Our Review of the Jimu Robot Tankbot from UBTECH

tankbotIn case you are wondering, this is a sequel review to our review of the Buzzbot and Muttbot. This is the same robot building kit from Jimu Robot from UBTECH, and you can read my review of that at the link, as well as my comparison to Lego.

The Tankbot is one of those robot kits where I am surprised that all the pieces that are in the kit are used, with only a few exceptions. Generally, the Lego collections allow for more than one creation. In the case of the Tankbot, what you see is the main thing that you can build, but you can build a lot with it.

Okay, I suppose that I should stop making Lego comparisons. Perhaps I can just get this other comparison out of the way and say that the Tankbot resembles a certain robot who was the star of a Pixar film. I mean, look at the colors of orange and black! I’ll spell it out for you: Tankbot is WALL-E.

The Tankbot is not able to crush garbage into little cubes, but he does have some cool tank treads. He can also reach out and grab things. My son and I tried it out and we found that he was quite adept at grabbing soda cans.

Like the Buzzbot/Muttbot, it comes with six servos, which are the small motors used to power certain things. In this case, it can operate both treads individually, which allows the Tankbot to turn on a dime with the remote control.

I have already talked about how the Jimu Robots use an Apple or Android device for Bluetooth wireless control in my last review, but there is something else that the Buzzbot/Muttbot doesn’t have. This has an infrared sensor that allows the Tankbot to pick up, detect, and maneuver objects around it. It is possible to program this, but I have to admit that I didn’t spend a lot of time doing this. My son seemed to take it on and was getting used to it in minutes.

Yes, this is one of those STEM toys that will educate kids as well as entertaining them. It is a toy that I will recommend, just like I will recommend the other models. You can get it for about $149.95.

As a holiday bonus, I have an unboxing video here with me and my son! This one addresses the Buzzbot/Muttbot, as well as the Tankbot.

Our Review of the Jimu Robot BuzzBot and MuttBot Kit from UBTECH

Jimu Website Product Detail A NEWAs someone who has written a book about Lego Technic and Lego Mindstorms, I was very pleased to review the Jimu Robot Buzzbot and MuttBot Kit from UBTECH. There is going to be a lot of comparison made to Lego, but please keep in mind that the Jimu Robot kits are definitely their own thing. It’s like those people who think that Star Trek and Babylon 5 are the same, when they are very, very different.

Yeah, this is going to get really geeky, but in a very Maker way. I mentioned in my review on the Circuit Scribe how there is a great emphasis on STEM learning with building kits designed for young hands. I would say that UBTECH’s Jimu Robot kits would fall under that category.

The kit itself has the picture of what you see here, and I had a chance to make the MuttBot. On inspecting the pieces, I found that some of them looked like Lego Technic. I noticed a lot of beams with holes in them designed for connector pegs, and I understand if you might not know what I am talking about. Just so you know, the Jimu Robot parts are not compatible with anything Lego. I tried to fit them together, and the holes are smaller than that of Lego.

The box opened to reveal lots of interesting boxes in pastel colors marked with peculiar labels. The blue “Main Control Box” was set up with what I believe is the brain and heart of this, a small gray box with many ports. The “Recharging Power Adapter” was a plug-in that charged the gray box. Then I noticed the “Robotic Servo Motors” which had these motors on them that could spin, when properly powered.

The box of “Fasteners” really intrigued me as it contained wires as well as a small gray box with an on/off switch. The rest were these connector peg things that were very small and could easily get lost.

Then there were the other boxes that were full of non-technical parts. The “Character Parts” was so named because it will give the creation character. I think that is the best way to describe it. Now, the last box of “Connectors” had these parts that had these interesting slots on them for sliding parts into place, and this is what is difficult to describe.

Generally, most Lego kits come with detailed instruction booklets on how to build models. The Lego Mindstorms sets have to be downloaded as programs for your computer, but I didn’t see any option of viewing the instructions on my PC. I was able to download the app on my mobile device, and the Jimu robots app is good for Android and iOS.

I kind of wish that the instructions were available on my PC, so I could see them better. However, it was handy to have them on my touchscreen, where I could pinch to zoom and rotate the individual steps in three dimensions.

imag1657I got my son to help me, and things seemed to be going pretty smooth. We did have some problems with the connector wires, which looked like they would break easily if we unplugged them. I had to contact UBTECH to make certain that it was okay to yank them out. Needless to say, it was all right.

I also realized that we had to align the servos correctly, and they are marked to spin properly. You have to check it out for yourselves, and I like how it is marked. I also like how the servos are small motors that are smaller than what is on Lego Technic or Mindstorms.

