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| October 30, 2012
Hands-On: The iPhone-Controlled Bug
Earlier in October, iHelicopters.net released iPhone-controlled insects, which is one of their more unique offerings, such as the iW500 wall climbing car. Today, I'm sharing my experience with one of the simulated creepy crawlies. Starting off with appearance, the physical design of the bug is actually quite convincing in normal use. Up close or from the bottom, it is fairly easy to recognize this insect is a mechanical being. Another giveaway may be its size. While not huge, a bug the size of your hand isn't a regular occurrence, or so I hope. Although, it does make the bug much more intimidating if someone is to believe it. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as impressed with the app and general control system. For one, the use of infrared makes things iffy to begin with. Next, is a halfway well thought out control scheme. Whether using tilt or tap, it has taken me a long time to send the six legged crawler exactly where I want. The speed control is (virtually) spring-loaded, but the rest are tap to go and tap to stop. Basically, it's a clunkier navigation than it needs to be. Overall, the iPhone Controlled Bug did meet most of my expectations. However, the somewhat clumsy controls, debatable price tag, and a higher likelihood to be damaged, i.e., smashed by feared viewers, result in a product I can't recommend for all app-controlled toy fans. I feel this lineup is best suited for people who really enjoy a novelty toy. Before sending you off to contemplate introducing one of these insects into your home, I'll re-post the technical specifications. Both the "beetle" and "bug" have the same features and size, just different form factors. With a palm-sized body, the entire bug measures nearly three inches, about three inches wide, and a little more than one inch tall. Both the insect and transmitter feature charge via USB. Operating times are estimated at 20 minutes for the insect and 40 minutes for the transmitter with the expected operating time being 20 minutes each. The package contains one of the robotic insects, transmitter, USB charging cable, and instruction manual. In addition to the boxed items, you'll need to install the free i-Robot app on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later. While functional on iPad, iPhone 5, and fifth generation iPod touch, i-Robot's user interface is not optimized for the increased resolution of these iDevices. The iPhone-Controlled Beetle and iPhone-Controlled Bug are $39.95 each, and available in the Insects section of iHelicopters.net. [gallery link="file" columns="4"]