The 10 Best Deals of February 26, 2021

Gif: Juliana Clark

Friday’s Best Deals | Kinja Deals

It’s February 26, and we at Kinja Deals are here to bring you the top 10 deals of the day. Multi-task to your heart’s content with the iRobot Roomba i6+. Relax with the Naipo Mini Massage Gun. And cash in on 30% off pop culture tees from Homage.

If you’re still craving more deals, take a peek at Friday’s best deals overall.

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It’s been an exciting, but confusing 24 hours for Final Fantasy fans. In last night’s State of Play, Sony revealed that Final Fantasy VII Remake is getting a PS5 upgrade called Intergrade, which features new content. Players can upgrade their PS4 copy for free, but will have to buy the new content separately. To make matters more confusing, Sony announced that the remake will be free on PS Plus in March, however it won’t be eligible for an upgrade. It’s all a big mess right now that’s leaving players confused.

If you want to get a version of Final Fantasy VII Remake that you actually can upgrade, you’ll still have to buy it outright. Luckily, Amazon has the game down to $30 right now. If you’re curious about playing Intergrade, your best bet is buying this now, waiting for Intergrade’s release, and then upgrading for free. Note that you’ll need a PS5 with a disc drive to make it happen. If you don’t care about the upgrade, just grab it on PS Plus for free starting on March 2 instead.

This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio.

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If your New Year’s resolution was to maintain a cleaner home, there’s still time to get on track. Start with purchasing a robot vacuum, specifically the iRobot Roomba i6+ while it’s on sale for a 31% discount in Amazon’s limited-time Gold Box sale. While it didn’t make the cut in our roundup of the best robot vacuums of 2021, its budget-friendly sibling—the Roomba i3+—did, and was featured in Gizmodo’s Coolest Gadgets of 2020 end-of-year buyer’s guide.

Unlike the i3+, the i6+ brings the same smart mapping functionality boasted by its higher-end counterparts, allowing the device to learn the layout of your home and schedule cleanings accordingly by room. This is the most affordable Roomba option for anyone buying a robot vacuum for its technological autonomy. It also features automatic dust disposal, dumping its findings into a bin connected to the charging station so you don’t have to empty it as often.

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Because it’s compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa, you can command the iRobot Roomba i6+ with your voice to tell it things like “vacuum immediately, minion!” to which it will respond by begrudgingly following orders and eliminating all the cat and dog hair from your house or apartment floors using a high-efficiency filter. In fact, you can add Amazon’s new Echo Dot smart speaker to your purchase for just $10 more right now. Double bargain!

It’s also compatible with the Braava Jet M6 which, when paired, mops your floors after the Roomba goes over it with a quick sweep. Never subject yourself to cleaning floors again, and instead focus on all the other horrors of life, or just sit down and play a darn video game because you deserve a break every now and then.

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey. 

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Making your own movie nights can be a great way to have a fun and cozy night at home. With so many theaters in limbo, closing, or with major restrictions, at-home movie marathons are on the rise. What better way to enhance that experience than with a projector. Save 20% on this Bomaker 720p HD Wi-Fi Projector right now.

This projector has full HD resolution of 720p native and supports upscaled 1080p. Bomaker is 50% brighter than other projectors on the market, except it’s a bit less. Even an image as large as 200″ will be clear, bright, and detailed because you want to see every line in Brad Pitt’s furrowed brow when you binge all the Ocean’s films. They guarantee 50,000 hours of lamp life and a whisper-quiet fan. This means it can withstand even a full night of every episode of Wandavision. There’s an HDMI port to connect to laptops, smartphones, and/or streaming devices. But no cable is needed when you’re screen mirroring. The sound is consistent and strong given this projector’s size, but you could connect an external speaker if you’re looking for something more robust.

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This will ship for free for Prime members.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari. 

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Everything is loud all the time. Don’t you just wish you could cancel it? It is time to deplatform noise and you can do that with Anker’s Soundcore Q30 headphones, which are down to $68. These bad boys feature robust noise cancelation options, including three different modes. You can choose to dampen outdoor, indoor, or airplane noises, so these are optimized for a variety of use cases. These are also wireless and feature 40-hours of battery life in noise-canceling mode, and 60 in standard. Toss in some soft leather earcups and a lightweight design and you’ve got a comfortable headset that suits your needs. Everyone come to my noise is over party.

