Rock Hound

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Rock-Hound Opal keeps guard over our fossil finds – we spent a few hours digging in what once was a giant lake in the Eosine some 52 MILLION years ago 🐟 We are in Wyoming now, and have our sights set on Grand Teton next —————————————————————————- ⛰🏕🏔🏕🏔 —————————————————————————- #Wyoming #Yellowstone #getoutside @OutdoorNation #lifeofadventure #mountain #liveauthentic #hike365 #adventuredog #campingwithdogs @campingwithdogs #hikingwithdogs #BPmag #letscamp #rei1440project @REI #TakeMeBackpacking #heelergram #heelersofinstagram #bestwoof  #weeklyfluff #Ruffwear #mydogismy @Ruffwear #excellent_dogs #dogcrushdaily #ProPlan #ProPlanDog @Proplan @nationalparkservice #findyourpark #unitedoutside #fossil #fossils #archeology —————————————————————————- #NeverLeaveTheDogBehind

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Check out Fossil Safari at the Warfield Quarry in Kemmerer Wyoming if you get a chance – we had lots of fun digging for 52 Million year old Eosine fish fossils!

Petcube Play Wi-Fi Camera Review

Hello once again dear friends, I am very pleased to share with our new review of the Petcube Play Wi-fi Pet Camera and Monitoring System in Rose Gold. This has been a particularly fun thing to test, and I’ve done my best to get into the important aspects of this camera to help others who may be considering buying a home camera for the purpose of checking in on their pet.I’ve broken down our review for this camera into 2 parts, each with a rating scale of 5 key components each worth 1 point on an overall scale of 5. Each score is separate from one another, and a perfect score is 5/5 for each part.

Part One will be concerned with just the Petcube Play as a standalone product focusing on:

  1. Aesthetic
  2. Resolution & Overall Video Quality
  3. Support / Applications / Subscriptions
  4. Ease of Use
  5. Does the Dog Like It?

A perfect score on this scale is a 5 out of 5.

Part Two will be concerned in comparing the Petcube Play against three other readily available cameras and will focus on these components:

  1. Video Quality
  2. Smartphone Application
  3. Support
  4. Subscription
  5. Overall Value

These will also be scored out of 5. My aim in this two-fold approach is to give a detailed look at the Petcube in particular as a standalone product, but also to provide insight on how it falls in against other available cameras so that potential buyers can make the most informed choice possible.

Part One – Standalone Review

Currently, this model of the Petcube camera is available for $199 directly from Petcube, and for $154.17 on Amazon with Prime shipping at the time this review was published. The Petcube Play is one of three models available from the Petcube company and the middle child in price.

Aesthetic

This model comes in three colors: Carbon Black, Matte Silver, and Rose Gold.
Personally, I think Rose gold is the best, but so are many other items of my gear so I may be biased. I appreciate having more than just the standard “white or black” options that most cameras seem to have and enjoy that this camera fits in with my personal style. I think the black camera would fit in with most styled rooms, and due to the camera’s small size (just 3 inches tall!), it is very inconspicuous.

Something about the front face of the camera reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but overall the look of the camera is quite cute.

Technical Specifications

PetCube Play
Price $154.17
Dimensions 3 x 3 x 3 inches

1.1 pounds

Resolution 1080p HD

3x Digital Zoom

138° Wide Angle

Audio Two-Way Audio
Associated Subscription? Yes
Smartphone App Yes
Extra Functions Night Vision
Motion Sensor
Laser Toy
Does the Dog Like It? N/A

Resolution & Overall Video Quality

The Petcube advertises itself as having 1080p HD video quality, so I was surprised that while during initial setup, the video streamed at a lower quality or would disconnect completely. I reached out to customer support to see what was going on while receiving error messages like this:

I checked my internet speeds (72 Mbps download and 5.8 Mbps upload) and found them to be well above the minimums required for proper functionality of the camera. Still unsure if my network was to blame, I looked the other three cameras (each camera running one at a time to ensure no bandwidth was being stolen) and found them to be functioning normally, which will be discussed in greater detail in part two of this review. Unfortunately, after two calls to tech support, firmware updates, and various attempts to figure out how to improve the video quality, I really haven’t seen an improvement. The camera still does occasionally disconnect or pixelate.

