Edwin the Duck ($100) is a waterproof Bluetooth 4.0 rubber duck aimed at young children. Of course, a Bluetooth-enabled rubber duck is bound to be more than just a rubber duck — Edwin can be moved around to control an animated app version of himself. Young users can tap, turn, twist, or toss the physical duck about to interact in real-time with the Edwin app. Apart from motion controls, Edwin includes upgradeable firmware, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, rechargeable battery, multi-colored LED light, and thermometer, all built into the toy duck. Edwin comes with a charging “nest” base, a micro-USB cable, and wall adapter.
Edwin certainly is a cute little duck, about 4” long, with a slight smile across his beak. A small heart in his chest is used to turn Edwin on and off, and the duck charges by docking its bottom on the included nest — the micro-USB cable plugs into the bottom of the nest, then is run out the back to plug into the wall. Edwin’s light is within his head, and his body contains the upward-firing small speaker. The toy is well-designed in that it still has the general feel and size of a typical rubber duck…but it also makes you wonder how it could justify its price tag.
Edwin is being pitched as an “app-connected learning toy,” and the duck’s main app is available for free in the App Store. This app includes stories, songs, and educational games, and they all interact with Edwin to some degree. Some Edwin motions appear to work better than others — the duck seems to read turns and taps on its wings a bit better than it does being tossed lightly in the air. (Considering Edwin is best suited for young children, we hope he’s as durable as he feels.)
What’s available is entertaining enough, but unfortunately, there isn’t much there. Most of the content in the main Edwin app is “coming soon,” and has been for some time now. Pi Lab says additional content and apps will be “released periodically.”
The company did just release a new app recently — Edwin’s Sleepy Time turns Edwin into a white noise machine. It can mimic a heartbeat, rain, a fan, a creek, a strange series of “shhhs,” or a few lullabies. Edwin can be placed in his nest while the white noise machine runs indefinitely, and Edwin’s light can be controlled from the app, as well. The app adds useful functionality to Edwin, though we’ve been told the price will eventually increase from free to $1 — we’re hoping there will be some kind of code for users who’ve actually purchased Edwin. (The app can be used without the physical duck.) Also on the way is a temperature app, which should allow Edwin to give readings of both human and water temperature. We weren’t able to test this app, so we’re unsure of the accuracy or overall functionality of Edwin’s built-in thermometer.
Edwin’s speaker is another nice touch. He doesn’t just make quacks while working in tandem with the app — he can actually play streamed music like any Bluetooth 4.0 speaker. His little wings can even control the volume, though firm taps are required to do so. (The same firm tap can turn Edwin’s nightlight on or off.) Edwin’s sound quality won’t be making anyone get rid of their speakers, but for a kid who wants a cute little speaker of his or her own, it’ll certainly do.
Edwin the Duck (who bears no apparent relation to Howard the Duck) is a unique iOS accessory designed for a younger audience than we’ve probably ever seen before. He’s probably best for 2-to-4-year-olds — older kids will likely lose interest. My three-year-old son likes playing with Edwin, though he does wish Edwin could do a bit more right now. Edwin’s price will be too high for many, and whether or not the toy offers proper value is still up in the air. Perhaps when Edwin’s main app gains additional content, and when Pi Lab releases its temperature app, we’ll have a better idea of how fun — and useful — Edwin can be. It’s fair to wait until more content has been added to consider purchasing Edwin. As for now, the toy receives our limited recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Pi Lab
Model: Edwin the Duck
Compatible: iPad 3 or later, iPhone 4s or later, iPod touch 5G or later