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This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio.

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You’ve probably seen Homage tees on the internet or Instagram. They’re a small business in Ohio dedicated to capturing the nostalgia and love of pop culture moments, both current and past. Because they’re rad, we have a code from them for you to receive 30% off your next order. Just use KINJA30 at checkout.

Their collections are vast and references deep in both nerdom and sportsdom. For the jocks out there, Homage covers legends from yesteryear and legends in the making across various leagues. I’m partial to their Nickelodeon designs as I grew up in the era of SNICK. I’m looking at your Midnight Society. These make great gifts for yourself or someone else who loves geeky tv and movies from the 90s. There’s plenty to pick from, so I’m sure your favorite is in this collection.

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Free shipping on orders over $70.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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Looking to either fill your Xbox or PC gaming collection? Newegg is currently running a game sale that includes digital codes for Microsoft consoles and Windows 10. While the sale includes the kind of Xbox exclusives you expect to see at this point (you can’t escape Gears 5), there’s also some third-party games in the mix too. For example, you can get Borderlands 3 on Xbox for $18 after applying the promo code EMCESTE57. Windows users can grab Halo: The Master Chief Collection for $15 after using the code EMCESTE56. The best deal in the bunch is Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which is just $11 after the code EMCESTE56. That one will work on both Xbox consoles and Windows. Some of these games are on Xbox Game Pass, but there are a handful here that aren’t, so check it out if you like to game.

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This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio. 

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We regularly feature deals on Naipo’s full-sized massage gun, which gets snapped up en masse and has glowing reviews from Amazon customers, but now here’s a more compact alternative: the Naipo Mini Massage Gun.

As the name suggests, it’s a smaller version of the handheld percussion massager that provides sweet relief to your sore muscles, no matter where you are. It’s around the size of a smartphone and weighs less than a pound, with four swappable heads for different kinds of sensations. According to Naipo, it provides power comparable to the full-sized model despite the small size, up to 3,000 rpm.

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Right now, you can save $40 off the list price by clipping the coupon on the page and using promo code F7QZLVCB at checkout. Why wait? Blast away that soreness!

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This deal was originally published by Andrew Hayward. 

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It’s the season for your car’s battery to randomly die because of the cold weather. It’s ok, and it’s absolutely normal, but you should be prepared! This Hulkman 20,000mAh Jump Starter may be your best bet. Formatted with a large digital screen, you’ll be able to tell when your car battery is 100% charged. This charger can power up huge, 10L diesel trucks with 2000 amps. And after one hour of charge in any kind of outlet, you’ll get multiple boosts. I don’t know you guys, it sounds like a dream. Get it before it’s gone!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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Long before the selfie stick rocked our worlds in the mid-2010s, the gimbal was conceived by Philo of Byzantium in Ancient Greece for the purpose of holding ink for reed pens. Today it’s used to keep your phone stable so you can take better photos and videos. The M-Tripod from Hohem in particular is one of the best iPhone gimbals you can find in its price range. With a high-performance tilt motor rotating on three axes, rather than trying to prevent natural, uneven hand movements, this nifty accessory smoothens footage without asking anything extra of you. For a limited time only, it’s also $27 off—bringing your total checkout price to just $62—using the promo code MOBILE30.

Instead of ordering takeout tonight, use this opportunity to hone your smartphone photography skills. Sure, you could spend almost $4,000 on a nice professional DSLR camera, but if you’re just starting out and looking to improve your picture quality, any expert will tell you that a gimbal is the first place you should start. Factoring in the discount, the M-Tripod is one of the more feature-heavy options you can get for under $80. Its 4,000mAh battery promises a 12-hour runtime, making it a breeze to film time-lapses, or even charge your phone. Anything from the Galaxy Note20 to the iPhone 12 works with it, so as long as you’ve got a modern smartphone, the shoe should fit.

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey. 

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Dyson’s cordless stick vacuums are more in demand these days, given the convenience of just whipping one out for a bit of handy suction—but if you need more power, more dustbin capacity, and no battery limitations, then a Dyson upright vacuum might be more your speed.

