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  5. SPHERO Star Wars BB-8 BATTLE WORN review with FORCE BAND

SPHERO Star Wars BB-8 BATTLE WORN review with FORCE BAND



SPHERO Star Wars BB-8 BATTLE WORN review with FORCE BAND


NAnd the new movie from the Star Wars series has just appeared on the silver screen – Rogue One. And let’s remind you that the first movie of the saga was made in 1977.

This is a good time to present the last gadget that came to me for testing from ALSTOR, the owner of the iCorner.pl brand. It’s about the new edition of the BB-8 with the FORCE BAND, a robot that in the last installment of star wars has worthily replaced the well-worn, iconic R2-D2. BB-8 that reached me is the second edition of this toy. The first one premiered last year on the occasion of the premiere of “The Force Awakens”, in which BB-8 debuted.

The toy is a device based on a Sphero robot ball.

The new generation of BB-8 from Sphero has gained a new, more worn-out color scheme of the base station and the robot itself, as well as the FORCE BAND band, thanks to which we can control the movement of the BB-8 using hand gestures or voice commands. Sounds nice? And how!

What’s in the sales kit?

The BB-8 APP-ENABLED Droid With FORCE BAND set looks like a collector’s set for a true Star Wars fan.

The solid cardboard packaging presents the main characters of the set. The FORCE BAND band, which we find right after opening, looks a bit like a smartwatch.

However, it is not equipped with any screen. In addition to the band, we also find a metal box signed Special Edition (and how, I guessed!). This is where BB-8 is dormant, waiting to be launched …

May the force be with you!

BB-8 in this version looks like after a battle. It is much more “tired” than the model that was presented last year. Its name BATTLE-WORN also confirms. I admit that I like it much more in this version. It is so natural, less toy than the first generation, shiny.

The robot itself is small. The main element of the device is the Sphero ball. However, it does not work with other Sphero applications, just like the standard Sphero does not work with the Star Wars application.

There is a moving robot’s head on the ball. It is not permanently attached to the device, as in the original. The ball is held by the Sphero thanks to a magnet, and it is moved by a movable magnet inside the Sphero and the small plastic wheels at the base of the head.

Thanks to the fact that the Sphero has a head that rotates in an extremely natural way, allowing the device to show various emotions, the toy acquired a very “human” character. It’s just cool and probably will appeal to younger users.

The whole thing is completed by BB-8 moving every now and then for no reason whatsoever. When I connected the base station to my computer’s USB and set the BB-8 on it to be charged, after a while BB-8 woke up and started shaking his head. I was watching something on YouTube right now. You would have to see my expression when this is where BB-8 turned towards the monitor as if he wanted to watch it with me …

“OK, BB-8”

With these words, we can wake up the robot and then give it voice commands. We can ask him how he is feeling or what he thinks. Order a look around and many other commands. And BB-8, of course, will follow our orders and answer our questions.

Unfortunately, only in a language known to him. On the other hand, commands must be spoken in English. However, this may convince our children to learn this language. After all, who wouldn’t want to talk to BB-8?

Control

Let me start with the fact that before you start driving around your homes, you must reduce the speed to a minimum, and then increase it with practice. Sphero, although it is a small, inconspicuous ball, can accelerate up to 2m / s, which when moving around in an apartment is really dizzying speed, which is difficult to tame. It is different if we play in the park away from the street. Then you can go crazy.

The device is controlled using the Sphero BB-8 application. Communication takes place via Bluetooth Smart, so after starting the application, just bring the iPhone closer to it to establish communication (NFC substitute? ;-).

Then, from the main menu, select Drive to start manual control using the manipulator displayed on the screen, Patrol if we want the robot to start exploring our apartment on the “autopilot” or Draw & Drive if we want to draw a “map” with the way to go.

Manual operation on Drive is child’s play. The displayed manipulator is large and thanks to it the control is relatively comfortable and easy to grasp even for a few-year-old child. Anyway, as I am talking about, today’s children with controlling different characters on their tablets are doing better than learning an analog clock. As long as we make sure BB-8’s speed is low at the beginning, learning the controls will be quick and fun.

It is worth noting, however, that while the BB-8’s head-facing function is turned on, it is it that determines the direction in which we are moving. In addition to remote control, the robot can also make some gestures to show its mood. To do this, touch the icon on the right with such a curled arrow. It launches a list with three gesture screens that BB-8 can execute. He can show that he agrees or disagrees, he can show his displeasure, confusion, pissed off or fear that makes him want to run where the pepper grows.

This, combined with the constant movement of the robot, even if we do not use it, and the sounds emitted by the phone’s speakers, make the toy extremely funny and still alive.

