UBTech Alpha 1S review: A £400 robot that’s literally all-singing and all-dancing

Unless you lead a particularly strange lifestyle, it’s not everyday you get a small person delivered in the mail. But that’s exactly what Alphr was sent a few weeks ago when UBTech sent its latest robot our way.

The UBTech Alpha 1S stands nearly 16 inches high, and looks pretty much exactly what science fiction told us robots would look like. In fact, its sharply angled eyes make it look as if it’s one of the bad robots we’ve been warned against – which is a strange design choice in a friendly bot that’s actually designed to instil the joy of coding in children.[gallery:7]

Not just any children, though: only those with wealthy parents need apply, as the Alpha 1S retails for a whopping £400. Is it worth it? Read on to find out.

Buy the Alpha 1S robot from Amazon

UBTech Alpha 1S: The robot in action

So what is the Alpha 1S? It’s a 16in-tall humanoid robot with 16 servos built into its joints allowing you to program and control its range of movement. Although I did say the Alpha 1S’s design is weirdly evil-looking in my introduction, the robot does go to great pains to explain its friendliness. Just observe the pre-programmed presentation I recorded below:

Any residual worries you may have about Alpha 1S rising up to overthrow your household should be put to bed with two additional factors: 1) It only has an hour’s battery life before it needs to be recharged, and more importantly 2) it sometimes does things like this:

What you might also have noticed from the two videos above is that the Alpha 1S is incredibly noisy. For every joint movement, the robot makes a hell of a racket. So much noise, in fact, that the built-in speaker is often eclipsed by the mechanical whirring of robot joints moving. To prove the point, try and hear the song that Alpha 1S is dancing to over the whirring of his muscles (hint: it’s a certain Maroon 5 track from 2010):

If humans made that much noise just by moving around, nobody would be able to live within a one-mile radius of each other and commuter rage would be a more common phenomenon.

All of this is overlooking the fact that Alpha 1S’s range of motions is hugely impressive, of course, and even more so when you look into its sense of balance in its sporty moves:

This is genuinely impressive. When I first unpacked the robot in the office, people gathered round to take videos of it running through the demo moves, telling stories, dancing and working out.

Review continues on page 2

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