I had the pleasure to perform a demo drive of MantaroBot’s TeleMe 2. Setting up the appointment was easy - I only had to fill a simple form and was soon contacted by the team. They were extremely helpful and flexible with their time, which is a great plus for anyone with a busy schedule. I was provided with a detailed manual and a thorough explanation about entering the system days prior to the appointment, so that I could be prepared for the demo drive. I have to admit, I was very eager to try this telepresence robot, as the professionalism of the team had impressed me and my expectations were set high. I’m happy to say - they were absolutely met.
Essentially, the TeleMe 2 is a moving base for a tablet that serves as the “head” of the robot. It supports a couple of devices - Microsoft Surface Pro (3 and 4); Apple iPad; Apple iPhone; Samsung Galaxy TAB and S4. Perhaps the most useful service that MantaroBot offers is that their telepresence robots are highly customizable. This means that even if your tablet isn't compatible with the body, you will still be able to use the robot after a modification from the MantaroBot engineers. The base contains the battery and all of the electronics and the pan and tilt are done only by the head, independently from the base.
The TeleMe 2 can be used with any conference program (Skype, Google Hangouts, Cisco, Polycom, etc.), making this robot a great choice for any company that wants to keep their communication private. It’s also great that I wasn’t required to install anything before driving the robot, as there is a web-browser based control available. Another smart feature is the telepresence robot’s ability to connect from one wifi to another, so that the signal remains good while you're moving around. I really liked that when you're tilting and turning the head, you can memorize the position of the camera and quickly return to it, making conversations in meetings much more natural.
As for the hardware, I was informed that TeleMe 2 is much lighter than its predecessor - about 15 pounds so. Its battery has been improved and the motor is much quieter. I couldn’t personally confirm that, as I haven’t had the pleasure to try out the original TeleMe, but I did notice that the motor definitely wasn’t loud. There's a collision detector that helps you avoid damaging your telepresence robot. This was very welcome, as there was some delay in the connection and it was a relief not being able to run into a wall full speed. As for charging the robot - getting the TeleMe 2 in the docking station isn't automatic, but it is easy enough.
I also learned that the TeleMe 2 has some great features like headlights, a laser pointer and a Kensington lock adapter (that helps you keep your robot safe). You can even get a shirt hanger and trailer or a hitch, so that it can be towed.
To sum up my experience, here are the pros and cons of the TeleMe 2:
+Great customer service (manual, flexible schedule)
+No required program installation
+Can be used with any conference program
+Lots of cool features (changing wi-fi connections, laser, headlights, shirt hanger, lock)
- Not a lot of supported devices, although it could be customized to support almost everything
- The design of the web-based control could look better
- Delay (however, this was probably caused by the wi-fi connection, rather than a flaw of the TeleMe 2)
- Manual docking