The first time I took a look at the Sphero 2.0 from Orbotix I figured here was one of those things that would be fun at firs but soon end up gathering dust on a shelf in my office. Well, it did sit on a shelf for quite some time before I got around to actually playing with it and colour me surprised…it is fun to play with and really noisy on hard floors.
Let’s start with the packaging which is classy in an Apple kind of way. The black box neatly holds the Sphero it’s charger and two curved pieces of plastic that hold the Sphero in the box but can also be used like ski jumps.
The Sphero itself is a hard polycarbonate ball that after three hours on it’s induction charger is ready to play for an hour.No wires to attach just put the Sphero in the charger and it will wiggle itself into the optimum charging position.
To start playing, you have to load The Sphero app into your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet…I find it more fun on my iPad Mini…then you can start driving the ball around on the floor or carpet..it is really noisy on a hardwood floor or my stone driveway especially when you master jumps and other tricks.
You can simply drive it around in free mode until you get the hang of it but to keep you interested, Orbotix has built an unlocking experience into the main Sphero controller app. You can’t access the full capabilities of the device right out of the box — you’ve got to keep driving Sphero until you earn achievements to unlock things like new top speeds and special lighting tricks. By logging in with Facebook or creating an account, you can also track your progression toward becoming the Master of Sphero and measure your achievements against your friends.
But the fun really starts when you start downloading some of the 25 custom-made games that have been released so far. Golf games, racing games and party games can all be used with Sphero. There are even augmented reality apps, so your iPad will show you Sphero surrounded by hordes of zombies that have to be destroyed. I did find it pulled a lot of power on the controlling device; my iPad Mini with Retina got uncomfortably hot after a while.
Sphero 2.0 is a fun gadget that is a lot of fun to play with but it is a tad on the pricey side, $130 from here…I would also add the Nubby($15), a silicone wrapper for the ball that gives it a bit more traction especially on carpets or in the water…it is easier on your dog’s teeth too.