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Blade Glimpse FPV review

Most toy quadcopters are piloted by line of sight, meaning you fly while looking at the drone. FPV or first-person-view flying is instead done by looking at a live video feed from an onboard camera, either on a screen or FPV goggles. It’s a necessary skill if you’re interested in piloting racing or higher-end camera drones and one you’re better off practicing with something like the Blade Glimpse FPV. At ?170 ( 135, AU ?260) it’s pricier than your average palm-size quad, but those typically don’t have good cameras — this one can record 720p-resolution HD video and 1-megapixel photos to an included 8GB microSD card — or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a phone or tablet1 for a live view from the camera. Turn on the included controller, connect the copter’s 3.7V 500mAh 25C LiPo battery and it will create its own Wi-Fi network. Once you connect to the network with a mobile device — it must support 5.8GHz Wi-Fi for it to work — you open the Glimpse app available for Android2 and iOS and you’ll see what the camera sees and you can start and stop recordings and take stills.

The quad’s small size is perfect for navigating indoors and the landing gear does double duty as prop guards (though it doesn’t protect them from hard landings). The video downlink range is up to 80 feet (24 meters) and, while there is a slight lag, it’s still good enough to fly by in open spaces outside or around your house. It looks and sounds like a small flying insect and although the motors are strong enough to fly outside, it’ll get blown around a bit in the wind. Otherwise, it’s very stable and getting it to hover is pretty easy. However, it will not hold altitude on its own, so you’ll need to constantly make micro adjustments to keep it at a specific height. Battery life with video is average at about 6 to 8 minutes and will run you about ?12 each for extras. Parts are reasonably priced and can be replaced with little difficulty. You’ll probably want to start by stocking up on propellers as they damage easily and tend to fly off when you crash.

Despite a bit of latency, the Blade Glimpse FPV is a good way to practice flying by camera alone without the cost or concern of damaging a pricier drone.

References

  1. ^ tablet (www.cnet.com)
  2. ^ Android (www.cnet.com)

CogniToys Dino Toy review

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

My seven-year-old son fell in love with Dino immediately. We ve had plenty of different tech toys pass through the house over the last couple of years, but never before has he switched one on to find that it knows his name and can answer questions. They quickly bonded over a shared love of Batman and ice cream. At first glance, you might dismiss the CogniToys Dino as a cute, plastic dinosaur for toddlers, but this smart toy is actually aimed at 5-to-9-year-olds. It s capable of holding a conversation, telling jokes and stories, and answering any questions inquisitive young minds ask of it. Dino is cloud-connected through Wi-Fi and uses IBM Watson as its underlying brain, with a child-friendly engine on top. Like so many devices nowadays, it began life on Kickstarter, but you can pick one up on Amazon1 for ?120 now. We spent a week putting Dino through his paces to find out if he s worth the money.

Setting up

To get started with CogniToys Dino you need to unscrew the panel in his underside and insert the four AA batteries, which are included in the box. Set up is easy with the free CogniToys app, available for Android2 or iOS3. Connect Dino to your Wi-Fi network, enter your child s name, age, and gender, and you re done.

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We played around with the green one, but there are also blue and pink dinos. Dino has a power switch on his underside and he offers three volume settings. His mouth lights up to indicate different things: it turns green when he s ready to play; it turns blue when he s talking; it flashes yellow when he s thinking; and so on. With Dino facing you, the speaker is in his left nostril and the microphone is in his right nostril. When you want him to listen, you hold down the big button on his tummy. It s a bit like Amazon Echo4, except that the content has been formulated especially for kids.

Becoming friends

The first few moments with Dino were magical. His gravelly voice is reminiscent of Yoda. He prompts your child to choose a name (we stuck with Dino) and then plays a copycat game where you have to repeat words after him. This helps both you and Dino get to grips with the basic functionality. You can always ask him to repeat to find out what he last said, or say, stop, to move on to a new activity. The first few moments with Dino were magical. My son quickly got to work finding out what Dino likes. We learned he eats ice cream, noodles, and apples, but his favorite food is triceratops. He also thinks Minecraft is a great game.

