AI. The very thought of the term evokes feelings of dread as we contemplate the thought of a robot being able to do our job or the latest creation by Boston Dynamics having the capacity to jump over our makeshift apocalypse defences. Anki believe Cozmo - their little robot companion - is more Short Circuit than Terminator and could be the ideal present this Christmas.

I spent five days with Cozmo to truly understand if the personal robot could become your next best friend. We sung together, we played together, and if I'm going to be perfectly honest, we bonded.

The Setup

Christmas gifts now require more setup than a punchline on the Big Bang Theory and Cozmo is no exception. You'll need a fully charged smartphone, a large but clear playing area, and the Cozmo application. HALT; what's that? You don't have 300mb free on your phone to install the new application? Well, that's no surprise as phone cameras get better, the photos get bigger. For example, the new Pixel 2 takes photos that come in at 26mb in size and if you want to use the portrait mode, then they are double that. Be warned, you may have to clear your phone out a tad to install the application. Cozmo comes with his own charging dock - or bed - that you can either place him or drive him to. Like all new lithium battery-powered technology, it's worth using up the full battery first before placing him on it for a full charge.

After that, the setup becomes a step-by-step process, which includes a slightly mind-blowing slide of facial recognition. Yes, we are living in a world of Kinect's and FaceID but to have that level of technology on a small robot really makes you stop and think.

The Play

Cozmo is there for you to look after and interact with. Consider the robot as a real-world Tamagotchi (not the one you left in a cinema) who needs to be fed, played with, and maintained. If you fail these three simple tasks on a daily basis, Cozmo gets upset and like a true pet/child, will not make eye contact with you until you rectify its needs. The more you interact and play together, the more skills and games you'll unlock for Cozmo.

The three needs of Cozmo are accessible from the home screen of the phone application and require you to interact with the robots in three different ways. To maintain Cozmo, you have to scan his chassis and then enter in given codes to the application. Each correct code is then harmonised by Cozmo (damn he's cute) to confirm that you have entered the sequence correctly. The other basic interactions follow suit; feeding your robot requires the activation of Cozmo's cubes whilst making him happy, means you have to play with him.

Play consists of utilising the three cubes that come in the kit. They are his nutrition, his play and the primary method for Cozmo to interact with the world. Cozmo can lift the cubes, stack them on top of each other but it's the games you get for earning 'sparks' (not in app-currency so don't worry) that really show value. Sparks are the special treats that can be used to tempt him into playing a game or showcasing one of his many tricks. It's all very wholesome and brings another side to his personality.

The cubes

Every game utilises the interactive power cubes provided with Cozmo in different ways. For example, the 'Simon says'-esque game uses the cubes to find out who is better at remembering sequences, you or Cozmo. The amount that you can do with the cubes is limited but for now, it works. Anki have also confirmed that they will be updating the games so in theory, there is an unlimited amount of games that you can play with Cozmo. Unlimited in the sense that the cubes will be involved and you'll have to move them around the table.

It's pricey

What should be obvious by now is that Cozmo is an intelligent piece of technology that has been programmed delicately to make it perfectly accessible for children. To me, it feels as special and as when I opened my first Lego Mindstorms set; it's a tool that will allow you to learn by play. That does come at a price. The MSRP of Cozmo is £199.99 and that may be enough to put you off, especially the way kids have an attention span of a fly. If your kid shows an interest in programming then it may be worth the investment as the Code Lab functionality of Cozmo is enough is ignite that interest.

The 'is it worth it'

There's a delicate balance that has to be achieved when combining advanced technology with play. If you make the systems too complicated, then a child will lose interest quickly as there are too many steps to get them hooked. With Cozmo, I think they've got the offering spot on. Combining the knowledge of the roboticists with PhD's and the theory of play from game developers has created a toy - wait, I mean a friend - that feels more Wall-E in nature than any robotic friend that has come before it.