App-controlled spy tank helps on secret missions

Brookstone's fun, durable toy has some problems being controlled by Android devices, though

Brookstone's newest wireless spy tank can be controlled by both Android and iOS devices and has more capabilities than its predecessor like the ability to record video, tilt its camera up and down, and speak and listen to subjects during surveillance.

To see the Rover 2.0 in action, including video recorded from it, watch my report on YouTube.

The Rover 2.0 creates its own wireless network over which streams live video to the tablet or smartphone controlling it. Users can control the spy tank up to about 100 feet away. They can also record video and snap photos, which can be shared to social networks from the spy tank's app. Both video and photos are captured at a low 320-by-240 pixels with significant color problems. During our tests when I was wearing blue pants, they showed up purple on the video.

It was also difficult to control the rover using an Android smartphone. I noticed that there was a one to two second lag in commands from the smartphone, which caused me to run the rover into a few walls. During testing with an iPad, there were no connectivity or control issues.

The biggest improvement over its predecessor is the option to listen and talk through the bot. If you press a button on the app you can speak through the bot; press another button and you can listen. This was an obvious omission in the first rover, but a welcome addition in the new model. Being able to remotely tilt the camera up and down is also a new, welcome feature.

The Rover 2.0 is available for preorder on Brookstone.com and will start shipping Oct. 1, for US$150.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

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