As robot projects for kids go, the Sphero Ollie doesn't look like much. It isn't a giant spider like the Arcbotics Hexy or a walking, talking android like the Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0. But you'll like how it rolls. Literally. Ollie is a small cylinder with LED lights that can spin its way across the floor or around a skateboard half pipe, without the attendant risk that your children will break any bones doing a backside 180 kickflip. (Ollie's polycarbonate shell is more difficult to break than most human skeletons.) You control Ollie through a smartphone app that includes a dial that speeds up and slows down his spin, as well as changes the glowing LED's on the middle and ends of his "body." Sphero claims that there are hundreds of different trick combos an imaginative youngster can conjure up from the app, which may or may not include knocking down tables and planters.
Ollie is simple but looks like a lot of fun. He's programmable using the Sphero MacroLab, an app that hones young programming skills (and maybe your own) while giving Ollie a chance to show off his own skill set. Don't let him get bored, though, or he might start performing tricks on his own. (Seriously. This is a feature.) There are additional apps for Ollie that will let your kid (or you) play real-world computer games with Ollie as the star. (Don't let him find out about Grand Theft Auto or you may never see him again.) There are extra parts like colored hubcaps in his box and more accessories can be ordered online. He can also use an assortment of tires, in case you want something with more grip for off-road racing. He can move at up to seven miles per second, so he won't break any speed records, but he can outrun anybody except a budding Olympian. You can control up to 50 Ollies at the same time without interference between their Bluetooth signals, but you'll need 50 smartphones to do it. Your neighbors' kids can bring their own.
If you want a less speed-intensive robot that will still teach your kids basic programming skills, try the Makeblock Codeybot.
It's a pretty entertaining way to burn through time but it's the kind of toy that takes more than a few hours to master.
Ollie is super fun! He is quick to charge and get set up but a bit of a handful to learn basics with at times.
These are great to play with and seemingly indestructible. Even the little kids in the neighborhood can operate this.
Ollie works great! The control is very precise, which makes it fun. Once you learn its controls, it is fun to drive around!
Trick mode is great, and even a beginner can open up the app and start making Ollie do some pretty awesome things...It’s extremely easy, and lots of fun.
Overall, I like Ollie. It’s fast, fun, and a bit unpredictable.