The Kobotix Real Racer can work with your Android or iOS device, or on its own as a fairly fast little RC car with a camera that can stream first-person driver’s video to your phone. There’s also a headset if you want that in-car feel but isn’t required for operation, and I think it’s generally just there to make the thing look cool. As a note, it looks cool.
The short Kobotix Real Racer test
Since these are pocketables, let’s start by saying this is a fast, fun, and fairly responsive little toy that does what I wanted it to do. It’s lightweight, it won’t win pro races, but neither will it leave a bruise if your 9-year-old drives it into your 7-year-old at full speed.
The controls are laid out fairly well, the trigger is a bit twitchy for my liking, but it works. The controller feels like a mix of well made and then not. Not sure how to describe this but the steering wheel is meh, the trigger needs some beefing up. Otherwise it works fine.
The app needs to work on Android because half the time I’ve been running it on my Pixel 7 Pro I get it with a blank screen and have to close the app. Reopening would fix it every time.
Video streaming worked up to about 160 feet away in my office building before speed, large amounts of metal, and general Wi-Fi dead zones started to cause problems. Video degradation aside, I’ve generally had no problems walking it around. The physical controls never seemed to have any issues and works on their own, not on the Wi-Fi band.
Taking it outdoors and even indoor rough terrain will remind you that this is RC sports car, not off-road vehicle. It is hung on grass, some carpets (even low pile) and is not out of reach. I’ve done this a couple of times where I’ve had to go and remove the car from a situation.
The VR-looking headgear is cool and all, but it’s a camera that’s on top of the car and all you’re really doing is looking ahead. Not a bad thing but for me the headset didn’t quite fit my giant o-noggin and I needed glasses and generally it was easier for me to just put my phone on my lap and speed through the building looking down. I think your kids will probably have a lot of fun using the VR rig for other things, but for me it was a bit of a wash.
Remember, if this headset works for you, most phones can probably turn it into a VR Cardboard setup.
The controller has a few options for recording. You can record to a phone or to a micro SD card, and there are live streaming options, but I didn’t delve particularly deeply into this as it was more fun running this around in circles over and over again in my office .
Video has fairly low latency. I was a bit surprised. It’s far enough away that I can see it, but not far enough away that I can’t compensate.
Overall the kind of RC car I would have murdered for in the 1980s. It’s about 9.3 mph fun.
And then Paul complains about things
Okay, here’s the thing – The Kobotix Real Racer comes very close to making the perfect little toy/gadget gift (even if I have a problem with the headset) until we come in charging the thing. The following is required to keep up with and charge the car:
- A proprietary USB-A to 2-wire connector that feels like the cheapest part of this equation
- A replaceable battery
- A mini screwdriver
- A plastic door
You have to remove the bottom cover with a screwdriver, remove the battery from a plug and take the battery somewhere to charge it via the proprietary USB cable. You can’t just plug in the car. A mini screwdriver must be involved. That… not great. I mean it really isn’t great and it could be fixed as easily with a USB-C on the side. You could still have a removable battery if needed. Even a door solution without a screwdriver.
Considering Kobotix doesn’t sell a spare or add-on battery here, you’ll have to wait about 70 minutes for a charge, so there’s no hot-swap at the moment. I ran for more than 20 minutes a few times, but I didn’t use the camera every time.
Speaking of batteries, the controller doesn’t have rechargeable ones but 4 standard AAAs if I remember correctly. So many power things here.
In terms of portability, I despise things that come with carrying cases that don’t need them, but if I need to keep up with a screwdriver, USB cable, remote control, car, car battery door, hat, throw me a bone here and add a bag or something. That’s a lot of stuff to keep up with for a tiny little car and I have a feeling most of this could actually fit in a small space – like flipping the car, tucking into the hat, little pocket on the side of the hat, bam. storage solution.
While I’m critical of loading and saving, it’s still a lot of fun. There are few things I need to sit around and watch them go in circles at work over a weekend.
Where can we get these wonderful toys?
You can find the Kobotix Real Racer on Amazon (where we earn a commission) or in the Kobotix Store. It’s currently about 30% higher than Curmudgeon Paul sees fit, but you know me.
Kobotix Real Racer
The Kobotix Real Racer is a remote control car that can stream videos to your phone or tablet with remarkably low latency so you can sit in the driver’s seat.
Product in stock:
- Fairly long battery life
- Headgear can bring you into play
- Proprietary charging cable
- loading in general
- Carrying options not available