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Review: CHiP is fun, but a robot dog probably is just for Christmas

Rating
7.4 Total Score
Fun for younger kids

CHiP is great fun for kids, but the appeal wears off too quickly for adults to consider the £200 retail price particularly good value, but then, CHiP's not really aimed at adults anyway.

Design
8
Fun
7
Features
8
Value
6.5
PROS
  • Particularly fun for younger kids
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • You can remote control CHiP like a car via the app!
CONS
  • Voice commands need to be too specific
  • Unreliable wrist band controls and response to actions (like patting)
  • Would like more pre-set movements and responses.
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Review
WowWee, a company that makes robotic toys, essentially, has launched CHiP, a robot dog designed to entertain all ages. I’ve spent the last few weeks living with CHiP to see if he can measure up to the real thing.

As someone who desperately wants a real dog, but can’t have one for various reasons, I was keen to try CHiP out. That’s to say, I really wanted to be impressed by CHiP.

In a nutshell, CHiP is made of a durable plastic (it can take some knocks and tumbles – sorry, CHiP) and is a ‘smart’ and trainable robo-dog. Reward him for behaviours you like via the included wristband or simply have him follow you around.

chip2

He comes with some pre-set commands too, as you’d expect – like asking him to sit, lie down, dance or ‘do yoga’. You do need to be really precise with the commands though to get him to respond – you can’t just say ‘dance’, you have to say ‘let’s dance’, for example.

CHiP also arrived with a ‘smart ball’ that he can play with, if you so command, and there’s an iOS and Android app for controlling CHiP remotely and changing settings, like the volume of the sound effects, which is one advantage it has over a real dog – you can’t turn down the volume on a bark when you want some respite normally.

While CHiP was fun for a while, the required precision for voice commands to work and seeming lack of ability to do certain things (I never successfully got CHiP to follow me around) meant he ended up cast aside soon enough. It was only when two and four-year-old nephews came to visit that more of CHiP’s potential shone through – they absolutely loved it and immediately started acting towards it as they do real dogs.

The clunky voice commands were a bit too much for them to accurately pull off a lot of the time, but with some help they could fully enjoy CHiP and his energetic yoga poses. When it’s all a bit too much and CHiP needs to recharge, it automatically returns to the charger, which is a neat touch.

As a replacement dog for an adult, CHiP isn’t going to live up to any expectations you may have but for parents with a young family, he’ll certainly keep them entertained for a few hours.

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I'm a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. 10second.tech is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run SexTechGuide.com.You're welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoodsTech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit benwoodsish.com.

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