Spykee is a Spy Robot which you can control his movements over the internet. Spykee is equipped with a camera, WiFi, and microphone allowing you to use your computer to monitor and control Spykee as you see fit. With a built-in motion detector Spykee can detect movements, sound an alarm on your computer and send you a picture of the target. Spykee has a few built-in sounds, and you can even play your favorite MP3's on Spykee.
Unboxing the Spykee was OK. Thoughts came across my mind that it came from Hammacher Schlemmer again, with their air-pillows only protecting one side of the box. The rest of the sides were in contact of the outer box. When I pulled the main box out, it seemed flimsy, and the coloring seemed to have faded. Even some of the ink rubbed off to the inside of the shipping box. I wasn’t too happy with Costco’s shipping. I purchased a Kitchen Aid from them a while ago for a present and decided to have them ship it to my family’s house to keep it a secret. They didn’t put the Kitchen Aid in another box! They shipped it in the original box. Poor Costco shipping!
Opening up the box, I was greeted with the Owner’s Manual packet and a box with a sticker of the MAC address of the Rovio. I had to turn the box upside down to get all of the inner boxes out. At the end, I was greeted with 2 boxes full of goodies. The main box with the MAC address sticker on the outside, housed the base (Brains), and the camera. The second box housed all of the parts and accessories which there is enough to build 3 different configurations of the Spykee. The base wasn’t wrapped with plastic, only the neck with the camera, light and mic. The parts were packaged separately in plastic to keep things securely in one place. Overall, I found this to be very cheap packaging.
The Owner’s manual/Build Manual covered what is included, and showed how one can build one of the 3 robots. The manual shows how one can build it with pictures only. Wording is very sparse in this manual. The loose pamphlet was an addition to one of the robots. The smaller book is about activating the Spykee online. One has to make sure to add the username/password one created online onto the Spykee to activate it.
The Spykee size can vary in height due to the different robots one can make. Assembled Dimensions (depend on model):
· Robot : H : 12.6 in, D : 8.1 in, W : 8.7 in
· Lunar vehicle : H : 12.2 in, D : 8.1 in, W : 8.7 in
· Scorpion : H : 14.1 in, D : 8.1 in, W : 8.7 in
Placing the base is pretty much straightforward. One will want to place it against the wall, but I found that Spykee moved the base around a little bit. The base has 2 IR windows, and 2 contacts that Spykee connects to. I’m glad that the power adapter connected to the side, instead of the back. The Base can be flush with the wall.
You can choose 3 variations of Spykee. You can choose a Robot, a Lunar Vehicle, or a Scorpion. I chose to be different, and built my Spykee between the lunar vehicle, and scorpion. That’s what’s great about Spykee. You can use your imagination to build Spykee! The parts involved are screws with plastic sink connectors to join the plastic parts together. It comes with its own allen wrench to connect them. The so-called fiber optic tubes wouldn’t stay connected to the plastic parts, which I just omitted from my robot. A few parts came loose when I was changing the layout of Spykee, which related to the plastic sink connectors breaking. I wouldn’t think these parts would last long if a child were to rebuild Spykee every so often like one would do with legos.
Spykee and Pets:
My cats are pretty much numb to robots now. They are used to my Roomba, Scooba, Rovio, and now the Spykee. They just sniff it and stay out of its way for a little while. If you have pets and no robots, they should adapt quickly like mine has. You have to give them a little while to get used to the new addition in their territory.
The navigation screen is only one size. It is smaller than 1024x768. One can’t maximize it to full screen. You do have the option of minimizing or closing it via buttons. The layout is ok. I do like that they made it ‘skinnable’. It came with an additional skin which I preferred. The video screen is small in size. The buttons to move the Spykee is small, and they don’t work when I first log in. I have to toggle the turbo button to get the Spykee to move. Adjusting the settings within the Spykee does take time to get used to.
Spykee is very easy to setup via ad-hoc to a computer. I had Spykee up and running in no time. Spykee can be setup using WEP, or WPA which is very nice. I have the luxury of creating a separate SSID for the Spykee and have it in its own subnet to keep my wireless devices safe and secure. To me, I thought this was going to be easier than the Rovio was to setup. Wrong!! I decided to start off configuring WPA. I generated the maximum length that WPA allows, which is 63 ASCII characters (64 for HEX). Spykee didn’t like that length (Error message prompt), so I decided to use 12 characters, which it didn’t whine about that. Spykee still wouldn’t connect to my Firewall. I tried to connect via WEP, but it still wouldn’t connect!! Setting up a wireless connection for an average user is straightforward. For some reason, Spykee is not connecting to my network. It doesn’t pull an IP address. The firewall is setup correctly to give out its reserved IP address via the MAC address. I know this works. It works on my 2 laptops, my wireless print server, my Windows Mobile phone, and Rovio. The .PDF said to wait for 30 minutes and reboot Spykee to try again. It still wouldn’t connect regardless of rebooting Spykee or my firewall. It will just not connect up to my wireless firewall period. *Sigh*
Operating Spykee via ad-hoc responds ok. The video isn’t that sharp, and did lag a little bit at times. Spykee responded to controls after I had to toggle the Turbo button. You can see that in the videos I posted. Navigating Spykee around does take a little time to get used to.
