SmartFeeder review: why does this need to be online?

Published January 12th, 2020

If your cat, like ours, is booping you in the face for food in the mornings, you might be considering a pet feeder. If you're reading this, you're likely interested in a smart version, too.

Pet feeders can make life easier, but after owning the Petnet Smartfeeder 2.0 for a few months, it's unclear if it's worth buying a smart feeder over the traditional, clock-based kind–it's just too much extra risk that something will go wrong, for little gain.

Why we got this thing

Here's the honest truth: we all want to feed our pets when we're away, or try to get them to stop begging us for food. That's why I ended up considering the SmartFeeder, and probably why you're here too.

The SmartFeeder caught our attention in the first place because it's one of the few pet feeders that doesn't look like a medical device. It looks nice! It blends in with a kitchen! It does the feeding for you! At first glance, the SmartFeeder does the job... except when it doesn't (more on that later).

The details

This feeder provides an app both for iOS and Android, and requires WiFi to function. You can set up schedules for your pet's eating habits and get notifications about food being dispensed...and that's about it.

When you're using the feeder, you'll need to tell it the type of food you're adding, and it'll warn you about the 'rating' of the food with the feeder–a lower score means it might get stuck and block the feeder. Not only is this a strange workflow, it's a real hassle after the first time we set up the device: fishing out the food bag and entering the specific flavor as well as the brand seemed tedious and complicated.

After you've set up the food type and a schedule, hopefully your pet will be fed on the regular without much extra work–when the SmartFeeder 2.0 worked, it's pretty much 'set and forget'... but that's the problem: it doesn't always work.

In our testing over the last few months, we found that about 10 percent of the time it didn't dispense food because it was too large, or a random blockage was caused–when this happened, it was unclear how to fix it or what exactly the problem was. The app simply throws vague errors, saying that dispensing was missed.

The verdict

While it's nice to configure this device on your phone, the extra complexity of getting the Smartfeeder on your WiFi, along with the risk that it may cease to function if the servers are turned off, are probably not worth it.

If you absolutely want a pet feeder with an app, this is your best choice. But ask yourself: do you really need it to be app-enabled? Probably not. 

Our score