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Pet Life

Three Great Pet Gadgets Reviewed


Four Petplan customers put pet technology to the test, so you can find the best gadgets for you and your pet. Plus, click here to win a selection of the items we reviewed.


Review

'This contactless device is useful for fuss-free payments, so I don't have to fiddle with my purse while holding my dog'

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bPay by Barclaycard

Petplan is happy to be working in partnership with bPay to review their new contactless payment device.

What is it?

bPay by Barclaycard is a contactless device that allows you to make payments of £30 and under, wherever you see the contactless symbol. You don't need to be a Barclaycard or Barclays customer, as bPay links to any Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card that's registered to a UK address.

How do you use it?

There are three different bPay products available: a fob that's ideal for attaching to your keys, a wristband, and a loop that you can easily attach to your watch or fitness band. You can then simply pre-load money onto it via an easy-to-use app, and enjoy the convenience of paying with a simple touch of your wrist.

When can you use it?

When you'd like to pay for anything £30 and under, wherever you see the contactless symbol. It's ideal for when you'd prefer an alternative to paying with cash - whether that's when you're walking your dog, going to a festival, or heading for a night out. bPay is also secure: if you lose your device you can block it instantly using the app or via bpay.co.uk.

What our reviewers said

bPay sent these Petplan customers a free contactless device to try out along with their pets. Here's what they had to say

Sue says:

'The wristband was best for me, as it's so easy to just wear and use, although I did find it a little difficult to do up. Topping it up and using the bPay app is also incredibly simple. I liked that it means I no longer have to carry cash when I go out on walks, and have coins get caught up with the poly bags in my pockets.

'The app also lets you check the balance on the bPay and track your spending, which is very useful. The convenience of this payment method is wonderful, and I think it's equally useful for non-dog owners too. I've recommended the bPay to friends and can't think of any way it could be improved.'


Jodea says:

'I was impressed with the bPay from the start. The app was straightforward, and I just had to add my details like I would for an online payment. I like the loop as it fits onto my fitness tracker, which I always wear, while my husband likes the wristband - it's ideal for when he goes on long runs and wants a means of payment for emergencies (or snacks!)

'I've found it especially useful when I've taken my dog Pepper out for walks in the evening and have needed to nip into a shop. I like the fact that I don't need to fiddle with my bag or that on cold winter evenings I don't even have to take my gloves off, I just hold my payment loop against the contactless payment reader and it works instantly. It's so handy for when I don't have my purse with me and I want a quick getaway. Love it.'

Julia says:

'The bPay is easy to set up and top up, and the app is simple to use, too. I thought it was great that it came in three formats - the wristband is easy to wear, and the fob is attached to my door key, so it's always with me.

'Since starting to use it, I've been out on walks with Bailey a couple of times and needed to pick up a few food items - and it was very easy to buy these using bPay. It's also handy and quick to use at pay-as-you-go fuel pumps when Bailey is in the car. Some smaller retailers add a surcharge for contactless payments, but I doubt much can be done about this!'



'The kit has been handy for keeping an eye on the dogs when we've been out in the evening, or even when I'm upstairs'

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The Panasonic Smart Home Monitoring Kit

Petplan is happy to be working in partnership with Panasonic to review their monitoring kit for pets.

What is it?

The Panasonic Smart Home Monitoring Kit comes with an indoor camera that allows you to view your pet on any mobile device; a door sensor to monitor when a pet sitter enters your home, or if your pet goes in or out of the room; a Smart Plug, which allows you to turn on a light, heater or radio for your pet; and a Smart Hub, which connects all these devices and also has an SD card that allows you to record your pet's behaviour.

How do you use it?

Follow the simple set-up instructions and download the Panasonic app (free for iOS and Android), then sit back and watch your pet via your smartphone or tablet - wherever you are.

When can you use it?

The indoor camera allows you to check in on your pet, whether you've left home for a short while or are simply in a different part of the house. The Smart Plug is connected to the Smart Hub, and allows you turn on a radio, lamp or heater to help keep your pet comfortable. Turning on the radio is especially helpful if your pet becomes anxious during stormy weather.

What our reviewers said

Panasonic sent these Petplan customers a free Smart Home Monitoring Kit to try out along with their pets. Here's what they had to say:

Jodea says:

'The camera and Smart Hub were easy to set up, and syncing the app is simple, too. We put the camera in the living room, so we can see when Pepper, our dog, runs to the window or heads upstairs to the bedroom where she likes to snooze.

'At times Pepper can suffer from separation anxiety, and we occasionally come back to her barking or howling. Using the camera was really useful to see if this is something she always does when we go out, or if there's something that triggers it. The kit also helped put our minds at ease: it means a lot to us to know that Pepper is happy and relaxed at home. I think this is an excellent product.'


Julia says:

'With the components pre-configured, the camera is easy to set up - you literally just plug it in. The Smart Hub was a bit complicated to work initially, but the full instruction manual guided me through it. While the app is very good, with a good design and lots of features, it does drain my phone battery.

'We put the camera in the kitchen, and it was useful for monitoring our dog, Bailey, when we were at work, went out for a bit, or were just in another room. Its temperature sensor is also a nice feature. The Smart Plug was good for switching on the light before we returned home, and it could be used to switch on a fan in the summer months, too.'


