When I first heard about Pleo I knew that I had to get one. My son is a huge dinosaur fan, and a toy robot baby Camarasaurus was sure to be a huge hit. I ended up ordering two ‘first hatch‘ Pleos in the hope that I could turn a quick profit selling on the 2nd one on eBay, but in the end it went to live with @khairoun and @monadic (after he’d been so helpful bringing them back from the US as they weren’t available in the UK).
Xmas turned out to be a little tricky, as we were visiting family in Spain, but I managed to tuck Pleo into my hand luggage, and when the day came there were huge smiles all around. The pet dinosaur was the huge hit that I expected.
But there was trouble… UGobe had clearly built this to price (albeit quite a steep one) and the huge compromise that they’d taken was using a NiMh battery pack. This took ages (3-4hrs) to charge, and at its best lasted about an hour of play time. I bought a second battery pack, but that only provided temporary reprieve. It didn’t take long before the battery packs wouldn’t work at all. Most frustratingly the battery packs were simply 6 AAs bound together; if they’d used regular AAs then it would have been no problem keeping the beast going.
So Pleo stopped being a playful pet, and just became another (larger) plastic dinosaur amongst the herd.
When the recent 2.0 firmware came along I thought I’d try the upgrade. A fully charged battery pack managed to last just about long enough to run the upgrade process, but wasn’t supplying the juice to allow movement. So I started looking around for alternatives…
and discovered what UGobe should have put in there in the first place. A battery pack using Lithium Polymer cells from a firm called UCube. Of course these are impossible to get by normal means in the UK, but as usual eBay came to the rescue, and I ordered a battery and charger ‘egg’ from a seller in China.
With the new battery inside Pleo walks (and roars, and sings) again – better than ever :) It’s such a shame that UGobe didn’t use a battery like this in the first place. With a decent battery Pleo really is one of the coolest toys ever. I just need to teach my son a little more about batteries now – he’s now asking if we could get an even better battery that would make Pleo grow (and poo).
Filed under: technology | 5 Comments
Tags: battery, LiPoly, NiMh, Pleo, UCube, UGobe