WowWee Joebot Unboxing and ReviewPosted by Rudolph on Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Just in time for the 2009 holiday season comes Joebot, the latest offering of robotic goodness from WowWee. Joebot is another biped platform and is slightly smaller than the original Robosapien. Like the Femisapien, Joebot ditches the standard remote control interface for easy to use "joystick hands". But WowWee didn't stop there, Joebot is the first WowWee robot to be controllable with verbal commands. Just speak key phrases into his microphone and Joebot will dance, sing, play a game, talk back, go on patrol, or even act out a battle scene in which you can "shoot" Joe down using any remote control (even your television or stereo) with dramatic (and comedic) death flair.
As always, I'm not the only one looking forward to the arrival of a new acquisition.
It's Joebot! And, you guessed it, there was much rejoicing.
A much smaller package than many previous WowWee robots, perfect for disguising what it could be if you have wrapped up previous members of the robosapien family as gifts in previous years.
Joebot comes in a smaller box than I was expecting from a WowWee humanoid. Instead of the giant rounded bubble window of old, Joe has a standard square box with a window, and a "Try Me" hole to reach in and poke one of his fingers for a demonstration. This also means that Joebot comes with batteries, which would make it the first WowWee robot I've ever had that arrived "ready to go".
Historically, liberating a WowWee bot from its packaging was quite a daunting task, involving a few hand tools, knives, lots of coffee, torn cardboard, and maybe even a bit of cursing. Thankfully, this isn't the case with Joe.
As expected, Joebot is tethered in place with multiple wire ties. Just grab your wire cutters and give them all a snip, Joe will fall right out. No extra screws here!
Continue on the next page to see a first glimpse of Joebot...
First Glance at Joebot
Now that Joebot is out, it's time for a few photos and some play time!
First thing's first, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the manual. Naturally, I was so happy to start playing with things I failed to notice the warning "When first powered on, Joebot is in his Try Me setting." Turn him on, poke his left big finger, then turn him back off. Now it's time to turn him back on, and all of his normal functions will be available.
Joebot's Verbal Commands:
Joebot's verbal command input is a fairly interesting excercise. According to the manual, you should speak loudly, clearly, and within about 1.5 feet of Joe's microphone. In practice, Joe does not hear my voice well unless I'm within a few inches of his mic. My wife, however, has much better results when speaking within the foot-and-a-half area, and Joe will respond to almost everything she says.
Speaking "Robot, enter program mode" will put Joebot into a standard WowWee program mode. Here you can tell him up to 40 commands and then play them back later (by speaking "Execute Program"). This mode is very handy for learning just how to speak to Joebot in a way he'll understand you. Even if you don't care (yet) about him executing a set of motions, spend some time in this option giving verbal commands until Joe repeats them back to you accurately. You are not teaching the 'bot, rather, you are learning what works for you.
As mentioned, Joebot also has "joystick hands" input. Most of the commands you can issue verbally can also be told by pressing some combination of Joe's fingers. From time to time using the finger input to get into a specific mode is more convenient than using verbal commands, especially if there is too much ambient noise for Joebot to hear you well (a loud television, or a screeching parakeet, for example).
Using Joebot's IR Remote
If you have one, you can also use an original Robosapien remote with Joebot. The remote's directional controls send Joe forward, backward, left, or right. Like the RoboSapien, Joe expects you to be facing him when using the remote, and pressing the "go right" button will result in Joebot turning to his own left. Also available to Joebot are the "arm up/down" and "lean left/right" buttons. The "R>" button triggers "Game Mode", "S>" starts "Conversation Mode", and "L>" sends Joe into "Battle Mode". "Green Select+S>" initiates "Patrol Mode", while "Red Select+S>" causes Joe to break into one of his dance demo routine. Other buttons, including other select+button combinations, all seem to result in Joe saying one of his phrases.
With his large library of phrases and multi-lighted facial expressions, Joebot is a very expressive robot. Phrases include things like "All your base are belong to us" and "time for a robo-donut", both of which are silly enough to amuse the average 8 year old and still cause a chuckle among Joebot's older audience. Be sure to keep an ear out for other things adults may find amusing, like "Gangway, Bozos" (possibly a reference to "Short Circuit"), and "You just put in an order for a battle royale with cheese, buddy" ("Pulp Fiction" fans may get a laugh).
The many faces of Joebot!
Joebot's Various Modes
Joebot has several function modes available.
- In Game mode he'll play a "Simon Says" like game with you. He'll raise his arms in a certain pattern, and you wave your hands in front of his in the same order. As the game goes on it gets faster, and therefore harder.
- Patrol Mode is Joebot's version of Free Roam. During this he'll wander around for about ten minutes exploring and making remarks about what he sees or hears.
- Battle mode is highly entertaining, Joebot begins by "shooting" wildly at anything and everything. After that he starts walkling around with his arms straight out, and will shoot down anything that crosses his path. You can use any standard infrared remote control (like from your TV or stereo) to "shoot" Joe back. After he receives six hits he'll "die" with a funny comment.
- Beatbox mode is accomplished simply by tapping on Joebot, or clapping out a rhythm that he can hear. Joe will then play back the beat, substituting your claps/taps with other robot-ey sounds. After Joe has stored a beat, pressing his left-bottom finger will cause him to play back that beat 40 times while "dancing".
- When in Conversation mode, Joebot remarks back to what is said to him. Generally what he says won't have much bearing on the actual conversation, but it is certainly amusing to chatter back and forth. Simply saying "Talk" to Joebot will result in him making a remark. Sometimes this is just one of his funny quips or a joke, other times it's a hint towards how to use him.
A Video of Joebot In Action
In all, Joebot is a rather entertaining robot. WowWee has done a good job at combining the simplistic fun of the original Robosapien with some cool new features that make Joebot even easier to use. The vocal command feature is quite a bit more functional than I'd expected from a $100 consumer toy, and is a nice change from having to remember a multitude of button presses.