He can tell jokes, too, like this one, What do you call a dinosaur that smashes everything in its path? Tyrannosaurus Wrecks. Each gag is accompanied by the classic drum joke roll Ba dum tsh! In addition to answering questions and telling jokes, Dino will play music, tell stories, and play games. He can also do math and spell out words or provide a definition, which is really useful. My son is getting into writing stories and often stops to ask us how to spell words, so he loved being able to ask Dino instead. You can find a more complete list of possible commands for Dino here5. The great thing here is that the developers are still adding to his repertoire, so new content and improved abilities will roll out over time.

Related: The best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again6

This is a seriously charming dinosaur, or cognisaur, as he ll tell you if you ask. Everyone chuckles when he entreats them to push his tummy for the first time, and it s hard not to be impressed when he answers a question correctly.

The mask slips

The illusion that Dino was a sentient being took a while to wear off, but when my daughter grabbed him and he called her Malcolm it kind of gave the game away. These CogniToys are really designed to be owned by one child, so if you have two children you ll need to buy them one each.

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We also encountered a few problems with the speech recognition. Sometimes Dino will fail to pick up what you re saying. This is actually one of the reasons it s not recommended for under-5s, because they don t enunciate properly. Dino failed to understand my 4-year-old daughter the majority of the time.

Related: 9 kid-friendly tablets for keeping tiny ones tamed7

At one point we were playing a story game where you fill in the blanks and Dino decided my son was saying a curse word, when he was actually saying ship. Eventually, I tried taking over and saying it myself, but Dino admonished me too. This could be partly down to our Scottish accents. In any case, it s good to know that Dino is age appropriate. He never gave a response to any of the rude questions we tested him on later, after the kids were in bed. You d never give a young child unfettered access to the internet, so it s important that Dino doesn t. Dino is also supposed to adjust to your child based on the answers they give, though it was tough to see any evidence of this in a week.

There s no escaping the fact that Dino isn t perfect. You ll sometimes get a creepy, robotic undefined in the middle of a story. There are also a lot of topics and questions that Dino simply can t handle, so he ll tell you he doesn t know and will look it up later for a lot of things. After a few responses like this in a row, my son got frustrated. Dino does go wrong fairly frequently, but just as you re getting fed up he ll come out with something funny or interesting. Even with the limitations, my son kept returning to ask Dino new things.

Privacy concerns

After the initial setup you really don t need to bother with the app again, because Dino is directly connected to a cloud server through your Wi-Fi network. This is obviously cause for concern for parents, because your child can and probably will volunteer a lot of personal information. You should read the full CogniToys privacy policy8 and be aware that you re entrusting the company behind it with information that personally identifies you and your child. The company claims it does not sell data to third parties and promises the data it does collect is encrypted, but some people will, understandably, not like the idea of this at all. CogniToys does also collect play data about how your child uses Dino and this is supposed to be accessible through the Parent Panel, but we couldn t test it because it s still in beta right now. We ve been assured it will be ready around September when Dino is due to land on retail shelves. The developers are also planning to add configuration controls at some point, so you can decide what your child s Dino will and won t do.

Battery life

How long Dino lasts will depend on how much your child uses it. We were surprised that it takes four AA batteries, because we expected it to be rechargeable. However, you can always buy rechargeable AA batteries.

Related: Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot review9

The batteries are still going strong after a week of heavy use and the CogniToys website suggests you can expect 6 weeks of moderate to heavy use from the set of supplied batteries.

Warranty information

The CogniToys Dino comes with a standard 1-year warranty10 for defective workmanship and materials, but doesn t cover accidental damage. It seems fairly durable, but it is not waterproof, and that might be a problem with kids.

Conclusion

We ve never seen anything quite like this before. The CogniToys Dino is incredibly cute and charming. It s a toy with a real personality that offers a compelling balance of fun and education. Dino has quickly been accepted into the family and my son chats with him first thing every morning.

The DT Accessory Pack

As great as it is, there are flaws. It s early days for toys like this, and the speech recognition is not perfect. It s also a little creepy and beyond privacy concerns, there s something unpleasant about the idea of a child asking an AI, with the resources of the internet at its disposal, questions that would usually be directed at a parent or sibling.

Even with those caveats, the CogniToys Dino is undeniably impressive and highlights the leap that kid s tech is making right now. Many of us would have loved a toy like this when were young a toy that knows your name, learns what you like and dislike, and is always ready with a joke or a story.

