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127 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2013
The Animal Planet Programmable Electronic Pet Feeder, beige revision (not the red and black version), is a reasonably good pet feeder with a few issues that should be addressed with an updated version.

Pros:
+ Easy, well designed UI. You won't have to break out the book each time you need to make a change. The UI for setting and programming the feeder is a big improvement over the previous generation feeder I had tried from from Pet Bistro (a frustrating effort that could only have been designed by programmers without having ever used it.)

+ Seems to be made with decent quality plastics except for the clear plastic food hopper.

+ The clock has maintained the time properly for three months and dispenses food at the scheduled times.

+ Uses batteries or an AC adapter (not included), but for some reason not both?

Cons:
!! Incorrect feeding portions. Noticed my cat was looking a little heavier after three months with this feeder. I have it set to 1/4 cup twice a day for an 8lb 3yr old indoor cat. I checked the food that dropped out on two separate feedings and what should have been a 1/4 cup (24g) was actually a heaping 1/3 cup (41g), a 70% increase. I am using normal sized cat food.

- It doesn't seem that this was designed with cats in mind, especially ones with claws. My cat was reaching up inside the food chute and digging out food within 15 minutes of seeing the unit for the first time. She had never seen an automatic feeder prior to this. You can rig up something to prevent this (see pic) but it should be designed into the product.

- The feeder is tall and becomes top heavy when filled with food. My cat tipped it over (after preventing her from digging out extra food) and the top popped right off, dumping a bunch of food on the floor. Placing in a corner makes it harder to tip over.

- The food hopper plastic is thin and flimsy. Due to this the lid barely stays attached and is not secure. As others have noted, you have to tape it down. I use velcro tape for ease of reuse.

Improvement Suggestions:
Ensure that proper feeding portions are being dispensed.

Make the hopper more rigid with a secure lid.

Design in a cat resistant feeder flap, either built in or detachable.

The unit can use batteries OR AC power but not both. Design it so that AC with battery backup is possible.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2013
I read all the bad reviews and I decided to buy this anyway. Why? Because all the reviews for competing products are equally bad. Because every feeder requires modifications to work correctly anyway, so I might as well get the cheapest one and modify that. It really does deserve the bad reviews, though. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they're all made in the same Chinese factory, and just rebranded by American companies without even trying to make them function well.

I guess the biggest problem is that it's marketed with pictures of cats but is really only appropriate for dogs. The bowl is enormous, the portions are enormous, and make absolutely no sense:

1 bar is 2 portions, or a little more than 1/2 cup (this is the smallest meal you can release)
2 bars = 3 scoops = 3/4 cup
3 bars = 4 scoops = 1 cup
4 bars = 5 scoops = 1 1/4 cups
5 bars = 7 scoops = 1 3/4 cups
6 bars = 8 scoops = 2 cups
7 bars = 10 scoops = 2 1/2 cups
8 bars = 12 scoops = 3 cups

So I guess I'm going to set it for the smallest setting (1/2 cup) and feed her only once a day. Sucks to be her. Maybe I can modify it as others have done to other products so that it dispenses less. I'd really like it to dispense 1/6 or 1/5 a cup 3 times a day. (Update: I tried putting corks in the dispenser so it would dispense smaller amounts, but trying to get it down to 1/4 cup for 2 scoops caused it to jam. Maybe it's possible to trick it into thinking it turned 2 scoops when it only turned 1? If the competing feeders are capable of dispensing 1/4 cup at a time, that might be reason enough to buy those instead of this one.)

It uses the same flexible flaps/paddles system as the others. Some report that they break on other products [but after a year of use, they haven't broken on mine.]

The lid locking is worse than I expected from the reviews. Yeah, there's a groove on the hopper and a tab on the lid that fits into it, but it doesn't actually hold the lid in place at all. You can lift it off almost as easily as when it's not in the groove. The groove on the bottom of the hopper works just fine, it's molded into a solid tab shape. Why couldn't they do that on the top too? The lock on the top of the hopper is not functional at all. I taped the lid on so she can't get inside it. She's kind of stupid and not very determined, though.