Right now, you can save $180 on this Dyson Ball MultiFloor Upright Vacuum at Best Buy, a 45% savings from the list price. You’ll plug this one in to use it, but it has more powerful suction and holds more dirt and dust, and you’ll never have to wait for a battery to charge.

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This deal was originally published by Andrew Hayward.


The Flatcat Can’t Even Walk, but It’s Instantly the Creepiest Robot I’ve Ever Seen

Some deeply disturbing robots have made appearances on this site over the years, from alien-like swimming creatures to back-flipping androids. And yet none have been as unsettling as this interactive animatronic piece of roadkill called the Flatcat.

What is it exactly? The name Flatcat seems self-explanatory, but at the same time, it raises hundreds of questions about why this thing exists. At its core, the Flatcat is an ultra-simplified robot that reacts to touch by folding, twisting, and rolling its body into different shapes. It doesn’t appear as if it can easily locomote; it has no legs, but like an inchworm it seems it can rhythmically contract and expand its body to slowly creep across the floor. In other words, it can probably follow you—or hunt you down—if it so chooses.

To make Flatcat more endearing so people will actually want to touch and interact with it, its creators at a Berlin-based robotics startup called Jetpack Cognition Lab have wrapped it in soft, fluffy fur so that it looks more like a cat—or at least a cat that somehow survived repeated run-ins with a semi-truck. In reality, Flatcat is more like like a ThiccFurrySnake, or maybe a FlattenedCaterpillar. Calling it a cat is certainly a stretch.

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Until robots are adept at cooking dinner and serving drinks, consumer adoption of automatons is going to remain limited to robovacs and robopets in the near future. But even Sony has had a hard time convincing people to drop more than $1,700 (plus monthly fees to unlock all its features) on the adorable robot dog Aibo it brought back from the dead in 2017. There’s no word on if Flatcat will ever be made available to consumers, though the company will happily collect your email address on its site to keep you in the loop. At least Aibo looks like something you’d actually want to pet, not a creature you’d immediately dispose of with a rolled up magazine.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Finally Gets Its Helping Hand

When Boston Dynamics first revealed a prototype of its Spot robot to the world back in 2016, it featured a gripper on the end of an articulated arm that was curiously missing when the company officially made Spot available for sale last year. Seven months later, the Spot Arm is finally ready to help with laundry, gardening, and disposing of all those cinderblocks you have laying around.

In late 2019, Spot was first made available to a small number of companies that promised interesting use cases for the robot. It was part of an experiment to determine how Spot would perform outside of Boston Dynamics’ labs and testing facilities. The following year, in June 2020, Spot was made available to anyone promising not to use it for evil who could afford its $74,500 price tag.

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Although many with deep pockets are eagerly awaiting Boston Dynamics to make its most capable robot Atlas available to the public, the robotics maker is instead kicking off 2021 by celebrating its recent majority sale to the Hyundai Motor Group with a handful of upgrades to Spot.

The most interesting update is the arrival of Spot Arm, the accessory that really grabbed the world’s attention when Spot was first revealed. With the arm attached, Spot transitions from being a simple reconnaissance and data-collecting robot to one that can physically interact with the world around it. The arm can be used to grab, lift and carry, place, and even drag a large variety of objects up to a certain weight. In addition to turning off valves or pulling levers in places not safe for humans to visit, the arm can also facilitate more direct pathway planning, because it can even be used to open doors that otherwise would have been an impossible obstacle to navigate.

Boston Dynamics teased the arrival of the Spot Arm this week in a video demonstrating a series of potential applications that are arguably more compelling than just walking around a factory looking for leaky pipes. In the video, Spot is able to use the arm for picking laundry up off the floor, digging holes and planting trees, and even using a piece of chalk to draw a giant version of the Boston Dynamics logo on a parking lot.

There are some more conventional upgrades, too. Like Sony’s considerably cheaper but less-capable Aibo robot dog, a new version of Spot called Enterprise Spot will ship with a dock and self-charging capabilities, meaning that when it determines its battery is too low to complete a task, it will autonomously return to its home base and plunk down on the dock to recharge itself without any human intervention. For applications that involve repetitive routine inspections and data collection, Enterprise Spot will potentially require very little day-to-day human interaction. Another, more pessimistic way of looking at it is that Enterprise Spot could potentially put another human out of work.

