In recent years, there have appeared no shortage of high-priced robo-buddies tasked with teaching kids how to program bots of their own, and the UBTech Alpha is another educational robot friend option with a bit of a twist. This anthropomorphic fellow is capable of quite a range of motions, owing to its constitution of 16 linked servomotors—small motors driven by programmable circuits—that can be directed to do anything from dance moves to push-ups.
The sixteen-inch tall UBTech Alpha 1S looks like most little humanoid robots do, clad in round plastic shells and fitted with a somewhat smarmy countenance. The bot also comes with an "Emergency Stop" button, handy for when the Alpha 1S robot insurrection is finally launched, and a charging socket built right in. Like many learner bots, the Alpha 1S is programmable from two interfaces—the almost painfully streamlined app and the considerably more intricate Mac or PC software. The app is somewhat limited, coming pre-programmed with motions called "Roles", which are the smaller units for longer sequences called "Actions." On the app, you can program simple Roles using the standard directional pad, while combining Roles to make an Action; with the PC software, the Roles and Actions can get more complex, as you can program each of the servomotors manually.
The one drawback to the Alpha 1S is its limited versatility. A somewhat expensive machine, the 1S is good for a basic learning experience and some fun tricks, but its closed design places an artificial limit on what learners can do with the bot. For the truly enterprising mind, however, these limitations are precisely what is needed to overcome in order to learn something new, and so this reviewer's advice is to allow kids some playful reconstruction with the Alpha 1S.
The quality and electronics are incredible. Take time to learn the software. It pays off in the end.
App for iPhone is not working very well, but the robot is great.
The app is exceptionally easy to use. There are lots of pre made movements and dance routines, as well as several stories that the Alpha will tell.
It is quite a kick to press on an action on my iPad and watch the robot do its thing. Some of them are pretty awesome to watch.
A very good quality product, the finish is very top quality and it's worth the money. This is a fun robot and love how he dances.
We are amazed as to how quick it moves and how strong he is! Story mode is amusing and love the dancing. It's battery life is good!