SPHERO BB- 8 You’ll have a ball

SFX - - Re­views - Ralph McQuar­rie de­signed an early ver­sion of R2- D2 who ran on a gi­ant ball bear­ing – a proto- BB- 8.

Blur­ring the line be­tween toy and func­tion­ing droid, this is the Star Wars ac­ces­sory ev­ery kid will want this Christ­mas – whether they’re four or 40. Ridicu­lously fun, en­dear­ingly cute and in­trigu­ing of physics, Sphero’s re­mote- con­trolled rolling replica pretty much se­cures BB- 8’ s early sta­tus as the break­out star of The Force Awak­ens.

Once you’ve down­loaded the app that turns your smart­phone into a Blue­tooth con­troller, BB- 8’ s in­ter­face is easy to use, whether you’re send­ing the droid around the room or mak­ing it nod.

Look be­yond your in­evitable sense of won­der, how­ever, and BB- 8 isn’t per­fect. While easy to con­trol on car­pet, it’s rather un­pre­dictable on a wooden floor. The voice recog­ni­tion is un­re­li­able; it’s no friend of your iPhone’s bat­tery life; and while the aug­mented re­al­ity “Mes­sage” func­tion that recre­ates “Help me, Obi- Wan Kenobi”- style pro­jec­tions is a fun idea, it’s doesn’t seem likely you’d want to use it more than a few times.

Still, it is a truly in­no­va­tive piece of kit, and be­cause BB- 8’ s soft­ware will be up­dated, the toy can only get bet­ter. This is ( just about) the droid you’re look­ing for. Richard Ed­wards

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