The original Sphero robot ball got some great press when it was released a few years ago, and now the company has just launched a new successor, the Sphero Ollie. The format has changed in the intervening period, no longer a round ball, now the new Ollie is more like a rectangular roller shape, with some interesting twists.
The new robot comes in a distinctive looking box, and the first thing you’ll notice when you open it, is the fact that you have to assemble some bits. It’s nothing too much, just the tires and hubcaps, but this is the first indication you get that you’ll be able to customize your Ollie with different accessories over time.
The paperwork in the box is minimal, so if you’re unfamiliar with smartphone type robots and apps, you’ll probably need to visit the company site to read up on how to get the thing set up. It connects to the phone via Bluetooth, so the first thing is to remember to switch that on, and then after charging the robot itself (which takes around an hour or so), you’ll be able to tap the phone to the Ollie and light it up.
After that, it’s all just rock and roll. Check out our video for an idea of what it can do (albeit in a pathetically confined space).
The good news is the Ollie (is that right, or should it just be Ollie?) runs for a very decent 60 minutes per USB charge, which is good enough for some real fun. We weren’t able to test out the claimed top speed of 14 mph, but we immediately wondered how you would keep up with it on foot at top speed, if the Bluetooth connectivity range is only 30 meters. Get a bicycle maybe?
From the marketing video it looks like you don’t have to have the tires installed, at which point you’ll have an ultra slippery drifting robot, but we couldn’t find any of the ‘thrilling multiplayer games’ in our Android app that the sales site talks about. Maybe it’s just too early, as we know the iPhone app was developed first. We’ve got to say we like the pretty LED lighting though, nice touch.
If you’re worried about durability, the thing is apparently made of super tough polycarbonate, and since it’s designed to do flips and jumps etc, we assume it has been built to cope with some rough treatment. Our early tests for the video were far too timid, so we’ll be re-visiting the product again later to really put it through some tough love and see how it copes. The Ollie will be available in the last week of September for around $100 / £79.99.