Want to use your iPhone/iPod Touch for something other than productivity apps and games? Why not use it as a remote control for your own personal RC vehicle? DeskPets offers several different kinds of remote controlled toys that can be operated by using your iPhone or Android device but the one I’m looking at today is the Carbot, their line of toy race cars. Here’s how it works. When you purchase the DeskPets Carbot, included in the package is the Carbot itself, a smartphone adapter that plugs into the audio jack of your device, and a set of instructions. You’ll also need to download the corresponding remote app which can be found on the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. In my case, I tested this out on an iPhone 5.
The Carbot is surprisingly easy to setup. You just download the remote app first and install it. Then plug in the included IR transmitter into the audio jack of your iPhone/iPod Touch. Make sure you turn it on with the switch on the back. The Carbot itself need to be turned on as well. You do so by holding down the top button until it turns on and makes an engine starting noise. You will need to pair your device with the Carbot however before you can use it. First look underneath your Carbot and see which frequency it is using, A, B, or C. Then on the app, select the Carbot as the vehicle you want to control and select the corresponding frequency of your vehicle.
Controlling the Carbot is really simple too. On the left, there is the throttle control for moving the Carbot forward and reverse. On the right is a steering wheel used to turn it left and right. There are 3 additional buttons placed directly right of the throttle. They are Fire, Boost, and Stop. The fire buttons is used to honk the horn or fire the “guns” when the Carbot is used in battle mode. The Boost button is used to give the Carbot an extra boost of speed. The Stop button are the brakes, though you may not ever really need to use this as the Carbot stops anyways when you release the throttle.
As I stated above, there are 3 modes of play. The first mode allows you to drive the Carbot like a regular remote controlled car. The 2nd mode is battle mode and allows you to play against other with Carbots as well. I wasn’t able to test this out as I only have 1 Carbot. The last mode allows the Carbot to move around autonomously. It will move around on its own while trying to avoid obstacles.
Overall, the Desk Pets Carbot is quite fun and a rather neat use for your iPhone/iPod Touch. There are only a couple of issues with the Carbot that I came across, thought they do not really affect the overall appeal of the toy. For starters, the app itself is not optimized for the iPhone 5 yet and doesn’t fill the entire screen. Sometimes, it also does not sync correctly to the app and you’ll need to turn it off and restart again. The last issue is the fact that the Carbot uses an add-on dongle in order for it to work. It does work, but I would have much rather seen this use Bluetooth as its means of communicating with the Carbot which would also all it to have better range and not have to have a clear line of sight between the Carbot and the dongle. Again, this doesn’t affect how fun the Carbot can be though. You’ll also be happy to note that the Carbot can be recharged using a standard USB port. That means you can recharge it using your computer or laptop as well as a charging wall plug from an iPhone or iPad.
The Carbot is available at most major retailers now for around $29.99 and can be purchased in 3 different colors. If you are buying more than one, I suggest buying them in different colors so that their frequencies do not interfere with each other.