It's been all about the smartphones this week, with the long-awaited HTC Touch HD finally reaching our hands for one of the first full English-language reviews online. If our initial video demos last week whetted your appetite, head over to part one and part two of our full review to really gorge yourself. Meanwhile, to cheer up those in the US who are still smarting over HTC's decision not to offer the Touch HD there, we reviewed AT&T's newly released BlackBerry Bold.
WowWee ROVIO should be at the top of everyone's list this holiday. ROVIO is a WiFi-enabled mobile web cam that lets you see, speak and hear from anywhere in the world as if you were right there in the room. I'm on the road a lot so my dogs are often home alone with friends and family. With ROVIO, I'll be able to speak to them and visually check up on how they're doing from any web-enabled devices such as a laptop or even your iPhone 3G's mobile Safari browser.
It's always interesting to see the various iterations of a gadget's design, before it reaches the shelves in all its shiny splendor, and today it's the family album of WowWee's Rovio mobile WiFi webcam robot. Released at the beginning of October, the Rovio hasn't always had its Stealth Bomber-style, as these balsa prototypes from RoboCommunity prove.
We kicked off the week with some high-profile reviews here at SlashGear, putting the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops through their paces. If you're considering one of these slick new machines - or are wondering what style features other manufacturers will be copying over the next six months - make sure to check them out! We also played with a more budget computing option in the shape of the ASUS Eee PC 1000HA.
Meanwhile cellphones have been on the test bench, with Sprint's pair of new Samsungs - the messaging Rant and the musical HighNote - squaring up against Velocity Mobile's 103 smartphone. We had to leave our desks to try out Blackline's GPS Snitch, however, but were back in before curfew to play with some toys: WowWee's Bladestar remote control helicopter, for one, and a rather more unusual review of the WowWee Femisapien.
We've something of a history with remote control helicopters here on SlashGear. They don't crop up all that often, but when they do we find that readers go for them in a big way. Developments in contra-rotating blades and other cleverness has done a lot to minimize what user expertise is required, and now WowWee have stepped into the fray with their own, super-simple Bladestar remote control helicopters. Can they carry over their tradition of straightforward, right-out-of-the-box fun to historically finnicky flight? We put on our best pilot's goggles and silk scarves and took a look.
With the holiday season fast approaching, we've been featuring quite a number of toys here on SlashGear that, in our geeky opinion at least, are likely to be must-have items if you're under the age of twelve. However, as self-confessed jaded cynics we turned to SlashGear's latest reviewer, 8-year-old Tanner McBee (and his capable assistant and scribe, David McBee aka "Dad"). WowWee's Femisapien has sashayed her way into many an adult reviewers heart over the past few months, but can she keep Tanner entertained?
Updated with video review from Tanner McBee himself.
Back when the WowWee Rovio was first announced we knew it would prove to be a popular platform for modders and robotics fanatics to adapt. The three-wheeled remote WiFi camera-bot has only been available for a few weeks, and already we're seeing the first hacks come in. Today, it's the turn of Rudolph at RoboCommunity; a straightforward tweak, perhaps, but a sensible one - adding LED lights to the remote-controlled webcam "head".
WowWee's Rovio WiFi mobile webcam is designed to be easily controlled at a distance via the webportal - however what if you want to operate the robot from close up? RobotsRule's Robert Oschler has added Rovio functionality to the upcoming version of his free RoboDance app, meaning you can use a Nintendo Wiimote to control all of the robot's features.
Video demo of the RoboDance Rovio Wiimote control in action, after the cut
We love robots here on SlashGear. That's just a given. But the WowWee Alive Panda Cub is certainly interesting. Not to mention, pretty freakin' adorable.
Normally when you hear the word "robot," people tend to think of something with exposed wires, a bunch of metal parts and super strength. However, this Panda is fuzzy and cute. What a contrast, eh?
Biggest news this week has been in gaming, with Nintendo announcing the latest iteration of their DS handheld. The DSi introduces new multimedia features - for instance a 3-megapixel camera - and an even thinner body, at the expense of battery life. Don't get too excited, though; the US won't see the DSi until "well into" 2009.
In netbooks, ASUS slipped in a few new models at both the low and high-end of the market, with the Eee PC 900HA and 904HA offering bargain 160GB storage while the S101 corners the more-fashionable (and expensive) end. That's a niche the ASUS N10 already occupies; that netbook ran the review gauntlet this week, proving "technologically clever" but simply too expensive. ASUS - and MSI, whose Wind U90 was panned too - must be looking enviably at Gigabyte's M912M convertible touchscreen netbook, which was good enough to pull a credit card from the wallet of one reviewer.
The first full review of WowWee's Rovio mobile WiFi webcam has gone up, and if you were hoping the news would be bad and save you from spending $299 on a must-have robot, think again. While we knew the tech specs were tempting - WiFi, poseable webcam, control either locally, from preset routines or via a web-interface - it turns out to be more than just a passing entertainment and suited to all sorts of robot experimentation.
Video demo of Rovio in action after the cut