Digital Doggie

Giga Pet
Product Review

I helped a friend move on 31 December 1997 which resulted in a total of about 5 hours on the road. I used that time to conduct a Mini-review of Digital Doggie.

The unit was in a very pretty transparent purple case with lime green buttons and a heavy keychain (not a clip on). It also only "beeped" and did not have the "realistic animal sounds" that some of Tiger Electronic's Giga Pets now have. The instructions and packaging referred to it as model 71-611.

Most of the general comments about Digital Doggie will also apply to the other Giga Pets. If you have not already visited our Giga Pets Page, we encourage you to visit it also.

Also, a lot of people have reported health problems with Giga Pets. There is an exceptionally good post titled "Digital Doggie Care Sheet" with details of how to care for Digital Doggie to avoid the health problems on our Giga Pet Health Suggestions Page. You can read more about the Giga Pet health problems in general on our Giga Pet Health Problems Page.

Packaging and Instructions

The pet was plastic encapsulated to a "hanging card.". The instructions were on a white 8 1/2 by 11 sheet that was folded and placed between the folded over sections "hanging card." As with most pets, the card made no mention that the instructions were inside of it. Many youth and adults throw away the instructions because they do not know they are there.

The package states the pet is for ages 5 and up.

The instructions were in the same font we have seen used by many other Giga Pet instructions sheets. The font has a somewhat engineering/architecture hand printed look that is very easy to read. The headings and keywords are bolded which makes it easy to find things. The graphics are large enough to be seen and understood. The various functions of the pet are presented in the instructions in exactly the same order the icons appear across the pet's display. This makes it much easier to new users. We strongly encourage other manufacturers to do the same. As mentioned below, I did have some problems with the actual icons used on the display. Some did not seem to be very logical.

Some basic Giga Pet instructions are on our Instructions Page


Digital Doggie is a 4 button pet (Left, Mode, Enter, Right), with a nice large display that has easily viewed icons for the functions. The controls and instructions make it an "easy to run" pet. Some pets seem confusing to the new user, it is hard to figure out "what does what", but Digital Doggie is very straight forward and easy to understand. As we mention below, a little more work on selecting better icons for the pet could make it even easier to run. A reset button is provided on the back of the pet.

The "mode" button toggles you between the normal game mode and the clock mode. The sound, "bell tone", appears as a "bell" symbol when in the clock mode. The sound can be turned off and on by using the left and right buttons while in the "clock mode".

Features of the Pet

Using the Pet

When you first remove the "pull strip", you set the clock and name your pet. Many people really like being able to name the pets.

The buttons are nice and large with a good "feel" to them. They are far enough apart for my large fingers to easily work them.

Just looking at the screen the "feed icon" is a bit confusing. It is the first icon presented across the top. It seems somewhat logical that it is the feed icon since that is what you do very frequently, but the shape and appearance of the icon is "strange." After looking at the instructions sheet you can figure it out. I think they need a more easily understandable feed icon.

Once you do select the feed icon you see a bowl of food. If you have not read the instructions, you are not aware that you can use the left and right keys to toggle between this bowl of food and a bone. As with the other Giga Pets, Digital Doggie has a healthy food (bowl of food) and a treat (bone). Some other virtual pets display both foods at once and allow you to toggle between them. I think that is a better method.

You can feed the pet endlessly (over and over and over). Some other pets only allow you to feed them twice then you have to wait a while to feed them again. I think that method is more realistic.

The pet beeps at you when it needs attention. I noticed it gave 2 beeps when it pooped.

The "reward" is used to reward your pet when it does a trick properly. I thought the reward icon looked like a broom and kept wanting to select it to clean up the poop. Once selected and entered, it gives the dog a bone. The proper "clean" symbol was a shower head.

The health meter (heart icon) reports your pets age and weight, Health (thick round ring symbol) and happiness (smiley face symbol), hunger (food dish symbol) and discipline (I still can figure out what this symbol is supposed to be, looks like top half of a blackened in circle with a grin drawn under it). and your overall score. You have to hit the mode button to get out of the health meter. I found that a bit confusing and it is not pointed out in the instructions.