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Enterprise Spot also includes upgrades to its hardware for better safety and communications with both improved wifi and communication ports, which will allow it to transfer large amounts of collected data faster than the original Spot is able to. The current model, Spot Explorer, is operated using a wireless controller built around a touchscreen tablet remote, but Enterprise Spot will also give users access to Boston Dynamics’ web-based Scout software to allow multiple bots to be monitored and controlled from a single “virtual control room.” This simplified interface can be used to activate pre-programmed routines and missions the robot will execute autonomously, while still allowing manual control when the robot needs to be repositioned for safety or to make observations that are otherwise obscured without the bot realizing it.

For decades, most practical robots have been relegated to factories building cars or grabbing parts off assembly lines. With its new arm, Spot is the first robot that looks like it could finally start delivering on science fiction’s promise of robots capable of performing domestic tasks, too. Suddenly that $74,500 price tag doesn’t sound so bad.

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This Robot Plays the Perfect Sad Trombone for 2021

Screenshot: YouTube

When it comes to the perfect accompaniment to 2021, there can be nothing better than the RoboTrombo, a project by iSax Laboratories whose primary goal was to create a MIDI-controlled brass instrument “that could play any song.”

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It didn’t work.

“When a human trombone player produces a tone it is a combination of lip tension, pressure against the mouthpiece, airflow, air pressure, resonance in the mouth, and probably some other variables. The lip part proved too hard to recreate. The machines will not take over the trombone playing profession any time soon and I’m left with an over-engineered noise machine,” wrote the creators Isak Monrad-Aas and Thomas Hoffmann, students at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

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The project uses a solenoid to push and pull the slide and what is apparently a sex toy to simulate lips on the mouthpiece. The resulting music is, well, exactly what you’d expect out of a system consisting of an air compressor and a Fleshlight.

You can watch a how-to video below or simply enjoy the endless bleating of a robotic trombone caught in a loop of sadness as we careen headfirst into the maw new year. All these guys have to do is make this portable so it can follow us around and give us a little Sad Trombone when life serves up another lemon.

Watch Boston Dynamics’ Robot Army Dance Their Way to World Domination

As the company wonders what the future holds for it now that Boston Dynamics is owned by the Hyundai Motor Group, its robots are showing off their impressive capabilities in a year-end video that may also be a ploy to distract humanity from their ultimate goal: total dominance on the dance floor, or the eradication of all humans. Both seem equally plausible.

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen new robots from Boston Dynamics, but the company’s most recent creation, Handle, makes an appearance in this dance-off, shaking its counterweight to Berry Gordy Jr.’s “Do You Love Me” as performed by The Contours.

Boston Dynamics’ most capable robot, Atlas, also shows off some new tricks, including effortlessly standing and balancing on one foot and performing The Mashed Potato and The Twist, among other dance moves. For the most part, it’s a fun and lighthearted video presumably intended to slowly acclimatize humanity to automatons like these eventually being more common in daily life.

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But the fun comes to an end when you catch a glimpse of a hockey stick in the background and are reminded of the time when Boston Dynamics shared a video of their engineers harassing Atlas with a hockey stick. You know that somewhere in that robot’s memory banks it’s holding onto that moment, and one day it will repay humanity for making it a laughing stock. Whatever happens, don’t let it lure you onto the dance floor.

Adorable Panasonic Robot Makes Deliveries in Japanese Smart Town

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Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi (Getty Images)

The robots are currently being tested without actually carrying any packages but the next phase of the trials will begin in February, according to the Japan Times, when the robot will delivery food and other daily staples to local residents in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Baby Yoda Robot Uses AI to Follow You Around Like a Creepy Toddler

If there’s one thing stores are now well stocked with, it’s Baby Yoda toys. And while you can shell out hundreds of dollars for a startlingly lifelike replica of Grogu, this DIY does what all the others can’t: automatically follow you everywhere you go like a curious 50-year-old toddler.

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Creator Manuel Ahumada wanted his Baby Yoda replica to be smarter than all the rest, so he designed and 3D-printed a custom robotic frame with moving arms, a head that inquisitively looks up and down, and a set of wheels so his Grogu could get around faster than the tiny-legged character in The Mandalorian could. The creation was stuffed inside a gutted off-the-shelf Baby Yoda toy, while electronics, including a Raspberry Pi, servos, and electric motors were added to bring the recreation to life.

