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Ubtech Robotics Lynx review: The versatile Lynx robot has charm, but its appeal ends there

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The Good The Ubtech Lynx puts Amazon's Alexa into a unique, humanoid robot complete with a security cam. Lynx can even lead you through yoga and exercise routines, and it's pretty adorable watching this little guy strike a yoga pose.

The Bad Don't count on Lynx to actually teach you yoga. It only knows a handful of poses and its instructions aren't very clear. As for its smart home functions, it's easily outmatched by much cheaper devices.

The Bottom Line Lynx is a cool, functional, humanoid robot, but it doesn't offer enough practical features to justify its $800 sticker price.

6.7 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Usability 7
  • Design 7
  • Performance 7

When I first started testing the Ubtech Lynx, the friendly looking bot piqued the curiosity of everyone in my office. All of my coworkers wanted to see it in action and play with it. We're all adults, but Lynx has a way of activating a childlike fascination, perhaps because it looks like a child itself. Functioning, consumer-ready robots are just now becoming a reality, and Ubtech deserves a lot of credit for creating the dancing, flexible, Alexa-enabled Lynx. Lynx is cool in concept and in reality, it works just fine. That's high praise for a product in this very young field.

However, don't take that high praise as a recommendation that you go out and buy Lynx. You almost certainly shouldn't fork over the $800 necessary to purchase this novelty toy. I recommend admiring Lynx from a distance as all of its tricks wear thin quickly, and after a day of joyful playing, you might be left wondering what you're supposed to do with it. If you have the money to spare and just really want to say you own a robot, go ahead. Otherwise, wait for one that actually does something a little more useful before making the splurge.

The many talents of Lynx

The cute little Lynx bot actually has lots of talents. Most importantly, it has microphones and Amazon's assistant Alexa built-in, so it can respond to a wide variety of voice commands.

Alexa's the same digital assistant built into the popular smart speaker the Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon). Thanks to Alexa, Lynx can do almost everything the Echo can do including control your smart home, set a reminder, tell a joke, search the web and much more thanks to Alexa's ever growing list of skills.

You can also pat Lynx on the head to wake up Alexa, in addition to just saying the wake word "Alexa." You can now find Amazon's digital assistant built into a wide variety of gadgets from light switches to smoke detectors to refrigerators. Lynx is definitely the most humanoid Alexa gadget. I eventually found its design cute, but you might easily be intimidated by its resemblance to the cybermen from "Doctor Who."

Beyond what Alexa can do, Lynx has a security camera built in and a few cool extras up its sleeve:

  • You can activate surveillance mode and Lynx will use its passive infrared sensor to detect movement, record the triggering event and alert you.
  • Lynx can dance, wave and perform a number of other gestures on command.
  • You can control Lynx remotely with the app via Avatar mode.
  • Lynx can take a picture on command. It'll even turn its head and find your face.
  • Lynx can teach you yoga moves and guide you through an exercise routine.

You can command Lynx to do any of those tasks with the app, or issue a voice command through its Alexa skill. Simply say, "Alexa, ask Lynx to…" and you can tell it to turn, walk, dance or be your yogi. Most of its functions are pretty commonplace for a smart home gadget, but its role as a yoga instructor is pretty unique.

If you're interested in an Alexa-enabled robot that can help you exercise, you can buy Lynx right now on Amazon for $800. For now, Lynx is only available in the US, but that price converts to approximately £565 or AU$990.

All together, a smart home robot with Alexa built-in that can monitor your home and teach you to exercise sounds pretty awesome. Lynx even performs each of its individual functions admirably, but take a closer look at each of its main abilities and you'll see why I don't actually recommend a purchase of this admittedly cool bot.

Securing the smart home

Other than its yoga and exercise routines, you can easily replicate everything else Lynx does for much less than the cost of Lynx and get much better versions of Lynx's smart home features in the process.

For an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, I recommend the $50 Amazon Echo Dot ($6.99 at Amazon). Lynx was mostly reliable when I gave a command, but the Dot heard me more often from further away. The Dot also plugs into your own speakers so it can deliver sound quality that's better than the tinny music Lynx plays.

lynx-product-photos-12
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Lynx has a cam above its eyes that can watch over your smart home. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

For a smart home security camera, the $120 (converts to £85, AU$150) Amazon Cloud Cam offers a full HD live feed and prompt notifications. The $200 (£139, AU$319) Nest Cam ($155 at Amazon) is another good option that works with a lot of other smart home devices.

Lynx's skills as a smart home cam are pretty rudimentary. You can toggle surveillance mode with the app or schedule it to turn on at certain times of the day. You can't customize motion zones or particular types of motion to watch for. Ubtech even claims Lynx has "facial recognition," but that only means it can find your face when it's taking a picture. Lynx can't use that info to send you people-specific notifications like the Netatmo Welcome ($187 at Amazon).

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