When the camera is working, the quality is decent. I set up some items on my coffee table as a benchmark of how legible and in focus things seemed to be.

I do like the wide angle lens – the fact that I can see the entire room is nice so you can see more of the action! Sometimes Opal likes to sleep or hang out in different areas of the apartment, and the greater field of vision does allow me to see those spaces. Despite this, I was expecting more detail and a sharper image from this camera. The image seems dark and unrefined – and the camera does not switch to Night Vision when perhaps it should….


(you can’t see her, but Opal is on the loveseat on the right in this picture)

When it does switch, the Night Vision camera also does a nice job and maintains a high level of detail in the video. I actually prefer the quality of the Night Vision more than the normal camera view.

Support / Applications / Subscriptions

When I was setting up the camera for the first time, I had some difficulty and noticed that the image on my phone wasn’t in 1080p and that the camera would often lose its connection.

Petcube offers over the phone support as well as troubleshooting tips on their website. Due to the issues I was experiencing, I called support and was connected to a kind representative who was able to assist me with all of my concerns by pulling up my account by my username. From there, she was able to explain possible issues that may be occurring, and deduced that the camera itself needed a firmware update which she was able to do remotely! Within 20 minutes the camera had been updated (with no extra effort on my part) with the current firmware. Something that I really enjoyed about this customer service experience was how quickly I was put in contact with a human being – no automated voice prompts.

The image quality didn’t improve after the firmware update though, so I did call Petcube again on a separate occasion to see what else could be going wrong. I was connected to a different representative, and explained my concerns with the video quality (blurry, very dark, etc) and offered to email in screenshots from the Petcube and my other cameras as a comparison. After emailing in the images, the representative informed me that the camera was working properly and that there was nothing to improve upon or fix. I confirmed that the images I had provided to him from my Petcube were up to their standard, and then he ended the call as he was unable to “fix” what he didn’t think was broken.

Outside of the customer support, I particularly like the attention to detail that was paid to how this camera would be used – namely the application “Petcube” that can be downloaded on both Android and iOS phones. The Petcube app pairs with your home camera (or cameras). A pleasant (and unexpected!) surprise was Apple Watch compatibility!Within the app, there are also public cameras that you can view and interact with other people’s pets or with shelter animals in need of homes. Users are able to share images in their own feed and connect with other pet parents. When Opal’s birthday came around on the 6th, I liked the opportunity to share with everyone else!

Also integrated into the app, there is an optional subscription service PetCube provides that allows owners to review either a 10-Day or 30 histories of video snippets recorded by the motion-sensing camera. The subscription, if purchased, is $10 a month for the 10-Day history or $30 a month for 30 days. After purchasing the camera itself, users are entitled to a free 30-day trial of this service to see if it appeals to them, after which they can choose to link a payment method and subscribe. Without the subscription, users have 4 hours of video history. I decided not to subscribe to either a 10 or 30-Day history after the free trial ended, as I found myself checking in daily with the camera every 4 hours or so anyway. For pet parents who travel or are out of the house for long hours during the day that would like a complete play-by-play, however, I think this is valuable service.

Extra Functions

The big selling point for this camera that sets it apart from other pet monitoring systems is the laser toy. While I like the idea of the laser toy, it proved to be pretty lackluster. The laser itself can be laggy depending on your internet connection, which is to be expected, and calibrating the laser doesn’t seem to improve the accuracy very much.

Further, it didn’t seem like Opal was very interested in the laser. I would zoom it past her at high speeds in zig zags and encourage play, but she would stare at me with a “what do you want?” type expression that leads me to believe she wasn’t understanding what I wanted her to do. After some further testing, I came to realize that Opal may be unable to even see the red dot of the laser!

In a study performed by Jay Neitz at the University of California, Santa Barbara, results showed that while dogs do indeed see color, their spectrum is smaller and they see overall less color than human beings. For example, instead of seeing a typical rainbow as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and then violet, a dog would see it as dark gray/brown, dark yellow, yellow, light gray, light blue, and then dark blue.

