Friday 8th January 2016 – You really need one of these

From time to time I’m asked to test products that might be useful to pet owners. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I’m not so convinced and sometimes, like now, I reach the conclusion that they are the best thing since dog biscuits. If you have a puppy, or a dog that you wonder what they get up to; If you like gadgets; if you think about home security; or if you are too impatient to wait for your coffee in the morning then you really need one of these.

This is the Panasonic Home Monitoring and Control Kit you can buy the basic kit or parts of it and you can add to it as you want to. The kit we have has an indoor camera, a smart plug and two door or window sensors. It also has a techy hub thing that they all work with but that’s not so exciting, except that you can use it to control everything and record the camera footage if you want to. Imagine for a minute that you have a dog like Aristotle who you put in his crate as a puppy and went out and left for an hour and who greeted you at the front door when you came home. IMG_2599It happened! While it was fun to nickname him Houdini, our Mistress wanted to know how he got out of his crate. With this camera she could have found out. You can even set it to automatically record if there is movement or if there is noise. If you don’t want it to record you can get it to send a message to your phone so you can watch live what is going on. Now, obviously that is useful if it is being used for home security as you can have footage of anyone breaking into your home, but with a puppy you can do what our Mistress did when she went out on New Year’s Eve and check on your puppy at intervals through the evening to make sure they are settled and you don’t need to nip home to let them out. It meant she had a much more relaxed evening not worrying about Wilma. She wishes she had it when she had the puppies. She hates leaving them unattended even if she is elsewhere in the house. With the camera she can keep her eye on things from a different room or if she has to go out of the house for a while. It will give her peace of mind and cut down on her stress.

Then there’s the Smart Plug – you can actually have a number of different plugs and our Mistress is planning to get some more now that she likes what they do. You can set it up to turn something on automatically, like a light, or soothing music for the puppy if he or she is disturbed and unsettled. You can use it for security to turn lights on and off when you are on holiday, either automatically or anywhere you have an Internet signal on your phone. Our Mistress currently has it set up to turn the coffee machine on in the morning without getting out of bed!

The door sensors are mainly a security thing as far as we can tell. You could use it to monitor a dog if he was supposed to be contained to a room and was like Aristotle and had learnt how to use door handles. However if you wanted to monitor home security you can certainly do that by setting them to let you know if the door or window it is linked to is opened. You can have it ring a phone number if that’s better. If you are out of the country and want someone locally to respond then you can link it to a phone to call them.

You can add other things to the system too like outside cameras if that is what you want, but we have focussed on whether it is a good system for pet owners and the answer is a very definite yes. Of course if your pet spends time outside without you there it is a definite win to have a camera to pick up unusual movement.

For a pet owner knowing your pet has settled when you go out, isn’t causing havoc, isn’t disturbing the neighbours and is completely safe and happy is well worth the money of setting this kit up. Our Mistress actually found set-up really easy too. She still has lots of features to explore and to set up different scenarios that can happen automatically, but even without using it’s full capability she loves it.

Oh there is a temperature sensor as part of the camera too, which again is great when you have puppies to care for.

IMG_2600So what are the downsides? When the pub got busy on New Year’s Eve our Mistress struggled to get enough bandwidth to check the camera. She also made the mistake of playing one of the built in lullabys to Wilma and set us all off barking in response, but that might work better with a baby than four excitable dogs.

You can buy kits or separate components. The kit we have costs about £240 and is available from lots of places including John Lewis. You can get kits with less in them or separate parts to build your system.

If we gave star ratings this would be a definite five out of five! Unless you were the puppy trying to misbehave in which case you’d be less impressed!

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