Like many of the toy versions of Baby Yoda, Ahumada’s version can be controlled remotely using a PlayStation 4 controller talking to the onboard Raspberry Pi over Bluetooth, but for more autonomy, a series of movements can also be performed, recorded, and played back making Grogu appear more lifelike all on his own.

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Things get even more interesting when the Child is given his own smartphone that he holds in front of him. It may look like he’s checking social media, but the smartphone is actually running Intel’s OpenBot app, which uses machine learning models to process a live feed from the device’s camera. In this case, the app scans the video for the presence of a human, identifies them, tracks their location and movements, and then automatically controls Baby Yoda’s wheeled platform to follow the person wherever they go.

It’s impressive to see just how quickly a surprisingly capable robot can be thrown together today using off-the-shelf parts like a Raspberry Pi and a smartphone. Earlier this year, Mattel released its own robotic Baby Yoda toy that follows you around like a needy dependent, but it also requires you to carry around a remote control. It’s cuter than Ahumada’s creation which, we’ll be the first to admit, is kind of creepy, but kudos to him for totally one-upping all the big toy companies.

The Robot Vacuums Moms (and Pet Owners) Love

Robot vacuums are hot right now! With countless options available and price points ranging from a buck and a half to a grand or more, it can be tough to pinpoint which one you need and when the extra money makes sense. I’ve tried all of these brands, but I don’t have dogs, birds, or kids, so I don’t put mine through rigorous daily usage. I went asked pet owners and daily users how they decided which one to buy, how it’s been doing for them, and of course, if there’s anything they aren’t thrilled with.

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Their consensus is crystal. A robot vacuum saves time and takes one of the bigger cleaning tasks off a busy parent’s list. Pets don’t seem to be bothered by them, and the more tech you get, the less you have to think about vacuuming.

Best for Pet Hair: Yeedi K650

Illustration for article titled The Robot Vacuums Moms (and Pet Owners) Love

Image: Yeedi

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Dawn McCarthy, a TV personality and a lifestyle advisor is also a dog mom. When she started to shop for a vacuum, she wanted to make sure it would be excellent with pet hair, with a big enough chamber that it would have enough room. Yeedi quickly rose to the top of her list.

“With the dual chambers, it truly does a great job. I like that it works on hardwood floors, and easily glides over many of my thicker rugs as well,” McCarthy told me. But that wasn’t the only reason she bought it. “This was selling on Amazon for about half the price as others on the market.”

Although the vacuum does occasionally get lost, McCarthy says that she wishes it had a “Find my Yeedi” function. In spite of that, she’s smitten. It’s quiet and gets the job done daily.

“For me personally, this has lived up to the hype, and again for dog parents who tend to have more hair everywhere in the house with their pets, this truly does a great job,” she told me.

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Best for Parents: Neato D7

Illustration for article titled The Robot Vacuums Moms (and Pet Owners) Love

Image: Neato

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“Three kids and a golden retriever who sheds like crazy makes for constant cleanup, says Stefanie Pechan of Monterey Bay, California. “The Neato helped eliminate an item off our chore list.”

As a parent, taking an item off the list, and the ever-evolving to-do list, Pechan appreciates it’s technical abilities. “It’s nice to have the programmed schedule, so it’s one less thing to think about.”

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For Alan Ulicny of Buffalo, NY, simplicity is key to his family of four and two cats. “This unit does a great job cleaning and is really simple to run, he tells me. “It does a great job navigating and by the map it generates, gets to over 95% of the floor space.”

Sometimes the Neato unit gets lost and Pechan has to find it, and other times, it gets clogged up by the sand the family tecks into the house after a beach outing. But all and all, it’s “a fantastic helper for this busy family,” she tells me.

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“Our experience has been fantastic, Ulicny says. “[The] house now gets regular vacuuming and the cats are not bothered by it at all. We do pick up any small items before running it and it can get caught on the occasional rug edge, but this is a truly serious vacuum and it’s fun to watch.”

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Best, According to Consumer Reports: Eufy RoboVac 11S

Illustration for article titled The Robot Vacuums Moms (and Pet Owners) Love

Image: Eufy

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Jeanne Sager is a pet owner in Upstate New York. She tells me about getting the Eufy RoboVac 11S. “I got sick of constantly having to either drag a vacuum around or to sweep in order to keep up with the tumbleweeds of hair, Sager said. “A robot vacuum seemed like a good option since I could essentially ‘set it and forget it.’”