Now in my home, we have predominantly brown furniture and brown flooring, so the laser (from Opal’s perspective) is not vibrant enough to attract her attention and stand out from the surroundings. Perhaps in future models, a blue laser would be more readily seen by canines who have difficulty seeing red. Cats may be more enthusiastic about the laser as they see color on a different spectrum. Even though the laser was ineffective for Opal, I do think this is a fun idea for remote play with your pet.

Ease of Use

Pairing and setting up the Petcube Play took me a few minutes to get right – my iPhone took a while to actually “find” the camera once it was powered on. Pairing itself failed twice before finally working, and was a long process. There is a lighted LED on the face of the camera that will flash or shine different colors to alert the user of the status of pairing. While this was helpful, I did need to I did need to refer to the manual several time to decipher the meaning.

Does the Dog Like it?

As much as I enjoyed this camera, for the most part, Opal did not react to it or seem to care about its existence. When using the two-way audio, she would cock her head and prick up her ears to listen, but when issuing trick commands like “speak!” she would not respond in kind. I am unsure that my dog understood that it was my voice coming through the speaker and not some new sound. This is not specific to the Petcube Play, however, as I have noticed this same trend in other cameras.

Standalone Review – The Final Verdict:

The Petcube Play is an okay contender for a pet camera system with a few hiccups. Its cute and subtle design would fit in well with most homes. Video quality is questionable and variable, but the Night Vision is very clear. The companion smartphone app is easy to use and interactive within the pet community with easy sharing of media. Setup of the camera can be a little frustrating, but support may be able to assist via phone and the Petcube website. The camera does function as intended and allows for two-way communication with Fido, and probably would work in the homes of many pet owners. Dog owners may find that pets ignore the laser toy and that this model may be more suited for cats.

  1. Aesthetic – 1 point
  2. Resolution & Overall Video Quality – 0 point
  3. Support / Applications / Subscriptions – .5 point
  4. Ease of Use – 1 point
  5. Does the Dog Like It? – .5 point

Total Score: 3.5/5

Recommended

Part Two – Comparative Review

All cameras were placed within one foot of the router in my apartment and used a wireless connection. To ensure that bandwidth was fair between tests, I only connected one camera at a time to the wifi, and the others were turned off completely in-between tests. For a fair image comparison, all four cameras were set to record the same room in my home.

Side-By-Side Comparison with Petcube Play, Wansview K2, Nest DROPCAM PRO, and GoPro Hero 4 Silver

PetCube Play Wansview K2 Nest DROPCAM PRO GoPro HERO4 Silver
Price $199.00 New $32.99 New $218.00 New, $145.00 Refurbished $348.00 New, $319.00 Refurbished
Dimensions 3 x 3 x 3 inches

1.1 pounds

2.4 x 1.4 x 4 inches

9.9 ounces

4.5 x 3.15 x 3.15 inches

5.7 ounces

1.53 x 2.79 x 2.8 inches

12.8 oz

Resolution 1080p HD

3x Digital Zoom

138° Wide Angle

720p

4x Digital Zoom

120° Wide Angle

720p

8x Digital Zoom

138° Wide Angle

1080p HD

No Zoom

150° Wide Angle

Audio Two-Way Audio Two-Way Audio Two-Way Audio One-Way Audio
Associated Subscription?  Yes (optional) No Yes (optional) No
Smartphone App Yes Yes Yes Yes (several)
Extra Functions Night Vision
Motion Sensor
Laser Toy
Night Vision Night Vision
Motion Sensor
Waterproof
Portable

One of the things that I really wanted to delve into with this review was whether or not a pet-specific camera would provide better monitoring than other home surveillance cameras while keeping an eye on the pets at home. With that in mind, I decided to set up three other cameras, the K2 model camera by Wansview, the DROPCAM PRO for Nest, and the GoPro HERO4 Silver to test them alongside with the Petcube Play.

All of these cameras are readily available for purchase online on Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers as well as being available to purchase in person.

