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Nabaztag - the Wi-Fi Rabbit
ntLast year, as part of our roundup of desktop toys that could potentially make good gifts for the holidays, I had the opportunity to test and review the Nabaztag Wi-Fi rabbit. The basic idea of this cute little device was that it would flash lights, wiggle its ears, and talk to you when you received an e-mail. In other words, a totally useless device designed for people with more discretionary income then sense. It cost around $150 and I panned it with little mercy.
ntHowever, I was intrigued by the idea of what was inside this silly rabbit electronic device. So after putting it off for too long, and at the urging of Cracking Open editor Cara Reynolds, I got out my tools and cracked open the Nabaztag to see what technology lay inside. There were a few surprises.
Nabaztag in its natural state
The Nabaztag spends about 90 percent of its time looking like this.
You've got mail
The other 10 percent, it looks like this – message incoming.
First the ears
The first and easiest thing to remove are the ears. They are attached via magnets to the rest of the body.
In an effort to keep us away from the inside of the device, the Nabaztag engineers used security screws which have a triangle head. This is a common security screw on electronic devices. In fact, Content Manager at TechRepublic, Bill Detwiler, purchased a special, double-secret probation, Tri-Wing screw driver for his Cracking Open of the Nintendo Wii. So the two screws on the bottom of the Nabaztag were easy pickings.
The top is off
A first look at the inside. There are a lot of electronic doo-dads crammed into a small space.
The Nabaztag uses standard LEDs to make its light show, but it increases the volume of the light emitted with plastic cones.
A light show
Think back to light show that occurs for an incoming message.
A close look at the LEDs and the cones that enhance the light.
The Nabaztag takes its light show seriously.
Lower power connection.
More power connections and the control connection for the Nabaztag’s ear motors.
While definitely not top of the line, this single speaker does put out enough sound to be annoying to your co-workers, family, and/or roommate.
The ears are controlled separately so they can move independently.
Wires to no where
Notice the two wires that go no where. Is stereo going to be available in Nabaztag 2.0?
Unlike many of the electronic devices I have cracked open recently, the Nabaztag does not seem to make a big deal about the power coming in. The transformer is at the wall plug, but there are no huge capacitors or much other protective circuitry.
No on / off
The other switch on the back of the Nabaztag controls the sound volume. There is no on / off switch. It is on as soon as you plug it in. You can only turn it off by unplugging it – a state of being for the Nabaztag I would recommend.
Look a PCMCIA card
One of the mysteries about the Nabaztag is revealed. The Wi-Fi feature is provided by a standard PCMCIA Wireless LAN card.
Wireless access denied
Much of the Nabaztag electronics are there to support the PCMCIA WLAN card.
The card included with the Nabaztag seems pretty ordinary. I wonder if it could handle a MIMO card?
Direct-sequence spread spectrum
Well, we have more information now. The Nabaztag is using direct-sequence spread spectrum technology.
Gears for the ears
Not exactly direct drive, the movement of the ears is driven by two electric motors and this intricate gear system.
The red arrow marks what is essentially a floating gear that sits between the drive shaft off of the motor and the gear system that moves each ear. Take it from me, this was not easy to put back together in working order.
Back at work
But I did get it back in working order after struggling with it for longer than I wanted. I wasn’t going to let the Nabaztag beat me.
In case I have not make it clear, I find the Nabaztag to be a complete waste of money and time, but it did make for a good cracking open gallery.