Review: SmartLab ReCon 6.0 Programmable Rover, Meet Your New Robot Friend

Recon Rover Owner's Manual

Recon Rover

Here at Dad Does we have reviewed plenty of toys.  We have also reviewed our share of robots.  Yet somehow we have never reviewed a toy robot rover.  Well, that all changes today as we take a look at the new SmartLab Toys Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover.

The Rover Is Absolutely the Coolest Way to Learn the Pythagorean Theorem

The Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover is a toy robot that you program to move, turn, talk, record sounds and even deliver a treat to your dog!  Program in simple step by step instructions, such as move forward 2 feet, turn 90 degrees, play sound 1, and then watch the Rover carry out your instructions.

It is incredibly fun to play with the Recon 6.0 Rover, which makes it even more surprising to learn that the Rover can actually teach your kids a real use for the Pythagorean theorem.  In addition, your kids will learn early programming , basic math and problem solving.   Did we mention all this learning happens while your kids are having a blast playing with the Rover?

Let’s take a look at our video review of the Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover -

The Recon Rover is a Self Contained Bundle of Fun and Learning

As the video shows, the Recon Rover requires no computer to do the programming.  You do all of your program entry directly on the Rover and we think this is fantastic.  Too often toy companies try to tie toys in with your computer, iPad or iPhone.   While this sounds nice on paper, in practice it is usually a nightmare.  Kids lose the cable needed to sync the toy, drivers are incompatible and somehow things just never work out.  The Rover is all self contained meaning there is nothing too lose and it is very easy to pull it out of the box and start having fun.

The Recon Rover Owner’s Manual – A Role Model for Manuals

Recon Rover Owner's Manual

With many toys, it feels like the owner’s manual is an after thought.  The Recon Rover owner’s manual is one of the best toy manuals we have ever seen.   The manual gives you cool missions  that teach you about the Rover, while also giving you fun facts – all in an incredibly engaging manner.   It is very refreshing to find an owner’s manual that actually adds value to the toy.

What Exactly Can You Do With Your Rover?

In terms of functionality, you can enter up to 50 lines of commands per program.  The Rover can move, play a sound, record a sound and turn on its headlights.  That may not sound like much, but when mixed together, you can send the Rover on reconnaissance missions, have it stand guard outside your room, navigate an obstacle course, freak out your sister and torture your pets!   The owner’s manual has plenty of cool missions, but in our testing the kids had the most fun creating their own wacky missions…usually involving the Rover smashing through lego and then saying something funny.

Just a Few Minor Issues with the Recon Rover

In testing, the kids had almost as much fun playing with the Rover as I did!  One issue we had was with sound recording.  Often when the Rover would be programmed to record sound it would cut off the beginning or end of the sound.  So, in one example mission where the Rover plays a sound like “Hello, I’m  Rover, What is Your Name?” and then is set to record the response, the response would be cut off when played back.  It may have been our noisy environment or distance from the speaker to the Rover, but it was a small issue the kids had.

Really the recording getting cut off was the only problem we had in testing.  Of course, the kids want the Rover to have a video camera in it and maybe some ability to respond to the environment.  They thought it would be super cool to have the Rover guard their bedroom door and if it saw something or someone moving toward the door, record a video clip and play an alarm.   Maybe something we could see in a Recon 8.0 Rover???

Conclusion:  The SmartLab Toys Recon Rover Is An Amazingly Fun Learning Toy

Often when you think of a learning toy you think of science kits or math based puzzles.  The Recon Rover is a different and thoroughly enjoyable way to learn.  Kids will be learning math, programming, trial and error and mapping skills while playing with their very own robot.  Does it get better than that?  We also love the fact that no computer is needed, so if the kids are heading over to Grandma’s and worried they might be bored, have them bring the Rover and navigate the new terrain of the Grandma’s house.

At $70, the price is considerable but don’t think of it as a $70 toy, think of it as a really inexpensive course on becoming a Martian Rover pilot!

UPDATE: 3/30/12 – Exclusive Deal For Dad Does Readers!

Forget the $70 price we just mentioned above.  We took our Rover, programmed it to march over to the SmartLab offices and then demand a discount!  Guess what – it worked?  Get a full 25% off with our exclusive coupon code -

Step 1. Visit SmartLabs to buy the Recon Rover

Step 2.  Enter Coupon Code – DADDOES – when checking out

Step 3.  Smile broadly as you see the price drop by 25%!

More Information:

The Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover from SmartLab Toys, $69.99, Ages 8+

Purchase the Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover at Amazon.Com

Watch Our Video Review of the Recon Rover

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