item #8033 by WowWee

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UPDATE: Thanks to a fantastic Woot deal of the day, I picked up a Rovio for a hundred bucks. Now that I have both Rovio and Spykee, I can more accurately compare the two. Everything that I praised Rovio for from having read reviews is true. In most every manner, Rovio is the far superior robot. One complaint, and this is the same complaint as with Spykee - the headlights are about worthless. Difference is WowWee provides a solution. They created a beefier headlight attachment to compensate for their poor design. Only they charge (or used to back when they still sold it) $40 for it. I'm sorry, and this may just be me, but if I pay $300 for a product, I shouldn't be expected to pay another $40 to repair a defective component. That would be like Toyota charging customers to repair the sticking throttle problem with their cars...

I am currently torn between robots - WowWee's Rovio and Erector's Spykee. Both robots offer web based wi-fi telepresence at similar prices. The differences are so small that deciding which to purchase is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

First, there is the WowWee Warranty Fiasco that has me more than a little hesitant to buy anything made by WowWee. Having said that, the Rovio does have a couple of advantages over the Spykee.

The most important being that, although the setup and configuration software only runs under Windows or Mac, Rovio can be manually set up and operated from any computer or handheld capable of running a web browser. Since my laptop runs Ubuntu Linux, that is a key factor. That would allow me to explore my shop in Alabama while sitting on the beach in Florida from either my laptop or my iPaq. :)   Spykee, on the other hand uses proprietary Windows software.

Another plus is the fact that unlike Spykee, Rovio's camera/head is able to tilt - albeit in a limited capacity. The camera can be remotely set to any one of three positions - low, which is straight ahead from the body level; midway, which is straight ahead from a few inches above the body level; and high, which is at about a 45° angle. Not as nice as continuously variable, but still leaps and bounds above Spykee's stationary camera.

Rovio uses an indoor GPS system called TrueTrack (or NorthStar) where the docking base projects two laser beams onto the ceiling. Rovio detects and uses these beams to determine where in the room it is. Sounds great, huh? And I suppose it is, unless you drive Rovio out of the room. Laser beams aren't much good if you (or your robot) can't see them.

Both robots are said to be able to self-dock if their battery gets low so they can recharge. Spykee will only do this if you manually (or remotely) place him within a few feet of his dock. Rovio requires that you press a button on the web interface to send him back to his dock, and that is assuming that the robot is in the same room as the dock (and therefore the TrueTrack beacons) when you send him home. I've read that Rovio can find his way back home even from another room, but I would have to see that. I have yet to be impressed by any robots self-docking feature (aside from Roomba).

I know that it looks like Rovio is the winner, but I just like the way that Spykee looks better. Not to mention that, being made by Erector, you put Spykee together. Rovio is simply another ready-to-use toy.

Actually, I did enjoy putting Spykee together, but now that I have Rovio, I do like the way that he looks. Kind of like a spaceship!

Year Released: 2008
Original Price: $300

Technical Specifications:
Power Supply:
   6v 3aH NiMH rechargeable battery
   8vdc wall-wart charger

Dimensions: 13½" tall x 12" wide x 14" long
Weight: 5 lbs

Click Here To Download the ROBOT Owner's Manual

Visit the Official Web Site