TobyRich SmartPlane: Hands-on with the iPhone-controlled toy plane
TobyRich might not be a company you're familiar with, but it could be about to catch your attention with its smartphone-controlled SmartPlane.
TobyRich has introduced the SmartPlane, which was on display on its stand at the Toy Fair 2014 in London, and we have to say, we were impressed. The days of making paper aeroplanes from a piece of A4 and keeping your fingers crossed that it manages a metre seem to be well and truly behind us. Instead, you can add flying planes to your phone's endless list of functions.
The SmartPlane is light, weighing only 10g, and glides seamlessly though the air. You control it using an app, which is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and the response time is quick.
The back fin steers the plane, controlled by moving your thumb left or right in the app, and the front propeller is controlled via sliders in the app, also by using your thumb. As you increase the speed, the plane increases its gradient, and keeping it at a steady pace makes sure it glides through the air.
We watched it being demonstrated and there was no lag between the command and the plane's movement. Instead, as the thumb moved the plane responded quickly, flying high and smoothly above the stands in the exhibition centre.
The SmartPlane connects using Bluetooth and the company's SmartLink system. The system comprises a small electronic circuit and companion smartphone software, allowing energy-efficient wireless control of up to three electrical outputs. It communicates over Bluetooth Smart and can be controlled with smartphones that support the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology. It is charged via Micro-USB.
We liked the design of the SmartPlane - it is simple, but so were paper aeroplanes and this one flies a lot further. Plus, it's pretty cool that you can do it all from your smartphone, even if the material used and the wear on the demo model made it look a little cheap, although we would imagine a new one straight from the box would be different.
In addition, the company does a Microcar that we had a play with, also controlled using an app and Bluetooth. The car is less than 60mm long and 30mm wide, and it will go forward, reverse and respond to left and right steering.
The Microcar features lights, headlights, underbody lights, hazard lights, left and right indicators, a siren, flashing lights and a horn. It's pretty exciting for such a little car and it responds quickly to the app, just like the SmartPlane.
The TobyRich SmartPlane will cost £59, and the Microcar will cost £49.