Pet cameras are the latest trend in home surveillance — aided by the miniaturization of the electronics needed to create a high-resolution camera able to wireless stream video through the Internet. Cost too has become less of an issue than it used to be; spending hundreds of dollars no longer a standard. So now the defining factor is less how the camera sees and more what else it does that can contribute to allaying a pet owner’s fears when leaving the dog or cat alone at home. Motorola’s Scout66 Wi-Fi HD 720p Pet Monitoring Camera is one perfect example.
Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first: the camera retails for $99 and has a simple design reminiscent of the younger cousin of an Xbox Kinect (i.e., a horizontal bar atop a short vertical mount). This allows the Scout66 to stand on its own on a table or bookshelf/what have you. Power is supplied via a power brick that plugs into a wall outlet — so yes the Scout66 is not truly portable as it must have a source of electricity in order to function. The only other plug on the back to be concerned with is that designed for an Ethernet cable. But if you’re using the built-in WiFi, as most will, the Ethernet plug becomes meaningless.
The camera provides a 720p HD video running at 60 frames per second — and so can show near full speed video, depending on the speed of the home network, the speed of the Internet that the video signal (data) is traveling through and then the WiFi connection where the person viewing all this is stationed. This viewing is accomplished through a free iOS/Android app that Motorola provides for downloading — using the app on your phone allows you to cycle through the basics needed for setting up your connection to the camera and for the camera to set up its connection to your home network. As a result of all this, there are no service or subscription charges. Should you want to record what is being seen, it can be done via the app on the phone directly and manually (but not on iPhones). As the camera has both motion detection and sound detection, it can be made to activate itself automatically as opposed to just being “on” for the person to look in whenever (obviously the two detection modes can trigger messages to inform the owner).
So that’s all well and good and you’ve now a way to watch what your pet is up too — the “fear” that he/she is tearing up the furniture or raiding the icebox now being obsolete. So where’s the good stuff about the Scout66 that has it standing out from the rest?
Start with audio. the way it’s physically constructed. There’s a microphone that “lives” right next to the camera on that horizontal bar. It’s of fair size which makes its ability to capture audio and transmit it more likely to be heard. And no, its not about worrying what the pet is “saying,” but if a fire alarm was going off — it would be good to know. And so as to return the favor, there’s a speaker built in as part of the microphone package for doing that “good doggie” routine that every dog owner has alleged he/she has never done. Or if someone is knocking at the door, you can do a shout out and tell them to knock it off!
But there’s more. The camera also has infrared night vision capabilities so it can see in the dark — which means you can too. If the lights are low so as to keep the pet from being too active, then a regular camera is going to have a tough time capturing video. Not so if night vision is able to be invoked. True the picture looks a bit funky, but if you’ve been playing Call of Duty night missions, you’re probably used to watching this kind of video.
The last addition is a very cool one — by that it means the temperature of the room. What pet owner hasn’t fretted that the thermostat wasn’t keeping the place warm enough or that the AC wasn’t doing its job properly while out? This camera has a built in thermometer to read the temperature of the room and convey that information to you. That is a brilliant addition to a “pet” camera.
Also, for those looking to record video automatically, this can be done — but the “cloud” recording comes at a price. Manual control over video recording and still imaging has no cost since it’s done live by the viewer on the phone.
The Scout66 Wi-Fi HD 720p Pet Monitoring Camera provides the basics of streaming video to wherever you are so a pet can be watched remotely, but adds additional and unique functions. “Who’s the good camera” now?