Image Quality Comparison

Petcube Play:

Wansview K2:

DROPCAM PRO:

GoPro HERO4 Silver:

Without question, the image quality of the GoPro is far better than the three other cameras. The 720p of the K2 and DROPCAM PRO is more than good enough to get a good read of what is going on but is noticeably less defined than the GoPro. Newer models of Nest cameras that have 1080p would likely be on par with the GoPro. Wansview also as an indoor camera that does 1080p, but I worry that despite the better resolution, issues with the companion smartphone application limit all models of Wansview cameras. I like the image quality of the Petcube the least from these for cameras, and looking at each image side by side can begin to show why:

Both the DROPCAP PRO and the GoPro did the best job of preserving the white balance of objects within the room. The Petcube box is the middle item on my coffee table, and while it looks white in color on both the K2 and Petcube, the box is actually pink!

Beyond the white balance and color temperature of the images, the words on the books and magazine are most easily read on the images from the DROPCAM and GoPro. The cover image of the dog does not even appear on the book for the Petcube.

Smartphone Application Comparison

I think some of this may come down to personal preference, but the Petcube Camera app was my favorite of the four. It felt the most polished and I liked how it was built to integrate directly with social media and to allow connections with other pet families. Both the Nest and GoPro App “Capture” were well designed, but less made for social media sharing. The Wansview application, while functional, is rough to put it lightly. Sometimes the buttons don’t work, sometimes the video gets flipped (and can’t be set back!) and sometimes the cameras mysteriously go offline and need to be reset.

Special Considerations

It should be noted at only the GoPro HERO4 Silver has the option of using a battery instead of a wired power supply. While using a battery, the camera can record for up to 4 hours. I chose to use a battery power source so that I could keep my camera in its protective case. The GoPro also does not have a digital zoom like the other cameras and only has one-way audio so you are unable to speak to your pet remotely.

Neither the GoPro or the Petcube are designed to be wall mounted, however, both the K2 and the DROPCAM PRO can be wall mounted if desired.

Only the Petcube and DROPCAM PRO have motion sensing capabilities, which can be useful in finding when your pet is moving around within the home or playing with toys as opposed to napping. Both Petcube and DROPCAM PRO can send notifications to your mobile about such activity.

Overall Value Comparison

For $32.99, the price of the Wansview K2 is hard to beat. It shares many of the same features as the Petcube and DROPCAM PRO, excluding the motion sensor, and keeps pace well with each. The companion application is clunky. Image quality is on par if not a little less than the DROPCAM PRO, but better than the Petcube.

At $145, a refurbished DROPCAM PRO did a great job. It has two features that I enjoyed including the motion sensor capabilities and two-way audio. Newer models of this camera begin at $166.00 and still come out cheaper than the Petcube.

The Petcube is $199 new directly from the manufacturer and has several features that I enjoyed. It has the motion sensor capabilities, two-way audio, and laser toy that could be fun with other pets. The companion application is also a useful tool to use with the camera. This being said, the image quality in comparison to the cheaper cameras was disappointing.

At over $300, the GoPro is the most expensive camera on this list, but it lacks two-way audio that would allow you to speak directly to your pet while away from home. It also lacks a digital zoom (you can adjust the FOV though), which makes it less suited for checking in on your dog. It is the most customizable camera of all four and video fans can tweak almost every aspect to their heart’s content, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to shoot in movie quality while seeing what Fido is up to. I really love my GoPro – Opal and I always take one or two with us on hikes or adventures to capture moments – but I love it more as an action camera. With that in mind, I think the GoPro has an overall poor value as a pet monitoring system despite immense video and customization power.

Comparative Review – The Final Verdict:

This is highly subjective – Ultimately, you do get what you pay for, and for better video and support there will be a higher overall price. The GoPro’s video was solid and clear, it’s app was easy to pair and simple to use, and consistently everything worked. Still, while the 1080p resolution of the GoPro was the best of all 4 cameras, I can’t help but notice that the GoPro was not designed with pet surveillance in mind. With this in mind, although I adore this camera for hiking and on-the-go (which is what is was designed for!), it falls short for this review’s purpose.

