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Everyone wants love, companionship and contact. Those who can’t get it from humans can turn to the latest crop of hot toy robots: Wall-E in three sizes, WowWee’s Rovio, Femisapien and Mr. Personality, the dino D-Rex, multi-talented Elmo Live and Sony’s enchantingly personable Rolly music player. Each exudes a desire to be your loyal friend from every noisy servo and glowing LED. But which should you choose?
Keep in mind, though two of these list for $US400, most cap at $US250, and they’re all toys. They don’t have a heck of a lot of AI, though they do have an impressive array of user-triggered functionality and some goofy “spontaneous” behaviour. You ain’t getting C-3PO no matter where you turn, not even R2-D2, but there’s something cool about each of these:
D-Rex – $US150 The scariest bot of the lot, D-Rex growls, attacks and lets out the sounds of bodily functions from every orifice. Rubbery, lizard-like skin and huge, moving yellow eyes add to the effect. Pros: Creepy; fun to play with (for a while); the coolest looking of all the robots Cons: Doesn’t do too enough; may scare little kids (or is that a “pro”?) Worth the money? Tough call. D-Rex is probably the biggest robot here and isn’t that expensive for being so big. But since it only performs a few functions, don’t expect anything close
to a Pleo.
And now… The Winner: U-Command WALL-E. One of the few bots here that is fun to play with more than once, this WALL-E is cute, interactive and kids can enjoy him without driving parents crazy by playing the same thing over and over—*cough*Elmo Live*cough*.
Runner-Up: Rolly. I can’t stop looking at this little dude. His syncopated dancing demands attention from anyone who sees him, and he is the bot that performs his most essential function—playing music through a speaker—the best.
Honorable Mention: iDance WALL-E and Ultimate WALL-E. I like you both a lot, but why did you get me all excited with your decent prices, and then double them when I wasn’t looking? Not cool guys.
The Loser: Rovio. No offence here Rovio, we really like the though of a remote controlled, customizable webcam and we think you will get it right one day, but right now you cost too much and the most important feature you have—your webcam—is absolutely terrible.