Charlotte says:

'At first I was daunted by all the parts and booklets included in the kit, but everything was set up in minutes. The connection to the indoor camera is good, though the speaker quality on the camera is a bit disappointing. 'We set up the camera in the living room, as our cat, Luna, likes to sleep on the sofa and her toys and scratching post are in there, too. I also put the Smart Plug on a lamp in there - which was handy, as it meant I could easily spot her when I returned home and could stop her from running out the front door.

'We're getting a new kitten soon, and the camera will be incredibly useful as we'll be able to keep a constant eye on it. It will also help when we start leaving the cats unattended, so we can see and hear what's happening from the next room. I'd highly recommend the kit to other owners.'


Camera

Pictured: what the view of the indoor camera looked like on Charlotte's smartphone


Sue says:

'The instructions were relatively easy to follow, but it took time to set up each piece of equipment. It was tricky deciding where to set up the camera as my two dogs, Gerda and Suki, can run freely downstairs most of the time but I placed it on my kitchen worktop. I like watching them through the camera, and the door sensor adds an extra element of security, too.

'I downloaded the app on my iPad rather than iPhone, so the image isn't quite as clear as it could be. However, the camera has been handy for keeping an eye on the dogs when we've been out in the evening, or even when I'm upstairs doing housework.'



'My cat has been known to stay out for days and get us all worried - but with the Pod we can always track him down'

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Pod GPS Tracker and Activity Monitor

Petplan is happy to be working in partnership with Pod to review their GPS tracker and activity monitor for cats and dogs.

What is it?

Pod is the smallest and lightest real-time GPS pet tracker on the market, it attaches to your pet's collar and can be tracked via your smartphone, locating your pet on demand. You can also monitor your pet's activity and record where they wander. With Pod you never have to worry about losing your cat or dog.

Visit podtrackers.com to find out more.

How do you use it?

Simply attach Pod to your pet's collar: the custom straps allow it to fit collars of all shapes and sizes, and its unique barrel design has been created to be as comfortable as possible for your cat or dog. Then download the Pod web app (free for iOS and Android) and you're set to track your pet's location and activity.

When can you use it?

Pod has both WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, meaning that you can track your pet and monitor their activity both indoors and out.

What our reviewers said

Pod sent these Petplan customers a free Pod GPS Tracker and Activity Monitor to try out on their pets. Here's what they had to say:

Charlotte says:

'While the instructions were easy to follow, I found it impossible to pull the strap of my cat Luna's collar through the Pod's holes. I ended up attaching the Pod with a piece of ribbon, which felt fairly secure. However, Luna doesn't normally wear a collar and putting one on her stressed her out, so we had to take it off.

'Instead, we tried it on my other cat, Blue, who lives with my parents. He has been known to stay out for days and get us all worried - but with the Pod we can always track him down. While the size seemed to initially be a bit of an issue, he quickly got used to it.

'I like that the Pod gives me peace of mind, but would suggest that it comes pre-attached to a collar to eliminate the issues I had threading the strap provided.'



Jodea says:

'Setting up the Pod was easy, but I had to ask my husband to tighten the loops on the device - it needed some manpower! I like that it attaches to my dog Pepper's existing collar, and it felt really secure. Pepper can be a bit funny about having anything new around her neck, but she hasn't batted an eyelid.

'It was really interesting to see the results after monitoring Pepper's walks for a week. It's lead to an extra walk on weekend evenings, as we've noted she can be more restless due to the change from our weekday routine.

'The only downside is that the refresh rate on the 'safe zone' feature is only every five minutes, by which time a runaway pet could have gotten a fair way before being located. However, it's still better than having no idea at all. Overall, the Pod has a stylish design, and the app is really user-friendly.'

Pictured: Jodea with Pepper, the Pod Tracker firmly attached to her collar

Julia says:

'I didn't find the set-up instructions detailed enough, and it was really difficult to attach the Pod to my dog Bailey's collar - though we did later see instructions to soak the straps in warm water first to make it easier. Once we'd fitted the Pod, it was fine and Bailey didn't even know it was there! I have been taking it off at night though, as it's a bit big for him to sleep in.

'I really like that I'm able to check his location at all times, and it was good to know that he was being tracked during off-lead walks. The app initially kept placing him in the wrong location, but instructions on the Pod website showed me how to reset and fix this. It's also nice to get information from Bailey's walks with other people, such as our dog walker, and to know when he has been dropped back home.'


Sue says:

'The device and app are self-explanatory to set up, and the Pod was easy to attach - it felt very secure on the flexible collar that my dog, Gerda, wears. However, I didn't like the size or weight of the Pod, and feel it could be made smaller. Initially Gerda didn't like having it attached to her collar and tried to bite and claw it, but by the second day of wear she had fully accepted it.

'The mobile connections work anywhere and it's given me peace of mind. Our garden is quite large, and Gerda has managed to squeeze through the fencing in the past. I like her to wear the Pod when we go for walks now, and it'll be ideal for when we go on holiday. I'd be heartbroken if she went missing, but this helps to assure me that we'd be able to track her down.'

Pictured: Sue's dog, Gerda, with her Pod Tracker


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