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Sphero R2-D2 Droid


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Sphero R2-Q5 Droid


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Where was Sphero when I was a kid? When I was little, we had to make do with the Kenner Star Wars toys (remember them? They were actually pretty awesome in their day), while the kids of the 21st century have the Sphero R2-D2, the most authentic droid ever. Not fair. But better late than never, right?

Like most of us, Sphero seem to have become a bit Star Wars obsessed. Don’t worry Sphero, it’s an easy road to find yourself walking down. There are now 3 Sphero droids in the collection, R2-D2, BB-8, and BB-9E, and although they all fit together nicely, they’re not quite as closely related to Sphero products as you’d think. The droid set is in its own little niche corner, somewhere between memorabilia and robotics.

 

Watch or Play?

I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what the Sphero R2-D2 is. On the one hand, this is possibly the most realistic, true-to-film, consumer-friendly collectors replica ever. Period. At 17cm tall, Artoo holds a decent size, and I challenge you to find a single inconsistency between the Sphero design and the movie version. Here, I’ll save you some time; it’s not gonna happen. Attention to detail is unbelievable. To the point where you have to wonder if the Sphero team ever did anything except watch movies.

On the other hand, the feel of the droid isn’t what you’d expect from collectable memorabilia. The hard, plastic shell is a dead giveaway that there’s something more than meets the eye here, and that something is robotics. Classic elements of the Sphero and Sphero Mini can be seen in some places, with the droid intended to be moved around, played with, and programmed like the other Sphero products.

 

Playing & Programming

Sphero’s USP was, initially, its ball-shaped robotics. Hence the name. Spherical BB-8 was the perfect Star Wars tie-in for the brand, with evil twin BB-9E being a natural progression. But R2-D2 is different, and Sphero have definitely been forced out of their comfort zone with a ‘track’-based droid. It was a risky manoeuver, certainly, but luckily for Star Wars fans it’s a risk that paid off. In fact, maneuverability is actually better than with the spherical versions, with an absolutely fantastic range of movement. Artoo even works great on carpets, although he picks up anything and everything in his tracks. If you know anyone that never vacuums their carpets, then get them the Sphero R2-D2. They’ll be horrified!

There’s limited autonomous play, unfortunately, but there are ways for you and Artoo to play together. Draw and Drive mode is probably the most interactive and most interesting, although the Watch with Me feature is pretty cute. Only select movies are support right now, but perhaps that will change in future. A new little feature that wasn’t present on the BB-8 is a built-in speaker, which makes a massive difference with the Watch with Me mode. I’m sure Artoo is very happy not to have to learn to throw his voice!

 

App-Based Play

Like all Sphero products, Sphero R2-D2 is app-based. The app does work on most iOS and Android devices, although certain features, like Watch with Me, won’t work on very old devices. Much to the disappointed of many, instructions are provided through the app, with no easy-access paper option. Boo.

The good news though is connecting to the droid is a piece of cake. As long as bluetooth is turned on through your device, sync will be automatic. There’s also the new-ish Droids by Sphero app where you can control all 3 of your droids from one place. As if you needed another reason to collect the whole set!

 

Final Thoughts

Looks great, sounds great, moves great, and at the end of the day you’ll think this droid has just strolled straight out of your TV. They don’t come much more authentic than this. But it doesn’t ‘do’ much. The aesthetics are there, but the robotics do leave something to be desired. If this exact R2-D2 had been introduced by practically any brand other than Sphero, I’d absolutely be singing its praises. But from Sphero I do expect more in the way of programmable features and robotics-based, interactive fun.

If you think about this as a piece of collectible Star Wars memorabilia with bonus robotics features, rather than a robotics toy with a Star Wars theme, you and your buddy Artoo will get along just fine.

What’s in the Box

  • R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid
  • USB Charging Cord
  • Legal Guide

Sphero R2-D2 Droid
Design85%
Usability54%
Features81%
Fun88%
Addictability91%
80%Overall Score
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