Unfortunately, I can’t configure Spykee to connect to my wireless firewall. There is no firmware update to fix this. I have tried WEP, and WPA to no avail. I have searched the internet for Spykee forums, and they are not populated with great information. I came across a few posts regarding my issue, but they didn’t work. There is no phone # for support, which isn’t good.
Seeing Spykee dock is a laughing matter! If you send Spykee to the dock, it will spin in a circle trying to locate the Beacon IR’s on the dock. If it’s in a different room, it will just spin in circles and not try to seek out the dock. When it’s close to the dock, it docks ok. The AI that is in charge of docking is sub-par. It seems it still has some issues, even when Spykee can ‘see’ the dock. If you are in a different room where the dock is placed, you will have to drive Spykee close to the dock. Spykee will not dock when it’s away from the dock. From the video, it had issues when it was less than 5 feet away!!
Spykee Docking OK:
Spykee not Docking:
One has to consider a few items to make sure whichever route they go, that they will be happy with the investment. All of the robots connect to a wireless router/firewall. Typically, the home routers (Linksys, Netgear, Belkin, etc) are low-end routers, and their throughput is slow (They can only process so much traffic at a time). Then, their CPU limits on how fast it can encrypt/decrypt wireless traffic. One also has to consider how fast their broadband connection is (Download, and upload). A fast upload is necessary to quickly send the video/audio outside of your home network. You also have to take account if there is traffic already being transmitted within your network. Latency is another huge factor one has to consider. It might be slower during peak times to your Spykee. Where you will be controlling your robot is crucial also. If you’re at work, make sure to research which port(s) you will need to access the robot. If you plan on controlling the robot while you’re at a public hotspot, be prepared for it to be choppy. All of the hotspots I have been on were very slow due to them being public. This information is vital in making a decision in what robot will work for you, and will work with your current network configuration. Lastly, purchase the robot from a company that has a great return policy, like hammacher-schlemmer with their generous lifetime warranty. Other companies offer great warranties also. This will protect you if any issues arise, so you can either exchange or get a refund.
Ø Navigation screen looks ‘Techy’, and can customize it via skins.
Ø You can let your imagination ‘build’ a telepresence robot.
Ø Have to build Spykee right out of the box, which takes time.
Ø No Phone Number for technical Support!!
Ø Doesn’t connect to my wireless firewall via WPA or WEP.
Ø The WEP password has to be entered in HEX, and not ASCII.
Ø Navigation buttons don’t work right away. One has to toggle the ‘Turbo’ button first to get them to work.
Ø Navigation buttons work like press on, press off. Not momentary. Hard to navigate.
Ø Building materials are flimsy. After a few builds the plastic sink connectors start to break.
Ø Spykee has a ‘cheap’ feeling to it.
Ø Fiber optic tubes wouldn’t connect to the parts correctly. Had to omit them, or glue them on.
Ø Packaging is sub-par.
Ø Docking is a joke. If it is away from the dock (~5 feet), it still has issues docking.
Ø Priced too high for a ‘toy’.
Ø Have to register Spykee first online, before you can access Spykee remotely.
I am very displeased how Spykee turned out. Granted, this is the same toy that Meccano was supposed to push out to the public a while ago, but didn’t. Suppose that is due to the issues they wanted to fix. I honestly didn’t check how the MP3 player performed, or how the Spykee handled emailing the photo when detecting movement. Spykee will be returned, and never purchased again. A firmware update might fix it to where it would connect to my firewall, but the other issues I brought up can’t be fixed. In my opinion, Spykee is an expensive cheaply made toy which won’t last long. This is designed for children to build robots out of. If they want to compare to lego’s, they need to change how they connect the parts together. I would think a person/child can change the look of the Spykee a few times, but will eventually break the plastic sink connectors, depending how hard they play with Spykee. Save your money. Steer far away from Spykee!! If you are in the market for a telepresence robot, go with Rovio for now. iRobot is planning on several robots coming up, which might give Rovio a run for its money.