Quick comparison review of the two BB-8 toys that came out Force Friday.
PRICE: Target $80 vs. Sphero $150. Obviously Target wins but that’s the only category they will win in this battle. The pricing pretty much paves the way to what you’re getting for in each item. Oh and Target’s a giant compared to Sphero (photo proof)
PACKAGING. Target’s version is made by Hasbro so expect your typical Hasbro cardboard. Sphero’s packaging is elite. It reminds me of Apple’s iPhone packaging.
START-UP. Target’s came with printed instructions, Sphero has nothing, as in nothing. Target’s require unscrewing the mechanism to open battery compartment for both ball (4 AA) and remote (2 AAA). Then placing mechanism inside the ball, and screw-lock. The you’re good to go. Shake the ball to turn it on, hold upside-down to turn off (yeah I know).
Sphero’s uses USB charging through a cool cradle, but the ball comes charged out of the box. You have to download an app for your phone or tablet which will act as the remote. On start-up, your mobile device will connect with the ball. Then you’re ready to go.
QUALITY. Target’s quality feels like your typical Fisher Price plastic. Even the remote looks like a little too “toddlerish”. While Sphero’s has that glassy glossy look and feel to it. It looks expensive.
CONTROL/MOTION. Target’s remote has 2 controls: forward/backward and left/right, the combination of both sends the ball to a straight or diagonal path. Ball’s speed depends on the type of flooring. Quality might be too smooth that it won’t get that full grip on wooden or concrete floors. I don’t have carpet so can’t do comparison. Battery life plays a role too. Even at its top speed (which I think is pretty slow), the momentum will cause the ball’s motion to wobble. It seriously looks like a drunken droid. But the control has the simplicity that anyone, any kid can control it.
Sphero’s controls can be tricky but you will get the hang of it. It uses your mobile device’s touch screen so it can be sensitive. The app gives you an option to change the ball’s movement speed. I had it in the fastest but later realized that having it in the slowest is best for indoor use with all these furniture around. The app also has “Patrol Mode” which puts the ball on auto and moves around the room on its own. The ball will go the opposite direction whenever it bumps an obstacle (wall or chair legs). It has built in lights and sounds through the app which gives the feeling that it is a fully functional droid. It’s not a learning robot. It won’t remember your room’s dimension or where the edge of the stairs is. It’s somewhat like a Roomba, but nerdier and doesn’t do any kind of vacuuming. The app also has preset motions like a square path, figure 8 path, a YES and NO motion, etc.
CONCLUSION. Sphero wins by a mile. One of those cases where you get what you paid for. Target is a TOY, while Sphero is a DROID, or at least the closest and cheapest we have for now. My 7 year old will find Target’s easier to use although he will say Sphero looks cooler and faster. My 11-month old hates both of them right now. His first exposure to a crazy moving toy, he’ll love it soon enough. Because of the price and functionality, I prolly wouldn’t leave my Sphero with my kids. While the ease of use and cheaper price of the Target, here go nuts with it! Adults might find the speed and wobbly movement of the Target a nuisance, especially in comparison to Sphero’s. So is Sphero’s BB-8 the best Star Wars toy ever? Yeah I think so.
THE FUTURE. I’m guessing a new model will come out every movie releases. I’m hoping an app update comes frequently with new movements and controls. Maybe a learning capability so the ball can recognize a room’s layout. Maybe something more rugged coz I wouldn’t even let this drop a stair step, and I cringe a little every time it bumps into a wall.
Sphero actually has some other cool toys. I might get the Ollie for myself and son. Until then, good luck to those still in the search for these devices. Target’s pretty much all but sold out. Sphero’s website is doing pre-orders. Their partner retailers are listed in their website. I know Best Buy and Apple stores are sold out.