The latest in WowWee's range of robots, the Roboquad is one of the better offerings, however one that is still hampered by limitations in the technology. Suitable for all ages, the Roboquad delivers a lot of versatility, and with the right know-how can do some very cool stuff. The flipside to this however is a fairly complicated control system, one which requires a lot of patience and practice to master. For the dedicated, however, it pays off, and in the hands of an expert the Roboquad is an incredibly fun device.
- Programmable with up to forty commands, incredible movement and maneuverability
- Sensory ability limited at times, highly complex control system
Definitely one of the better of WowWee's robots, the Roboquad promises to deliver hours and hours of fun.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
Built on four rotating, jointed legs, the Roboquad has quite a lot of maneuverability. It can rotate itself, it can walk in any of four directions without turning, can move diagonally (slowly) and even perform a semi-intelligent 'escape walk' intended to disengage it from obstacles. By folding its legs inwards it can prop itself up higher, or even ready itself for a 'pounce' type move (which is actually fairly tame). Controlling movement is reasonably basic and intuitive, although the more complicated steps require a little more know-how or manual reference.
The Roboquad's head rests atop a rotating, two-jointed neck, giving him a field of 'vision' that extends to about 180 degrees horizontally and around the same vertically. Its sensors are generally pretty good, in that they pick up any movement or obstacles that come into the field of vision. Nevertheless, this field is still quite small, and unless the Roboquad moves its head, it often can't see a lot of surrounding objects, especially ones at ground level that may entangle its feet.
The Roboquad is reasonably customisable when in its automated mode. It can be set to a guard mode, in which it responds to any noise or movement in its range by flashing lights and making shooting noises. It can also be set to a roaming mode, in which it walks around and explores its environment, avoiding obstacles that it's able to detect. In this mode users can change its aggression, activity, and awareness levels each to one of three presets, tailoring its behaviour. The autonomous modes are for the most part fun and functional, with problems arising every now and then due to the limitations of Roboquad's sensory system.
The real fun, at least in our opinion, lies in the manual mode. It takes a lot of practice to learn the commands and familiarise yourself with the controls, but the rewards are worth it. With its quadruped design, the Roboquad is highly maneuverable and can move around at a fair pace. Steep slopes and highly uneven terrain can pose a problem, but generally a few bumps won't get in its way at all.
The extension of this mode is a very nifty feature - programming. The Roboquad can memorise a program of up to forty commands, playing them back in sequence when instructed, or when disturbed in guard mode. The possibilities of this are endless. Dancing, patrol routes, 'lunge' type attacks, or even just show off routines for friends, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of this feature. Getting the most out of the programming mode does require a pretty solid knowledge of the controls, but as ever, practice makes perfect.
The control system is probably the biggest drawback of the Roboquad. With a fairly minimalist remote control which is built upon a four-layered 'shift' command system (each button has four different functions, depending on the current 'shift' level), controlling the Roboquad quickly and effectively requires a flurry of well timed button presses. Often we found ourselves having to change shift level (one to three button presses) between commands several times in a row, leaving us hitting around thirty buttons to get the robot to perform a simple ten commands. Nevertheless, with enough experience it could become intuitive enough, however we do feel that there is definitely room for improvement, mostly by throwing some more buttons on the remote and toning down the shift system a little. The remote works well otherwise, although its range doesn't extend past about five metres.
Overall, the Roboquad is an impressively designed robot. Although probably too complex for most very young children, it's an attractive gift idea for almost anyone else with even a passing interest in robots. Slightly limited sensory ability and a difficult and multi-layered control system are the only real drawbacks of a device that's otherwise an exceptional product. Coming at a much lower price than previous WowWee robots, we can easily imagine the Quad becoming a winner.
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