Anki Vector, the cute robot: review after 4 days

The Anki Vector is a cute small robot, which has a lot of interactive features thanks to its AI. It's not just a kids toy, it's meant for adults as well. Because it's not officially sold in the Netherlands, I had to buy it from Amazon. I have it running (driving?) around for 4 days on my kitchen table now, so I thought it's time for a review.

Please note that it's on the market for just 2 weeks now and I think you should consider the software beta for now. So in a few months or maybe even a few weeks, this review might be a bit outdated.

Cuteness: 5/5

Everything it does is just really cute. It has happy eyes when it recognizes you (and it sometimes even says your name!), it asks for fist bumps, it's happy when it can play with its cube and even its scared reaction when it's almost driving over the edge of the kitchen table is cute. I think Anki has done a perfect job on this.

Want to see for yourself? Check out this cool short video on my Instagram: Anki Vector fist bump

App and connectivity: 4/5

It's connected via Wifi to the internet and via Bluetooth to your phone. You can launch the app and see a few statistics, manage the faces it recognizes and have some help with using the Vector. But you can't move or drive it yourself (well, you can say come here, but that's not using the app). And you can't use the app when you're not near the Anki Vector. It would be a bit more cool if that's possible as well, because I could check on my cats. But then again, there's also no video feed. You can download the photo's the Vector made though.

Anki Vector Sleeping

But I don't know if it's actually better if you could control the Vector yourself. Because a large part of the fun comes from the fact that it does things itself.

Also, it uses cloud services, for example to look up the weather and other information. And it receives updates over the air.  So there are a few possibilities to make it better connected.

But the coolest thing is: you don't need the app! After initial setup of your Anki Vector with the app, it functions completely autonomously, without the app. Mostly thanks to its AI and voice recognition.

Usefulness: 2/5

At the moment, it isn't really useful. The most useful features are setting a timer, ask for the weather and ask questions it looks up on the internet. Anki announced that they will add Alexa support in the future, so that would be really cool, because it would basically make it a really cute Amazon Echo replacement. And there is a list with other features they will add, such as recognizing music, read the news and a security camera function.

Fun: 4/5

Maybe it's not that useful, but it really is a lot of fun. It's very cool to watch all the things it does, without getting any input from a human. It drives around and explores its environment. It starts playing with its cube. It listens to beats to dance on. But there is a lot of human interaction possible. For example when it sleeps, it sometimes wakes up when it hears a noise. And it tries to find humans, recognize them and drive towards them. So, basically my breakfast and dinner are much more fun with the Vector on my kitchen table.

Another cool feature is that you can play a game of Blackjack. It shows the cards on its screen and asks you if you want another card, to which you can respond with a simple yes or no. And the animations, for example when you ask for the weather, are just fun to watch.

Software quality: 3/5

I think this is the main problem with the Vector. I still give it 3 out of 5 points, because many things are working pretty well. But there are a lot of bugs. From the Android app that stops responding, to bugs in the software of the Vector itself. For example it has cliff sensors, so it senses the edge of the table. But in some cases, it still finds a way to drive over the edge with one side and it's stuck there. Actually, it even fell on the ground 2 times. It's a pretty steep edge, so it should sense it without problems. But this problem is mentioned as something they will fix in the future, on the Anki Vector changelog web page.

Happy Anki VectorAlso, sometimes it doesn't hear its wake word, even if you say it loud and clear. I think it's just doing something then and maybe not listening, but I'm not sure why it happens. Anyway, after it hears the wake word and starts listening for a command, the voice recognition seem to work pretty well.

And sometimes it doesn't recognize my face, even in good lighting. And if it's a bit far away from its charging station, it can't find it sometimes (note that its only world is my kitchen table, so it's not that big). But for some reason it just doesn't see it and it doesn't know the route back to it.

Build quality: 5/5

It is difficult to give an exact assessment of the build quality after only 4 days, but everything looks very solid so far. It has already fallen to the ground twice (thanks to errors in the software), without any damage. So I think the build quality is very good.

Overall score: 4/5

I give it an overall score of 4/5 for now. Actually, I would love to just give it 5/5. Because it's such a cool toy. But with the current problems, mainly bugs in the software and that it lacks some actually useful features, it scores just a 4.

But, the great thing is that, just like a Tesla car, the Anki Vector will become better over time thanks to over the air software updates. So if you're interested in buying one, don't wait, just buy it. Because the list with future possibilities Anki shows on their website is big. And it's just awesome to see your Vector become better and better.

Leave a Reply