Some time ago a new kind of camera was launched on the Indiegogo website, called Furbo it is an IP camera that also features a treat dispenser, allowing you to keep an eye on your dog and keep in communication with it while you are away from home.
The first time you use it, this all seems pretty handy.
There’s a fantastic 720p camera on the Furbo that works great for watching your dog with great detail, and it even has night vision, meaning you should never miss a moment, as long as you have the app loaded up anyway.
Alongside that, Furbo also has a two-way microphone system that allows you to hear what’s going on in your home, and talk to your dog while you are away from it.
The problem is that both of these are actually lacking somewhat.
The resolution on the camera is fantastic and it will work for most people most of the time, however, there are a few software features that are missing in this camera that definitely let it down a bit. Personally, I was hoping for a system that wouldn’t just have one trick, however, that seems to be what the creators of the Furbo have designed and the Furbo is missing a lot of features that would transform it from just a dog viewer and feeder to a full security system that also helps you feed your dog.
It does feature barking detection, which is nice in premise, however, I found that it would pick up other noises as a bark quite often, even when the sensitivity was low. On top of that, because it doesn’t have automatic recording, you can’t see the reason why your dog was barking and if you miss the notification then you will miss the event entirely.
That’s a pretty big feature not to have as the Furbo really comes into use when you are doing something else. You probably won’t have your phone with you all the time, or you might even have it on silent, which stops you from using any of the features of the Furbo.
On top of that, the two-way microphone system is also pretty bad. The quality outputted by the onboard speaker is extremely tinny, it’s also pretty quiet and does represent your voice very well, meaning that it might be rather hard to communicate with your dog. That said, the microphone on the Furbo is good enough for hearing your dog.
And that’s quite sad because the quality of the camera’s output is pretty good, as you can see in the video below.
Of course, one of the main features of the Furbo is that it can launch treats at your dog at the press of a button.
During my time with Furbo, I found that this worked great, it did what it should in shooting treats towards my dog (Abbie) and keeping her occupied for the length of time that it takes her to eat them.
Sadly, this only works as well as the size of the treat that you put in Furbo.
It worked pretty well with small treats (despite these being flown around the living room, the reason the shots of Furbo in this review are outside) and I have seen it work pretty well with larger round ball-shaped treats, however, I didn’t have any of those at hand. Where the Furbo slightly fails is with uniquely sized treats such as bone-shaped ones, which I used and often got stuck in the ejector, as you can see in the image to the right.
Abbie quickly worked out where these treats were coming from and would often attempt to get some out of that hole, and when they were stuck they didn’t stay stuck for much longer.
However, she tended to wonder why the treats weren’t coming out when she sat in front of it, and would often climb and use a bit more force to try and get it to do this. If you have a big dog then this might be a problem as they would quickly be able to knock it over, so it’s definitely better to place Furbo high up somewhere, however, this does mean that you might not be able to see your dog via the camera’s view.
The app for Furbo is very well designed, with a sleek and easy-to-figure-out interface.
It features a nicely sized live view that allows you to view the camera’s feed effectively and the buttons to take a snapshot, record a video and send out treats are pretty big and easy to press, however, the toggle to switch between photos and videos might not be immediately obvious to most users.
All in all, Furbo is a pretty decent solution that serves a specific purpose of allowing you to look after your dog from afar, however, if you don’t leave your dog alone everyday or at least every other day then you might not get much use out of the treat-throwing camera.
As we suggested earlier if this also had some further security features than this would be much more useful for a wide range of users, allowing people to use the Furbo even if they have their dog with them. We would also like to see automatic cloud recording to make the Furbo useful even when you don’t notice the notifications, allowing you to take advantage of any of the main features of the Furbo when it matters.
Both of these are something that Furbo could add with a software update, so I think it would be a valid option for them to do this.
Sadly, there’s probably not much that they can do with the microphone or the speaker.
And since Furbo is priced at £225, it is a pretty big investment.
If you leave your dog alone for a lot of the week then that might be a decent investment for you, however, if you only do that occasionally or if you can’t always check your notifications then it probably won’t be a valid option for you.
We would recommend that you wait and see if they do those suggested software updates before picking one up if the latter is your use case.
If it isn’t, then you should definitely think about picking up the Furbo, as it’s a fantastic way to keep track of your dog on the go, despite some of those shortcomings. You can grab it from a number of retailers including Amazon for around £225 today.
Disclosure: Furbo sent us a sample of this product for the purpose of this review.