We take Sphero, the new robotic ball, for a spin

Sphero, the new high-tech robotic toy ball that you control from your iOS or Android smartphone, is finally shipping. CNET takes it for a ride.

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It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

That's a quote from the movie "This is Spinal Tap," but it could just as well apply to the Sphero, a new high-tech, $130 robotic ball that's well, either pretty stupid or pretty clever, depending on how you look at it. (We first encountered Sphero at CES 2011.)

Let's start with the clever. The concept of wirelessly controlling a ball and steering it around with your smartphone is certainly intriguing, and people's initial reaction to seeing Sphero in action is usually a mix of curiosity and a bit of awe. "Wow, that's cool," is a frequent observation.

The ball connects via Bluetooth to your Android or iOS-enabled mobile device. It's easy to set up and get going. At launch there are a handful of apps available that allow you to drive it around and even play a few games with it, including a variation of golf. Though we didn't have a chance to test it yet, you'll be able to upload "scores," as well as images and videos of your Sphero in action to Sphero World, the company's social-media play.

You can steer a couple of ways. There's the standard virtual joystick method but I preferred the tilt mode that allows you to turn and tilt your device to drive. You can change Sphero's color and it moves along at a fairly good clip, especially when you engage the boost button. As for battery life, it gets about an hour of drive time before you have to charge it using the included induction charger and stand.

The Sphero comes with an inductive charger and gets about one hour of drive time on a full charge. Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
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