One of the things that I was on the look out for at BETT this year was a replacement for our aging Roamers. We have a small pile of Roamers in varying states of repair. Other than a few totally unserviceable units, the biggest issue we have is the huge outdated batteries that the roamers use. To replace with dry cells each time they run out is costly. The rechargeable alternatives are very pricey and very unreliable.
What is needed is a roamer that can run on a set of four rechargeable AA batteries. Simple!
The Valiant stand at BETT was non-existant. There was instead, a small poster refering visitors to the TAG Learning stand – who had the new Roamer Too on display.
The Roamer Too does run on rechargeable AA batteries. Not four but six. The new unit has lost the likable look of the classic Roamer, and now looks a little utilitarian in design. The interchangeable top modules look slightly unfinished compared with the curved plastic control panel of the original. The example model that I saw had a paper insert with printed button designs. When pressed to enter the programming instructions, they had to have quite some pressure exerted for the press to be registered. It would be interesting to know if this was the same for all of the new units. I think it would be difficult for younger children to program the Roamer Too as the pressure needed for each button press would be too much.
According to the Valiant website, the Roamer Too range will be available in early 2010.
I rather feel that Valiant has missed the opportunity to update the Roamer for a new generation. The new product almost looks more dated than the original. If it had to be a smaller design, then a reduced size version of the original design,with the original keypad, would have done well.