A tumbling robo-dog that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker stole my heart at CES

And it doesn't cost $2,000.

Despite how far smart home devices have come, robotic pets just haven't really taken off the way they should've. They're often clunky and extremely limited in capability, and those that do seem promising are outrageously expensive (ahem, Sony).

That's what makes Dnine's "Billy" robo-dog so different, at least if its CES demo holds any water. The company showed off what turned out to be a surprisingly impressive toy; Billy responds to voice and gesture controls, can follow you around the house when paired with a smart bracelet, and acts as a Bluetooth speaker. Its accompanying app comes with games and built-in educational tools for kids.

The bot itself isn't the prettiest — it rolls around on four wheels instead of walking and its head gives off heavy Speed Racer vibes — but its personality and skillset make for a genuinely charming combo (it can do yoga and spin on its head, among other neat tricks). And, it only costs $149.


Can it perform in the real world, though? — A lot of things at CES seem really exciting, but that often doesn't translate to the real world. The robots of CES tend to fail frequently even on the show floor, though, largely due to connectivity issues, and Billy was one of the few I visited that could actually perform its tasks as expected. If the audio quality is decent (I didn't get a chance to test), I wouldn't mind shelling out for this one.