We also had trouble on the instructions because some of the parts didn’t match exactly on the instructions. It did not affect the model or its functionality.

It took about two hours worth of work, but we had the MuttBot assembled. From there, I thought it was going to be frustrating getting it working, but it actually turned out to be quite simple. The application helped pair with my smartphone, and I was able to make the MuttBot walk and do all sorts of pre-programmed tricks.

My son also discovered that he could program the Servos so he could do all kinds of tricks. What is strange is when we programmed a servo to move, we could see it happen virtually on my mobile device.

I can see that there is a lot that we can do with these Jimu Robots, and I haven’t really discovered everything as yet. However, since this kit allows some kind of exploration, I will want to learn more.

Anyway, I am going to be reviewing another UBTECH robot kit next week, but I can’t get into that right now. I highly recommend getting a BuzzBot and MuttBot kit for yourself, at the Jimu robot site here.

BlueBee Pals Leo the Lion, a Talking Educational Learning Tool

bluebee-petsIt seems like I am filled to the brim with reviewing educational toys, and this one is the Bluebee Pals. Before I get to the review, I would like to thank whoever sent it to me, because it came to my door without any warning. So here is our review of Leo the Lion.

I suppose that the best way that I can describe our Leo the Lion is just compare him to Teddy Ruxpin. Yeah, you probably saw that one coming, as this is how my wife described it when I showed it to her. If you are not familiar with Teddy Ruxpin, it was a Teddy Bear with a tape recorder on his back. When you put in specially made tapes, his lips would move with the dialogue.

Leo The Lion, as well as other animals in the Bluebee Pals collection, has the same basic ability. However, it is made for the age of smartphones and tablets, and it will sync via Bluetooth to any Apple or Android device. Not only will it read a story to your youngster, but he or she can see it acted out on the screen.

Some might find that a little weird, but people have been saying that since the days of … Teddy Ruxpin. Of course, no machine can take place of a parent, and if you need a reminder, the parent doesn’t say things like “remind to charge”. Yeah, you do need to charge this thing with the included USB Micro-charger cable.

You can get Leo the Lion on the Bluebee Pals site for $64.99. You can also find his friends Hudson the Puppy, Riley the Zebra, Parker the Monkey, and Sammy the Bear for the same price.

The Scribble n’ Play from Boogie Board

boogie-boardYou might be familiar with Boogie Board as they make these eWriters. They are not the eReaders like a Kindle, but something that you can write on electronically. While it may not be the Sync that allows you to save something, the Scribble n Play is definitely made for a younger audience.

You should be able to write or draw on the Scribble n Play with anything like your fingernail, and it leaves a rainbow trace. I didn’t know how to describe it any better than that. By the way, your drawing can be erased at the touch of a button.

If you want to save your drawing, there is an eWriter app that is available only for Apple products. You can save your creation, and upload it to the cloud, sharing it with everyone. I checked, and I couldn’t find it on Google Play.

Of course, you don’t want to use your fingernail when drawing on this, so it is fortunate that it comes with four styluses. These are the yellow things that fit on the sides of the Scribble n Play, and they have four different points. One is a small point like a Sharpie, the other is a Magic Marker, another is a like a small comb, and the last is a wide tip.

The only downside is this: I found out that the styluses have these side marks, but they don’t really do anything. Like they have these waves, but if you press them on the board, they don’t make waves. You’re going to have to try it out to see.

The Boogie Board Scribble n Play has this rubber blue band so you can strap it to your hand, which is another great feature. If you have someone who has young hands, or you just need something to scribble on, then the Boogie Board Scribble n Play is for you, and it can be purchased for $34.99 on the Boogie Board site.

Honey, Where is my Super Suit?

Super SuitOkay, I am stealing from The Incredibles with that headline, and it is the best and most obvious headline for this particular product. The Super Suit looks like something like a cross between Tron, Iron Man, and whatever other property that Disney owes.

The SuperSuit is something that isn’t just out yet, but it is one heck of a playing uniform. It is made for adults and kids, and part of its power is that you can play Laser tag with it.

Now, laser tag is nothing new, as it has been around since the 80’s. However, the wrist devices are gesture powered, so the user can make a shield to deflect blasts. That is the modern-day update that laser tag needs!

The wristbands can also be used to control robots. You know, like the Sphero. I don’t know what else it can control, but I like the concept of what the Super Suit can do.

Now, I saw this product at CES 2016, and it is quite something. I had a little trouble controlling an R/C car with it, and it was hard to control. Yeah, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but isn’t that always the way?

Well, as I said before, this product isn’t out yet, but yeah, I’m going to want to try it out. Click here if you want to find out more.

