In principle the Pawbo+ offers a lot of features that can help you connect with your pets when you're not home. In practice, some of them don't quite deliver on their promise.
- Relatively cheap
- Easy to use
- Iffy camera
- Treats just dribble out
The Pawbo+ certainly offers a lot for those who have to leave their pets at home regularly. It's a combination of treat dispenser, pet camera, and laser toy in a single unit. This gives you the opportunity to peek at what your pets are up to when you're not around, with a camera that connects to your phone; it allows you to spit out a reasonably-sized treat, pre-loaded into a silo inside; and it allows you to direct a laser pointer around for them to chase – or you can set that laser to automatic mode, to keep them entertained hands-free. The Pawbo+ plus was recently named “best pet camera for cats” our round-up of the best pet cameras.
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A quick glance at the high-tech shelves of your local pet shop is probably enough to prove that neither pet cameras nor treat dispensers are in short supply. Point-them-yourself laser pointers aren't exactly rare or expensive, either. So the Furbo+ really does have its work cut out for it if it wants a place on your shelf.
It does feature all the prerequisites of a pet camera, as we've said – camera sensor, internet connectivity, and two-way talk – along with treat dispensing and a laser pointer. Unfortunately, the specs of the Pawbo+ show that it's probably in need of a little technology overhaul at this point in time.
That camera uses a 720p sensor, which is a step down from the higher-resolution 1080p sensors of most of its competitors. It also doesn't include any kind of night vision, which places this more in the frivolous play bracket than one of pet security. The treat dispenser isn't quite the ping-it-across-the-room fun of rival Pawbo, more dribbling out treats than firing them anywhere. The laser pointer isn't bad, but it's not exactly smooth, and the motors which move it can get somewhat noisy. Even the Pawbo Life app, while perfectly functional, is a little rough around the edges.
But if you're just looking for something for interactive play, or a little daytime companionship when you can't be with your pets, those rough edges might not matter so much. And given that this is now one of the cheaper camera/treat combos on the market, you might be inclined to give it a little leeway.
The specs don't lie. The Pawbo Plus doesn't feel entirely up-to-date in terms of its performance, though it has been around for a while so that's almost to be expected. It's not bad, though: the image quality is acceptable, certainly giving you enough pixels to see your pets, and we found certain cats in the household were quite interested in the laser if you caught them at the right time – your mileage may vary on that point, as always with fickle felines.
The treat dispenser is rudimentary, rotating a sectioned-off wheel to dump a small amount of its contents out at a time, and relying on a combination of gravity and a curved chute to drop those treats on the floor. In our tests it didn't get jammed up, and it's definitely most effective if used in combination with the two-way talk function to get your pet's attention first. Without, you're just dumping kibbles on the floor – though the motor noise may act as a Pavlovian signal of an incoming treat.
Positioning the Pawbo+ may be an issue, given that you probably want it to drop treats onto the floor rather than whatever surface it's standing on. It's stable, but not so heavy that an average sized cat can't knock it over, and while it's tamper-proof enough that your pets won't be able to get the treats out, we would imagine a larger dog would certainly be able to give it a good physical go. There are mounting holes on the rear, so you can hang it on a wall. We didn't, but you could.
Should you buy the Pawbo+
There are homes in which the Pawbo+ will fit right in, and if you can pick one up for around £100/$130, that puts it on the lower end of pet camera prices. But the outdated sensor and lack of night vision means it's not the best pet camera – you may even find better results opting for a more traditional security camera – and it's not the best treat dispenser either. It's reliable, and provides a good way to connect with your pets if you happen to be away from home, but you'll probably be better off spending a little more for a sharper alternative.
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