Vacuums are an investment, so Sager did a lot of research before settling on the Eufy vacuum cleaner. It was well rated for fluffy pet hair, but it also stood out for another reason. “I was looking for a vacuum with a low profile that would still be able to get underneath the couch and capture the dust bunnies and fur that collects there without me having to move the furniture.”

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Like any vacuum cleaner, it isn’t perfect, but for $150, it’s worth the money despite some minor qualms. Sager says the Eufy didn’t work so well with her area rugs. In fact, she tells me, “I eventually had to rid my downstairs of all area rugs because I was constantly having to jump up and disentangle the vacuum and rug.”

“I don’t use it every day anymore,” Sager shared with me. With area rugs and a family that lease socks and other small items around, it’s not as easy as she thought it would be to use. “That said, I do still like it over a big traditional vacuum.”

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Best Reviewed: Roborock S4

Illustration for article titled The Robot Vacuums Moms (and Pet Owners) Love

Image: Roborock

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Kellie McGinnis and Natalie Craig both own and love the Roborock S4. Both are pet parents and that was one of the many reasons that they invested in the vacuum.

“The reviews for the Roborock were hard to beat—barely any complaints, so that made me feel secure in my decision to go with that brand,” McGinnis said to me. “I love that I can clean the whole house, a specific room, or even a specific zone. I also love the no-go zone, especially during the holidays when I don’t want it to go near my Christmas tree.”

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Craig, a Chicago based blogger, has a messy bird. Eventually, she got tired of cleaning up after it multiple times a day, and a robot vacuum made perfect sense.

“I did a lot of research on robot vacuums and I was impressed with the smart mapping features of the Roborock S4,” Craig tells me, as well as the suction force and the sweeping bristles.”

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It’s these smart features that set the Roborock S4 from the more budget-friendly alternatives. “I knew it would be a smart and intuitive vacuum per the reviews,” Craig says. “I am even more impressed than I thought regarding its intuitiveness.”

“This is one of the best purchases I’ve made all year,” McGinnis says. “The only downside to the model I went with is that it is not self-emptying, but that was something I chose to compromise on to save some money.”

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This $3K Robot Didn’t Complain About Carrying My Groceries

The Gita by Piaggio Fast Forward is the weirdest product (project?) I’ve ever reviewed. Created by a skunkworks associated with Italy’s Piaggio Group—makers of the Vespa—the Gita is a mobility tool designed for cities of the future.

And it also looks like a cute orange pig.

The robot itself is a rolling cooler. It has two huge wheels and rights itself automatically like Segway. A set of cameras on the front and back plus a Bluetooth connection let the robot “imprint” itself on the person standing in front of it. The robot then follows that person anywhere and as long as it doesn’t get confused by bright lights or gets messed up in a crowd, it rolls along behind you like a trusted companion.

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The Gita can carry up to forty pounds and has an unnervingly precise 2,630 cubic inches of storage space. You can lock items inside it using the phone app and it’s so heavy—it’s 50 pounds, empty, and very unwieldy—that you’d have to be really motivated to steal it.

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It works like this: you pair it to yourself and let it follow you to the store. Pairing is as simple as a button press, no app required. Though you’ll need the app if you want to lock it, or, if you’re like my mom, you’d probably let the robot follow you into Target. You load it up with groceries and let it follow you home. You could imagine this also being a helper for delivery folks who need to get a heavy box that last stretch down a long driveway.

As you can probably guess, this thing isn’t perfect. It’s comically large and folks in my neighborhood were alternately scared and fascinated by it. It worked perfectly except for two cases, one in which it got confused when a few people approached it from the front and it sped up and slid along a metal fence in a sort of panicked hippo kind of way and another time when it suddenly decided a passing woman was its… leader? Owner? We were on a street corner and the Gita suddenly spun around and started following some random woman, nearly crossing the street before we were able to stop it. Despite those two random events, the Gita was a faithful little robot and didn’t do anything untoward.

