A telepresence robot essentially makes video conferencing more mobile. You have a display that is mounted on a base that does not only move but can also be controlled remotely.
This is the reason why more and more businesses are adopting telepresence robots for employees who have to work remotely or who are out of the office for the day.
A telepresence robot would show your face on the screen as it goes around the office or joins a meeting. You can also see what’s going on at the other end, thanks to the robot’s camera. More importantly, you can control the robot via remote control.
The idea is for your colleagues to be able to interact with you and for you to be able to see things as if you were really there.
The Padbot P1 is a professional telepresence robot that allows you to work from home and still have a significant presence at work, especially at meetings. You can communicate with your colleagues in real time using video and voice chats. The Padbot P1 is able to move from room to room without falling over.
It stands three feet three inches, allowing your colleagues to feel as if they are talking to a real person who is just sitting opposite them.
Outside the office setting, the Padbot P1 makes your presence felt at home when you have to be away on a business trip abroad. You can attend family functions and important occasions even while you are halfway across the world.
You can even have a fun conversation with the kids over dinner or watch over them while they are alone at home.
Features of the Padbot P1
Remote control. You can use compatible Android or iOS devices to remotely control the robot. If you are in the same room as the Padbot P1, you can do so using your phone’s or tablet’s Bluetooth connection.
If you are away or out of Bluetooth range, you can still control the robot remotely over a 4G or Wi-Fi connection.
Sensor-assisted navigation. The Padbot P1 uses a variety of sensors that help it move around while also avoiding collisions. These sensors keep the Padbot P1 from bumping into any obstacle by stopping it in its tracks once it detects something.
There are also sensors found at the bottom of the Padbot P1 that help it avoid sharp falls.
Automatic Recharge. The Padbot P1 runs on a 500 mAh battery that can provide you with up to 100 hours of standby time and a running time of eight hours. If the battery runs low, the Padbot P1 will automatically find its way back to the charging dock.
A full charge from a fully drained battery would take around six hours.
Easy storage. When not in use, you can easily find a corner for the Padbot P1 so that it does not block your way or become a nuisance standing in the middle of the hallway or inside a room. With dimensions of 10.5 inches by 14.6 inches, the Padbot P1 can easily be tucked into a small corner.
Adjustable screen. The display is integrated with the head, so no more putting and securing tablets on your telepresence robot. You can adjust the tilt and rise of the head to make it more natural for people to interact with the Padbot P1.
The display measures 10 inches diagonally and has a high-definition resolution. Underneath the screen, you have a wide-angle five-megapixel camera with resolutions of 720 pixels.
What you would love about the Padbot P1
There are two ways to charge your Padbot P1. First is by turning on the self-charging feature, which allows it to finds its way to the charging dock when the battery juice is close to being depleted. You can also charge the robot using a power adapter.
This is very convenient because it allows you to leave the rather bulky charging dock when you have to take your robot to different places.The Padbot P1 works as it should and it works quite well. The display and the camera both deliver high-definition videos and crisp audio.
What could be better
If you plan to use the Padbot P1, make sure that you pair it with your iPad, iPhone or Android device ahead of time. You need to be within Bluetooth range in order to do so.
It would have been a lot easier if you are able to connect to the robot using a Wi-Fi connection so that you can still control it even when you have not previously paired the robot with your mobile device. This would also allow other people to use the robot.
Before buying the Padbot P1, you should be aware that this product comes from a Chinese company and that support may be a little difficult. The company has provided a telephone number for its contact information, but it is a number in China and you have to call anywhere from 10 am to 7 pm, China time.
If you do not want to pay for the long-distance charges, you can only rely on the e-mail address provided. The company does not have user forums or live chat on their Web site and support documents are hard to come by.
Moreover, the user manual is obviously translated from Chinese, and even the mobile app has some reviews complaining about the lack of support.
Another minus point for the Padbot P1 is that it is not available on Amazon. You would need to rely on smaller retailers to buy it. Lastly, it can be quite expensive.
Alternatives to the Padbot P1
There are other telepresence robot brands that you should consider if you are in the market for one. The Padbot P1 is a great choice, but you might find the price tag a little too much. The good news is that you have the Padbot U1 and the Padbot T1.
The Padbot U1 works like the Padbot P1 but it does not have its own screen. You can fit a tablet that measures anywhere from 7 to 10 inches on the stretchable head. It costs cheaper than the P1.
Meanwhile, if you want something that is easy on the budget but that still allows you to be virtually present, you can get the Padbot T1.
The Padbot T1 (read my full review here!) works just like a remote controlled racing car. You attach your smart device on the T1 and you can remotely chat with your friends even from far away. The Padbot T1 is small and can fit into your bag.
However, unlike the Padbot U1 and P1, the T1 will not be able to go from one room to another. You can prop it up on any table and join a meeting, but after the meeting, somebody would have to pick it up and give it back to you.
If none of these alternatives are for you, you can check out the telepresence robots made by other manufacturers. One recommended telepresence robot is the Suitable Technologies Beam Smart Presence System. It gives you clear and crisp videos and audio feeds, and it is easy to navigate.
What’s more, the Beam has a wide field of view as the camera can capture 104 degrees in front of it. In other words, it gives you a great view of what it is seeing. The display is a big 10-inch screen, too, thus giving whoever you are talking to a clear view of your face.
Like the Padbot P1, it has a downward facing camera that allows you to see if there are obstacles on the floor you should avoid.
While the Beam’s camera gives you only 480p resolution, the contrast from the camera is great. Picture quality is better than the picture quality you get from the iPad’s front-facing camera. The camera also works well in low light.
The Beam Smart Presence System is also more expensive than the Padbot P1, costing a hefty price from the manufacturer’s online store. What’s more, you would need to pay an annual fee to use the software.
The Beam Smart Presence System has very similar specifications as the Padbot P1. If you do not mind the more expensive price and the annual fee in exchange for better support options and availability, then choose Beam.
The Padbot P1, however, delivers the same functionality with a better camera resolution and you can use it even without paying recurring fees.
Final recommendation on the Padbot P1
Padbot P1 gives you value for money. If you are in the market for a telepresence robot, then you would be hard-pressed to find another robot that gives you a high-definition camera and high-definition display, sensor-assisted navigation, and automatic recharge.
Unlike other telepresence robots, the Padbot P1 also has an anti-collision system that stops it from bumping into walls or into people.
The Padbot P1, however, suffers from problems that plague all telepresence robots. These robots move rather awkwardly, and it might be distracting to have one moving around the office. On top of that, telepresence robots are really very expensive.
What’s more, the Padbot P1 cannot go upstairs so, if you have to go to a meeting on a different floor, you will either need an elevator or ask somebody to carry it upstairs. It also suffers from lack of support and documentation. Availability is also an issue.
However, if you really need a telepresence robot, the Padbot P1 is worth considering. That is if you can find a retailer that sells it.
Further read, Best Telepresence Robots for 2018