Get ready for an outstanding, feature-packed robot that bridges the gap between toy and hobby products. The iRobot 710 Kobra from New Bright is a multi-functionr/c robot that's packed with features that will make it a cool, electronic companion that can crawl, climb, reach and grasp. With a range of about 100 feet, you can go on all kinds of stealthy missions. And when you download the free app, you can activate a camera and speech function that can let you have all kinds of fun.
The basic robot is a solid body that sits on pivoting treads. The remote control drives it forwards and reverse, and it also turns right or left very fluidly. The ability to raise and lower the front treads means that this can even climb. You can use the iRobot indoors or out, which is something comparable robots canít do. Outdoors youíll want to avoid sand and water, which should probably be obvious given the electronics and moving parts. The controller is quite sophisticated, and we really liked how versatile is. Naturally, youíll want to play around with it for a while as you get the hang of it, but the learning is actually fun, which isnít always the case with these types of toys.
Once you master the basic operation, you can really enhance the play by adding the app that works with iOS or Android. This allows you to activate the camera, take pictures, and even speak through the robot. You can shoot in standard or high resolution, and the resolution is impressive. The app connects via onboard WiFi, and while weíve found that to be a problem with other robotic toys in the past that wasn't the case with this one. The connection for this was easy and super stable. It does take about a minute to connect, but it was consistent on multiple tries. Images from the camera connect directly to your device. We did notice a little bit of a lag with the images, especially while driving the robot, but it was really okay. You can also broadcast sound. Press and hold the sound button to record, and when you release, your recording will play through the robot.
The controller takes 4 double-a batteries and the robot uses a rechargeable lithium battery. If youíre so inclined, you can actually run up to 6 of these robots simultaneously on separate channels.
Kids (and certainly adults) will enjoy driving the robot around and trying to get it to do different things. The app adds dimension to the play, but kids can have a lot of fun putting this through its paces on its own. We really like that the play is not dependent on the app. That's a smart feature.
Our one concern is that once owners have put it through all the paces, there may not be that much new to discover. That's true of many toys and robots, however. We do think that kids especially will enjoy introducing friends to this and creating co-play experiences and competitive challenges to see what they can do with it.
This isn't the quietest robot we've tested, which isn't a problem. You probably won't be able to sneak up on anyone, however.
The instructions are very good, and there are good FAQs online if you run into trouble. Some things on the app, we had to figure out by playing with it, but that was easy and largely intuitive.
The climbing function is not as easy to master as the company makes it sound. You'll have to experiment with balance and weight, etc. to get the robot to climb. For instance if the arm is extended too far, the robot will tip over. Fortunately, the robot is very sturdy, and we banged it up a lot trying to learn with no sustained damage.
You can't store sounds in the app.
This isn't inexpensive, but the price is comparable to other similar types of robots, and given the better performance and ease of use, this could be a very good choice.
4 AA batteries required
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