Set up is straightforward. Just assemble the base station, plug it into the mains, install the Rovio's batteries then put it on the base station to charge for around two hours. Next, plug it into a PC by USB cable and run the supplied software to link it in to your 802.11b/g Wi-Fi network.
Bookmark the web page that acts as your command and control interface and you're done. The Rovio software is Windows only but the user guide also includes detailed instructions on how Mac users can set everything up manually.
A word of caution. Fans of Firefox, Opera or Safari will have to swallow their pride and get reacquainted with Internet Explorer because while Rovio works with those browsers it does so in a pretty half-hearted way. The Rovio's audio feed is only supported by Internet Explorer, and while IE users get an MPEG 4 video feed, others have to make do with Motion JPEG. Mac users should also note that IE on the Mac only goes up to version 5.2.3, and Microsoft doesn't even offer it as a download any longer.
We found everything worked as advertised with Firefox but that the video feedback was appallingly slow when using Opera. At the time, we had both browsers running on a Linux-driven Acer Aspire One.
The Rovio has pretty limited navigational 'intelligence'. Once you've set up the basestation and made sure two infra-red beacon lights are pointing at the ceiling, you can set the location as “home”. As long as Rovio is in the right room and can locate the beacon, hitting the Home button will send it scurrying back to its dock for a re-charge.
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