A unique music player that can be a novelty but also a true hobby. (June 13th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Sony
Price: $400 (2GB)
- Very fun to watch in action.
- In-depth choreography software, but easy to set on auto mode.
- Simple setup as a Bluetooth speaker.
- Customizable look.
- Expensive for what it does.
- No headphone jack.
- Programming an elaborate dance routine takes a long time.
- Speakers are good for the purpose, but not audiophile-level.
dancing and the control scheme
The Rolly's reason for being is its dance, and in practice the player is quite a sight to see.
With a fully choreographed performance, Sony's device is nearly its own disco. The Rolly is extremely animated: it pulses lights, flaps and spins its arms, and twirls around in a way that is almost uncannily human for a device without any limbs. It's unusually subtle, too, and will actually pitch itself at an angle or make very small movements if the dance routine calls for it.
More importantly, it's extremely entertaining to watch. Especially in front a crowd, the Rolly can't help but make you smile and even laugh; a gathering of friends couldn't help but stop and stare for several tracks at a time. In personal testing, it was just as hard to resist playing music. In that sense, the Rolly truly is ideal as a party trick or as a pick-me-up on a rainy day.
The Rolly in action; audio is removed in this version due to licensing rights.
The speakers themselves aren't especially loud but do a reasonable job of producing clear audio, even while the Rolly is on the move.
Controlling playback at first seems odd, but is actually quite simple and slightly more advanced than other screenless players, like the iPod shuffle. A very conspicuous play button controls either audio only or, with a double-tap, full dancing. Changing tracks is simple and involves either pushing the player forwards or back or twisting the wheels when the device is held on its side; the latter is also used to adjust volume. Sony thoughtfully uses an accelerometer and switches controls so that they're the same no matter which side is right-side up. Songs are also organized into groups for more elaborate routines, which gives the Rolly a rough equivalent of playlists.
The only true gripe with controlling the Rolly itself is the speed; while on the ground, skipping to a specific song or group can take a long time, especially if the 2GB of onboard storage is near full.