Yes, the hopper is kinda flimsy but the only reason this matters is because it lets the lid pop off so easily. It's not going to break or anything. [I've used it for a year and the hopper is undamaged.]

My cat was trying to break into it before I'd even gotten it operating. She could smell the food in the dispenser hole and was trying to dig into it already. She's pretty stupid but she still figured out how to reach her hand up and knock food loose. The front of the feeder has her snot all smeared all over it from smooshing her face against it as she reaches up all the way inside. [I opened it and drilled some holes and put bolts across the opening so she couldn't fit her hand up there, but she still does it. Sigh.]

Also it does NOT remember your settings when you turn it off. You have to reprogram it each time. So stupid. Haven't they heard of EEPROMs? For like 10 cents they could have it save settings while off, but apparently that would be too expensive. (I guess it would forget what time it is while off, but resetting the time every time you turn it on is a lot easier than setting the time PLUS all the feeding settings.) Or it could just have a "don't feed" switch, and stay on all the time. [Actually.... that might be easy to add myself. Add a switch to disconnect the motor while keeping the microcontroller and other guts turned on? But then it will just get stuck in fault mode? We'll see.]
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2013
This feeder worked perfectly for about two weeks and then the timer stopped keeping correct time, so the whole thing became worthless. There's no way to adjust or modify it so that it will work. I bought it at a deep discount- Animal Planet is apparently trying to unload these things quickly on the unwary. Don't waste your money.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2013
Simply, the timer does not keep time and it does not dispense food. It does nothing that it advertises, except actually hold food.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2013
The feeder consistently fails and must be reset every 2-3 days. I would not recommend this product to anyone. Buy something else.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2013
Bad... clock would loose 30 minutes in 24 hours. I thought bad batteries were to blame so I tried a 4.5v adapter (which was not cheap!) and I still had the problem.
I bought this to feed my cat while I was on vacation... I needed a reliable machine.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
Not perfect by any means, but good for the price.
Programming it is easy enough but the top is flimsy and doesn't screw on. The cats easily knock it off, but that is remedied by taping it down. You have to retape it every time you refill but that happens infrequently enough.
The other problem is that the cats were reaching up into the feeder and triggering food to fall in between meals. Using a handful of pencils and a lot of tape I've essentially lowered the hood of the food's exit so the cats can't reach under. They used to break through, but I think I've reinforced enough to where that doesn't happen anymore.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2013
It work for about two weeks after that it would often show error in the screen. I changed the batteries but the problem persisted.
I gave up!! It's nothing but storage now.
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36 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2013
After reading several bad reviews on other brands of electronic programmable pet feeders, I chose this one. It was super easy to set up and program, has a nice 10 lb bin for food, and hasn't missed a food drop. And for the price ($49,) I didn't find it too cheaply made or flimsy. I use large sized kibble and have not had any issues with clogs or jams. I think some people made a comment that the lid doesn't stay on, but the lid actually does lock into place. It's kind of hard to notice at first, but you line up sections and twist to lock. Stays on fine. It also comes with a port for plugging into a 4.5volt power adaptor-- however, the instructions didn't say where you were supposed to find one for it. I'm guessing I can get one at Radio Shack or such...but it wasn't included. I thought the fact that it gives you the option of battery vs plug in was pretty nice. Overall, I'm very pleased with this product.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2014
This feeder will only let you down. The first one I purchased broke because I plugged in a power adapter to it while the batteries were inside. That was my bad because I didn't read the paperwork before i tried to use a third party power adapter. The second one epically failed during our christmas break. It had brand new D batteries in it. My wife and I arrived home after 10 days to an ERR message on the screen. The food basin was empty. There is no way to tell if it stopped dispensing food the first day after we left or yesterday. Luckily, the basin was filled to the brim when we left, so the cat had a few days worth of food, as long as he didn't gorge himself. Very disappointed. I will be getting a refund!
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