Orbotix Ollie Review [Video]

Orbotix’s Ollie is an app-controlled Robot car with solid battery life, some cute stunts, and something of an aversion to soft, sandy soil.
Ollie is described by Sphero as, and I quote, “An App-Driven Robot Driven By Adrenaline”. Quite frankly, that sounds terrifying, because you’d have to find some kind of living source to scare witless, harvest the adrenaline into Ollie and then be ready to go.
Thankfully that’s just hype, and what Ollie really is is a app controlled remote vehicle with some cool inbuilt stunts. He pairs to iOS or Android devices via Bluetooth in a very simple fashion; you quite literally hold Ollie to your device to intiate pairing, and then drop him on the ground to start playing.

He’s very reminiscent of some of the other remote control big boys toys I’ve been playing with recently, especially Parrot’s Jumping Sumo remote vehicle, although Ollie has a few differences. He’s a little bit tougher, both in construction and in how you actually drive him. The App does a fair job of explaining what you need to do in order to drive Ollie, but the issue is that all of his directions are relative rather than absolute, and he slides a lot as he drives, especially if you don’t dial down his top speed.
This means you’ll easily crash a lot, and lose track of where you are. The addition of the stunt pad, which you access by turning your connected device into landscape mode only muddies the waters here. Ollie’s makers Orbotix say that there will be more apps for Ollie, as there are for the more expensive Sphero, but for now all you’ve got is driving and stunts.
You can adjust Ollie’s drive patterns for soft or hard surfaces, but there’s no getting away from the fact that Ollie works much, much better on harder surfaces. Put him on sandy soil, or uneven surfaces outside and unless he’s already got momentum to skip over something, the chances are high he’ll get stuck.
Despite all of this, Ollie is pretty good fun in the same way that a remote control car is fun, but with the added prospects of future expansion. He’s also noteworthy over the more expensive Parrot Jumping Sumo, because a full charge on Ollie lasts around an hour, compared to the ten to fifteen minutes of life that the Jumping Sumo offers.

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