Does It Work? BB 8 - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Does It Work? BB 8

The Sphero BB 8 The Sphero BB 8
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

It's a little over a light-month away: Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released December 18, but there are already dozens of licensed toys and products on the market.

It's a little pricey for a "toy", but we got our hands on what many are calling the best Star Wars toy ever: The BB-8 Droid. Ahh, but Does It Work?

BB-8 is an app-enabled droid. Pretty much a remote controlled ball. Something a company called Sphero had made before, so when Disney showed Sphero their plans for BB-8 in the Star Wars film…that got the ball rolling.

"Man that kind of itches.Teleportation? Star Wars or Star Trek? I don't know. Does it matter? Because I'm so excited to try out the BB-8. Man, that itches too," I said about the transporter beam.

BB-8 uses induction charging via an included base. It also includes BB8's body, the magnetic head, and a micro USB cable.

"Let's see if I can still do this," I said as I threw the plug into the outlet.

 "I still got it."

A three-hour charge gets you one hour of play. The BB-8 app is free; install, launch and:

"Star Wars music and you hold the phone near it. Look it lit up," I said.

You're presented with four different modes.

"There's drive, message, patrol and settings," I observed, "Let's take him for a drive.

The blue light tells you where BB8's backside is. Get the light pointed toward you and pressing forward on the virtual joystick should send BB-8 rolling away from you.

Important to note. BB-8 makes sound through your smart phone's speakers.  The baseball sized droid itself is silent but the effect is great. Lots of personality in this little guy.

"This is how you change his direction, and this drives him," I said looking at the app.

BB's speed is adjustable up to about 4 and a half miles per hour. Steering is a little tricky, but there's also some preprogramming,

"We're going to get him to go in a figure eight like this," I said selecting the option on the phone.

And it made a pretty good figure eight. It can also go on patrol, exploring and learning the room for later. When it hits something, the app logs it as an "enemy" and avoids that in the future.

Besides the pure genius of his engineering, this is the real "Wow" feature-- BB-8's Holographic projector. Record a message with your phone's camera through the BB-8 app. Point your phone at BB-8 and then watch the droid simulate projection just like the movies.

"Mr Spock, I need you. You're the only one that can help. Please send Artie-Dootie as soon as possible," the hologram warned.

Just like on Star Track Episode IV.

BB-8's durability and range are excellent. I never lost control from 40 yards away.

He's faster on hard floors, but his magnetic personality picks up dust, fuzz, hair and other debris equally badly on hard floors and carpet. Every once in a while he'll need a cleaning on the tiny wheels under his head.

"Oh, BB-8, that looked like one of the Duck Dynasty's guys beards," I commented.

So, Does it Work?

The BB-8 has just the right amount of clumsy charm to make it a hit even if you don't like romantic comedy movies set in space.

"Is that camera a little close for you?" I asked BB-8.

"No, no, no," BB replied.

"So, Does it Work? We give it a yes. Na-noo, na-noo..is that right?" I asked.

The BB-8 is going to be hard to come by and a hot Christmas item. If you find one and you have the $150 to spend, grab it when you can.  Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond get them in periodically. You might be able to find them online as well.

There is another version of the BB-8 sold exclusively at Target stores for $80.  It's more of a toy, quite a bit larger and slower.  It works with a remote control instead of a phone and doesn't have all the features…but it is a nice, functional, showpiece toy for collectors. Check out our Does It Work WebXtra review of that toy here.

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