Parrot, the company behind a number of flying drones, is now offering land-lovers something get excited about: the Jumping Sumo. Is this land-locked gadget with integrated camera enough to get us excited?
Land not air
Unlike the company's Rolling Spider, or the bigger Parrot Drone from a couple of years ago, the Jumping Sumo comes with two wheels and is designed to principally stay on the ground.
To say that it can't fly through the air would be wrong as there is a button to send the Sumo leaping upwards by 80cms, but seconds later gravity will take hold and the vehicle will come crashing down again.
That leap, which takes a couple of seconds to initiate, makes for great fun when climbing stairs, jumping on the sofa, or generally causing havoc in whatever room you happen to be in before then whizzing out leaving a wake of destruction.
This jumping is where the device gets its name from, and given half the chance, whoever is driving will be keen for it to live up to its name - something you can do for around 20-minutes from a 90-minute charge.
Had the Sumo been launched a decade ago it would have come with its own dedicated remote control with a number of buttons, levers, and switches. But it's 2014 and that means control is via a dedicated app, downloadable from your smart device. Available for both Android, Windows Phone, or iPhone, the setup process is somewhat awkward and complicated as you have to create a direct connection via Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth.
To make matters worse, you'll probably have to turn Bluetooth off on your phone (we did) to strengthen the signal. Playing in a heavy Wi-Fi zone where there were dozens of signals interfering also seemed to affect performance.
Once you do get a connection the app will allow you control the Jumping Sumo with ease.
Emulating Big Trak - yep, the 1979 robo-beauty, ah those were the days - you can opt to either go for a free ride or pre-program a set of directions and instructions into the app before watching the results play out afterwards. However, with no trailer or carry space don't expect to use this to deliver an apple or a can of pop.
The Jumping Sumo also comes with a built in camera so you can see from its point of view on your phone screen - in 640 x 480 resolution at 15 frames per second - but it can only record video if you put a micro USB flash drive in the socket on the top of the device. It is possible to snap pictures from the off, though, so dogs and cats be warned.
The app has a number of easy-to-use controls alongside a number of set-pieces that you can activate by merely pressing a button.
There is an accelerator, while turning left and right is controlled by moving your phone like a virtual steering wheel. It's easy to pick up and you'll be whizzing the Jumping Sumo around the house in no time at speeds up to 2-meters per second. Or you'll be spinning it around on spot instead. It is all very simple and fun.
Most of the time those watching you performing those moves will think you are much more skilled than you actually are. The Jumping Sumo can be slightly customised to suit your driving style, the wheels can be extended or contracted for increased stability at high speed or manoeuvrability at low speed, and finding what suits you best doesn't take long.
The Parrot Jumping Sumo is a fun gadget that's easy to control once you've go the hang of it (despite us having some connection issues). The jumping aspect does stand it apart from just any old app-controlled remote control car too, but the premium you are paying for that - it's £140 - is pretty hefty. With competition from the Sphero Ollie, for example, the Jumping Sumo is something of a luxury purchase that you might find hard to justify not long after you get it out of the box, despite the fun to be had.
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