Sphero Mini is a tiny, app-controlled robot ball that will surely be a hit this holiday season. It comes in a variety of bright colors, and has several different ways to interact with it.
Sphero has been on a roll with new products.
After the original Sphero remote control ball, they’ve expanded to Star Wars droids, Cars characters and other products. More importantly, the company has pioneered new ways to interact with their toys, including working with Apple to build them into Swift Playgrounds.
Sphero Mini, one of the newest in the lineup, is basically a miniaturized version of their full-sized flagship sphere. I spent some time playing (for work purposes only, of course!) with the new Sphero Mini and put it into a short video for you to check out.
In this brief review, I’m going to touch on what Sphero Mini is, how you control it, what you can do with it and whether it is worth picking up for yourself or as a gift.
What is it?
Sphero Mini is a small plastic shell surrounding a weighted robot core. The shells are removable, which means they are replaceable, and you can even change up the color.
The core is where all the robotics lie.
It has a micro-USB port that is used for charging, a weight, some wheels and the rest of the electronics. When inside the enclosure, the inside stays upright and the exterior rotates around it. But make no mistake about it, packed inside this tiny little ball is a smart robot made up of a gyroscope, accelerometer and some LEDs.
What can you do with Sphero Mini?
That’s a good question! The simplest answer is that you can control the ball, via Bluetooth, from any smartphone or tablet. You can just drive it for fun, use the included bowling pins and cones to play a variety of games or use it for other applications.
Inside the Sphero app you can also use it as a controller for a variety of built in games.
You basically rotate Sphero in 3D space to control your character or ship in the different games. It’s actually a pretty cool experience to play this way!
How do I control it?
You can control your Sphero easily from within the Sphero Mini app. Since it is Bluetooth, you have about a 33-foot range to play with. Once charged, you can drive it around for about 45 minutes before needing to power up again.
There are several different driving modes in the app.
You can control it with a standard joystick, a fun slingshot method or by tilting your device.
Lastly, you can control the robot ball using your face, by making different faces and tilting your head. Right now, this does not use Face ID so it can be a little imprecise, but I can see improvements coming to it in the future.
It’s a wrap-up
As we wrap up, let’s take a look at Sphero Mini’s pros and cons.
- Replaceable, swappable shells
- Several different play modes, including built-in games
- Many fun ways to control
- Sphero Edu support makes it an education toy as well
- More affordable than full sized Sphero
- Includes several accessories
- Not as durable exterior
- Must be plugged in to charge
- Face control needs work
It still impresses me how Sphero was able to shrink down so much of their technology to create this tiny robotic ball. They’ve also done their best to work out several different ways to play with the ball instead of just driving it around aimlessly.
I think Sphero Mini is a fantastic gift idea that hits all the marks. It’s great for boys and girls, is customizable with the built-in LEDs or swappable shells, can be raced and played with together, as well as the upcoming educational component.
If you like Sphero Mini, you can find it on Amazon for just shy of $50. I stand by that this will be a fantastically liftable item this holiday. Let us know what you of Sphero Mini, down below.