Hands-on review: updated: Sphero BB-8 with Force Band


BB-8, the lovable spherical droid from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, stole our hearts the moment we saw him on stage at the Star Wars Celebration in 2015. He had the chutzpah of R2-D2 but came in a more portable, technologically impressive package.

OK, he’s a rolling sphere – but still – it’s hard not to love him all the same.

We wanted one. And we were willing to risk a lifetime of lawsuits in order to get one – even if that meant sneaking onto the set of the next Star Wars film to get one of our own.

Thankfully, Sphero (formerly known as Orbotix), a startup electronics firm that shot to fame off the back of its first remote-controlled robot toy that goes by the same name, created a miniature BB-8 version of their toy. And it was love all over again.

It could react to its environment through a number of emotion-packed bleeps and bloops, display short visual messages from R2-D2 and C-3P0 or simply be let loose to explore its surroundings on its own volition.

We thought we had it all, but this month Sphero showed up with a new version of BB-8, one that could be controlled via a wearable that it called the Force Band.

Sphero BB 8 Force Band

The Band is available for pre-order now and will hit stores on September 30 with a retail price of $79.99 / €89.99 / £69.99 / AU$139.99. Or, if you want the new battle-worn BB-8 and the Band in one package deal, the Band can be purchased with the toy for $199.99 / €219.99 / £179.99 / AU$349.99.

Strap on the Force Band and you can control BB-8 through hand gestures – push the air to send him rocketing forward, twist your wrist to turn his head or pull him back by raising your arm to your chest Darth Vader-style.

To go along with the release of the Band and special edition battle-worn BB-8, Sphero is also updating the BB-8 app on iOS and Android to enable all sorts of new experiences that will excite wizened Jedi Knights and novice Padawans alike.