Sphero is back with the Bolt, its latest generation robot. If you ever have seen one of the Sphero’s robots before, you’ll know what to expect. It’s roundball robot that you can control with your gadget. The Sphero Bolt edition is livelier than other Sphero’s robot as it’s paired with a powerful coding to get kids interested in coding.
Sophisticated Transparent Ball
At first glance, the Sphero bolt looks like the Sphero SPRK+ at first but with the Bolt you get all the 8x8 LED Matrix moving and displaying data, directions or animations programmed using the Sphero Edu app for iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, Windows and Chrome. The design is almost a perfect transparent sphere, filled with many sensors you would find in your mobile phone such as light sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, locomotion motors, IR sensors and more can all be programmed through an accompanying app (along with a colorful dot-matrix display) in any combination you choose.
Bolt Auto-Senses Direction
One of the problems of Sphero robots since the original model has been trying to figure out which direction is forward. In the older models, you had to rotate the ball using the app, and blue light would appear on the ball, and the light would indicate which direction was forward — basically telling you where Sphero was about to go. But Sphero Bolt comes with a compass, and it works the same way as to the one included in your iPhone and how it works with any mapping apps (such as Google Maps). The compass enables a feature called "auto-aim" that automatically figure out which direction to go forward.
Speed And Battery
The Bolt runs a little bit slower than other models at just 4.5 miles per hour. The Bolt lasts for around 2 hours of full use thanks to its larger battery (better than some of the other Sphero robot.) It also gives you time to develop the code, test it, and make adjustments without needing taking breaks for a charge in the middle which can be quite annoying. Although Sphero is still using wireless charging, but this larger battery is working in conjunction with a faster charger.
The Bolt will survive underwater as it’s waterproof, and can be thrown around with force without damaging the delicate internals inside that see-through casing thanks to the polycarbonate outer layer which is extremely durable. The scratch-proof plastic shell is also great since it’s going to crash a lot into your walls.
Another best feature is that some of the blocks allow you to change the LED Matrix with different images. My favourite was making it display emojis. You can also customize the graphics on the LEDs for different games and activities. I think the best features of all in the SpheroEDU app is that you can download programs from other people or upload your own to share with others). You can now download different programs like a "Magic 8 Ball" and "Tic Tac Toe," and many more.
- Weight 200 g
- Top speed: 7.2 KPH
- Durable UV-coated clear plastic shell
- Bluetooth Smart connection (30 m range)
- Inductive charging (6 hour charge for 2+ hours of play)
- Dimensions: 73 x 73 x 73 mm (2.9 x 2.9 x 2.9 inches)
|The Good||The Bad|
What's in the Box
- Sphero BOLT
- Inductive Charging Base
- USB to Micro-USB charging cable
- Protractor with heading, directions, and clock
- Sticker she
- Quick Start Guide
- Free Sphero Edu app available for download - compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, Windows (coming soon), Chrome
One thing worth noting is that the Edu app doesn’t really help much on the introduction to young users to the concepts of block-based programming, and unlike some other robot ball’s there’s not a structured and clear series of lessons to work through. This means that as a coding tool, Bolt is best suited for kids or adults who have already mastered the basic program and want to use the Sphero to explore more complex options.
I think the Sphero Bolt is a well-designed product, but I'm not sure there's enough value to justify the A$249.95 price tag, especially when it's only an iterative improvement over the company's existing robots. However, the Bolt has added features that other robot ball doesn't have: it's waterproof, has a 100-foot Bluetooth range, and the compass that enables a feature called "auto-aim" that automatically figures out which direction is forward.