Review: Pet Fitness Robot from Varram

Like many Americans, I have a dog and I want to train and reward her, and keep her fit. While I can work from home, that's not the case for everyone, so I was intrigued by the Pet Fitness Robot ($149) from Varram. I saw their booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year and they gave me the review unit to try with my dog. My seven-pound Shih-Tzu Yorkie mix is usually distrusting of robotic toys, like my Sphero BB-8, but once she saw that this toy also distributes snacks, she came around.

Varram

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The Varram Pet Fitness Robot is like a Roomba for entertaining and feeding your dog or cat. It can roll around and eject snacks using the well-designed companion app for iOS or Android, or you can establish automatic mode and it will entertain your pet and give it a workout in your absence. The wheels on the side have pretty powerful motors and can even operate on carpet as long as it's not too thick and plush. The battery life is decent, with up to 4 hours of playtime and 24 hours of idle time.

But it is a bit of a pain to recharge. There is a plastic flap that has to be removed and a microUSB cable (included) must be used to charge it. There's another complex step to add more snacks. And those snacks should be small, about the size of a peanut M&M, and dry, not sticky. That wouldn't be too bad, but they have added a protective clear plastic case that surrounds the robot, except for the wheels. That is cumbersome to add and remove, and needs a specific tool, also included, to properly remove it. If you look at all of the marketing materials, videos, photos, it shows the naked robot. Apparently some aggressive dogs tried to lick or even eat the robot so they've added this protection, but it exacerbates the hassle. I spoke with their representatives at CES and they know and suggested a wirelessly charging model would be on the way.

Varram

Pros

  • Very powerful and well-designed companion app
  • Powerful motors and snack ejector
  • Decent battery life of 24 hours, 4 hours of playtime
  • Manual and automatic modes
  • Helps with pet fitness too

Cons

  • Refilling and recharging is a hassle
  • Clear protective case is cumbersome to add and remove
  • Needs specific size and type of snack

Final Verdict

If you want to feed and entertain your pet, the Pet Fitness Robot from Varram is a fun way to do so.

 

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.