Sphero 2.0 review: nifty robotic ball controlled by iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Orbotix's new Sphero 2.0 is the second-generation of the robotic ball that can be controlled wirelessly using an iPhone or iPad. We've had a play with the nifty little gadget, so here's our Sphero 2.0 review.

While completely the same concept as the first generation, Sphero 2.0 has had some significant spec boosts. It looks the same as the original: a white, cricket ball-sized ball with the blue Sphero logo on the front. However, there is a really cool-looking special edition available exclusively from the Apple Store, which has clear cut-outs that enable you to see the working robotics inside.

An increase in speed means Sphero 2.0 can roll at a maximum of seven feet per second, which we found really is fast. Sometimes too fast for our poor driving skills, but you can turn the speed down using the apps (we'll talk more about those later). It's also a little too fast for smaller rooms: we found ourselves bumping into the walls on a regular basis.

The Sphero is really responsive, though. If you tell it to change directions, it will do so swiftly, so once you've mastered the skill of driving it you can be very accurate with your steering. The ramps included in the box are a fun bonus, too.

New multicolour LEDs make Sphero 2.0 three times brighter than its predecessor, a feature that really looks great at night. The colour of the Sphero changes depending on particular apps and actions, and you can temporarily change the colour to your favourite shade using the Sphero app.

Talking of apps, there are more than 25 to download from Apple's App Store, although it's worth noting that not all of those apps are free to download. Among our favourites are the Rolling Dead and Sharky augmented reality apps.

There are some apps that provide a different way to play with the Sphero too. The Zombie Rollers and Exile apps require players to hold the ball in their hands while playing, and multiplayer apps like ColorGrab and Pass The Sphero require players to pick up the Sphero.

If you're into programming, there are some apps that you'll enjoy too, including MacroLab and OrbBasic.

If you want to use the Sphero outside, the introduction of a new Sphero Nubby cover, available in blue, yellow or orange, adds extra protection and traction to the Sphero. The ball is already completely waterproof, though.

As for battery, you're unlikely to find yourself out of power as it's super easy to charge up the Sphero. Simply pop it into the dock that's included in the box to charge it. That's probably where you'll store your Sphero while you're not using it too.

Below is a video of the Apple exclusive version of Sphero.

OUR VERDICT

Overall, Sphero 2.0 is faster, brighter and more responsive, and could provide endless hours of fun if remote control objects, robots and augmented reality is your thing. We can imagine Sphero being the star Christmas present this year, with the whole family itching to have a go. However, it's worth considering whether it's something you'll use after the holidays are over, or whether it'll be tucked away in a cupboard until next Christmas rolls around. At £99, it's not particularly cheap. Sphero is available to pre-order now and is set to roll out (literally) on 30 August.

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