If you’re looking for a fun, interactive gift with some technical flair to it for your little one, you might consider the Sphero Ollie robot. This type of robot will provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for your child. However, the Sphero Ollie robot doesn’t have to be just a toy. It also offers programming and educational possibilities as well. But before we get too deep into all the features and functions of the Sphero Ollie robot, we'll first address exactly what it is.
What Is a Sphero Ollie Robot?
The Sphero Ollie robot is an app-enabled, portable robot developed and manufactured by Sphero. Sphero, well known in the world of robot toys, most recently became popular for its BB-8 robot. The Ollie includes many tricks in its portfolio, including the ability to spin, drift and drive.
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Sphero Ollie Robot Specs
With your Ollie, you’ll get plenty of high-quality functionality. Here are some of the specifications that set the Sphero Ollie apart from other devices on the market:
- 4.7 inches long
- Reaches 14 MPH
- Only 8.5 ounces
- Works up to 100 feet away
- Supports both iOS and Android
- Comes in a polycarbonate shell
Customers really enjoy the Sphero Ollie robot, giving the device 4.1 stars out of 5 on its Amazon page. Most users rave about how much their children enjoy the product, talking specifically about the ability to program the device and then control it via a smartphone.
Some folks claim the device does not work right or charge well, but they are in the minority. Many others have nothing but positive things to say about their experience.
Currently, you can pick up a Sphero Ollie robot on Amazon, Walmart, and the Ollie store. Prices vary depending on where you’re buying the device, as well as whether you decide to go with the white model that offers various trim colors, or the Darkside version.
How Does it Stack Up?
There are many small robots available today, so how does the Sphero Ollie robot compare with other robot devices? Let’s take a look at how the Sphero Ollie robot does against the Ozobot robots and Dash and Dot robots.
The Sphero Ollie robot is perhaps the easiest of the three to pair. Simply place it on your device, and you’re ready to go! The Dash and Dot robot pairs easily as well; however, the Ozobot struggles with anything that has a case and cannot connect to anything smaller than nine inches.
Included with the Sphero Ollie robot are some ramps that make playing with it exciting, but many users have shared that they enjoy using books and cardboard to create ramps of their own. The Dash and Dot robot does not come with any accessories. However, you can purchase a few options. Likewise, the Ozobot does not include accessories, yet you can use Crayola markers to draw lines for the robot to follow.
By longevity, we mean the lifespan of the robot based on how rough users are with it. The Sphero Ollie robot, for example, is a very tough little device. It moves along at high speeds, crashes into furniture, and keeps right on trucking.
Dash and Dot robots are similar in toughness to the Sphero Ollie. However, there is concern about what happens to the robot when it’s picked up by the head. Comparatively, the Ozobot simply isn’t built to last
From a usability perspective, the Ollie could use a little help. Since the device is so fast, it can be difficult to drive the device. This is especially true for smaller children, so it might be wise to leave the driving to older elementary and middle-school aged children.
The Dash and Dot, on the other hand, is perfect for children of all ages, while the Ozobot is ideal for kids aged in the fifth grade and up.
While the Sphero Ollie robot offers plenty of perks and benefits, it does have a few drawbacks. It compares and stacks up nicely against other robot toys available today. It’s not overly complicated, can withstand the rough play that is common with most children, and is easy to set up and use.
How We Reviewed
Reviewing the Sphero Ollie robot was done by reading articles published by may reputable technology sites. These include The Guardian, Mashable, Gizmodo, and Slashgear. All offered insightful reviews that provided plenty of information. Some sites were more thorough than others, but each site included its own unique viewpoint.
Sphero Ollie Robot
Now that we’ve discussed some of the specifications of the Sphero Ollie Robot, its price range, and how it stands up against its competitors, let’s take a deeper look at the Sphero Ollie Robot.
The Sphero Ollie Robot is a tube-shaped device that gives it the ability to get around very quickly. With this design, the robot can navigate both outdoor and indoor terrains with ease. Encased in a hard polycarbonate shell, you don’t have to worry about whether or not this device can withstand the impact of running into walls. It goes without saying that the Sphero Ollie robot is very durable.
With its one-of-a-kind LED glow, the Sphero Ollie gives you the capability of lighting up your robot in various colors. This means your little one can enjoy their robot no matter what time of day.
Additionally, your child can customize the Ollie to his or her liking. The robot has interchangeable hubcaps and tires, which come in several color options. The tires, for instance, come in black, pink, red, and green.
