Webcam on Wheels – Meet Rovio

28 October, 2008 | Posted by Marvyn

Recently picked up WowWee’s Rovio to watch the house and keep tabs on Oreo from a remote location. Despite some negative feedback, I have to say that it does exactly what I expected it to. Maybe I’m not a robot geek and don’t mind some of the Rovio’s shortcomings.

The webcam quality is average at best. You can’t see anything in dim lighting, in fact I had to turn on the brightness setting to max in order to make even ambient lighting visually acceptable. The attached headlight is useless. Although some resilient owners have made modifications to increase the lighting. Plus the headlight’s location is on the body, not on the motorized head. Speaking of, the head does not move freely up and down, it only has 3 available positions with the latter pointing straight up at the ceiling. Don’t know why I would want that.

Rovio’s software does tend to crash fromtime to time, which is certainly a problem if you’re away for days at a time. Luckily I work at home and I only need to go to the main floor to reset it. For the rest of the working class stiffs, you may come home to find your Rovio out of power or stuck under a table as it tries to navigate its way around your home. Supposedly the TrueTrack navigation is supposed to help Rovio find its dock and follow its pre-programmed paths, but simple things like chairs and tables can easily give it problems. Which you would hope it would do a better job considering the short battery charge anywhere between 15-45 minutes on a full charge.

Having said much of the negative aspects of the Rovio, it does serve it’s purpose as so long as you realize that you are getting pretty what you paid. First it’s admin interface is web based. So there’s no need to install software that is necessary to run Rovio.
That also means you can easily log into your Rovio with your iPhone or PDA. But for some odd reason, the interface opens very small in the corner of Safari Mobile. You can obviously zoom into it, but whoever wrote the HTML code for it needs to look over his/her work. No big deal.

You can add extra TrueTrack beacons to expand its range. Currently I don’t know where you can buy these, so this point is moot. But it’s still something to note.

And most importantly is that it is a webcam on wheels. Being that my dog doesn’t like to stay in one location, it allows me to look around rather than just have a fixed camera.


  • Maneuverable webcam
  • Web based interface
  • Pre-programmed paths
  • Active community for mods


  • Cost – $300
  • Webcam quality is poor to average
  • Battery lasts less than 1 hour on full charge
  • Limited to 3 camera head positions
  • Manny says:

    Now that the source code has been published by Wowwee at many of the issues have been solved especially the brightness control on the camera.
    Plus try the freeware RovioDirect software for loads of fun including walki-talkie like communication, versatile camera head movement, animated LED control and preset / customizable sounds.

  • Manny says:

    PS. Look for Rovio on got it there for $99.

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