Sphero Mini looks like a ping-pong ball, rolls like BB-8
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Sphero Mini looks like a ping-pong ball, rolls like BB-8

Gadgets
Before BB8, Sphero was a robotics company that made little rolling robot balls. The Sphero Mini is like the larger Sphero, but a lot smaller. It's about the size of a ping pong ball, rolls around, lights up, and runs for about 45 minutes to an hour on a charge. Unlike the larger Sphero, Sphero Mini isn't waterproof, and it doesn't have a cool wireless inductive charger Instead, you pop the rolling engine out of its plastic housing and plug it into micro USB. Including mini pins let you use it for bowling. The IOS and Android app handles controls with joystick, tilt, and even face controls, which worked so-so. Smiling, frowning, tilting your head. Or use it to control a few arcade games built into the app. Sphero Mini has extra plastic shelves sold separately which snap on and off. The internal LED lights can flash all sorts of colors. It's also programmable via Spheros EDUF. It's mostly a super clever remote controlled phone toy, and, yes, you need a phone or a tablet to control it. But it's affordable enough to be a stocking stuffer. At fifty dollars it's also bound to hypnotize all of your children and cats.

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