Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
I'm not going to lie…I was skeptical. I received the Guliguli Hiibo robot and thought my cats would either scoff or run scared. Well, I was right about two of my cats (one scoffed and the other ran). However, the bravest cat that ever was had no fear of this robot and, instead, enjoyed it quite a bit.
Part of the reason Wookie didn't bolt for cover was there's not a laser pointer she won't attempt to take down. And as soon as the Guliguli laser pointer was on, so too was the fun.
So, what makes this pet robot an attractive proposition for those who have family with paws? Personally, I like to be a part of helping my cats get their exercise. However, just because you're using a robot doesn't mean you can't be involved. Why? Because the Guliguli robot isn't what you're thinking. It doesn't use AI or ML in the same way a cleaning robot does.
The Guliguli requires you to use a phone app to either manually control it (like an RC car) or let it go on a timed mission to entertain your pet with the built-in laser pointer.
You do have to install the GL Pets app (Android and iOS), connect it to your wireless network, and then control the robot via the app. With that app, you can dispense treats, manually move the robot about, take pictures and record video, talk to your pets via the robot, turn on the laser pointer, and even have it run a timed, automatic function that will keep the laser pointer moving in circles for your pet to pounce on.
You can even control the robot when you're away from home. So for those who travel, you can not only watch video of your pet, you can also talk to them and give them treats.
What might seem like a toy can certainly entertain your pet and enable you to keep an eye on them. That feature alone is worth it for someone like me who's had to (on a number of occasions) keep a watchful eye on a recovering pet.
The big question is this: At $189.99 (Note: Amazon is currently offering a coupon for $60 off), is the Guliguli robot worth the cost? Had this been a smart robot (one that could not only handle what it does automatically but also learn your pets' habits), I would answer with a resounding yes. But even without the "intelligence" aspect, it's still a lot of fun to have (and can make being away from your pets a lot less stressful).
Wookie and I had a lot of fun playing together with the robot. Instead of using a regular laser pointer (which we call "laser mouse"), I could turn it on automatic mode and have it spin around, sending the laser pointer in circles for her to chase and then dispense a treat for her (so she could catch her breath). Or, I could manually control the laser pointer and make a game of it.
Make sure to keep the treat hopper filled, so you can dispense the treats after playtime is over.
My only issue with the automatic function is that it's unable to generate more random patterns for the laser pointer. Instead, it moves in circles, then it'll move forward or backward a bit, and then spin in circles again. It's fairly predictable but that's not exactly a bad thing. It all depends on how easily bored your pet can become.
Another nice feature is that you can speak through the robot (using the app on your phone). Obviously, that functionality is pointless if you're in the room with your pet. But if you're watching your pet from somewhere else, it could prove useful.
ZDNET buying advice
Although not all of my cats enjoyed the robot, Wookie certainly made a great case for it. If you have a pet that likes to chase those magic red dots, enjoys a treat, and loves having pictures and video taken of them (for you to share with your friends and family), this is a wonderful little robot to have in the house. It may not be perfect, but for those who cherish their pets and love the idea of being able to interact with them from afar, it's worth a look. It could also make a great gift.