The Gita costs $3,250. This means you’re either going to be buying this for a building or retirement center or you’re picking this up for your company. It’s not a mass-market product at that price. This means it’s a heavy-duty mobility device like a Vespa rather than a mass-produced product like an iRobot vacuum. Will these things get cheap enough to follow us all around someday? Definitely, but I can only imagine the traffic caused by a bunch of Gitas rolling down Main Street toting gallons of seltzer and pounds of potatoes.

Playing with the Gita was like experiencing the future. Unlike the much-hyped Segway, this device will enter the mainstream sooner than we expect. It’s a clever product with some great design and, most important, it’s useful. As you can see from the video I shot with my mom, she loves the concept even if she doesn’t quite know how she’d use it. After all, her suburban Columbus, Ohio neighborhood doesn’t have many sidewalks.

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I’m not sure the world is quite ready for the Gita but my mom is. And her opinion is probably shared by an entire generation of mobile but older consumers looking for a little bit of help at Kroger. While Gita might not take over your local grocery store any time soon, I definitely think something like the Gita will be rolling past you on the sidewalk in the next decade. All we have to do is get out of the way.

README

  • The product makes perfect sense but it’s not quite ready for prime time
  • Expensive as heck
  • People love this little piglet as it rolls down the street

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NYPD’s New Robot Police Dog Will Get Special Arm For Opening Doors

The New York Police Department’s new robot dog will receive a special robotic arm for opening doors and moving objects next month, according to a new report from ABC7 in New York. The existence of the NYPD’s robot was first revealed in late October after it assisted in the apprehension of a suspect in Brooklyn. But details about what the Boston Dynamics robot actually did during that arrest remain a mystery.

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“This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers, and that’s our goal,” Frank Digiacomo, the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit Inspector, told ABC7 in a news report that aired Thursday.

Thursday’s local TV report was the first public display of the NYPD’s new four-legged robot, which has a max speed of 3 miles per hour, 360-degree video capabilities, and can carry up to 30 pounds. The robot, which the NYPD has named Digidog, is operated by remote control and can also climb stairs.

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The only other time NYPD has publicly acknowledged use of the robot so far was during a hostage situation in Queens. But the robot apparently only served as a glorified waiter, something that would make various restaurant robots of the 1980s very proud.

“People wanted food, so we strapped food onto it, sent it into the location…” Digiacomo told ABC7.

This particular model of robot, known as Spot, has been used by the U.S. military for overseas some time now, and only recently became available for lease to private companies. But at least one other police department in the U.S. has started experimenting with the deployment of robot dogs on American streets.

The Massachusetts State Police has been using Spot since the summer of 2019, according to documents obtained by WBUR in Boston and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Video of the robot dog in training shows it with the robotic arm that will be attached on the NYPD’s unit by next month.

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Gif: YouTube/MA State Police

Anti-robot militarization groups have condemned the use of robot dogs by police as an unnecessary form of escalation at a particularly sensitive time for American civil rights.

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“In a time when society is asking officers to stand down and de-escalate their violence against black communities, to see this level of technology deployed is shocking and utterly inhumane,” Liz O’Sullivan, the technology director of Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said in a statement posted online.

“The NYPD must not be allowed a license to experiment on New Yorkers with unproven technologies in criminal justice where accidents and unexpected behavior are guaranteed,” O’Sullivan continued.

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“Only once before has Boston Dynamics been used as an enforcement technique outside of the military, but this escalation of robotics as a form of threat to violence is chilling and completely inappropriate for local police.”

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“The NYPD is turning bad science fiction into real life,” Albert Fox Cahn, executive director at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said in a press release after the existence of the robot first became known. “This disturbing (and possibly illegal) drone is just the latest example of the NYPD investing in invasive spy tools.”

“Under the recently-enacted POST Act, the NYPD is required to provide a privacy and use policy for any newly-acquired surveillance systems, but the public never learned about this drone until it was already on the streets of Brooklyn,” Cahn continued.

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“At a time when our city can barely find the money to pay all its human workers, we shouldn’t be wasting money on this sort of untested technologies.”

These robot police dogs aren’t equipped with guns, but the first known use of a police robot to kill someone on U.S. soil was in July of 2016. It was that summer when Dallas Police packed a bomb disposal robot made by Northrup Grumman with explosives and sent it to intentionally kill an alleged sniper who was hiding behind a brick wall. No police officers were ever charged for the extrajudicial killing.

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