I’ve spent the last few weeks with a guest. Its name is the Ebo SE, an internet-connected camera on wheels that lets me watch, record, pester, and talk with my cats when I’m away from home. At $100, the Ebo SE might be helpful to some pet owners, but it’s far from perfect, and I have trouble seeing it as anything more than a misguided toy.
Does the Ebo SE look familiar? It’s one of two new devices from Enabot, a company that made waves on Kickstarter a few years ago with its Ebo Standard and Ebo Pro robots. Enabot just launched the Ebo SE on Kickstarter as an entry-level alternative to the Ebo Air, a more advanced robot with several AI features and a built-in laser pointer.
For what it’s worth, I think that most people will appreciate the Ebo SE’s simplicity. It’s basically a camera-equipped RC car that you can control from your phone. But the way that Enabot executed the Ebo SE’s simple features leaves a lot to be desired, and some of the device’s flaws, like the lack of a power button, are just annoying.
Table of Contents
At its core, the Ebo SE is just a 1080p HD camera on wheels. My cats aren’t really interested in playing with it, but they like to follow it around and sniff it, which makes for some cute photos and interactions when I’m away away from home. While I haven’t found much use for the Ebo SE’s microphone or loudspeaker features, I appreciate the device’s black and white night-vision mode, which works well and ensures that I can check in on my cats at any hour of the day.
But the Ebo SE’s camera quality is uninspiring. Even in bright lighting, which is hard to get indoors, photos and videos just don’t look that great. It’s a shame, because the Ebo SE captures unique moments at a unique angle, and if the camera quality were better, I would feel motivated to use the Ebo more often. (I’ve included four of my favorite Ebo SE photos below—two cute pictures and two funny pictures.)
Enabot says that photos and video recordings Ebo SE aren’t stored in the cloud. Instead, data is stored locally on a 16GB microSD card provided with the unit. If you give permission in the Ebo app, then photos and videos shot on the Ebo SE will automatically copy from the SD card to your phone, but not in HD format, for whatever reason. (If you want the HD content, you have to plug the SD card into a computer. Altogether, it’s a privacy-minded system that’s mirrored in some smart security cameras, but Enabot should probably allow users to automatically save HD content to their phone.
Speaking of security cameras, the Ebo SE has one feature that I don’t understand—motion detection. Enabot insists that the Ebo SE can detect suspicious activity in your home and alert you like a smart security camera. It’s a silly idea and, I think, a distraction from the Ebo SE’s role as a fun camera for pets. If you want indoor security cameras, you should buy some cheap smart cameras from Wyze or another brand.
Getting started with the Ebo SE is very easy. You just open the app, scan a QR code, and hit the ground running. The app’s on-screen control interface shows you everything that the Ebo sees and provides a few buttons to quickly snap photos, shoot video, or turn on the intercom mode. The app also lets you turn off Ebo’s sound effects (which you’ll get sick of quickly) or adjust your driving speed.
While the Ebo SE’s controls are intuitive, they aren’t very responsive. Sometimes I try to turn the Ebo left, but it turns right. Sometimes it just ignores button presses. Reviews for the original Ebo Standard and Ebo Pro suggest that this has been a problem for a while, and I wonder if it has something to do with Ebo’s object-avoidance system.
Anyway, the Ebo SE also has an auto-cruise mode, which might give your cats something to do when you’re too busy to control the Ebo manually. It’s a nice inclusion, and I like that the Ebo SE can automatically shoot video in this mode, though I wish it had an option to take random photos while auto-cruising, too.
At the time of writing, you can only log in to the Ebo SE on one phone or tablet at a time (both iOS and Android work). If you want to control it from a new device, you have to reset Ebo SE and go through the setup process again. Enabot says that it plans to add multiuser access to the Ebo SE in the future, a feature that’s necessary for family members or couples who want to use the robot on their respective devices.
In terms of build quality, the Ebo SE is about as good as you can expect for $100. It’s lightweight but feels durable and should be able to withstand even the most aggressive cats (if they actually play with Ebo).
One of the only faults in the Ebo SE’s build is its wheels, which pick up a lot of cat hair and are loud like an RC car. Thankfully, the wheels are easy to clean, and I mostly use Ebo while away from home, so I rarely hear its wheels. (Enabot says that the Ebo Air is much quieter than the SE thanks to brushless motors.)
I know that I’ve already mentioned this, but the Ebo SE doesn’t have a power button. You can shake the Ebo SE for ten seconds or double-press the reset button with a SIM card remover to put it into sleep mode, but there’s no button to turn the unit off. I understand that the Ebo SE is a smart home device and that leaving it on lets you see your cats at any time, but we’re talking about an internet-connected camera and microphone on wheels. It needs a power button, especially when you consider how it may appeal to families with kids.
Privacy aside, the lack of a power button is annoying when something goes wrong with the Ebo SE. I’ve had to fight the robot twice because it started bugging out in the middle of the night, probably because it wasn’t aligned with its charging cradle. (It tries to drive itself back to the charger if you aren’t using the app.) If the Ebo had a power button, I could have turned it off and gone back to bed instead of troubleshooting whatever went wrong. And to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what the problem was.
Despite its faults, the Ebo SE is a fun toy that lets you keep up with your pets when you’re away from home. Its built-in camera can capture pretty unique photos and videos, even in the dead of night. At $100, it’s a worthwhile investment for pet owners who spend a lot of time at work or for families who like to take cute photos of their pets.
Just keep your expectations in check. The Ebo SE’s camera quality isn’t that great, the controls are awkward, and it doesn’t have a power button. It’s a fun device, but at its core, the Ebo SE is a toy. It isn’t a home security device or, as Enabot claims on its Kickstarter page, a helpful stand-in for an alarm clock or night light.
In the future, I’d like to see an Ebo that’s more focused on its design and purpose. Not only does it need a better camera and in-app controls, but Enabot needs to properly address user privacy with simple features like a power button. I also think that Enabot should admit that the Ebo is a toy and add features specifically for kids. A more inviting paint job, a basic in-app photo editor, and some parental control features are all that the Ebo SE needs to appeal to a broader audience without obscuring its role as a pet camera.
Here’s What We Like
- It takes really cute pictures and videos
- You can check in on your pets while away from home
- Night-vision mode works great
And What We Don't
- No power button
- Camera quality is lacking
- Funky controls