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The Kobotix Real Racer can work with your Android or iOS device, or alone as an fairly speedy little RC car with a camera that can stream a first person view driver video to your phone. There’s a headset also involved if you want to feel like you’re in the car, but not required for operation and I feel generally its inclusion is just to make the thing look cool. It looks cool as a note. Baltic Chess
This being Pocketables, let’s start with that this is a fast, fun, fairly responsive little toy that does what I wanted it to do. It’s light, it’s not going to win any pro races, but it’s also not going to leave a bruise when your 9yo runs it at full speed into your 7yo.
The controls are pretty well laid out, the trigger is a little bit twitchy for my tastes, but it works. The controller feels like a mix of well made and then not. Not sure how to describe this but the steering wheel is meh, the trigger needs some beefing up. Otherwise it works well.
The app needs work on Android as half the time I ran it on my Pixel 7 Pro I’d be presented with a blank screen and have to close the app. Reopening it would fix it every time.
Video streaming worked to about 160 feet in my office building before the speed, large amounts of metal, and general Wi-Fi death zones would cause issues. Generally other than video degradation I had no problems running it around. The physical control never seemed to have any issues and operates on its own, not on the Wi-Fi band.
Taking it outdoors, and even into rough indoor terrain you’re reminded this is a RC sport car, not an off-roading vehicle. It will hang up on grass, some carpet (even low pile,) and is not un-beachable. I did that a couple of times where I had to go and remove the car from a situation.
The VR-looking headgear is cool and all, but it’s one camera located on the car and all you’re really doing is looking forward. Not a bad thing, but for me the headset didn’t quite fit my enormo-noggin and I needed glasses and generally it was easier for me to just put my phone in my lap and race around the building looking down. I think your kids will probably have a blast with the VR rig for other things, but for me it was a bit of a wash.
Keep in mind if that headset works for them, most phones can probably turn it into a VR Cardboard-style setup.
The controller has some options for recording. You can record to a phone or to a micro-SD card, and there are live-streaming options but I didn’t get into that particularly deeply as it was more fun running this around in circles again and again at my office.
Video is pretty low latency. I was a little bit surprised. It’s off enough that I can see it, but it’s not off enough that I couldn’t compensate for it.
Overall, the sort of RC car I would have murdered for in the 1980’s. It’s about 9.3mph of fun.
OK, here’s the thing – the Kobotix Real Racer is very close to the perfect little toy/gadget gift (even if I have a problem with the headset,) until we get into the charging of the thing. Here’s what’s involved in keeping up with and charging the car:
You will need to remove the bottom cover with a screwdriver, remove the battery from a plug, take the battery somewhere to charge it on the proprietary USB cable. You can’t just plug the car in. A mini screwdriver needs to be involved. This… not great. I mean it’s really not great and it could be rectified so easily with a USB-C on the side. You could still have a removable battery if needed. Even a door solution that didn’t involve a screwdriver.
Considering Kobotix doesn’t sell a replacement or additional battery here you’re going to be waiting for about 70 minutes to charge, so there’s no hot-swap at the moment. I ran more than 20 minutes a few times, but I didn’t use the camera every time.
Speaking of batteries, the controller doesn’t have rechargeable, but 4 standard AAAs if I remember correctly. So many power things here.
On portability, I despise things that come with carrying cases that don’t need them, but if I’m going to have to keep up with a screwdriver, USB cable, remote control, car, car battery door, headgear, throw me a bone here and include a bag or something. This is a lot of stuff to keep up with for a tiny little car and I feel like most of it could actually fit into a small space – like turn the car over, place in the headgear, little pouch on the side of the headgear, bam. Storage solution.
While I’m critical of the charging and storage, it’s still wildly fun. There are few things that have me sitting around watching them run at work in circles on a weekend.
You can find the Kobotix Real Racer on Amazon (where we earn a commission,) or on the Kobotix store. It’s currently about 30% higher than cheapskate Paul thinks is right, but you know me.
The Kobotix Real Racer is an RC car capable of streaming video back to your phone or tablet at remarkably low latency to put you in the driver's seat.
Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts
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