Alpha 1S is the latest robot to enter the Pocket-lint office and it's one that hopes to win our hearts with its dancing prowess.
But is this an expensive toy for execs or something you can use to not only entertain the kids, but also educate them as well? We've been playing to find out.
Alpha 1S robot review: Bigger than you think, but not that big
Robots are always hard to size up. Promotional videos and pictures can deceive you into thinking they are either the size of a fully grown adult or smaller than a sausage dog.
The Alpha 1S by Ubtech Robotics stands 398mm tall (15.3 inches), weighs 1.63kg, and has 16 Servo joints which enable it to move, punch, kick, and dance its way into your heart. This robot is big enough to make an impact on your desk, but small enough to still be classed as cute.
Featuring white armour and an array of colour LEDs that flash from within its exposed skeleton, the Alpha 1S comes with a rechargeable battery pack - worn as a rucksack. It's here that Ubtech recommend picking up Alpha rather than his head - although good luck trying to explain that to your kids.
Those 16 servo joints are noisy too, especially when the Alpha gets into those dancing moves. Once charged, the fast-moving Alpha 1S will move continually for an hour.
Alpha 1S robot review: Kicking and punching
"These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you", as the song goes. And given half the chance, we suspect that's what the Alpha 1S would be happy to do.
Rather than feature controls on the robot itself, or come with a convoluted remote control, the Alpha 1S robot is controlled via your iPhone or Android smartphone. The app is fairly basic, but allows you to quickly check the charging status, control the robot, or download various movement programmes from the app's "Action Square" section.
You can also use the app to update the robot's firmware when needed, manage settings like being able to play while charging, or go one step further and try to create your own movements by programming it yourself.
The "Gamepad" area is effectively a replacement for a dedicated remote. Depending on whether you chose Gladiator or Soccer player will determine what you are able to do. Soccer involves lots of kicking of the legs (you provide the ball), while Gladiator involves punching. It's laugh-out-loud fun, but not very robotic.
Alpha 1S robot review: Dancing and more
It's dancing that the Alpha 1S is probably most known for, holding the Guinness World Record for the most dancing robots simultaneously - a 540-strong army of them if you're interested.
The dance routines available fall under the "Action Square" in the app. There are dozens you can chose from, all downloadable and seemingly all free. Options include Show, Dance, Sport, Story, Educate, and Children's song. And individual programmes range from doing yoga exercises to reading a story or simply dancing.
In each case, you can quickly download the programme you want straight to the app, have it automatically synced to the robot, and then press play for it to be performed.
The whole process is effortless and you'll be up and running in seconds rather than minutes. It is certainly a long way on from the hours it used to take us programming a Big Trak in the 1980s.
Music or audio is provided via your phone, and the only thing that stands in the way of really enjoying the experience as the robot jigs and jostles around is those noisy servos.
We've set the Alpha 1S dancing around floors and tables. If it is the latter then you really need to stand ready to catch it when - as it has a tendency of trying to hurl itself off unaware of its surroundings. Silly robot.
The Alpha 1S also has a computer programming option that allows more detailed programming such as loading music and very specific timed movements. It takes the programming to another level for robot experimentation, however this is so convoluted and so awkward that we suspect not even the most dedicated teenager will persevere with it.
The Alpha 1S is ultimately Robosapien for the new generation. Only this time it comes with an app, downloadable extra programmes and lots more granular control over its movement. It also comes with a price tag that is five times the price of the original Robosapien. Yep, it's £399 - so perhaps more exec than pre-school.
For robot fans a lot has moved on since Robosapien (for the better in our minds), but the principles still apply, and while that might be amazing for some, for others it will be something that you'll tire of quickly - even if you can keep downloading new programmes.
Frustratingly with the Alpha 1S its lack of sensors relative to its surroundings, noisy servos, and that it's limp when not powered (it annoyingly collapses when the battery is up - so you can't even let him stand on a shelf looking cool) are all notable shortcomings for a toy of this price.
Still, your kids are going to love it... so long as they don't break it.
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