Put down the screen and get moving with the A-Champs ROXS 2S

A-Champs ROXS 2S reviewThe A-Champs ROXS 2S is a mouthful of a product name that aims to get your kids moving with an app-connected no-screen (for the kids,) device that plays several games of varying intensity.

I’m reviewing the one-base ROXS 2S at the moment, the multi-base versions are coming out in April and there will be more things you can do with them I’m sure.

It should be stressed that the ROXS 2S and the ROXS 2 are two different products so make sure you know that when buying.

The main body of the thing is a Bluetooth connected RFID scanner, speaker, with LED lighting, an accelerometer, vibration motor, press button sensor, and eight hours of battery life.

There are several PEBBs included (8 if I counted correctly,) and while I’m not quite sure what that stands for you can think of it as an oversized guitar pick with a picture of various animals on it and an RFID chip as well as a QR code printed on the back.

ROXS 2S

I had a chance this weekend to play with it with a 2,3,4,5 and 6 year old (as well as me and Kim.) Here’s what I found.

Story mode: this is a game in which an adult tells a story. As you’re making up a story you scan the PEBBs in some order. An example would be “Mister frog <scan> and Don Spider <scan> were out walking one day when they ran across Mister Elephan <scan>…” Your child then has to tell you the story back.

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Match mode: basically a sound is played and your child has to locate  the corresponding PEBB to tap on the base unit. You can hide the PEBBs throughout the yard, tie the base ROXS 2S unit to a tree using the included belt, and run the kids ragged.

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That are variations on match mode that involve teams, hide and seek, etc. I’ve included screenshots here of the five main games currently included in their app (there’s a sixth “game” that is an intro that I wouldn’t really consider a game.)

What’s in the box?

The ROXS 2S will be shipping with a rechargeable battery and a charging station. What’s shown here is what the early adopter got. As such, it’s this plus a rechargeable battery and USB connectors (maybe a charger).

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Play date one with the ROXS 2S

The two and four year old mostly were interested in playing with the sound matching and the intro game. The five and six year old ran around picking up PEBBs around the house and playing competitively although not particularly well (yes child, a spider is going to make a chicken clucking noise, sure…).

We did a little outdoor testing and decided that the PEBBs were going to get lost in the yard as the kids were not particularly able to return them where I’d hidden them all the time.

Story matching I believe would work ages four and up, however I’m with the crowd that wants to make the chicken noise over and over again.

Day one was about thirty minutes worth of play.

Play date two with the ROXS 2S

Smaller audience involved running around the house and finding the PEBBs and matching sounds. More fun but infinitely more distracting. We’ve decided that this is an outdoor toy because there’re too many things more interesting, and too many kids slamming into things trying to beat the other times.

Play date 3 – errr

Saturday Feb 24th I have children over again. This has been one week since I put the ROXS 2S into play. I take it outside, kids are excited, the thing refuses to connect or it’ll connect and then a few seconds into a game I’ll get a notification that it’s disconnected,

Thinking the batteries lasted a week and hoping there’s a recharger kit on the way for me…

Observations on the ROXS 2S (Feb 2018)

I’ll preface this section with I know there are updates and a multi-base station version coming out. I expect the multiple bases will add a lot of new ideas for games (accelerometer-based freeze tag, capture the flag comes to mind,) and I expect that there will be more development of the existing app and games following this review and that the accelerometer will play more of a role in future games.

In the times I’ve played with it it’s been fun for the kids, however it requires an app-connected phone nearby for the kids to play with it. This is not something your screenless six year old can do on their own and the parent ends up being very much involved in keeping score and telling everyone what to do.

In a scenario in which the base stations are moving my guess is the phone will probably be required to be within 30 meters of each base station. While this is probably fine, just something to note.

The requirement for the phone to be nearby is not a bad thing, however with the shortness of rounds I started wondering if perhaps it might not be just as easy for me to hide 8 stuffed animals around the yard and make the sounds myself.

The games are fairly simple and it seems like they could be entirely built into the unit with a small keypad, drop the app entirely (except maybe for firmware and game updates,) and let the screenless child control what’s going on with a little less overseer duty from the parents.

Once again, really not saying that I’m trying to not do anything with my kids, it’s just if the object is to be screenless, maybe give the kid autonomy here? The app also seems to re-launch if you switch out of it on Android leaving games unscored.

Then again, with kids getting cell phones at six years old, maybe this isn’t an issue.

ROXS 2S problems encountered

Android app loses game when you get a phone call or switch apps.

Green PEBBs in grass tend to be a bit difficult to find, although I am colorblind so perhaps a non CB person would say they’re very obviously Emerald whereas grass is Evergreen or something.

You need a few minutes before playing with this to set up an account (for the leaderboard,) and on a slow mail host you might be waiting a bit. You also have to complete a captcha that I recall being legitimately difficult (not sure if this was because I had kids wanting to play or because it was a color combo or tiny captcha).

PEBBs are fairly easy to lose (good for hiding, bad for finding.)

Overall

It’s an interesting concept. My two year old just liked using it as a soundboard, my four year old like story time the best. We didn’t have conditions either time that were particularly good for playing outdoors and the indoor playing became a little of a madhouse.

I’m currently on the fence with this, I really wish it was not app connected or at least the app only was there for occasional updates and syncing.

 

ROXS 2S availability

Currently the A-Champs ROXS 2S is available at the manufacturer’s website. Be aware that the currently listed 3-pack is not the 2S and has fewer features.