Review: Romo The iPhone Robot, Turn Your Smartphone Into a Genius Phone

by nessel on March 26, 2013

Romo Robot

My smartphone may be smart, but it sure is lazy.  No matter how much I yell at Siri, I just can’t get my iPhone to drive around the room and capture pictures and data.  Thankfully the nerds at Romotive have given birth to Romo, the Smartphone Robot.  Drop your iPhone or iPod in the Romo rover base and suddenly your smartphone transforms into a programmable, curious robotic creature with some fun and impressive functionality.

Hands-On With The Romo Robot At Toy Fair 2013

The Romo Robot is so popular, that they are currently on backorder until June 2013.  Still, we got to spend some time playing around with Romo at Toy Fair 2013 and got a great feel for what Romo is capable of doing.  Please take a look at our video review of the Romo Robot –

Romo Is Cool and Will Only Get Cooler

From watching the video, it is clear that Romo has an impressive feature set right out of the box.  The highlights include -

  • Explore The World

Drop your iPhone or iPod Touch into the Romo base and then remotely control Romo from another iOS device or computer.  Romo becomes your eyes and ears, so you can remotely control Romo and explore the world.

  • Telepresence – Put Your Face on Romo

In the video, we show the cute Romo face on the iPhone, but you can also place your image on Romo.  You can then use Romo as a telepresence device.  Imagine this – Dad is away on a business trip and rather than just calling home to say goodnight, he decides he wants to play hide and seek with the kids.  The kids hide and Dad, controlling Romo from a web app, drives Romo around the house trying to find the kids.  Dad’s live image and voice are on Romo and Dad is getting to see live images of the kids at home, being beamed via Romo.  Wow, the future has arrived!

  • Makes Your Mobile Phone….Mobile!

Romo can move at 3 feet per second – that may not sound fast, but that is actually a pretty good clip.  Of course you might be 10,000 miles away and driving Romo via an iPhone or web app, so you probably don’t want to go to fast.

  • Look All Around With The Tilt Mechanism

When you are controlling Romo remotely and using Romo as your eyes, you will want to see…and not just straight ahead.  Thankfully Romo can tilt from 15 to 45 degrees to get a good look at all that is around.

  • Yes, You Can Teach An Old Romo New Tricks

Romo is far from old, but almost on a daily basis new updates are made to the Romo app and new tricks are added.  In addition,  you can program Romo to react to his environment and do new routines.

Customization, The Key To Any Successful Toy Or Gadget

If Romo was just a device that allowed you to drive around your smartphone and do telepresence, it would be neat, but also very limited.  After a few weeks, the “wow factor” would wear off and you would grow bored with Romo.  What really makes Romo an impressive toy is the ability to expand functionality.  Think of all the elements on your iPhone – two cameras, mics, GPS, gyroscope, speakers, a flash and all that computing ability.  Kids and grownups will have a blast training Romo to do new things based on all the sensors in the iPhone.

Think of the apps when the iPhone first came out – they were cool, but limited.  Today we have basically the same phone, but so many more cool uses for that phone because of new and innovative apps.  We believe the same will happen with Romo.  As more people have Romo and start hacking it, more cool apps and tricks will start to appear.

There Are Some Negatives To Romo…

The biggest negative right now is that Romo uses the 30 pin iPhone connector, which means it will not currently work with the iPhone 5.   Romotive is also a new company (Romo was funded via Kickstarter), so we don’t know where they will be in 5 years.  Will Romo be durable?  Will the company continue to support and update Romo?  Will there be production issues?  Is Romo secretly programmed to band together with other Romos and take over the world? All good questions, but at a retail price of $150, at least Romo is not a crazy price compared to other high-end toys and gadgets.  And really, if a robot was going to destroy us all and take over the world, don’t you think it would cost over $150?

Conclusion: If You Or The Kids Like Gadgets and Hacking, You Will Love Romo

Romo is one of those rare  toys that could work just as well for a 9 year old boy or girl as it would for a 50 year old Mom or Dad.  Younger kids (8-9) will love just controlling Romo and using him as a remote viewing robot.  Older kids (and adults) will love the ability to program and train Romo and expand his functionality.  If you happen to have an old iPhone 4 or iPod Touch (4th generation) lying around – grab a Romo and bring those old phones back to life!

Overall, we are greatly impressed with the Romo Robot and strongly recommend it for kids and adults who love to play, program and explore! Assuming there are no growing pains with the young Romotive company, the future looks bright for Romo.  To our loyal readers who are pets (yes, yes we do have pets for our readers), sorry but your life just took a turn for the worse.  A little piece of advice, if you are about to scratch up that chair and you suddenly see a moving smartphone looking at you, go back to licking yourself…that will give them something to watch.

More Information:

Learn All About Romo from Romotive.  Retail Price $150

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