By Todd Bernhard on Wed, 08/08/2012
I like cars. Guilty as charged. We have a couple of convertibles (an Alfa Romeo Spyder, a Fiat 2000) and now, even a Vespa. When we get a new vehicle, I try to buy a small diecast toy of that particular model. Just something to look at while the vehicles are in storage during the winter.
But thanks to AutoWave, I don't have to settle for a non functional toy. They offer several die cast models, all crafted with great detail and packaged in a display case. But what sets them apart is these are genuine remote control cars, and instead of a clumsy joystick, you use a free app, for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or even Symbian! In fact, when you pair the car, the iPhone will alert you and take you to the free app in the App Store!
The app lets you choose a virtual joystick or, as I preferred, leverage the accelerometer, while pressing a gas button to move the car. There is a shifter for three different speeds and let me tell you, this little guy moves fast! You might want to keep it in first gear, or it can outdrive you and maybe even exceed the Bluetooth distance limitation!
I've used other such RC models, from Dexim and Griffin, and many of them require a gadget that plugs in to the 30 pin or headphone jack. This adds another item to keep track of, and I prefer the Bluetooth connection. There are even preconfigured 'routes' like circles, etc., that you can select so you can set it and forget it.
There are a lot of nice touches showing great attention to detail. The car has working headlights and the rear lights turn on when in reverse mode. The side mirrors are made of a flexible, rubbery material which is smart because otherwise, those would be the first things to break off. In fact, maybe Alfa Romeo and other car makers should take a lesson from AutoWave so the side mirrors are damage proof!
I would like to see an iPad version of the app, that leverages the full screen. The car is available for pre-order and my prerelease review unit didn't come with any packaging or instructions, but setting it up was straightforward. There is a rubber flap that covers a microUSB port for charging. Maybe the auto makers could make electric versions of their cars that charge this way?! There is a recessed button used for pairing with your device. Hold it down a few seconds, and when you release the button, the lights blink indicating it is in pairing mode.
I thought it would be fun to include photos of the toy Alfa Romeo alongside my real car (note the Fiat convertible in the background, too!)