Augmented reality

Another gadget in BB-8 is the Message function, which triggers a holographic projection like in a movie. Although I will probably disappoint you, it does not mean that the gadget is equipped with a holographic projector (which is a pity ;-). Augmented reality, using a camera built into the phone, is used to display the hologram with the message sent.

With its help, we can record a video message in which we will appear ourselves, and then display it in the form of a hologram, unfortunately only seen on the screen, but still making a good impression. I must admit that Sphero did his best to make the BB-8 toy not only a dyed Sphero ball, but actually a toy that fully reflects the world of Star Wars.

Watch with Me, i.e. we watch a movie together

At first, I did not fully understand how this function works. I just put it on a YouTube video to see how it works in practice (I don’t have a copy of SW) I got euphoric. With the Star Wars movie The Droid Awakens, our BB-8 will be happy to keep us company while watching. However, he will not be a passive viewer, and during the film he will make gestures, make sounds, all in line with the film!

After activating this function, we are asked to place the robot on the charging station with the cable connected. In addition, we must have a phone on the charger. The phone records the soundtrack of the video and performs gestures according to what is happening on the screen. Chad! Any disadvantages? No Polish language support. There is English, German, French, Chinese …

Force Band

FORCE BAND was shown for the first time at this year’s CES, where it generated a lot of interest. The design of the device strongly refers to the Star Wars saga. It looks a bit like a cyberpunk smartwatch. Although it is made of plastic, it is a very solid plastic. The adjustable Velcro strap allows you to put the armband on a very slender children’s hand, but also on an adult.

If you are going to buy BB-8 with an armband for your young child, you don’t have to worry that it will be too big for him. Learning how to use FORCE BAND can be a much bigger challenge. Although, as you know, kids can cope with such gadgets much faster than adults.

To run FORCE BAND, you need the Star Wars Force Band application for our iOS or Android device. The program allows you to get acquainted with the control using the wristband. The instruction is amazing!

The producer has prepared a kind of game in which we control the BB-8 robot and we have to escape from the alien attacking us. During the game, there are gestures on the phone screen that we must make for BB-8 to move forward, back or turn in the right direction.

This is how we learn to steer the ball. During the game, we will also be shown a way to find hidden holograms, thanks to which we will obtain new items (e.g. a pistol, which we can also shoot with the gesture of detection through the armband).

Although the device does not have a screen, it is equipped with a vibration motor, RGB LED diode, a loudspeaker and a number of sensors. It is through them that the band communicates with us, and we give commands to the robot. FORCE BAND is a gadget in itself, so it can work completely autonomously. It is also sold separately, not just bundled with the BB-8.

Without BB-8, we can go through a short introduction in the form of the aforementioned game (my blood flooded me, unfortunately so short, because it looks great), but also have fun in virtual reality – look for objects (so-called holograms) hiding weapons, ships or heroes movie. We can shoot at ourselves or … control the BB-8 robot without a smartphone.

Controlled by FORCE BAND

At first, the control with the headband was like a rubble. It turned out that I was doing it wrong from the beginning, because I just put the wristband on the other side, and you need the charging connector opposite to your hand. I put it on the other way around and BB-8 was reluctant to obey my gestures-orders.

After the band was properly put on, it went much better. Here I will mention the reduction of the robot’s speed again.

It is really much easier to tame it when it is moving relatively slowly. Gesture control is colored by the sounds coming from the built-in speaker of the band with the characteristic voice from the movie. Bajer and great fun.

To sum up

Although I’m not an exaggerated Star Wars fan, I have watched most of the parts in my life. This allowed me to look at the Sphero BB-8 as simply a gadget, not a movie gadget. Admittedly, the manufacturer has done a lot to make Star Wars fans love their BB-8 madly. The toy is amazing, vital and I think it is very difficult to get bored with. The introduced functions can absorb for many hours of fun.

Unfortunately, the operating time of a fully charged battery is about 20-30 minutes. It is not a lot, but it is also not little, taking into account the dimensions of the device and the need to pack the battery, motors, magnets, etc. inside. The price of PLN 799 remains. Can you swallow it? In my opinion, it’s worth it, even though it’s not cheap …

The Sphero BB-8 was lent for testing purposes by ALSTOR, the owner of the iCorner.pl store

SPHERO Star Wars BB-8 BATTLE WORN review with FORCE BAND

Benefits Defects
  • An amazing gadget not only for Star Wars fans
  • Solidly constructed, resistant to water and impacts
  • Possibility of smartphone control, voice commands and gestures
  • Range up to 60 meters
  • Easy to pair with a smartphone.
  • price
  • There is no Polish language version
  • Quite time-consuming software updates for both devices