I have a dog at home and I have a mounted webcam to check in on him. This system works fairly well but occasionally he isn’t on the couch in the living room and it is at times like that, that I’ve wished for a camera that I could pan and tilt. I was really excited when I heard about Rovio, I thought it would be the perfect solution! Forget pan and tilt, I could actually go find my dog and check in on him where ever he might be.
Here is the Rovio that I received on Friday night.
I was pretty surprised to get a note just inside the box telling me not to use the included software and instead download the newest version from their website. Instead of a note, why not include a new CD?
Standard USB cable
Rovio Install CD
Rovio quick start guide
Rovio Owner’s manual
The docking station. The Cone shaped object on the right side is the TrueTrack beacon. It projects 2 points of light up at the ceiling which the Rovio uses to orient itself. The light is only visible when you touch the cone so you can aim them.
The mast (it just clips onto the dock).
Docking station with mast attached.
Battery compartment. The 2 silver squares are charging contacts.
I had a problem getting the battery installed. I was following the quickstart guide, it had one line about installing the battery and no picture, it said “Install battery.” I spent a couple of minutes trying to get a roundish peg into a square hole, with little success. I finally looked at the owners manual and it had a nice picture showing how the battery is supposed to go in.
This is the only position the battery will fit in the compartment.
After getting the basic setup done, everything went downhill from there. After downloading and installing the software, on the first attempt to run the software it notified me that there was an update. Strange, I just installed the newest software, so just in case I told it to go ahead and install the update it found. After downloading and installing the update I ran the software again, and it notified me that there was an update. Ok, so this time I tell it not to do the update and tried to continue, but no matter what I did the setup software wouldn’t see the Rovio. Vista would only see a drive and it kept asking me if I wanted to format it.
Stymied in my attempts to setup the Rovio via USB I had to use the only other method available, manually by ADHOC wireless network. This involved looking for wireless networks, picking the network called ROVIO_WOWWEE, then manually setting the IP address and gateway on my wireless network card, after that I was able to get to the Rovio and join it to my own network, only to be completely disappointed.
The huge problems:
Once docked it doesn’t charge even though it says it is charging. It shows 100% charge when docked regardless of how much it is charged. When the Rovio tried to auto dock because of a low charge it dies before it gets home, even if it starts 1 foot away.
The web interface from Pocket IE is broken. Instead of video and the ability to control the Rovio, you get a still picture and you can’t control the Rovio at all. Sometimes the Rovio just stops responding, black video, no control, until rebooted.
The minor annoyances:
The Blue LEDs built into the top are not user controllable at all. So long as the Rovio is on, they are on.
The camera doesn’t work well in low light conditions, the headlight is useless to help for this. Can only connect to WEP networks (WPA is supposed to be added in a firmware update).
It is possible that all the problems I encountered could be fixed by an updated firmware. My Rovio arrived with firmware 3.97, which I upgraded it to 4.02. Since returning the Rovio Wowwee has released 4.09beta. Whether that would have fixed my Rovio, I’ll never know, and it was not something I was ready to risk my money on. For something that I paid 280 bucks for, even though it is a first generation product, I expect a certain level of operation, the Rovio failed completely. Charging itself, which for a remote viewing robot I would argue is its most critical function, did not work.