Pleo Reviews

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Pleo Reviews


 Click here to read my REVIEW of Pleo on my blog now

[12-5-2007] At the time I created this page no one had a real Pleo to review. A few days ago Ugobe sent me a review unit and I am delighted to announce that I have written a real review nowClick here to read that review which is on my Pleo blog. In that blog post you will also find links to other Pleo reviews.

Pleo has now started shipping. On this page you will find comments from people that Pleo visited during the days before shipments started.  Once the reviews start piling in, I will update this page to include those. But for now, this page will give you an overview of how Pleo affected the may people he visited and what they had to say.  There are several web sites and media companies that had a chance to see an early Prototype of Pleo.

These lucky people have wrote articles and made comments on Pleo. I have compiled a list of the major articles below with a blurb that summarizes the article. These aren’t reviews in the traditional sense, but they will give you an idea of what Pleo will be like and how the little green charmer is already taking the world by storm. Take your time and have a good read, while learning about the amazing little pet dinosaur that is coming your way.

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Pleo Reviews

Wired Magazine - “It’s Alive” by Clive Thompson

Terrific article that covers both the technical side and the human side of Pleo; including the author’s own emotional reactions. Clive starts out the article with the astonishing realization that he is worried about waking up Pleo, his disbelief officially suspended by the artificial life form he is writing about:

“I’m tempted to reach out and touch it - but it looks so peaceful, I can’t bring myself to disturb it.”

Impressed by how quiet Pleo’s motors are he calls the noise “barely perceptible” and he notes that interacting with Pleo feels more like interacting with a real pet then a robot. He strongly echoes a theme you will hear throughout the other articles; how Caleb’s knack for recreating lifelike animal movements is what makes the Pleo so enchanting. He traces Caleb’s history as a toy designer ending with Caleb’s blockbuster hit toy, the Furby.  Along with some fascinating details on how Pleo’s design came to be and the technology behind it, there’s other interesting anecdotes about Caleb’s other projects and his visions for the future.  In closing, I will leave you with the most telling quote from the opening of the article:

“Say hello to Pleo. From the guy who brought you Furby, it's a snuffling, stretching, oddly convincing robotic dinosaur. You are so going to want one.”

Make Magazine - “I, Pleo” by Robert Luhn (Not available online, see your local bookstore or news stand)

Another truly wonderful article obout Pleo.  Make Magazine, the bible for “do-it-yourself” hackers and modders of gadgets and electronics, really goes into detail on the technological marvels and the relentless passion behind Pleo and Pleo’s inventor Caleb Chung. It also contains my favorite photo of Caleb and Pleo which shows Caleb in mock shock as Pleo pops out of his shirt in the style of the movie Aliens, with a big silly baby dinosaur grin and baby blue eyes.  Robert calls Pleo a love bot, not a battle bot and Caleb a puppet master so intent on creating life from scratch that he gives him the same nickname as I have: Gepetto, the lonely puppet maker that brings the beloved marionette Pinocchio to life.

The author’s most enticing comment is a comment on some of the realistic movements Pleo makes during the demonstration:

“The baby dino showing fear (complete with trembling), happiness (wagging tail, dancing, little yippy sounds), groaning for food, playing dead (like a kid, dramatically falling over with a clunk), sneezing and more.”

There’s plenty of juicy bits on Pleo’s intended behavior including: the ability for packs of Pleos to determine the leader and then have that leader share learned tricks, that Pleo will be doing things at home when you’re not there, and hardcore technical items like Pleo’s USB port and personality editor.  My favorite item is that Pleo has basic drives like hunger and love, and will try to satisfy those drives by using the best strategy learned so far by the interactions Pleo has had with the environment and owner (you!). I really enjoyed the in-depth coverage of Caleb’s background both as a designer and even more as an artist; a talented mime and actor with a strong love for, of all things, magic.

