WowWee Rovio Mobile webcam
All Terrain, Armoured... webcam. Well, almost
Review If the conventional webcam has a failing, it's the lack of an ability to let you wander about and look at things out of the fixed view of the camera. The Rovio aims to correct this limitation.
As befits a company whose background is in the robotic toy market, WowWee has gone for the pseudo-military-tech toys-for-boys look with the Rovio – in fact it looks exactly as we would expect an ROV spy drone used by the good guys in Halo to look, complete with a wholly useless bank of six blue lights on the upper chassis.
WowWee's Rovio Mobile: solid and robust
While the look may be a bit 1980s Starbird-style, there's nothing cheap about the build quality. Yes, it's all plastic, but it feels solid and robust, and you're getting a sizeable and weighty bit of kit for your money. In the absence of any exact manufacturer's specs, we measured the Rovio as standing some 95mm tall, 185mm at its widest and 265mm nose-to-tail, while the weight is a little over 1kg.
It's a clever enough design, too. The three-wheel units not only enable the Rovio to spin through 360° in its own length and shuffle sideways, but each has two sets of five free-spinning rubber castors that provide plenty of grip on even the smoothest of surfaces and allow the hub to, in effect, free-wheel when the device is moving in a direction other than that in which the wheel is aligned. The Rovio doesn't actually have a steering mechanism, changes in direction being accomplished by the drive varying between the three fixed wheels.
While those three chunky and robust wheels mean the Rovio can tackle pretty uneven terrain, one thing it can't do is climb stairs. Going down is easy enough: just drive it off the top and hope it lands the right way up and in one piece at the bottom.
Goes to show...
...me and el-reg are on the same wavelength. Sort of.
Just yesterday I bought a Meccano SpyKee! That and the Rovio go hand-in-hand, as they are quite close in terms of features. I looked at the Rovio at the same time as researching the SpyKee, and came to the conclusion its just not worth the £250.
The SpyKee is £150 now from my local Tesco (RRP £200), which is about as cheap as you can get it brand new in the UK, after a quick googling.
Thats pretty much the most I have ever spent in one go at Tescos. It'll be a shock when I see my bank statement having probably forgotten about the purchase by then!
The Spykee only does QVGA / 320x200 at 15fps as opposed to the Rovio, so its price bump is a little justified. Just dont tell anybody that 640x480 webcams can be had for only a few notes nowadays! ;-)
One thing to note about the SpyKee, something which may very well affect the Rovio too - I have so far had to return it for a replacement as it refused to charge itself!! The replacement is now on charge, awaiting a full initial charge for the full test, but I'm not holding my breath as I did nothing wrong the first time round, after going thru the manual 10 times to see whether I did anything incorrectly, I think its way within my limited abilities to at least charge a device up!
Something to do with it using NiMH instead of trusty lithium Ions I reckon. Does the Rovio use NiMH batteries?
...let them sell a lot of these, and please let the default settings allow anyone with a handle on inurl: searches to find and control them.
I am sure that I could make one of these for less than a quarter of the price...and fitted with nerf rockets.
Is it hackable and how loud is it?
Is it easily hackable? If it is possible to easily DIY the speaker and flashlight then might be worth it as a good toy. Also, what level of 'stealth' does it have? Meaning is it silent enough to sneak in on the wife unannounced for a good prank?
250 quid is a bit expensive, but I bought the first version of the Robosapien four or so years ago when it first came out, and I loved it. The price point seemed a bit high at the time but once it was in my hands I saw that it was just about right as the construction was so good. Wowwee made good impression on me back then and I keep following up on their products, even though I am still waiting for my next purchase.
Hell, that's a blast from the past!!
Paris? Obvious lame reference... ;)
/tilts Starbird upwards and grabs coat