomplished through the app.
The only downside of this pet camera’s video capabilities is that there’s no night vision. When I logged on at night, I was greeted by a completely black screen—I couldn’t make out anything. As such, this isn’t a good solution for monitoring your pets at night.
The Pawbo Pet Camera claims to support two-way audio so you can listen and talk to your pets while you’re away. The camera-to-phone audio works fairly well—I was able to hear if the puppy was crying in her crate with little background noise or interference.
However, the phone-to-camera audio was fairly spotty. It worked well if the phone was connected to the same Wi-Fi network, but as soon as I left the building, the audio became jumbled and inconsistent. I tried talking to my boyfriend through the camera on several occasions, and he could never understand what I was saying.
Honestly, this would still work for my needs. I was still able to get the dog’s attention, even if the audio wasn’t clear, and I think it’s more important to be able to hear what’s going on at home. However, if you wanted to use the camera to tell your partner or kids something, you may be disappointed.
The App: Functional, but room for improvement
Overall, I liked the Pawbo app—it’s not the prettiest app ever, but it gets the job done just fine. I never had any trouble connecting to the feed, and it loaded up in just a few seconds, even when I checked in during vacation. However, I used an iPhone X for testing, and it seems the app wasn’t properly formatted for this size of smartphone display, as there were black bands at the top and bottom of the screen.
I never had any trouble connecting to the feed, and it loaded up in just a few seconds, even when I checked in during vacation.
That said, it would definitely be beneficial if the instructions included a brief summary of what the different buttons in the app do. Some aren’t intuitive, so I had to figure out what they did by experimenting. For instance, there’s a button along the top of the screen that says “Auto” with a picture that looks like a wand—this turns on the automatic laser pointer game, but I originally thought it was an auto-enhance button for the picture.
Another confusing button is the duck at the bottom of the screen, which brings up a menu with the numbers 1 through 8. I wasn’t able to figure out what this feature does—I even looked it up online and couldn’t find a clear answer. Some users say they think it allows you to connect other Pawbo products to the camera, but there’s no mention of it on the Pawbo website, which is frustrating.
Special Features: Laser pointer, treat drops, and more
The big appeal of the Pawbo Life Pet Camera is its special features. While the laser pointer game has some potential safety issues (noted above), it was definitely a hit with both the cat and the puppy. I found that it worked best at night, when the red dot was easier to see, and both pets were intrigued as it darted around the floor!
You can control the laser manually using the directional pad on the app, but the controls are kind of jerky, and I found it hard to move the dot just a little. It usually ends up zipping across the room, which lost the attention of the animals. I had better luck with the auto setting, which moves the dot in a repeated pattern around the floor.
Take a peek at some of the other best interactive cat toys you can buy.
Another key feature of the Pawbo is the treat dispenser. The front of the unit slides off, revealing a spinning tray with eight sections, which I filled up with dog food. Word to the wise: Hold the dispenser steady as you fill it, as it’s not balanced enough to stand up on its own. It fell over twice while I was trying to fill it!
While the Pawbo Life Pet Camera has several small flaws, none of them are major enough to impact its overall performance.
Once I managed to get the treats loaded, I slid the dispenser back into place and pressed the dog bone icon on the app. This turns the tray, dropping one section of treats down the chute. Here’s the issue, though: The chute has to be aimed off the edge of the counter or table. Otherwise, the treats won’t go very far. Once I got the unit arranged properly, the puppy had a lot of fun sniffing out the kibble that dropped onto the floor.
Check out our guide to the best dog food you can buy today.
Finally, the Pawbo includes several “ringtones” that you can use to get your pet’s attention. They vary from birds chirping to a plastic bag rustling—I much preferred using these tones to the obnoxious ding dong.
The Pawbo’s MSRP is $199, and this feels like a fair price given its wide range of features and high-quality, reliable video feed. There are other more expensive pet cameras out there that deliver a better user experience, but at the end of the day, they generally have the same features as the Pawbo.
Competition: Pawbo holds its own against other pet cams
Petcubes Bites: The high-end Petcube Bites comes with a beautifully designed app and fun user interface that lets you launch treats across your home. However, the unit itself is extremely large, and there’s no laser pointer feature.
YI Dome Camera: This budget-friendly security camera is designed specifically for pets, but it’s a great option for monitoring your home and its occupants thanks to its almost 360-degree pan feature, which you can control remotely. The YI camera is arguably better than the Pawbo for monitoring large rooms, but it doesn’t have any special features for pets.
See more reviews of our favorite pet cameras available for purchase.
It’s worth your while.
While the Pawbo Life Pet Camera has several small flaws, none of them are major enough to impact its overall performance. At the end of the day, it’s a solid product that allows you to both monitor and interact with your pets, no matter where you are, and it’s a worthwhile buy for pet parents.
- Product Name Pet Camera
- Product Brand Pawbo
- MPN PPC-21CL
- Price $199.00
- Weight 1.2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 4 x 4 x 8 in.
- Color White
- Warranty 1 year limited