Everyone secretly wants to own a dancing monkey, but boring old practicality makes it an impossible dream. There’s no need to feel downcast, though – Robonova is a more than capable replacement.
Secret cat killer
A robot that can only do movement sounds like a retrograde step for a world inhabited by the photo-taking Nuvo, but cameras and Wi-Fi streaming are old news. A mechano-man that can, at the touch of a button, perform a graceful cartwheel is something new and exciting.
Sony’s QRIO pioneered the concept of a performing robot, but it was disturbingly camp and never danced into the consumer market. The just-about-affordable Robonova, by contrast, looks mean enough to kill your cat, and lets you control his actions rather than doing routines.
He’s simple to operate too. Out of the box, his aluminium body is limp like a newborn baby, but charge him up via the included adaptor and he immediately stands to attention.
The magical mystery remote
The 32-button remote looks like it’s come straight from the box of a cheap Korean DVD player, and there are no instructions for what each button does. This makes for an interesting journey of discovery.
Button seven results in him standing on one leg and flailing his arms around. Pressing an arrow produces the spectacular cartwheel. And pressing zero… well, we won’t ruin the surprise.
Downsides? He can’t do anything that could be considered useful, the battery will only keep him going for one hour, and our review model didn’t always complete his moves perfectly. But watching him lose balance is all bonus entertainment.
How much is a smile worth?
A more legitimate complaint is that his bag of tricks, no matter how good, aren’t worth his price tag. His longevity will be boosted, though, when the inevitable hardware and software add-ons arrive. And even among seasoned watchers, he still raises more smiles than Robosapien and Nuvo combined.