WowWee's Rovio doesn't officially start shipping until next Friday, but our friend Robert Oschler at RobotsRule has managed somehow to score a pre-release sample. He's put together an unboxing gallery to keep us sated while he reviews the WiFi-enabled mobile webcam, including the Rovio itself and the NorthStar docking and recharging station that creates a digital map for the robot to follow.
As with the Tri-Bot, the Rovio uses three omni-directional wheels - basically a number of free-rotating rollers embedded into a main wheel - to allow for tight turns and nimble movement. NorthStar - here called True Track - uses a series of projected infra-red dots, splayed across the ceiling, to tell the Rovio exactly where it is. This helps with independent tracking; alternatively you can manually control it, either locally or across an internet connection.
It remains to be seen how straightforward the internet and networking setup is, but for that we'll have to wait for Robert's full review. The Rovio will be available next Friday, priced at $299.