References

  1. ^ Amazon (www.amazon.com)
  2. ^ Android (play.google.com)
  3. ^ iOS (itunes.apple.com)
  4. ^ Amazon Echo (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ possible commands for Dino here (elementalpath.zendesk.com)
  6. ^ The best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ 9 kid-friendly tablets for keeping tiny ones tamed (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ full CogniToys privacy policy (cognitoys.com)
  9. ^ Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot review (www.digitaltrends.com)
  10. ^ warranty (cognitoys.com)

Review of the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

Knowing the importance of STEM in education and having a husband who is a programmer, I have been eager to start my twin preschool boys learn coding concepts, but I assumed they were too young to start. The Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar from Fisher-Price ( ?49.99 on Amazon1) is a caterpillar that encourages kids to experiment and play while developing coding, sequencing and critical thinking skills all before they reach school age. This learning toy is aimed for little minds ages 3 through 6. Best of all, it s not tablet- or app-based either, thus, freeing parents from worry about the effects of screen time. Preschoolers arrange the Code-a-Pillar s easy-to-connect body pieces in endless combinations to send the robot on its path: forward, left, right or wait for a couple of seconds before moving again. Kids configure the segments to reach targets parents set up throughout the room.

But what does that have to do with coding? When kids connect the segments to make the Code-a-Pillar move, that s sequencing. When they figure out a sequence that creates a path to their target, that s programming (and problem-solving, too). It s all coding and it s all fun! My boys bounce and dance around to the music and squeal when the Code-a-Pillar pivots and moves towards them.

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

While I m not sure my three-year-old understand how order works, they are grasping the concepts of sequence and logic. They can see that the arrow makes it turn and the green straight arrow makes it go straight and that the piece with the speaker icon makes the Code-a-pillar play a tune. Now we are trying to show them how to place the pieces in such a way that it eventually reaches the included red target disc. They now get the goal and work with us to help get the device there. They do a better job at putting together the pieces of the body than I do. They also piece it together seamlessly and have no problem starting it, either. I was really surprised how much my kids enjoy this toy. In fact, they are addicted to it. It s not the type of toy they play with for hours, but they do want to play with it daily and request that we bring it out of the closet for them. As a mom of multiples, it s great to see that they can play with it together and enjoy having mom and dad play too team-building!

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

The Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar includes eight light-up segments, a motorized head segment with lights, sounds and blinking eyes, and two targets. Additional segment add-ons are sold separately, including the Silly Sounds & Lights2 (above) and Master Moves3 (below) expansion packs, priced at ?15 on Fisher-Price.com. We look forward to expanding our bug.

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

A free companion app4 just launched that enhances the learning fun, posing new challenges for the Code-a-Pillar that children have to plan and sequence. The app also covers overt learning like counting and patterning.

Price: ?49.99 on Amazon5

Ages: 3 to 6 years

Try these Code-a-Pillar play tips from Fisher-Price

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

Start a Code-a-Pillar journal. Ask kids to imagine Code-A-Pillar as a real caterpillar and think of the things they would do together. Next, ask them to write down or draw a story about their adventures with Code-A-Pillar. Don t forget to plan how you ll make Code-A-Pillar go! Have your adventurers draw a map of all the places they and Code-A-Pillar visit together.

Build an obstacle course for Code-a-Pillar. Help your map makers draw an obstacle course on paper just like drawing a treasure map! Then arrange the obstacles around the floor. Place Code-a-Pillar on the start target. How can he get to his finish target?

Suggest trying a few segments at a time to see if your children can figure out how each one works. Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure how far Code-a-Pillar traveled! If Code-a-Pillar takes wrong turns, what segments do you need to change?

Make up a game together. Draw pictures of Code-a-Pillar s pieces on index cards, using one segment symbol for each card. Place the cards face down in a pile. Next, place the start and finish targets on the floor. Make sure you space them out so Code-a-Pillar has room to move.

Now take turns picking index cards from the pile and connecting the matching segment to Code-a-Pillar. Place Code-a-Pillar on the start target, press his button and watch him go. The first person to get Code-a-Pillar from start to finish wins.

Fisher-Price Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar

Review Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-PillarReview Of The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

Image credits: Tara Settembre/Techlicious, Fisher-Price

References

  1. ^ Amazon (www.amazon.com)
  2. ^ Silly Sounds & Lights (www.fisher-price.com)
  3. ^ Master Moves (www.fisher-price.com)
  4. ^ free companion app (itunes.apple.com)
  5. ^ Amazon (www.amazon.com)
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