April 24, 2005
Say hello to the idog, from Sega Toys. I searched high and low all over Tokyo this week and nobody had it. The ¥4,179 "music entertainment pet" came out April 2 and sold out quickly apparently. So how did I get my hands on one? From the airport, of all places! On my way out of Tokyo, the toy store on the 2nd floor of Narita (before immigration) had some! I guess international travelers don't know about these puppies yet so not many people bought them. I know I had never heard of these things until my cousin told me about them before I went to Tokyo. In any case, I think there were maybe 4 or 5 left there (hard to tell as they were stacked behind the counter) so pick one up if you happen to be flying through Narita! The airport sells it at the MSRP, however. Yodobashi sold them for ¥3,340 but, like I said, they don't have them in stock anymore. And when I asked, none of the stores had any idea when they will be back in stock.
The idog is powered by 3 AAA batteries which the instruction sheet claims will last about 3 hours of continuous usage. In a bizzare design decision, the battery compartment cover is held with a small screw. Since the battery life isn't great on these things, you'll need to have a small screwdriver around to change the batteries. What a PITA.
The idog, as you can tell from the name and his looks is a riff on the iPod. The boxes they come in even look like the iPods' packaging. The body is white and the front of his face is covered by clear plastic, which creates a grayish and shiny effect (similar to the way Apple achieves the mirror look on its mice). I guess the gray/shiny part is kind of sort of supposed to remind you of the iPod's aluminum back. His front legs can be manually adjusted in three positions to alter the height of his stance. There are 7 LEDs on his face that lights up in various ways and colors (red, orange, green, blue), depending on his mood. He can flap his ears up and down and sway his head from side to side while "talking" or singing to you. The instructions are only in Japanese so I'm not entirely sure how to play with him. So far I've discerned from the kanji on the page and from playing around with him that when you press his nose, he gets happy. When you touch his tail, he becomes angry. Pressing his head makes him more obedient (not sure what this means exactly).
When at rest, the LEDs on his face light up in a circular pattern. He has 3 moods. Happy is orange. Calm is green. And angry is red. The faster the lights move, the more intense his feelings. So for example, when he's very happy, his face will show a fast moving orange pattern. Kind of mad, would be a slow red pattern. Etc, etc.
He likes it when you talk to him, too. Sometimes when you talk to him, he will record what you say and repeat it back to you in his own doggie language, which just sounds like a bunch of beeps to me.
This is a needy dog! You need to touch him and talk to him, otherwise he becomes bored and gets into a bad mood.
He also sings if you hold down the buttons on his head for a few seconds. When he is singing, you can wave your hand in front of his face and he will respond by changing the pitch of the song (there is a light sensor in his face). The more you play and talk to him, the more songs he will play (he only plays one song at first).
Angry idog... I touched his tail too many times. Oops!
There is a 35mm stereo mini plug on his right hind leg into which you can plug a music source (from an iPod or a CD player for example) and in addition to playing the music through his (mono) speaker, he'll move his head, flap his ears and flash his lights in response to the music. It looks really cute, but as can be expected, the sound from the speaker is crap. Plus the noise from the mechanisms moving head and flapping his ears are pretty loud. Still, it's fun to watch his face light up in all kinds of dancing colors and his head and ears move to the beat of your music. It might be nice to get a Y-splitter and send one to the idog and the other one to a regular set of speakers.
Maybe because of its deliberate attempt to remind you of the iPod, I was expecting iPod-like quality and finish on the little puppies. Sadly, it's not that expensive looking. I suppose you can't expect that much for about $40. It's very plastic-y, and the shiny face surface is actually not that shiny. The plastic is a little dull and scuffed up straight out of the box.
Okay, so it's pretty useless and his "singing" will probably get really annoying after a while as there is no way to shut off the sound, only turn it lower. Nevertheless, it's so cute! Kawaii!