All these customization capabilities mean your child can give their Sphero Ollie robot a look and feel they want. It can be personalized to their desires. The drawback, however, is that the additional hubcaps and tires do not come with the device, so you will have to purchase them separately.
You can control your Sphero Ollie robot with an Android or iOS application on your smartphone or tablet. It provides a joystick-type control interface, along with a trick pad that makes use of touch gestures which initiate certain tricks. Some of these tricks include spinning around or jumping off the floor, but we’ll get more into those later.
Included in the mobile app is a walkthrough guide that teaches you how to use the trickpad and the joystick. It’s not as robust as it could be, though, and Ollie would do well to provide users with a little more guidance and information.
Aside from that, the mobile application determines when you perform a specific trick and tells you more about it. There is additional information about the tricks, but there’s still something left to be desired. For instance, children might enjoy seeing built-in game capabilities or a more interactive tutorial.
The Sphero Ollie robot does some pretty impressive tricks, and your children will really enjoy showing off its capabilities to their friends. Keep in mind that if the robot is indoors, you’ll want to create enough space for it to maneuver freely. It’s a quick robot, and it might easily go bouncing off things or crashing into furniture.
You can perform tricks on both carpeting and hardwood flooring. However, you might have to make some adjustments in the mobile application to get the best performance on various surfaces. Additionally, you can set up courses and ramps for the Sphero Ollie robot, which will help your child learn how to control the device better.
The interactive play aspect of the Sphero Ollie robot is fantastic. You can’t just sit on the couch and control the device; you have to get up and move around with it. Your child will be actively moving around as they set up courses and challenges for the device. It helps to improve hand-eye coordination and develops some basic engineering skills as well.
You don’t have to keep your Sphero Ollie robot indoors, as it can be played with outside as well. Just keep in mind that the robot is not waterproof, so it’s important that you keep it dry. Taking the device outside is a great way to get your kids outdoors. Take your children to a park and let them really see what the robot can do.
While the Sphero Ollie robot is fun to play with, it’s also educational. It can be programmed using Sphero’s SPRK lab application. Using SPRK, you can drag and drop the programs you want to use to control the robot. If you’ve used Blockly or Scratch, you’ll be comfortable using SPRK, as it has a similar interface.
Your children will probably take to the programming feature immediately. They may need a little help here and there, but overall the application is intuitive and easy to use. Most children enjoy the programming aspect of the robot as it gives them more control over how the device behaves.
The SPRK application offers a few sample programs which you can access when you create an account. With these programs, you’ll have the ability to control the accelerometer, which means there are some advanced opportunities for children within the SPRK environment. Seeing the Sphero Ollie robot do something you told it to do is a great motivator when learning how to program.
Included with your Sphero Ollie robot is a USB charger. Just like with your smartphone, you simply plug the cable into the port on the device, and it will begin charging. Also like many smartphones, the battery is built into the robot, so there is no way for it to be removed. The robot is powered by a lithium polymer battery.
Once you’ve fully charged your robot, you’ll get about an hour’s worth of play with it if you have it going full throttle the entire time. Just like with any other type of electronic device, the less stress you place on it, the longer the battery will last. Typical charge time for the Sphero Ollie robot is about three hours.
For those that are looking for more advanced applications, the device offers a Sphero Draw app. With this application, you can choose a specific color and draw a path for the device to follow. If you have a few Crayola markers lying around, these should do the trick.
Also available is the Tynker Kids coding application. This is a great example of the programming that provides the on-screen touch controls for the device. If you have younger children, this might be a better option than the more advanced main application.
Pros and Cons
Of course, no device is perfect, and the Sphero Ollie robot is no exception. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of this fun-filled device.
Is the Sphero Ollie Robot Worth It?
The Sphero Ollie robot is a pretty awesome little device. It’s a really neat tech toy that offers plenty of entertainment for children. It encourages and motivates them to use engineering skills to create challenges while offering plenty of room for programming and coding.
While some children might only enjoy showing off some of the cool tricks the robot can perform, if they put in a little more effort, they’ll really get to a point where they can enjoy the benefits of the device. With a little time and dedication, any child can learn a lot from the Sphero Ollie robot.
This little robot offers a lot of technology for your money. It provides various programming applications that work for children of all age groups. With its features and functionalities, the same child will be able to continue using their Sphero Ollie robot even as they continue to grow.