Robot dinosaur a popular, if clumsy, Vegas companion

The Pleo breaks a wine glass, but was easily the most popular guest at the Wynn hotel's posh Country Club steakhouse.

LAS VEGAS--A tiny green dinosaur moves across the table, gurgling and turning its head to the left slightly, striking an instantly endearing pose.

Then he knocks over a goblet, smashing the glass, and sending red wine spilling over the table.

Not the greatest first impression for the Pleo, a $349 robotic pet . I had been intrigued by my colleague's coverage of the robot and wanted to check it out for myself. Luckily, his makers hosted a reception with him at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

After cleaning up after their creation, Pleo's progenitors assured me that he's not usually like this. Lisa Abbott, director of marketing for Ugobe, the company that makes Pleo, said she can't remember the dinosaur ever causing property damage. Perhaps even a robot acts a little wild in Sin City.

"I guess if he's going to get in trouble it would be here," Abbott said. "Luckily, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

For more images of Pleo's Vegas Vacation, click here
Pleo broke a glass, but definitely didn't get thrown out of the Vegas steakhouse where he was being shown off to press and analysts. Ina Fried/CNET News.com

Sorry.

But, the initial faux pas aside, Pleo was a hit, as several of the dinosaurs ambled around the lounge of the Wynn's Country Club steakhouse. The staff of the upscale restaurant were more than willing to forgive the one clumsy Pleo's indiscretion.

"I want to hold him," squealed Liz Koladish, while co-worker Edwina Swangler was concerned about the proper way to handle Pleo. "I don't want to hurt it," Swangler said.

The pair even took him back to meet the restaurant's executive chef, who jokingly attempted to pepper the green machine.

I, too, was a quick convert once I got the little guy in my hands. I held it. I let it chew gently on my finger. I flipped the pet over, tickled his feet and enjoyed his gurgles. And I wanted one.

Can he come for a visit? I asked the company's executive.

After getting the nod for a Pleo to make a very brief stay at the Beyond Binary homestead, I began wondering how our two cats will take to a dino-visitor. In general, cats don't really dig Pleo, Abbott said. "It doesn't smell organic."

That's OK, the cats don't always like me either. Maybe that's why Pleo is so appealing. That, or the fact that he doesn't have a litter box.

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About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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