The "Play" is chasing a ball as it bounces across the screen. Many virtual pet "games" are a bit weak, but I found this one boring even by virtual pet standards.

Digital Doggie takes naps during the day. He just goes to sleep. I did not like that. We have also had several readers complain about it. When they want to play with their pet, he is asleep. I turned the light out when he went to sleep.

Going to the doctor just puts you in an ambulance and he is visited by the doctor. Some pets allow you to select a treatment or vitamins.

Tricks/Training/Reward : if you see your pet do a neat trick and want to encourage him to do it again, you are supposed to select the training icon then the word reward appears on the display. Press enter again and your dog is given a bone. It seems like this is kind of a lengthy process, why can't it be like the clean function which cleans the pet or poop when I select it instead of making me push enter again?

When you pet needs serious attention it beeps and some black arrowheads above and below the attention icon in the lower right hand corner of the display begin to flash. While reviewing the controls today, I managed to get the attention arrowheads flashing as well as another similar pair of arrowheads in the lower left hand corner of the screen. The dog had pooped and I needed to use the clean icon. These flashing arrowheads in the lower left corner are near the clean icon which made me think I had selected it. It was not selected it was just flashing. The selector was still on the incons at the top of the display. This made it difficult for me to tell when the clean icon was selected.

On the trip, I thought I was taking good care of my doggie, but he kept dying (becoming and angel dog with wings).


The case was shaped sort of like a diving bell, It was about 1.915 inches wide at its widest part, about 2.275 inches tall (including the .16 inch protrusion at the top to retain the keychain), and .680 thick (the buttons stick up and make the total assembly thicker than this dimension).

The cut our for the display is about .855 inches wide by .800 tall. Icons are displayed at both the top and the bottom of the display.


Two of the normal virtual pet button cell batteries are used by the pet. They are both inserted with their large flat side "up" (facing you when you put them in). The battery cover is only retained by one screw. This screw is somewhat larger than most other battery cover screws and it is retained by the cover itself when you loosen it (it stays with the cover and does not come out, fall to the floor, and get lost). This is a very nice feature.

Warranty and Repair

The instruction sheet provides details on their 90 day limited warranty. It says the pet will be repaired or replaced in the 90 day period if returned to Tiger or the dealer with proof of the date of purchase. If you send it back to Tiger, you are to pay the freight and insure it.

The warranty section also says that products returned without the original receipt or after the 90 day period, but within one year of purchase will be repaired or replaced for $4.00.

The Repair Center section of the intructions tells you to send them a note with the game's model number, sales slip, date of purchase, place of purchase, and price paid and "We will do our best to help."

It looks like you better keep your original instructions sheet (has model number in top left corner) and purchase ticket as well as write where you purchased it and make sure it has a date on it if you wish to get it repaired or warrantied by Tiger Electronics. In real life, chances are you are not going to keep all this stuff. Plus the pets are so economical, you will probably just try new batteries and if that doesn't work, throw it away and get another pet.

Summary and Closing Comments

The pet had a lot of things going for it: well done instruction sheet, beautiful transparent purple case, large easy to see icons, etc. I just didn't like it. Its "beeps" were annoying, several of the icons were hard to understand, it was asleep when I wanted to play, the "play" of chasing the ball was boring, it did not have a pause feature, and it kept dying.

Digital Doggie needs quite a bit of help in user friendliness (making the icons, display, and normal operation of the pet more logical). Polson Enterprises does offer services in this area to interested firms.

We need to remember this was one of the first keychain virtual pets to be introduced to the United States. Giga Pets were awesome then, now competition is much greater. Since the beginning, Tiger Electronics has added more realistic sounds to the pets, clip on chains, tear drop shaped cases, and a much fuller line of pets, but it is time for them to bring out a new generation that incorporates the latest features available in other pets plus some new ideas of their own.

Although we were tough on Digital Doggie in this review, we commend Tiger Electronics for their great work in bringing virtual pets to the United States. Giga Pets brought widespread availability and low cost to virtual pets in the United States. Additionally the wide variety of pets offered (dogs, cats, dinos, aliens, etc) greatly widened the appeal of virtual pets.

 This page was created 19 January 1998

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