I was so excited to hear that I would be reviewing this gadget – it’s exactly the bonkers kind of pointless, time wasting thing I enjoy. And after three days, I really want to love it but it’s SO frustrating!
This is a review model so may be different to those on retail and I’m guessing the retail model doesn’t get sent out in a proper toolbox which plays Eye of the Tiger upon opening. That alone got massive points from me for being innovative and different. It could only have made me happier if Sam
and Dean from Supernatural climbed out the toolbox equipped with copious supplies of Pimms.
Anyway, I digress. Inside the Sphero box is a cricket sized ball of opaque plastic. A blue charging cradle with a US style charger and two lime green plastic ramps for performing tricks once you can control the orb. The very basic book of instructions tells you to charge the ball for three hours and then you can pair it to any Bluetooth device. And that’s where the fun and frustration started.
I tried pairing it to a Samsung Galaxy Tab, running Android 4.2.2 and it took the best part of the evening to pair it up. I followed the instructions, it showed in my connected devices but resolutely refused to connect. After many attempts, I called in my husband who did exactly what I did and still couldn’t get the Sphero to connect. Then randomly, it worked. No idea why but it suddenly decided it wanted to play.
Once paired, you then open the Sphero app you downloaded whilst it was charging and this introduces you to your basic control app, Defend. From this you can configure your Sphero and use the on-screen compass to drive it around your floor, picking up points for speed, style, tricks and colour changes. Great fun – once it’s paired! Again, it took a good ten minutes of holding the tablet a foot away from the orb and shouting “IT”S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU” every time the screen said “no Sphero found”!
This is stupidly fun and as I said earlier, a great way to waste time. Two points though, one it’s REALLY noisy on a wooden floor. And two, don’t let your dog think it’s a toy for him. I was able to level up quite quickly, gaining speed boosts, colour changes and the ability to do tricks by sending the ball up the ramps. And this game is adored by my kids – aged 6, 8 and 14 who could spend hours on it happily.
We decided to move onto some of the other apps available. I installed the Etch Sketch app to relive some of my childhood, but again it refused to pair with the Sphero, telling me I needed to pair despite clearly showing it was paired already. One of the featured apps is Rolling Dead which uses augmented reality to show zombies climbing up through your floorboards and crawling over your rug. Unfortunately this app is incompatible with the Galaxy tablet and won’t work at all on a Nexus 7 as there is no rear facing camera. It does work on my Nexus 4 and could be fab if you didn’t have to go back into the Defend app to constantly configure the orb’s directions.
At this point, I got really frustrated. I want to love this, I know it could be a Candy Crush substitute but the frustration is just too much. Oh and occasionally, it has a little tantrum and refuses to turn off so just spins around the living room of it’s own accord.
Like I said earlier, this could be down to it being a review model. But if you buy one for your kids at Christmas, take the time and a bottle of wine to set it up a few days before!