Cozmo is a powerful robot that can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s expressive, interactive, and packed with futuristic tech that makes it both a fun pet-like toy and an educational tool.
In The Box
The full kit comes with Cozmo itself, three stackable blocks, as well as a USB charging dock.
Cozmo’s design hits a sweet spot between cute and industrial – its all-terrain treads and forklift give it a practical edge, while its animated face gives it plenty of personality. Cozmo’s design allows it to interact with the three stacking blocks, which glow and respond to touch and motion input. Cozmo’s forklift-shaped arms, the app, and the three blocks let you play tons of hands-on games with it. Its facial display is extremelyexpressive, which creates the feeling of bonding with Cozmo as you play — and on top of that, it can nod and look around by moving its head up and down, giving it an extra layer of character. The camera and sensors are also a nice touch, and they allow Cozmo to interact with the world around it in a unique way. The design is both functional and full of personality, making it an ideal companion.
Cozmo is equipped with some powerful but tiny tech, with four motors and more than fifty gears allowing it to physically navigate the world. It’s able to navigate fairly uneven terrain with its tank treads which, surprisingly, don’t limit its ability to make sharp turns and fine movements. It’s also equipped with a VGA camera, which it uses to identify and recognize the faces of its new friends. Its face is comprised of a 128 x 64 resolution display, which makes it extremely expressive – its expressions look natural and are highly animated, like a robotic companion straight out of a children’s movie.
The white plastic exterior feels ever so slightly flimsy, making the actual appearance somewhat lacking – but it functions well, and its lightweight-ness allows Cozmo to navigate quickly and fluidly. For the price, you might expect plastic that feels a bit more durable, but the lighter plastic doesn’t detract from the overall appearance much.
The cubes that come with Cozmo are also cool in and of themselves. You can use them to play games and move them around to change how Cozmo reacts to them. Cozmo is able to find them using its camera, it can lift them up using the front lift, and you can use them to play interactive games by shaking or tapping them. This makes playing with Cozmo a hands-on experience. The cubes have internal batteries that may need to be replaced after a while, but they last a long time relative to Cozmo itself, whose battery seems to drain fairly quickly.
Compatibility and Software
The Cozmo app is available for Android and iOS, which grants it compatibility with most major smartphones. The app connects to your phone using WiFi connection, which means each time you connect to Cozmo after disconnecting, you need to enter your settings and select Cozmo rather than your usual WiFi. This is a slight nuisance, but it’s only a minor distraction overall.
Although it’s a little inconvenient to connect, the app is really easy to use and engaging in design. You can use it to select games to play, take care of your Cozmo via cute mini games, or the unique “discover” tab – which allows you to teach Cozmo to recognize your face, “explore” the world through Cozmo’s eyes, or learn the basics of code using the Code Lab.
Code Lab is an especially neat feature, which lets you control Cozmo and introduces you to general code structure. Sandbox Mode, the beginner mode in Code Lab, is somewhat rudimentary – you can place simple command after simple command in one row and watch Cozmo bring your string of actions to life. Constructor Mode is much more advanced: much like other block-based, drag-and-drop code interfaces, you can construct more complicated programs by manipulating higher-level variables. There are also sample projects to get you started and introduce you to the basics, but there aren’t many high-level, intense tutorials to teach you what each function actually means. Learning by trial and error is easy enough, though, since you can just click play in the app and watch how Cozmo reacts to your code almost instantly.
Cozmo has very responsive movements, and it is able to handle divots and grooves in terrain thanks to its sturdy tank-style treads. It does have trouble staying on a table without falling off, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it when it gets too close to an edge. It’s also able to reliably react to code commands with precision, allowing you to watch your code projects come to life instantly. The stacking cubes are also highly responsive, which is great for playing mini-games like QuickTap, which requires you to compete against Cozmo by tapping cubes faster than Cozmo can.
Explorer Mode allows you to experience the world through Cozmo’s eyes by using the camera mounted on the front of his frame. The camera really requires high light conditions, though – low or moderate light makes it very difficult to see, which is a bit of a bummer. This is because the image quality is already sort of low to begin with. One neat aspect of Explorer Mode is that you can control Cozmo’s lift, allowing you to move the stacking blocks around while still seeing the world from Cozmo’s perspective.
Cozmo’s face recognition is also pretty impressive. You can make Cozmo recognize several individual faces through the app, and it can even say your name when it recognizes you. While Cozmo is in Free Play mode, it may suddenly recognize you and say your name aloud. This is a little bit creepy at first, but it ultimately personalizes your experience in a unique way.
The Code Lab interface is also really nice, and you can compose and edit your codes right there in the app. Different colors indicate different types of commands, so you can learn code structure just by the colors alone. One minor issue is that it seems like you can’t actually delete unused aspects of your code — or if you can, it’s not intuitive at all. You’re able to swipe things out of view, so you could dispose of it that way, but it’s still stored in the code file. As a coding program, it functions similarly to other block-based programming interfaces, and the convenience of being able to edit code in the app is a plus. With the Sandbox Mode and Constructor Mode both available in the app, you can start basic or dive right in to high-level logic, depending on where you feel most comfortable.
Overall, Cozmo is a solid product, both as a toy and as an educational coding device. It has many, many strengths, making it fun and interactive for hours of play, while still providing an educational slant. The Code Lab gives it a unique edge by allowing users of all levels to experiment with programming, and Cozmo’s many sensors and movements give users many features to control and manipulate with their codes. The app is always growing, so you never know what new features it might have. As a pet-like toy, Cozmo is a little bit less strong – having to “tune up” and “feed” it feels secondary to everything else Cozmo can do. If you can afford to spend $179.99, Cozmo is worth the price.