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Violet Karotz review

Kat Orphanides
23 Jul 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
79
inc VAT

No-one really needs a helpful and interactive robot rabbit, but if you want one, Karotz is fun without being annoying

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Karotz is the latest gadget from Violet, the company that brought us the Nabaztag internet rabbit back in 2006. Karotz is actually an upgraded version of Nabaztag, but the subscription-based service of its predecessor, where you paid £3-£4 a month to send messages to other Nabaztag users, has been changed to an app-based one with loads of free applications, from radio tuners to social media. If you have friends who also have a Karotz rabbit, you can call them for free across Violet's network using VoIP.

Violet Karotz

Karotz retains the stylised rabbit shape and expressive ears of its Nabaztag forebear, but Karotz has one large light in its belly instead of Nabaztag's four. The light is used to indicate Karotz's status - online, offline, listening, updating and so on - and can also be used by applications to communicate with you. There are even apps that allow you to use Karotz's light as a mood lamp. Karotz's ears move around when it's performing tasks, but they don’t have semaphore-style hidden meanings.

There's a button on top of the rabbit's head which you have to press to put it into listening mode and which is also used by some of the apps. Karotz's power switch doubles as a volume control, and below it is the USB port used to flash the firmware and to plug in a flash drive containing music for Karotz to play. Nearer the base is a Mini USB port, which you can use to connect Karotz to your PC to fill the internal 256MB storage with music - the official Karotz website says that there may be some compatibility problems with Windows 7, though.

Violet Karotz

Setting up Karotz is significantly easier than the experience we went through with the original Nabaztag. You have to first register an account at Karotz.com and download the right firmware. The firmware is customised automatically to include the login details for your wireless network, which you're prompted to enter by a helpful web-based setup wizard. You'll need an empty USB drive to copy the new firmware to. Then all you have to do is insert the drive into the USB port on the back of Karotz, plug it in and turn it on. The colour light on its belly helps you track its progress as the firmware is flashed and Karotz connects to your wireless network.

Karotz interface

There are lots of apps you can use with your Karotz

Once it's found your network and got online, Karotz will give you a quick demo of its features. However, you'll need to go online to add some apps using the web interface before you can really do anything with it. The account you registered during set-up includes access to an app repository with hundreds of programs to choose from. They're all free, although there is a - currently empty - section for commercial applications.

The apps include two different MP3 players, weather apps which can give you forecasts either verbally or by using Karotz's coloured lights, RSS feeds for major publications including BBC News and Sky Sports, a text reader, alarm clocks, radio stations such as Kerrang! and BBC London and integration with your Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud and Windows Live Messenger accounts. As Karotz doesn’t have a screen, the information on all these services will be read to you in a synthesized American female accent. You can also have Karotz tell you the time or share random snippets of wisdom by installing appropriate apps. A full development kit is available to download if you get the urge to create your own apps, too.

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