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Anki Vector Robot

£249.99
build quality
fun
design
longevity

4.1

5

Overall

Smart, adorable and eager to please, Anki Vector is the perfect fist-bumping home assistant for all the family. While Vector is still very much in the early stages, there's a lot of new features on the way.

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Please note that in order to provide a fair price comparison, eBay prices are for new (buy it now) items only. Cheaper second-hand options or auction items may exist. We recommend that you visit eBay to see all the buying options available. Data last updated: 20th November 2018.

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Leila El-Dean

31st October 2018

By Leila El-Dean

I like tea, travel, cameras, food and hot sauce.


Meet Vector by Anki. You may think he looks a little familiar? Well that's because this is Anki Cozmo's little brother. If you're unfamiliar with Anki Cozmo, he's the lovable white and red robot that you could code yourself, interact and play with. So how does Vector stack up against his big brother?

Hey Vector!

While Cozmo was clearly aimed as budding coders in the making (kids basically), Vector on the other hand aimed at the whole family. By this I mean there's less of a gaming aspect and more emphasis on smart home integration. Vector probably has more in common with Amazon's Alexia, Apple's Suri, Windows' Cortana and Google's Assistant than the fun loving Anki robot from last year. In fact, there's even plans to integrate Vector with Amazon's echo for more effective smart home control. This however is a long way off.

Of course there's not a complete departure from the original. Vector has face recognition like Cozmo (albiet more advanced), casually dropping your name once he knows who you are. Design-wise he also has the same caterpillar track, lifter arm, movements and overall shape (if not a little cuter and sleeker). He even has a cube like Cozmo, just the one (Cozmo has three) but he seems to like it, even if the interactions are reather simplistic compared to Cozmo.

Overall, looks-wise they both have that Pixar, WALL-E style to them. Even with Vector's toned down black and gold palette, you can tell these two are siblings.

Sensors, Sensors, Sensors

Put the tech specs for both side-by-side however and it's a very different story. Like a smart home assistant Vector is always on, listening and ready to answer your questions - the trigger being "Hey Vector". To do this, Vector needs to be able to hear you, sense you, see you and answer you - fast!

To get anywhere near competing with the already well established smart home assistants like Google Home or Alexa, Anki have had to invest heavily in sensors. Not only does Vector have a 720p HD camera with 120 field of view, but he has four powerful microphones for directional hearing, a capacitive multi-touch sensor so that he knows when you are interacting with him, an infrared laser scanner for 360 environment mapping and distance tracking and, most importantly for a home assistant, cloud connectivity so that he can answer all your burning questions about the weather, sports and stock market etc.

Having Internet connectivity also means Vector can auto-update, which is handy. Add to that his auto-charging feature and you've got the least demanding pet ever.

On-Board Brain

Where Vector leaves Cozmo in the dust though is with his smarts. Vector packs some serious punch in the processor department. While Cozmo's ARM Cortex 4 processor left him having to heavily rely on smartphone connectivity, Vector's 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (the same used in smartphones) means he can think for himself. That said, you still need a 2.4GHz Compatible router, USB adapter (5V, IA or greater) and a compatible device (tablet, phone) to get him started.

Appy And You Know It

There is an app, but it's mostly for instructions and prompts on how to use Vector (questions to ask etc) as he is largely voice controlled and well, Vector is basically a smart device himself. Overall the app is pretty basic, but it is useful during set-up. You can use it to tell Vector where you are in the world (time zone, location and language), what units you like to use (metric or imperial) and general aesthetic changes like the colour of his eyes and animations.

It's also helpful if you're unsure what to ask Vector or more accurately, how to ask Vector something (he's a little picky). Questions revolve around unit conversions, word definitions, nutrition, general knowledge (pop culture and sports), the stock market, flight status' or equation solving. To ask Vector a question say, "Hey Vector" followed by "I have a question," followed by your question e.g. "How many kilograms are in a stone?".

Commands are simpler and include phrases such as "go to sleep", "good robot", "bad robot", "return to charger". The list is pretty small at the moment and asking questions can be a little clunky (you have to ask in three stages, start with) but Anki are looking to expand on his array of functions and commands over time.

A nice little feature within the app is the status update at the bottom so you know what Vector is up to. Status updates include things such as "vector is being petted", "vector is looking at a face". I can't decide if this is a little creepy or adorable, but it's definitely nice to know how he's interacting with the world -and if he's secretly spying on you.

Double Down

In addition to answering questions about the weather, telling time, setting timers, playing with his cube and taking photos, Vector has a built-in game. Just the one for now, but it's a good start at least. The game? Blackjack! Again it's quite basic but it's a fun little add-on if you have some time to waste.

I was hoping there would be some sort of game involving the cube, but this seems to simply be a private little activity for Vector to enjoy on his own. Sometimes he'll nudge it, roll it, use it to lift himself up or sometimes he'll just stare at it while the cube changes colours. The cube itself has a battery, so I'm assuming more is to come in the future - we'll see. Perhaps in time we'll see some add-on products to buy.

Space

If you decided to splurge and get the Vector Space (essentially a play-pen for your robot), you'll soon realise Vector is unable to use his cube in there. Ironically 'space' means little of it, but it is enough room for him to move about, dance rhythmically to music and use his charger when needed.

Although Vector sports some pretty sophisticated drop sensors that prevent him from falling he does struggle a little on beveled or sloped edges. So Vector Space does help to keep your mind at ease if you don't want your brand new (and not so cheap) robot falling from a great height. It's also handy to make sure he's nearby if you have a question or if you have some curious pets who may end up using him as a chew toy. That said, you could probably make your own version quite easily if you're handy with wood. Vector Space does look pretty stylish overall though.

Final Thoughts

Vector by Anki is still very much in the early stages. There's a lot of features and skills which are yet to be announced, so it's hard to review him fully until we find out what these are. A few rumours have suggested functions that will make him a more useful assistant. These include a calendar/to do function, the ability to deliver messages, take 360 photos, display notifications, have music recognition, tile integration and even a security camera mode.

Overall, Vector is a great addition to any family home. He will appeal to kids and adults alike. His movements and reactions are quite realistic and once Anki release updates he will make a nice home assistant. Just don't expect the same results as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. Asking questions can be a little cumbersome and clumsy at times. There's also a bit of a delay in answering compared to say, Siri. That said, if you're buying Anki Vector, you're doing so with your eyes wide open. This is one cute robot with a lot of potential. Let's hope Anki pull it off. If you're unconvinced, perhaps wait for a few updates until you take the plunge. Despite some shortfalls, Vector certainly has the wow factor.

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To read more on this model, check out the Anki Vector homepage here (opens new window).

Images

  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Camera: 720p HD camera with 120 Ultra Wide FOV
  • Processor: Qualcomm 200 Platform (ADPQ8009)
  • Core: 4
  • Speed: 1.2GHz
  • Sensors: Multi-Level Capacitive Touch, TOF NIR Laser 1m Range Scanner, 6-Axis IMU, 4 x Drop Sensors
  • Microphones: 4 - Beamforming Four-Microphone Array
  • Display: High-Res Color IPS Display
  • Connectivity: Anki Cloud 802.11n
  • Cubes: 1
  • Display: 184 x 96 Full Colour High-Res Colour IPS Display
  • Parts: 700
  • Battery Life: 45-60 mins
  • Charge Time: 2Hrs
  • Includes: 1 x Vector robot, 1 x Cube, 1 x charger (USB power adapter not included)
  • Features: 1,500 Animations and Sound Effects
  • Colour: Blak and Gold

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