I recently did a demo drive of MantaroBot’s TeleMe 2. Seizing the opportunity, I decided that a test of their TableTop TeleMe was also in order. The team, friendly and helpful as ever, were eager to show me their product. I was sent an email with instructions and soon I was trying to log in to their system. This was very easy when I was testing the TeleMe 2, however now I was having some difficulties. However, the problem was solved fast and soon I was talking with MantaroBot’s Daniel, who showed me some of TableTop TeleMe’s best features.
This telepresence robot isn’t able to move around, as you might have guessed by the name. It’s a rotatable stand that you can place on a table or a desk with a holder for a tablet or phone. If you prefer, you can also order a TableTop TeleMe with a floor base and a 30’’ mast extension. The robot allows you to easily communicate with people and you can rotate the stand (full 360 degrees!) to look around the room. You can memorize locations, so that you can talk to several people at once and turn the head of the robot to face a person with just a click. You can also tilt the camera and look up and down. I appreciate that Mantarobot offer customization when it comes to the robot - for example, although the supported devices are iPad, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy TAB, the TableTop TeleMe can be adapted to virtually any tablet or phone.
I really liked that the TeleMe has built in speakers and microphone, as the quality of the sound was amazing. Since it’s stationary, the robot can stay plugged in the wall socket (although there’s is an option for an internal battery) allowing you instant access and unlimited operational time. Daniel mentioned that the TableTop TeleMe is great for elderly care - except turning the robot on, there’s nothing you can’t do virtually. It can connect via Ethernet and WiFi and since it doesn’t move around, the signal stays strong. There’s also an optional laser pointer that can be built in.
Operating the Tabletop TeleMe was extremely intuitive and easy. You can use any conference program you like (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.) and you don’t need to install any kind of software on your computer to control the robot. I want to mention that turning the head was a bit noisy, although it didn’t really prevent me from hearing what Daniel was saying.
What I really like about the TableTop TeleMe is that it’s much cheaper than other telepresence robots, while at the same time it’s almost as useful. If you need a device that can allow you to easily communicate to your elderly parents or attend distant meetings, the TableTop TeleMe would certainly do the job. However, I have to admit that rolling down hallways with a mobile robot is much more fun.
To sum up my experience, here are the pros and cons of the TableTop TeleMe:
+ Cheaper than non-stationary telepresence robots
+ Easy to use
+ Can be accessed distantly, without assistance
+ 360 degree view of the room + tilting
+ No specialized program installation
+ Compatible with every conference program
+ Laser pointer and floor base available
+ Can be plugged in wall socket, but also has a rechargeable battery
+ Built-in speakers and microphone
- Noisy rotation
- Needs customization before working with most devices
- You need to buy a tablet, as it’s not included