Ten or twenty years ago, creating your own world and sending Disney characters on journeys consisted of opening up your toy chest and using your imagination. Now the company is ready to sell you a digital world and $15 hunks of plastic that will do three-quarters of the work for you.
If you've been on the Internet this week, you've probably seen the marketing blitz for the new line of toys for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The crown jewel among innumerable action figures and LEGO sets is the miniature BB-8, a customized version of Sphero's ball toy with Star Wars paint and a "head" that bobs around and stays on top of the ball as it rolls along. Though the BB-8 is mechanically identical to a regular Sphero, you'll need a specialized Sphero app on Android or iOS to actually play with the thing.
A manufacturer really has to go out of its way to make a portable speaker that isn't Bluetooth all that compelling. It's bad enough most of us still have to plug in our phones to charge—you still want me to plug something into the headphone jack and leave my phone lying there just to listen to music?
But the GOgroove Pal Bot is adorable enough to compromise for. It's shaped like an Android, and at the very least, it's good enough to sit at the corner of your desk and use as a paperweight. We've seen its price drop before, but now it's available for a measly $10 on Newegg.
If you're not familiar with Disney Infinity, it's basically the media giant's answer to digital toys like Skylanders, Angry Birds Telepods, and Nintendo Amiibo. The gist is that you buy your kids RFID-enabled collectible statues, they stick 'em on a base station, and then they can use digital versions of those characters inside the Disney Infinity game. Is there a technical reason that a completely digital character needs a $15 hunk of physical plastic to unlock? Why certainly, so long as "technical reason" includes "making Disney a boatload of money."
The Infinity games are available on all major consoles and the PC.
The Pal Bot is a wired speaker, not a Bluetooth speaker, which is probably why it's usually sold for only $30. It features a compact stereo speaker setup with a passive subwoofer crammed into its 4.8" tall body.
The currently-available Anki Drive series of toys are undeniably cool, allowing players to drive tiny remote controlled cars along real tracks with their smartphones while the app keeps track of video game-inspired additions like weapons and power-ups. The next iteration of the toy, Anki Overdrive, is set to take things to the next level when it debuts this fall. The most visible addition is the new piece-by-piece track system, including risers for overpasses and jumps, walls for faster banks, and a modular design that allows for near-infinite expansion. It's a mixture of classic Hot Wheels tracks and modern electronics.
When you begin a new game of Anki Overdrive, the miniature cars will drive themselves around the track, learning the layout and any special sections for themselves.
You may remember Anki as the company that took the stage at Apple's iOS 7 announcement in 2013 only to have its demo bogged down with bugs. Since then, the product has done quite well on iOS and it came to Android a few months ago. At $150 for the starter kit, it's a lot to pay for AI-controlled race cars. Anki Drive seeks to bring basic artificial intelligence into the real world, making for a unique gaming experience. Should you consider dropping cash on what is essentially a really fancy slot car set?
Update: We've checked out the Play Store page on various AP writers' accounts, and apparently the game is now marked as incompatible with everything, including the hardware listed in the description. At this point I'm guessing that the Android app was published prematurely, and this will change on the multi-platform release date for Trap Team, which is October 5th in the United States.
There have been three Skylanders-branded games published on the Play Store so far, Battlegrounds, Cloud Patrol, and Lost Islands. All of them count as Skylanders games, in that they make use of the ubiquitous plastic toys as digital characters.
It's that time again, obsessive collectors: time to fight the masses for a tiny hunk of vinyl and cuteness. Chinese New Year is coming up on Friday, and to celebrate the creators of the ever-popular Android figurines are releasing yet another special edition toy. This time it's dedicated to the Year of the Horse, with a red paint job inspired by the Zodiac figure.
Dead Zebra tends to get swamped when new special editions are being sold, so they're releasing them in two batches: one at 11 AM Eastern Time (right as this story is published) and another batch at 11 PM.
Parrot's AR.Drone has changed only slightly in its short history, but today the company has expanded the line in a big way. They're showing off two new models at the pre-CES Unveiled event: the smaller and impressively flexible AR.Drone Mini and the ground-only roller/jumper Sumo. To see what makes each version special, check out the promotional video below.
The Mini is indeed a smaller take on Parrot's popular AR - the housing itself fits in the palm of your hand. That smaller size comes with the removal of the drone's recording and viewfinder camera, but as a consolation, it can carry a set of removable wheels that let it roll along the ground, walls, and even ceilings.