The Furbo dog camera is a completely unnecessary gadget that nobody needs but every dog owner should have. Just when you thought the ceiling had been reached, Furbo gives crazy dog owners an opportunity to become just a little bit more crazy. To really take their pet obsession up a notch.
Back in the old days, if you wanted to watch your dogs sleep and occasionally walk them up with a treat you would need to quit your job and stay at home. There was no luxury of remote access.. There were no newfangled interweb machines. Nope. You had to look at your dog with your own two eyes and physically toss it a treat with your hands like a peasant.
But the future has arrived. With technology more advanced than the moon lander, Furbo has arrived and given humans the capability of transmitting signals wirelessly to a contraption that throws food onto the floor of your home. We are truly living in a golden age of science.
The main feature of Furbo is the treat dispenser. Furbo is a slim plastic hopper that loads little dog treats onto a spring loaded catapult, triggered remotely by your phone. It’s a pretty basic concept and hard to believe it hadn’t come to the market sooner.
Don’t worry about shooting your dog in the face with treats. Furbo isn’t a medieval weapon. It’s not going to sling treats with enough velocity to destroy castles. No, it’s pretty gentle. And if your dog is as uncoordinated as my dog Moustache, treats will hit him right in the face with no punishment.
But Moustache learned that getting shot in the face is a necessity. You see, Furbo is very consistent. The launching mechanism doesn’t vary at all. So if your dog is as clever as my other dog Goat, treats will land precisely at his paws and allowing him a quick and easy scoop. Moustache never had a chance. So at least he figured that he can just stand closer and block flying treats with his face. He’s not completely hopeless.
But neither dogs is cool enough to catch treats midair. No matter how many treats I fling via the app, Moustache just lets them ricochet of his face and Goat just positions himself for the rebound. Treat after treat after treat. Nothing.
Unfortunately I have to resist the urge to fling treats all day since the hopper is pretty small. You’ll definitely need refill Furbo regularly, probably daily. Heaven help you if you forget to top it off with treats. You’ll open the app, flick the treat icon, nothing will come out and you’ll break your dog’s heart. You monster!
There are no physical buttons on Furbo. If you want to give your dog a treat you need to use the Furbo App. Or, you know, physically throw a treat on the ground with your human motor skills, like some sort of barbarian.
The app is okay. I’m not the biggest fan of the interface but it’s usable. Buttons are pretty self evident as to what function it does. But the app can be a little unresponsive, especially if using the camera function. But in full disclosure, my phone is phone of paltry power: the Moto G. Your mileage may vary since I can only assume you have a better phone than me (even if you paid an arm and a leg for yours and I paid peanuts, sucker).
Despite the imperfectly smooth experience, the app gets the job done. Does it give me a live view into my apartment, even over LTE? Yes. Does it let me fling treats at Moustache’s face? Yes. That’s pretty much all I really need from Furbo and it delivers.
And besides, quirks are with the software, not the the hardware. I’m confident that the app will improve as time goes by. In fact, it’s already been updated a few times in the couple of weeks I’ve had Furbo. That’s an excellent sign of things to come.
Sound and Vision
Furbo would be pointless without a camera. I mean, you could make a remote treat dispenser without a camera, but what’s the fun in that? Just be sure to buy Furbo with tempered expectations.
The Furbo’s camera is fine. The photo quality is fine The video quality is fine. You won’t be making large prints with your pictures nor will you be making artful documentaries with your footage. Its not great. Its not the worst. Its fine, except for the night vision. The night vision is actually pretty cool.
In addition to looking into your home while you’re away, you can also talk and listen. Furbo is equipped with a microphone and speaker that accommodates a basic level of two way communication. But again, just like the camera, the audio quality is fine.
I do like using the speaker to get my dogs’ attention before shooting a treat. I found that it was a less scary way of training Goat on how to use Furbo. I also appreciate the ability to listen in and even get alerts when the dogs start barking.
I hadn’t really thought much about it before ordering my Furbo but the bark alert feature has proved to be rather useful. On my first day with Furbo I was getting a bark alert every minute, seemingly. It was nuts. I never realized my dogs were so naughty.
Turns out that the Furbo’s microphone is just a bit too sensitive for my urban setting. It was registering garbage trucks outside, people down on the street, car doors slamming and other basic city noises. By default the bark alert sensitivity is set to high. Turning it down to medium proved much more useful and gives me an accurate idea as to how much my dogs are barking.
I had some concerns about giving them a treat to prevent them from barking. I thought it might encourage the behavior. But alas my concerns were unfounded.
My dogs usually don’t bark unless there is someone out in the hallway doing something fishy, like vacuuming. The Furbo has proven to be a great distraction for the irritant. They come running, they get some treats and they forget about whatever was bugging them.
Furbo is a stress reducer. It reduces my dogs’ stress by giving them something to do sporadically throughout the day. And it reduces my human stress by allowing me to check in and make sure my boys are comfortable and not dead.
For example, I was sitting at my desk at work one day and realized, “Oh shit. I left some chocolate on the side table of the couch and the boys could totally get to it!” I quickly fired up Furbo and called for the boys. They came running. Whew!
Sure, Furbo has a bunch of flaws. But you know what? I don’t really care. As someone with two quirky mutts, I don’t mind the imperfections. It’s par for the course. Furbo’s two most important features work. It hits Moustache in the face with food and it lets me see Moustache get hit in the face with food. That’s all I need to love it.
Everything else is just fluff.