Intelino J-1 Smart Train Starter Set Review

This is a review for the Intelino J-1 Smart Train Starter Set that we purchased on Amazon Canada as a gift for a young child, shortly after Christmas in 2020.

The Smart Train runs on plastic tracks that come with the set. It takes commands via Blue Tooth using the Intelino Android app on a smart phone or tablet. It can also be controlled by coloured “smart tabs” that you place on these tracks, which give commands to the train visually, as the train passes. The train can be told to go faster/slower, forward/reverse, detach a train car, stop, or turn.

Based on the advertised features, it seems like it would be great. It looked much better than a typical remote control train, which can only go forward/backward.

Unfortunately, the train has some major disappointments. It claims that it can work on “standard” wooden tracks, like those used by Thomas Wooden Railway and Brio. This is technically true, but practically speaking, not so much. The train only works on the wooden tracks if they are perfectly level. Even then, it has trouble on turns. The “smart” features of turning don’t work at all. The plastic tracks that come with the train to not connect to the wooden tracks. That means you can’t build a hybrid (with smart features on part of track system). So, for all practical purposes, you can only use the train for the small set of plastic tracks that are included. For families with a large collection of wooden tracks, that’s a huge loss.

The instructions for the train, and interface in the app, showed a very poor grasp of the English language. So, it’s likely we’re just not using it the way it was intended. There’s a lot customization in commands that seems to be possible, but it just doesn’t seem to let you do everything it should.

The train was still played with. But, it wasn’t nearly as great as it seemed. The basic idea is great, but it needs a much better implementation. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of products in this category, yet. So, it might make sense for people, as long as you know what you’re getting. As of my writing, the price has actually gone up by $30, so you might want to wait and/or look around first if you’re still thinking of getting it.

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