PC Magazine - Pleo Steps Closer To Reality” by Lance Ulanoff

Short article that talks about the special “invite-only” meeting that Ugobe gave at CES 2007 to powerhouse technology publications like PC Magazine.  The author makes an interesting comment about Caleb’s relentless attention to detail and how that impulse has resulted in the latest prototype being, when compared to the one PC Magazine saw only two months ago:

“this prototype was many levels beyond what we had seen before”

Important!:  This article links to a brand new video of Pleo with the new skin!  The video is short and dimly lit, but Pleo is definitely looking cuter and more charming than ever.  There is also a brand new slideshow of Pleo with his new skin!

Editor’s note: You can hear Caleb talking about The Matrix in the video. He’s actually referring to Pleo’s ability to map stimulus to thought and action in a complex believable way; but if you want to, go ahead and imagine that Pleo and Neo will face off in a new sequel of that movie. I did! What is also humorous is that Pleo is on what appears to be a restaurant table in the video.  I would have died to hear someone at the table say: “Who ordered the Pleo?”.

PC Magazine - Can Pleo Charm The Market?” by Lance Ulanoff

A short overview article that gives the basic technical details behind Pleo and Ugobe. I’ve included it since it’s a good summary of Ugobe and Pleo.  For a more detailed article by Lance see below.

PC Magazine - “Hands On With A Pleo Prototype” by Lance Ulanoff

A slightly longer article that gives a good summary of Pleo’s technical capabilities and product features. The author is indeed charmed by Pleo and my favorite comment is:

“During the meeting, Pleo walked, made sounds, pretended to be scared, faked a limp, responded to its name, and batted its baby blue eyes.”

Other great features of the article are a picture slideshow of the prototype and four Windows Media format (WMV) movies you can download.  The author echoes a concern that you will hear in the articles; that Pleo will die in 3 years since the battery can’t be replaced.  I take that as the highest compliment of all. In a market where people play with their new toys for a few months or frequently for far less, the authors are worried that you will develop such an emotional bond that after 3 years you’ll still feel deeply for the little cuddly dino. Besides, Ugobe could easily work out a solution in the meantime.  Is there a dino doctor in the house?

Sci Fi Tech - “Pleo returns! Ugobe's dinobot goes for a stroll” - Part I, by Peter Pachal

Short article that covers the basics about Pleo. A highlight is the inclusion of a video that has sound, which the PC Magazine videos were missing. The author did note that Pleo is the first pet robot with skin and that Pleo’s reaction time to its environment was near instantaneous; an important feature for giving an artificial pet the illusion of life. My favorite quote from the article:

“Pleo, you may remember, is an artificial pet that promises to take robot interactivity to a new level.”

And if you’re going to love the little cuddly green dino, and you will, that’s essential.

Sci Fi Tech - “Pleo returns! Ugobe's dinobot goes for a stroll” - Part II, by Peter Pachal

The conclusion of the Sci Fi Tech article contains a second video, with audio, that shows Pleo doing some tricks including dancing and faking a limp. The article notes:

“One of the most compelling things about Pleo is the robot's "hackability," letting you create your own tricks and behavior patterns for him. Ugobe plans to create its own online community where owners can share them...”

The author echoes concerns about Pleo dying in a few years.  I think it’s a bit early to be talking about a limitation that may end up only being an issue with what is definitely a prototype of Pleo; an issue that may be solved by the time Pleo is shipping. As I said in the PC Magazine article summary, even if that sad fate does end up being part of owning a Pleo, it would be an industry first to have that deep and long of an emotional bond with an artificial pet. Also, and this is strictly my speculation, consider this possibility.  Since the ability to share Pleo personalities has already been mentioned, there could be a kind of reincarnation that would carry your beloved pet’s essence from one new body to the next.  How wonderful would that be, to be able to have your little green friend learn and grow year after year, while getting smarter and more lifelike with each new body upgrade?  Can you say the same thing about your significant other? :)



Here’s a list of web sites that have additional information on other electronics gadgets, related services, and other resources: