Back when Epinions was new, I discovered Bonzi Buddy before it was a gorilla. In those days, he was a cute little Parrot named Petey. Today, Bonzi Buddy is a small purple gorilla named Bonzi. However, not much has changed. Bonzi Buddy is still software that should not be installed on any computer, no matter how cute he seems.
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My eleven year old son is a sucker for cute Internet things. He has downloaded and installed Bonzi Buddy on my husband’s computer at least twice and been threatened with capital punishment both times. Therefore, he nearly fell over when he walked in my room last night and saw the purple gorilla on my desktop. With one eyebrow raised, he looked at me and asked, “Is that Bonzi Buddy I see?”
“It’s for a review", I muttered. “I have to see if it is still as bad as I remember.”
“It doesn’t DO anything unless you pay for it”, he complained. And that is the true problem with Bonzi Buddy.
A few years ago, Microsoft ran a series of commercials that talked about how smart computers were going to be in the near future. One of them featured a small, animated computer dog that fetched movie tickets, kept track of appointments, and basically handled all the detail work that life involves. I fell in love with that little dog, and wanted one of my very own. Unfortunately, the dog was vaporware. I hope somebody makes him a reality soon, because my desire for him keeps making me install software duds.
Shortly after those ads, Microsoft released Microsoft Bob. I was a broke college student, but I wanted Bob. I adored the idea of a little doggie keeping my schoolwork, finances, and household organized. I forked over big bucks and bought Bob, and I guess you know how that went. Bob never installed properly on my machine. When it worked at all, it only did a small fraction of what the software was intended to do. Usually the software simply crashed at startup. Eventually, Microsoft couldn’t give Bob away.
Then Microsoft released their Agent component. An Agent is a piece of software that is designed to enhance the user interface of Windows software. It can speak, respond to voice commands, and move about the entire computer screen. Microsoft has written all of the code necessary for developers to add agents to their own software, and agents can be quite helpful because they are easier for non-nerds to relate to and understand. A well-designed agent can humanize a computer and make it accessible to just about anyone.
Bonzi Buddy is based on Microsoft Agent, but it is not a well-designed agent. Unfortunately, the makers of Bonzi Buddy loaded him up with annoying features, a sales pitch beyond belief, and not much else.
The free version of Bonzi Buddy is severely limited and severely annoying. He has the ability to:
* Tell a few jokes
* Share a few interesting facts
* Check for breaking news
* Check for virus alerts
* Sing a few songs (badly)
* Manage Downloads (I have not used this feature)
* Alert users about appointments and other calendar events - Uses a proprietary calendar, which makes it useless for me. I maintain my calendar on my Palm.
But mostly, Bonzi just tries to sell you his “add on modules”. As an act of benevolence on my part, I considered actually purchasing one of the add on modules to see if throwing a bit of money at Bonzi would make him behave better. Fortunately, fate intervened, and I did not make the purchase.
The first time I tried to investigate the email module that would allow Bonzi to read my email to me and alert me when new email arrived, Bonzi crashed. The second time I got brave and tried, I discovered how sneaky Bonzi really was. Bonzi offers several different modules priced between $5 and $20 each. However, they also offer a one year gold membership subscription for $49. This includes all existing modules, and any that are created during the year. I really didn’t need the modules that taught Bonzi more jokes, songs and facts. I also didn’t want to talk to Bonzi; so I didn’t need the talking module. Consequently, I decided just to buy the email module, which was priced at $19.95. Guess what? I can’t find a link to buy JUST the email module. The only link I can find is for the gold member subscription.
Guess what else? In small print, Bonzi proudly announces that they will automatically renew my subscription each year by charging the credit card that I supply to order him. No thank you. Although I assume there is a way to opt out of annual renewals, Bonzi hasn’t done much to invoke my trust in him. Therefore, although I would like to write a truly informative review about the full version of Bonzi Buddy, I must pass. It’s not worth the risk, even for you my dear Epinions reader.
The free version would be fine and fun for kids to play with, except he even annoys kids. At least 33% of everything he says is a request for you to buy new modules. In addition, Bonzi Buddy does it’s dead-level best to take over your browser homepage and set it to Bonzi.com. He comes across like a friend selling Amway, and you’ll want him off your computer just as fast as you want your salesman friend out of your house.
My final recommendation to you is to NEVER download and/or install Bonzi Buddy. It is nothing but animated Spam.
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