Blurring the line between life and technology.
- It's the most advanced toy robot on the market (especially when it comes to believable AI behaviour)
- Price, battery life, it doesn't actually 'do' much on a surface-level
Pleo can be viewed as a major evolutionary step forward in toy robotics. Its artificial intelligence and advanced sensors make its competitors look prehistoric. However, we’re not convinced that Pleo will make for an enjoyable toy, particularly among youngsters who prefer flashy trick-laden gadgets. As such, its appeal will be limited to those who can appreciate the sophisticated AI.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Pleo (Personal Life Enhancing Organism) is a robot toy with a difference. Unlike the largely superficial Robo-Sapien range, it has been designed to behave as realistically as possible, with new robotics firm Ugobe attempting to blur the line between life and technology. The result is a unique creation that can almost be compared to a living, breathing pet. But is this actually a good thing? As you will see, we remain slightly unconvinced…
For its first robotic creation, Ugobe has gone for the rather unconventional choice of a baby dinosaur, rather than the cuddlier modern-day fuzzball you might expect. Apparently, it is modelled after a one-week old Camarasaurus, an herbivorous sauropod that lived in the Jurassic Period some 150 million years ago (thanks Wikipedia). We have a sneaking suspicion this decision was made to compensate for the robot’s sluggish movement, which would otherwise seem overly slow (i.e., dinosaurs are supposed to plod).
That’s not to say Pleo isn’t cute though. With his large blinking eyes, lazy smile and purring voice box, he reminded us of a reptilian Furby doll (not coincidentally, Ugobe’s founder helped to create both products). We have no doubts that Pleo’s appearance will be a big hit with kids and kids-at-heart: it’s the kind of toy even red-blooded males will want to stroke and hug.
But Pleo is much more than a cute looking toy. With 14 servo joints, 38 inbuilt sensors (which incorporate touch, tilt, sound and light), full quadrupedal movement and a comprehensive range of behaviours and emotions, it is easily the most sophisticated toy robot yet. In fact, ‘toy’ is probably a misleading word; it would better be described as a companion or pet (or as Ugobe puts it, ‘a machine with a soul’). This is made possible by Life OS: a complex platform of interacting tools and software systems that incorporates animation, sound, ‘attention’ (which determines Pleo’s interest level in sensory objects) and ‘drive’ (which decides what choices Pleo makes based on hunger, fatigue and other organic factors). In other words, Pleo is completely independent from its owner, which means you don’t get to control him with a remote control.
Despite all this clever engineering, there is no getting past the fact that Pleo is a robot. We were reminded of this fact every time he moved, due to the constant whir of mechanical parts. The level of realism is further hampered by Pleo’s brief battery life (you need to recharge him every 90 minutes), though to be fair, he does start to act sleepy whenever its time to remove the battery which is a nice touch. On another note, the foot-mounted sensors aren't particularly adept at detecting sheer drops, which means your 'machine with a soul' will happily trundle off to his doom unless you keep an eye on him. (Mind you, the same thing can be said about most baby animals.)
Despite these misgivings, we’d say Ugobe achieved its aim in creating a plausible pet. We were particularly impressed by the believable swish of his tail. It also freaked out cat out, which probably goes to prove something, although we’re not sure what.
So what does a ‘pet robot’ do exactly? Much like a regular pet, whatever it damn well feels like! This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it helps to heighten the sense of realism, with no telltale repetition to spoil the organic illusion. One the other hand, it means Pleo rarely does what you want it to. (Even Ugobe couldn’t get it to follow its prompts during a media demonstration, and they built the damn thing.) Ironically, all this realism and unpredictability may be Pleo’s main downfall as a commercial product — much like a kitten or puppy, it mainly just stands around looking cute. By contrast, the WowWee Roboquad will break-dance to music at the press of a button. If you prefer robotic toys that do gimmicky tricks on command, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
Our other main gripe with Pleo is the exorbitant price tag. At $449, it costs around the same amount as a Nintendo Wii console with multiple games and controllers. Whether it will offer the same level of entertainment, interactivity and longevity for you and your family is highly debatable. In conclusion, we’d have to say that Pleo is a remarkable technical achievement that fans of robotics and artificial intelligence will be highly impressed with. The average Joe, however, will simply wonder why it can’t do backflips.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Take a ride on Positron’s Voyager, a full-motion chair for VR cinema
- Intel showed how 5G networking will power VR and self-driving cars
- Sony's Android-powered Xperia projector turns any flat surface into a touch screen
- IBM's hub for wearables could have you out of the hospital faster
- HoloLens Spectator View makes it easier to show off AR creations
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTDrupal Developer - Senior or Mid levelQLD
- FTNodeJS DeveloperNSW
- FTWintel EngineerSA
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!QLD
- CCSenior Full Stack Web Developer - Port MacquarieQLD
- TPSenior Software DeveloperQLD
- CCSharePoint Developer - Multiple Roles - 3-6 Mth Contract Initially - SydneyNSW
- FTSenior Security Sales SpecialistVIC
- CCApplication Support Specialist- Bathurst or Port MacquarieNSW
- TPProject Manager - Digital Banking ProjectQLD
- FTEmail Production SpecialistNSW
- CCWintel Engineers - NV1ACT
- FTTechnical ConsultantACT
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- CCChange AnalystQLD
- FTArcFM/Gis Lead DeveloperNSW
- CC.Net Developer - SilverlightVIC
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistACT
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistNSW
- FTUX DesignerNSW
- CCPega TesterVIC
- CCData Migration ManagerQLD
- CCAutomation Test AnalystQLD
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW