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Unbelievable RC

Trekbot

October 2011
rc

Street Price: $19.99 US
Manufacturer: Desk Pets
Mfr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 6+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: n/a
Runtime per charge: 10-15 mins.
Controller: Infrared
Includes:

  • Assembled bot
  • Controller / charge adapter
Requires:
  • Any device with a USB port for charging

Initial Impressions

The Desk Pets Trekbot RC is an intriguing little vehicle with just two wheels, about 2 1/2" in diameter. They're side by side and use a so-called "hubless" design with no spokes. The whole thing looks a lot like the Hailfire Droid tank from the Star Warsfranchise. This one has no weapons, though, just two LED light "eyes" to give it a little personality.

The Trekbot has a built-in, non-removable, rechargeable battery. The keyfob-sized controller has a charging jack that you plug into the vehicle, but the controller doesn't actually provide any charging services, it's just an adapter. You insert a retractable plug at the other end of the controller into a USB port on a computer or other device, and that's where actual charging power comes from. If the Trekbot was run until it stopped completely, it can take up to 1/2 hour to recharge.

Testing

The Trekbot has simple forward/back and left/right controls. What's unusual is that when you push a button to make it go, it just keeps going until you push a center "stop" button. This makes things a little easier on your fingers (or, more likely, a thumb) and allows the controller's batteries to last practically forever, but it takes a little time to get used to it if you're familiar with more standard controls on other RCs.

The Trekbot's motion is interesting to watch since it's a very uncommon vehicle design. The wheels have very thin solid rubber tires around the circumference, and these get good traction on a variety of surfaces. Surprisingly, the Trekbot can successfully travel over pretty rough medium-pile carpeting since the diameter of the wheels is so large. I worried about fuzz getting stuck in the gears, but the gear teeth are so large that they don't easily trap small debris. Of course it's important to not let stuff build up in there, especially hair, but just the ability to romp around on carpet at all makes it more versatile than many other small, inexpensive RC toys.

The center of the 'bot does tend to rock back & forth like a rocking chair sometimes when you start, stop, or hit a large bump. With the right timing, you can get it to start spinning around within the diameter of the wheels, where the wheels themselves will be barely moving relative to the floor, but the whole center of the Trekbot will be rotating. You'll see it in the video. It's interesting, and kind of fun to make it do it.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

The Desk Pets Trekbot is a cool novelty toy. It's very simple, has an intriguing design, and is more capable than I expected. The USB charging setup makes it a very inexpensive little thing to run over the long haul. I rate it just one tick lower than the related Skitterbot because it costs 1/3rd more as of this writing for what I feel is a similar level of fun.

B+

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