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Sphero's 2B smartphone-controlled toy is quick, easy to control and a lot of fun (hands-on)

Brian Heater

We know, we know. Sometimes a poem just doesn't do it when it comes to a product announcement. Thankfully, Sphero's new budget 2B rolled into CES Unveiled just in time. The smartphone-controlled toy will retail for $100 when it drops in the fall -- that's $60 less than Sphero 2.0's current asking price. The company had a handful of models on the floor, and while all of them are prototypes, they worked remarkably well. We got the hang of it from the first moment we picked up the iOS app. It's responsive and handles a lot better than its predecessor right out of the box, no doubt owing to the slightly more traditional form factor -- that is, if you can use a word like "traditional" to refer to a device like this.

Also, in spite of being a prototype, the 2B is pretty rugged, as we found ourselves playing Sphero bumper cars. The rep we spoke with told us that the final version will likely have IR built-in, so multiple 2Bs can interact -- and with the lower price point, it'll be that much easier for people to pick up a couple of devices for their home. The final version will also have more lighting effects built-in. Those nub tires you see are removable, by the way, so you can customize your device. The company was also showing off a 2B rocking smoother tires, which was even faster, with speeds of up to 14 feet a second, a fair bit zippier than the pricier Sphero 2.0.

Gallery: Sphero 2B | 8 Photos

Nicole Lee contributed to this report.

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