Anki Cozmo is no stranger to Best Buy’s blog. In fact, Leo Bond reviewed a version of Cozmo a few months back. While I’ve had the opportunity to play with a few Anki’s Drive products a while back, Cozmo is completely new to my household, but not new to me. Cozmo has been a popular water cooler discussion at work. In fact, one of my coworkers was raving to me about “This little robot thing” that his nephew was given for his birthday and how it’s become his little companion around the house. With a 3 year old, and a cat, Cozmo’s been destined to be an interesting review ever since it arrived at home.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Anki Cozmo Collector’s Edition. It’s got similar features to the regular Cozmo, but it comes in a cool Liquid Metal colour.
Unboxing the Anki Cozmo
Cozmo is a really dynamic product out of the box. He’s put together with over 300 little pieces and requires no assembly. In fact, once you open the box, he’s ready to go. Just download the app, charge him and get going. You don’t have to sit there for hours tinkering with settings or the app itself to optimize his usage. Cozmo is actually designed for ages 8 and up, so it’s meant to be simple enough for someone to pick it up without having to read a massive start guide. I say this because it comes with a fairly massive start guide which I admit I only started reading to ensure that I was reviewing this properly. If I were given this as a gift, I’d probably shrug the guide aside and I actually encourage you to do it too. Learn with Cozmo because it wants to learn with you.
Who is Anki Cozmo?
Anki Cozmo is a little robotic companion destined to become more of a member of the household than a toy (rent cheques not included.) Cozmo’s charm is in his artificial intelligence and the fact that he just wants to get to know you. He charges quick (about an hours charge time) and then comes off his charge base with about 1-2 hours of playtime. He comes with this little forklift-esque arm which enables him to play games and interact with the cube accessories he comes with. Cozmo comes onboard with a couple games you can play as well. By meeting some of your daily goals and just playing with Cozmo, he’ll unlock more and more to do.
The nice thing is that he runs on just about everything. Whether you have an iOS device or Android device, he pretty well supports all platforms.
Cozmo moves on his own. Tank-like treads allow him to visit your home and move about independently. He’s about as loud as you’d expect something like him to be. He makes noise, but it isn’t intrusive or overbearing by any means. If you have a robotic vacuum like a Roomba or a Neato, it’s that sort of noise you’d expect, but a bit quieter given his size. He isn’t large at all and is very light.
Cozmo fits in the palm of your hand but has a massive personality
Indeed, one of Cozmo’s best assets is the fact that he’s armed with a personality. He wants to recognize your face and call you by name. In fact, he’ll try to acquaint himself with your family members too if you let him. He’s got really basic speech as well, but you’ll have to listen in closely as he can be a bit muffled. I can see him being a bit difficult to understand, but those of us parents of toddlers will probably have an easier time understanding Cozmo than the other kids we see on playdates, truth be told.
Be sure you keep poor Cozmo away from water. While he’s curious and wants to explore the world that is your home, he’s not waterproof. If he’s going to pal around with you in the kitchen, definitely make sure he’s away from the sink and the floors are dry. I’d say keeping him away from stairs is a smart idea too. I didn’t dare take him near water or stairs, but given how many small moving pieces are onboard, I’m not sure it’s a chance you want to take either. If it is, well, Anki does offer a 1 year limited warranty, but I’m not sure whether “I was teaching Cozmo how to use the stairs” is a covered benefit.
Lastly, be sure that Cozmo reaches his base every time you’re done with him. One of the things I remember from Leo’s review that I thought was a bit silly was that Cozmo could only come to life off his charge base. I was hoping that through time and the large app updates that happened between the first release and this one, that little nuance would go away (to add more of a natural feel to Cozmo’s daily life.) It hasn’t. Not yet anyway. I found I couldn’t turn him on without his being on his base, but I could pick him up and connect to him from wherever I set his play space.
