Toy robots popular this holiday season

Consumer Reports checks out sophistication, fun factor in toy robots

SAN ANTONIO – This holiday season, a host of high tech, interactive robot toys have come on the market. Consumer Reports expert testers checked the toys out with help from some little volunteers.

The Spin Master Zoomer Chimp is a personality-filled robot who responds to voice commands in English or French. Unlike many robots, he doesn’t need a mobile device to work. But after about 20 minutes of play, the chimp needs an hour of recharging.

The WowWee ChiP was popular but took some time to get the hang of. He responds to verbal commands, head taps and signals from a wristband. ChiP is supposed to fetch a smart ball, but one of the Consumer Reports models never mastered it even using when using lengthy instructions that don’t come in the box.

Sphero BB-8 was a favorite among the children. A roly poly Star Wars bot, it's controlled by a mobile app that lets you steer him around obstacles, chirping and tweeting all the while.

The Anki Cozmo robot charmed children with fun games like Quick Tap and Keepaway, using little power cubes. It’s packed with technology, like facial recognition and a software-development kit, so tech-minded children can program it.

And if you’re looking for a robot toy that grows with your child, check out Wonder Workshop’s Dash. It has five age-appropriate apps, from simple movement and sound commands to showing tweens the fundamentals of coding.

Something to consider is that most of these robots are controlled by apps downloaded on a smartphone or tablet. In other words, parents' tech toys will become their  children's toys, so plan accordingly.

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