Darkside buttonIf Darkside were a piece of music, it would be the Imperial March from Star Wars – slightly ominous with a dose of sinister on the side. Even before you have finished opening up the packaging, you get the feeling that it might become sentient and run you over in your sleep. So why would you want to have a robot with an attitude? Because it’s the most fun you can have with a USB charged robot ever –  that’s why.

We have previously reviewed the Sphero (what do you mean you haven’t seen that review? I thought you read everything I wrote. I’m hurt now) and it was fun for all both young and old and feline. The Darkside, however, was not a successful cat toy. One look at it and the cat fled, choosing to shed all over the bed in revenge for the traumatic sight of the dark wheeled wonder advancing upon it.

With everyone else though it was a huge hit. I generally gauge how popular an item is by un-boxing it and seeing how much blood is shed in the ensuing fight for ownership – and this, ladies & gentlemen was a very bloody battle for ownership indeed.

So what exactly is ‘Darkside’ and why did we all want one of our own?

What you get & what we thought

Ollie Darkside box

Darkside comes in a matte black box containing the robot itself, a change of tires and some snazzy hubs for the wheels. It also comes with a lead to charge via a USB port, an instruction leaflet and a little card that says “I AM THE DARKSIDE” “I OWN YOU.”

IMG_6553We played about changing the tires then plugged it in to charge via the USB charger.

IMG_6560 editThen the DARKSIDE sat, perched on the side of my desk watching, waiting, biding its time.IMG_6565

It took moments to download the Ollie app from the Apple app store, and once we’d opened it, the instructions were easy to follow. We named our Darkside and touched the iPad to it, and this automatically made the connection between the two via Bluetooth SMART with a range of 100 feet. There is a tutorial to get you used to the control interface, and you can actually change some of the handling features so that turning is tighter or the Darkside is faster. Not that this is a major consideration as the the top speed is 14 MPH.

It didn’t take long to have Darkside sprinting across the room, turning tight on some floors, drifting into corners on others. As well as driving, you can do some spectacular tricks, spinning, flipping and leaping off the steps. The Darkside, however, has a few tricks up its sleeve. Leave it unattended for 20 seconds, and it will come to life, spinning, leaping, flipping end over end – Darkside does not like to be ignored.
The boys are still fighting over ownership, and I refuse to relinquish it. If they want one they can buy one for themselves – I have gone completely over to the Darkside and you should too.

Technical Specs & Where to Buy

You can buy your Darkside direct from the Sphero store

What’s In the Box:

  • Darkside Ollie
  • 2 Nubby Tires
  • 2 Turbo Tires
  • 2 Prime Hubs
  • 2 Flux Hubs
  • USB charging cable
  • Quick Start guide
  • Free apps available on the App Store and Google Play

Tech Specs:

  • iOS & Android compatible
  • Top speed of 14 mph (6m/s)
  • Durable polycarbonate body
  • LED glow with customizable color settings
  • Bluetooth SMART instant connection (100-foot range)
  • USB charging (over 1 hour of drive time on a full charge)
  • Driving apps: Ollie, Draw N’ Drive
  • Programming apps: MacroLab, OrbBasic
  • Hackable and programmable internal robot
  • App updates that introduce new features and gameplay
  • Automatic firmware updates
  • Height: 4.7 inches / Length: 3.2 inches / Weight 8.5 ounces