Regarding the remaining three cameras, the Petcube, the DROPCAM PRO, and the K2, I felt like they were better suited for pet monitoring. Petcube’s subscription options are identical to Nest Aware and I feel that $10 a month for 10 days or $30 a month for 30 days are reasonable for what you get. For me, the deciding factor between the remaining three cameras came down to the companion applications and image quality. I greatly preferred the polished Petcube app over the Nest and Wansview applications for both aesthetic and sharing purposes. Within the Petcube App public cameras, there is a sense of community and fun not found with Nest or Wansview (which has 0 community). However, if you are on a budget and don’t mind “flying solo” regarding support, I recommend the Wansview K2 as a basic camera that gets down to business. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles or social community, but the K2 gets the job done with a much smaller price and no subscription fees.

The video and image quality between each camera ultimately decided the winner for me. Community and fun in companion applications aside, I was looking for clean images that were in focus that would allow me to check up on Opal and see exactly what she was up to. I had high hopes for the Petcube’s 1080p HD video, but it really fell short. Surprisingly, I much preferred the look of both the K2 and DROPCAM PRO over the Petcube, and those cameras are only capable of 720p! With that in mind, I cannot say that the Petcube is the best choice from the bunch, especially with a $199 pricetag.

Of the four cameras, I would choose the DROPCAM PRO as the best pick for overall video quality, ease of use, and overall functionality to monitor my dog. Also, my model of this camera is several years old, and newer models that can do 1080p may perform even better. Petcube is also releasing a new camera, the Petcube Bites, and I hope to see significant improvements.

  1. Video Quality
    Petcube – 0
    Wansview – .5
    DROPCAM PRO – 1
    GoPro – 1
  2. Smartphone Application
    Petcube – 1
    Wansview – .5
    DROPCAM PRO – .5
    GoPro – 1
  3. Support
    Petcube – .5
    Wansview – 0
    DROPCAM PRO – 1
    GoPro – 1
  4. Subscription
    Petcube – .5
    Wansview – 1
    DROPCAM PRO – .5
    GoPro – 1
  5. Overall Value
    Petcube – .5
    Wansview – .5
    DROPCAM PRO – 1
    GoPro – 0*
    * I have assigned a 0 for the GoPro in this category as I do not believe the camera has value for pet monitoring, not that that camera itself is not of good value.

Totals:

Petcube – 2.5/5

Wansview – 2.5/5

DROPCAM PRO – 4/5

GoPro – 4/5

Overall Best Choice: DROPCAM PRO

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Happy 3rd Birthday Opal!

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Happy Birthday Opal! —————————————————————————— 👉🏻 Link to our website in bio —————————————————————————— #australiancattledog #love #cattledogcrew #opaltheacd #adventuredog #queenslandheeler #blueheeler #heelergram #heelerclub #picoftheday #heelercrew #acdlove #bestwoof #weeklyfluff #summer #Ruffwear #cute #instagood #bestwoof  @TopDogPhoto #ProPlan #ProPlanDog @Proplan #liveauthentc #acdra #orlando #orlandoflorida #downtownotown #lakeeola @lakeeola @aroundorlando @downtown_orlando #barkbox @barkbox #pettreater #pettreaterbox @pettreater @gohealthypaws —————————————————————————- #NeverLeaveTheDogBehind

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June Pet Treater Subscription Box

Hello friends!

I am very pleased to share with you Opal and I’s review of the June 2017 Pet Treater Subscription Box. I’ve broken down our review into 5 key components each worth 1 point on an overall scale of 5.

  1. Packaging & Aesthetic
  2. Variety of Items in the Box
  3. Durability of Items
  4. Value of Items
  5. Does the Dog Like It?

A perfect score on this scale is a 5 out of 5. All item prices have been rounded to the nearest 50 cents for easy math, but prices may differ slightly online from various retailers.

Ideally, I think that a great subscription box not only includes fun things for the dog but items for their people as well. Toys and products that can be used together by both dogs and their people will significantly improve the score, as Opal seems to enjoy herself most when doing something with a friend.

When I went to the mail room with Opal to pick up our packages, our Pet Treater box really stuck out of the pile – it is brightly colored with green, reds, and blues in a happy feeling pattern. I appreciated that it looked special and different from my other mail; I think of this kind of subscription box as a monthly present for my dog, and it’s nice that it is decorated in such a fun way. Moving forward, it might even be possible that Opal comes to recognize the packaging and I love the idea of her becoming excited with she sees the box.

Inside the packaging was also vibrant and enthusiastic.