Our Review of the Boogie Board Play n’ Trace

play_and_trace_256466f426f2d6Well, I mentioned in my review of the Wacom Bamboo Spark how it is really necessary for us to really just draw things out, and sometimes the digital easel actually makes this more difficult. I once talked about the Boogie Board Play n Trace at its initial release, but it is that for kids, but less technical.

This is from Boogie Board, the same company that made the Sync 9.7. This company must believe in drawing and writing on things, as most of their products involve this.

In the case of the Boogie Board, it is a transparent screen that you can write on. It is definitely designed for younger hands, and it comes with some templates to help little ones make letters. As you can see, it has a small hole to hold the device like an artist’s pallet, and you can write over things and draw over them as well. When you are done drawing, you just push a button to erase.

Yeah, this is probably going to be some toy that every kid has from their childhood and probably should. This is all powered by AAA batteries, and there is a Free iPad app designed to help along.

The Boogie Board Play n’ Trace is available on the Boogie Board site for $34.99, and there are some Accessory Packs available for about $14.99 each.

Our Review of the AtmosFlare 3D Drawing Pen

Atmosflare gunI don’t know if you have heard of a pen known as the 3Doodler, but it is a 3D drawing pen. I have been trying for about two years to obtain a review unit of this product, but they did not respond to me. Today, I got a chance to try out the AtmosFlare, and I’m going to recommend it and not the 3Doodler out of spite alone.

Okay, that was probably going too far, but I’m guessing that there will be more than two brands of this 3D Drawing Pen. The way that these products work involve drawing out with liquid plastic. You can’t exactly draw on the air, but it is possible to make a solid base, and the create something from that.

IMAG0452I learned that trick from my daughter, who had a chance to try it out. She showed me that the way the AtmosFlare works is that you load up an ink refill cartridge, and you squeeze it out to get the liquid plastic, through one of the few tips provided. Once the plastic is out, you shine the ultraviolet light on it, and it will harden.

As you can see, it is possible to make 3D shapes like a rectangular solid, like what is being shown in the picture on the right. It might look a little skewed in some places, but this is due to it can be difficult to master getting the gel out. There are times when it is easy to wipe the residue off and start over when the gun jams, and this can happen due to user error.

AF_projects_skullThere is no question that there is a lot that can be done with the AtmosFlare 3D pen. This is why I am concluding with this final shot, which I definitely did not do. My daughter is a much more talented artist and could do this eventually, and it probably wouldn’t take her too long to be at this level.

You can get it for a pretty low price for about $29.99 on the Order AtmosFlare site. I don’t know how long the Ink Refill Cartridge is, but I suppose that it is enough to fit in there. The Refills are about $5.99.

VTech has been hacked, like Five Million times!

So, do you have a VTech product? A lot of people do. They certainly make a lot of technology for kids. I probably have a few VTech products in my house. Sadly, it sounds like the Hong Kong company has been hacked.

In fact, the personal information of about 5 million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers. So far, this database includes the names, birthdates, and genders of the children using these VTech gadgets.

Sadly, it includes some adult information like parent names, email addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses, and password retrieval. This database doesn’t include any credit card numbers, so that is good news.

So what has been done to solve this problem? Well, the company says that it’s contacted al of the affected users by email and has temporarily suspended some of its websites as a precaution.

Hasbro has created this robotic cat, for senior citizens!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Hasbro, as they own the rights to Transformers, My Little Pony, and they make all the Star Wars and Marvel toys, too. Yeah, they rule when it comes to making products for little kids, and now there is a “toy” for seniors.

Yeah, you know how senior citizens are like loving cats, but the cats get all bad about their litter box? Well, why not get them an artificial cat? That is what the Joy For All line of robotic cats can do.

This robo-kitty has some realistic fur, and it can purr and meow. In other words, it is all the good things of a cat. Hopefully, it is not programmed to just stop purring and then grab your hands with its claws and then bite you like an apple. This is why I don’t have a cat.

If you have someone who might appreciate this gift, it costs about $99.99.


Boogie Board Play n’ Trace

Boogie BoardI have reviewed Boogie Board products before, which is made by Improv Electronics. They have now created a new product known as Play n’ Trace.

The Play n’Trace is a translucent LCD writing surface, which allows the user to trace something onto it. Yes, it is not really made for adults, but for kids.

I am assuming that it will work like the first Boogie Board as you can draw on it, and then hit a button to erase it. Yeah, it doesn’t seem to save the drawing like the 9.7 LCD e-Writer.

I think this might be a terrific gift, particularly a stocking stuffer, assuming that you can fit it in a stocking. It costs about $29.99.