Making the most of your Anki Cozmo
Cozmo’s features are numerous. The major aspects of caring for him center around tuning him up, feeding him, and playing with him. The 3 cubes he comes with are very central to his operations. Shaking a cube will “energize” it and allow you to feed him. Don’t worry. Cozmo getting hiccups (as shown below) isn’t a big deal. Just like in real life, trouble abounds if you eat too much. Cozmo gets hiccups if he’s fed too much energy.
He also uses his cubes to play his games too. Tune ups are really easy. They’re just simple button pressing games off your device that will “calibrate” him in turn.
There are a few other little mini-games he can play too, including pouncing on fingers. If you watch the app, it’ll give you some indications as to what Cozmo wants to do, and often he’ll set up his own activities (though you can easily choose games yourself too.) You’ll also see his emotions come out through those app feeds. He will be upset, happy, and will even sing songs. The app gives you a quick warning and he’ll launch into a random popular kid’s classic.
On a side note, one of the coolest things I found was in the “Discover” widget of the app. It allows you to simulate and experience time through Cozmo’s eyes. Here’s a shot of him recognizing me (as a human) and you can even have him speak basic phrases.
You will need hours just to see all of Anki Cozmo’s features for the first time. While he can be fairly self sufficient if you leave him to do his thing, there is so much you will miss out on from inside the Cozmo App. The world through Cozmo’s eyes is one thing, but your child can also learn very very basic coding by “programming” Cozmo to do different things. This just adds another layer of fun to the whole thing.
Some last notes about Anki Cozmo
A couple things I did notice while playing with Cozmo, though, that you should take a note of… Cozmo needs well lit areas to thrive. While he can play some of his games using the light from his cubes, he can’t do a lot of the other activities without good lighting. I had a really hard time feeding him or doing anything in my living room at night without all of the lights on.
He also seems not to like to stray a far distance from his base. I don’t know if it’s as intended or just coincidence, but he wasn’t very playful when he was half the house away from his base.
While I got a good understanding of Cozmo’s battery usage, I couldn’t get a good read on the battery usage of my actual app. The first couple times I played with him, my iPad battery was getting drained at the rate of 1-2% per minute of usage. However, I noticed that after a particularly long play session with a fully charged iPad, my battery stayed put at 100%, and from there, I noticed it wasn’t as much of a battery drain as I thought it was. It was odd indeed.
Why Anki Cozmo’s got a spot in your home
Quite simply put, in the world of video games, computer entertainment, and tablet/laptop dominance, Cozmo is something brilliant, and just so darn cool. I’ve never had the opportunity to bring one of these little robots into my house and witness just how neat they can be. All of my glee in the video was genuine. I didn’t realize how cool this thing actually was until I started playing with him.
Since he starts to adapt to your preferences, every day with Cozmo is a unique one, and you (and your family of course) will always have hours of fun. The fact that he moves independent of remote controls or wiring is a real bonus, and the fact that he comes with accessories and little games he can play is great too. Of course, the general age range for Cozmo IS ages 8 and up, but I think it’s a win for the entire family. After all, we’re all kids at heart, and the robots in my life have come a long way enough from Nintendo’s ROB and the off putting My Pal 2 that I want to experience them all even though I’m in my 30s now. If my daughter was a little bit older, this would be an automatic pick up for her this holidays. I’m excited now to see how much stuff like this evolves in the next 5 years when she hits the target demographic.
One of the things I’ll miss about Cozmo is the fact that I just won’t have him around the house continuing to learn about my habits and figuring out ways to engage me. Naturally, I’ll also miss the fact that my cat didn’t take a shining to him and viewed him as a rival, and the fact that my daughter thought he was the second coolest thing I’d brought home recently (next to Teddy Ruxpin of course.) I do hate to use the comparison, but he reminded me so much of Disney’s Wall-E with the way he interacted and emoted that it ALMOST made me want to sit and watch the movie again.
He’s a little guy, but he’s got a big personality. Introduce your child and your family to what Cozmo can bring home! The Anki Cozmo Collector’s Edition is now available in stores and online at Best Buy.