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.
While the Rolly comes preloaded with a handful of songs, the expectation is that owners will ultimately want to add their own; to that end, an Rolly Choreographer is bundled in that both syncs music and helps create dance routines.
On a basic level, there's very little effort required to create a dance for a new track; it can automatically scan a song and create a simple dance with very little intervention. Suffice it to say that this feature alone can be a timesaver for users with large music collections or who simply aren't patient enough to create new routines every time. There's also a website maintained by Sony, named Rolly Go, that hosts user-made routines for those who want more elaborate dances without the extra effort.
Actually creating a routine on one's own isn't especially difficult, but it's here that some casual users might be scared away; a truly impressive routine can take a long time. The same flexibility that makes the dances themselves so interesting to watch can consume much of your free time. Depending on the intricacy of the dance itself, expect under an hour for a basic routine to a few hours for a very elaborate pattern. This unfortunately makes it impractical to create a routine every time and largely limits dance creation to just a few favorite songs.
This does create a sense of community, however. Since it's relatively easy to publish videos online, the Rolly does lend itself well to hobbyists. There was little time to test much of this for the purposes of this review, but it's entirely conceivable that a Rolly could work well as a less complicated substitute to Lego Mindstorms or another robotic kit.
An unusual feature of the Rolly is its built-in Bluetooth. No matter how quickly the novelty of a dancing music player wears thin, the device can always serve as a wireless stereo for cellphones and computers.
Pairing the Rolly with a cellphone is comparatively simple and took just a matter of seconds with a test phone. Sound is clear and largely unaffected by the wireless signal, though the compact size of the speakers stops the Rolly from becoming a full replacement for an audio system.
That, in turn, raises concerns about the usefulness of the feature. Bluetooth speakers are still a niche market outside of in-car speakerphones; the likelihood that someone will use a device with the size and focus of the Rolly to play music from a cellphone or a computer is still quite slim, particularly with the limits put in place by Sony. The Rolly only works with stereo Bluetooth-capable devices and won't dance to any of its existing Choreographer routines in wireless mode.