Most modern-day dog owners have to face the routine heartbreak of leaving their canine companion at home. There's no reason to feel guilty for doing so, but there are various means of making our own feelings of separation anxiety easier to bear.
This pet monitor is one of them. It's a very impressive piece of kit that allows you to keep an eye on your dog, communicate with him, and monitor his environment from any remote location.
The Scout camera we tried proved remarkably easy to set up. The camera itself plugged into the mains, and connected very simply to our wifi network. It was then just a case of loading up the free Hubble app on our iPad (Android and iOS (7+) systems are compatible), and connecting the camera with Hubble - a very simple, streamlined process which is unlikely to cause problems with even the most nervy of technophobes.
The Hubble app then delivers a live stream from the camera, and gives alerts whenever motion is detected. Alerts are also sent when the temperature changes beyond a pre-set range, or when sound is detected. Hubble will also record video and sound from the camera, although this additional feature requires a paid subscription.
The motion-detection capabilities are certainly useful - Hubble will alert you whenever it detects that your dog is moving. However, we found the greatest joy with this camera is the simple ease with which it allows us to check in on our dogs whenever we want. The video stream we experienced was of crisp, clear quality (720p) and suffered very little in the way of lag or connection issues.
Hubble allows you to control the pan and tilt of the camera. It can pan through an impressive 300 degrees, meaning that careful positioning of the camera will allow you to track your pet's movement through a wide range. By positioning the camera in the corner of my dining room, I was able to follow Frank's progress as he wandered from the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room.
Another interesting feature is the Scout's two-way communication system. You can hear your dog, and you can also speak to your dog. Frank found this a little spooky when we first tried it, but with training I think he will come to understand that it is my voice coming from the strange black object in the corner of the room.
In the box you get the camera itself, a mains adapter, a quick-start guide and full user guide. The camera looks impressive - it feels robust and has a smart black and silver finish.
In the middle of the camera's main body is the lense, and surrounding this is a light sensor which is used for night-mode detection. Also on the front of the camera are infrared LEDs which give the camera night vision. The speaker, which emits your voice, is located on the front of the camera's base unit.
On the back of the base unit is a micro-USB socket, which is used to connect with mains power. The on/off switch is also housed here. A power indicator lights up on top of the base unit, and beside this is the microphone. Underneath the base is the PAIR button, which is used for connecting the camera to wifi. An antenna rotates up from the side of the base unit.
We found the user guide to be excellent - it gives comprehensive instructions for using the Hubble app as well as camera set up. Although the Hubble app is fairly self-explanatory, the user guide is very good for getting acquainted with some of the more advanced features, such as the 'Melody' function (this plays soothing tunes for your dog - activated remotely via the app).
The free Hubble app is impressively versatile - the pan and tilt functions are very reliable and allow for great coverage, although we found the pan increments to be slightly larger than ideal. As well as playing calming melodies, the Hubble app also allows you to monitor the temperature of your dog's environment, and can be configured to alert you if the temperature rises above ot below your chosen limits. There is also the possiblity to connect up to 10 cameras to the same Hubble account, so you could achieve extremely comprehensive coverage if you so wished.
Overall, we found the reliability and functionality of this camera to be superb - especially considering the price point. Our only niggles are the slightly awkward pan increments and subscrption charges for recording - but if, like us, all you really want is an effective way to monitor your dog when you have to leave him, this seems to be the ideal solution.