Mintid Dog-E review – a robot dog that’s almost as unique as you

WowWee Mintid Dog-E: One-minute review

In repose (or powered down), one might describe WowWee’s new Mintid Dog-E robot toy dog as lacking curb appeal. Its nearly all-white plastic body resembles a tiny dog covered in opaque white paint. Aside from a cute black-button nose, it lacks virtually all other dog-like adornments like fur, markings, and even eyes. 

It’s not until you turn Dog-E on for the first time that you get a sense of its potential appeal. The eyes, chest, and paws light up, it barks and yips excitedly, and it acts in some ways like a very real puppy. Unlike any puppy I’ve ever seen (real or robot), though, when Dog-E’s tail wags, the strip of LED lights uses persistence of vision – the optical illusion where our eyes continue to briefly see an image after it’s disappeared from view – to show you symbols and even send messages. This has its pluses and minuses, but more on those later.

There have been many robot dogs – some more interesting than others, like Sony’s expensive but generally amazing Aibo – and WowWee is responsible for some of those, including Chip. Not to be hyperbolic, but Dog-E is unlikely any of them. Not because it outshines the technology found in many of those robo-pups, but because of its mintability.

WowWee Mintid Dog-E

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

That’s right: when you unpackage and turn on Dog-E for the first time, it’s minted in a relatively unique way: the combination of lights, actions, attitude, and even the color of the plastic tongue it occasionally sticks out of its slotted mouth are unique to the toy in your hands.

Dog-E has enough motors for some basic movement and tricks. It can tilt its head up and down, and sit or stand on all four legs. Under each foot is a wheel that lets Dog-E race forward (usually when it has its magnetic toy bone), and, of course, there’s the tail-wagging motor. It wags the tail rapidly and quite loudly; in fact, most people who sat nearby when I first powered up Dog-E expressed annoyance with the loud snapping noise. The pay-off is the visual red LED hearts, smiles, and full-blown messages like, “Thanks for being pup’s best friend.” that appear in the rapid movement.

WowWee Mintid Dog-E

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There are a few sensors that add to Dog-E’s realism. It responds to pets on its muzzle, and when you pick it up. Sometimes the tiny tongue will stick out like it’s trying to lick you – the licking sound is a bit over the top, but you’ll get the message.

The Bluetooth-connected app is useful for learning all about the robot dog. You start by entering all the details about your specific pup. In my case, ‘Charlie’, as I’ve named him has two half-folded, yet flexible ears, purple trapezoid eyes, a pink bone on its yellow dog collar, and a pink tongue. If you buy Dog-E, you might get a different-colored tongue – and if it’s gold, that’s an ultra-rare Dog-E.

WowWee Mintid Dog-E

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The app lets me play games with or without the dog connected, and dig into controls. I can even customize some of the Dog-E’s lighting colors or set up a completely different profile. Say someone in my house wants a Dog-E named ‘Ralf,’ but we don’t want to buy another one – we can just build and save a new profile in the app.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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