What’s Inside?

Toys:

Foufit Freeze’n Float Pupsicle ($8.00)

Living in Orlando, Opal and I frequently find ourselves fighting with the heat day to day. I was excited to test this toy out on a hot day, but sadly it didn’t survive long enough! The toy seems like it was maybe designed for smaller dogs, and my 35 lb ACD shredded it in about two minutes.

(here’s a photo about 10 seconds before that poor toy died)

Outward Hound Pal Pak Harness ($11.50)

This is actually my favorite item in the whole box this month. The monster theme was unexpected but very cute. Opal isn’t always very keen about wearing new harnesses, but warmed up to this one quickly and seemed comfortable. The pack has two side pockets as well, though each for a different purpose. One pocket can be used to store treats and other items, while the other is designed to dispense poop-bags while on the go!

Stuffed Ham Sandwich Toy

Ah, a squeaky toy. These are Opal’s favorites usually, so when I began to offer her things from the box, she gravitated to this first. Decently sized with a fun theme, I do like this toy (and so does the dog) but I worry that it will not hold up long term and I would not recommend this to shredders or chewers.

Admittedly though, Opal loves it.

Treats:

Emmy’s Gourmet Canine Creations 3-Cheese Pleaser ($1.50)

Yummy treat in a cute shape. Ours did arrive broken, but Opal nonetheless scarfed down every crumb of this treat.

OUT Bar ($3.00) (Pictured Above)

Very excited to see this included! Opal and I are avid hikers and travelers, and the idea of a meal replacement is especially appealing so we can carry less kibble while on the go. These are grain free, and high in carbohydrates for fast energy. Opal and I fly out to Salt Lake City for another adventure on the 15th this month, so we will save this treat for then and use it while hiking.

Exclusively Dog Lickorish Chews ($4.50) (Pictured Above)

Opal is very interested in these treats and they were excellent motivation for her to perform tricks. I like that they have no extra sugar, soy, corn, or wheat in them as well. The treats also have a strong but pleasant fruity smell to them, which is different from the typical cheese or beef smelling snacks we give.

Mount Everlasting Himalayan Chew ($12.00) (Pictured Above)

I have been meaning to try these treats as a healthy chewing option, and we were excited to check it out.

For the Human:

Sportline Wrist Wallet ($15.00)

While this ended up not fitting my arm, I very much like the idea behind this product. I am approximately 5’4” and average size, however, this was too small for my wrist. In theory, it would be a great way to store some credit cards and an ID while out on a jog with the dog. We ended up giving this as a gift to a friend to whom it was better suited and they seem to be pleased with it.

Arm & Hammer Gum Hugging Finger Brush ($2.50)

Opal tolerates me brushing her teeth with a traditional toothbrush for dogs, but I wasn’t sure how she would take to these. The bristles are shorter than our traditional brush, but it is easier to maneuver over her teeth. I’m not sold on this one (I don’t think Opal is either) but I think we will continue to use it and figure things out.

Does the Dog Like It? –

Overall, Opal seemed very pleased with many of the items within the box and was especially excited about the Ham Sandwich toy. She also had fun with the Foufit Freeze’n Float Pupsicle, but that fun was had by destroying it. Of the treats, my dog liked all of them in this box, but the favorite would appear to be the Exclusively Dog Lickorish Chews. Also, while not a fan of getting her teeth brushed, Opal tolerated the finger brushes reasonably well.

The Final Verdict:

I found many of the inserts (Dog of the Month / Monthly Mission) to be cute and fun to read – one of my favorite things about this box is that many of the items are intended to be enjoyed by both my dog and myself both independently and together which sets it a bit apart from other subscriptions we have tried. The overall value of the items within the box also well exceed the monthly price of 24.99 in my opinion, however, some of the items were not very durable or were the wrong size. While I do tend to prefer boxes with a true theme to them, this seemed like a cohesive mix and I look forward to checking out next month to compare.

  1. Packaging & Aesthetic – 1 point
  2. Variety of Items in the Box – 1 point
  3. Durability of Items – .5 point
  4. Value of Items – .5 point
  5. Does the Dog Like It? – 1 point

Total Score: 4/5

Recommended