We’re no strangers to odd bits of tech here at Digital Trends, but it’s not every day that a smart duck swims into the office. Edwin is a bath-friendly rubber duck that syncs up with your iPhone or iPad and offers some interactive fun for kids. He also works as a Bluetooth speaker for streaming audio, flashes with multi-colored LED lights, and has various sensors inside that pick up on your child’s actions.
We didn’t want to wing it, so Edwin was put through his paces by a discerning three year-old to find out if he was all he’s quacked up to be. Did he pass with flying colors? Where does he fit in the pecking order of kid’s tech? Did he ruffle our feathers, or is the idea of spending $100 on a smart duck completely quackers? Should you be Peking him for your child? Okay, okay, we’re done with the duck puns. On with the review.
A very cute duck without many tricks
Edwin has the classic rubber duck look. He’s bright yellow, with big eyes, and an orange bill turned up into a smile. He’s a little bigger than your average duck, and there are a couple of differences when you look closer, but he is fully waterproof, so it’s safe to submerge him in the bath.
You turn Edwin on by pressing the heart-shaped button on his chest. He responds by quacking and his head begins to glow. Open the free Edwin the Duck app on your iOS device (we used an iPad Air), and make sure that Bluetooth is on. Edwin’s heart blinks green to show he is in pairing mode and then red to show that he’s paired. It’s quick and easy, and pairing worked without a hitch every time we did it.
Edwin is very cute, and my daughter found him appealing as soon as we opened the box.
The app offers a couple of simple shape sorting games, an interactive adventure story, and a kind of karaoke mode. Kids can tap the screen or they can tap Edwin’s wing or tail feathers, shake him up and down, or tilt him to trigger the on-screen action. My three-year-old daughter grasped the concept immediately, but you do have to be quite firm when tapping the wings and she found it frustrating when it didn’t work. Despite that slight hiccup, she had a lot of fun with the story and the shape-sorting game, though the karaoke doesn’t really work unless you can read the words.
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Unfortunately, it took her barely 20 minutes to play through everything twice, because there simply isn’t very much content. At the time of writing there’s one story, one song, and two similar shape-sorting games, and that’s it for the main app. Tantalizingly, especially for kids, there’s a long list of other content all bearing the legend, “Coming soon!”
We found that the app is also available on Android, but it doesn’t actually work. When you try to pair Edwin to your Android phone, it comes up with a message stating, “Coming Winter 2015,” which strikes us as a bad sign, considering we’re well into January of 2016 now.
There is another iOS app called Edwin’s Sleepy Time, which allows you to set Edwin up as a sleeping aid. There are various slumber-inducing sounds, like a heartbeat, fan, or rain, and also some lullabies. You can set a timer, choose the volume, and set the nightlight level, which prompts Edwin’s head to glow. It’s a nice idea and it works well, if your child has room for a rubber duck in bed alongside the teddies.
We also like the fact that you can use Edwin as a Bluetooth speaker. When he’s in pairing mode, you can select him just as you would any other Bluetooth speaker and stream music to him. Edwin obviously isn’t very loud, but it definitely extends his usefulness and young kids love hearing their own music or stories coming from a duck. A tap of his wings controls the volume.
In terms of battery life, manufacturer Pi Labs suggests you’ll get eight hours of play from a fully charged Edwin. We found he lasted a few days before needing a charge. He comes with his own charging base and if you turn him upside down, you’ll see the charging dock connector on his underside. He takes between three and four hours to fully charge. The dock comes with a standard Micro USB to USB cable, so you can plug him into any charger you have lying around.
Apparently Edwin also has a thermometer built in so that he can measure the bath temperature or even take your child’s temperature via a forthcoming app. We weren’t able to test that functionality, because it isn’t available yet.
You get a fairly standard-looking one-year warranty for Edwin, guaranteeing a repair or replacement if there’s a hardware defect. That’s not going to cover you for accidental damage, which is always a risk with kid’s toys. Edwin seems pretty durable, he’s completely waterproof, and he has a thick rubber skin, but we’re not sure how well he’ll age, particularly if he does take a regular dunk with your child.
Edwin is very cute, and my daughter found him appealing as soon as we opened the box, even without the apps, but no amount of “look at this” could tempt my six-year-old son. Edwin is definitely best suited for toddlers and younger pre-schoolers.
We’re not entirely convinced about his educational credentials, but perhaps when Pi Labs releases the planned color, number, and letter games, Edwin will be a better learning tool. As a nightlight and Bluetooth speaker for kids, that’s also safe to use in the bath, he definitely fits the bill and has a wider appeal that could tempt older kids.
This duck has potential, but we’d like to see Android support, more games and stories in the app, and that thermometer feature. But, as it stands, it’s hard to recommend Edwin on two counts: cost and content. He costs $100 and the app feels threadbare. That’s a lot of money for a rubber duck, no matter how smart he may be.