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Sony Rolly Sound Entertainment Player Review – With Video

August 1, 2008 By Lauren Dragan

Click the images below for bigger versions:
Sony Rolly Blue Lit
White Sony Rolly
Sony Rolly in hand
Black Sony Rolly closed
Black Sony Rolly open

So You Think It Can Dance?

In a country where Hello Kitty is a goodwill ambassador and a brown toothy monster mascots public television, the Sony Rolly fits right in. But how will the self described “sound entertainment player” fare in the decidedly less kawaii-obsessed US? We decided to give one a spin to find out.

Sony Rolly Blue Lit

The Sony Rolly isn’t the first mp3-playing gadget to emerge on the scene, but it certainly stands out. It arrived cradled like a jewel in its packaging that hid the manuals, USB cord, etc: leaving just the smooth, egg-shaped beauty perched on top. For the tech nut, it’s an experience akin to a girl opening her first little blue Tiffany’s box. I admit it—I was excited.

After noting its surprising heft of just over 11 ounces, I pawed through the rest of the box to find the included rechargeable battery. Alas, it did not come pre-charged, and I was forced to read through the instruction manual while waiting for it to juice up via my USB port.

As I did, I hit my first snag. The Rolly does not include Mac-compatible software, so although it may remind one of an Apple product, Mac fiends will be forced to go to their PC pals to utilize any of the Rolly’s functions. Undaunted, I sought out a friendly PC and got busy installing.

Aside from its looks, what makes the Rolly unique is its user interface. With Sony’s G-Sensor technology, the Rolly knows whether it is horizontal or vertical. Based on its positioning, one or both ends of the egg fold out like wings to reveal the speakers. The rubberized wheels around the circumference are used to control track changes, volume, and various function changes based on the end that is up.

When placed horizontally on a surface, a quick roll skips through tracks, and a long roll alters the volume. Twist the Rolly away from you and it snaps back to face you. And integrated Bluetooth technology means you can use the Rolly as auxiliary speakers for paired devices such as a cell phone. But if you’re like me, all of that was just a prelude to the main attraction: the Rolly can dance.

When the Rolly is in dance mode, those little wings flap in time to the music, the wheels rotate together or independently, and rings of LEDs boast a whopping 700 shades of color that flash to the beat. Cynics beware: The result is utterly adorable.

White Sony Rolly

While the Rolly can automatically dance to any loaded music, the moves are bland when compared to the choreographed tunes that are pre-loaded or that can be programmed with the included software. After I tired of the small and bizarre mix of included songs (ranging from Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra to Avril Lavigne) I decided to try my hand at creating some fierce moves of my own.

Although the software is relatively easy to use for the savvy, it does not have a tutorial, and could have a learning curve for the uninitiated. But let’s face it; chances are your grandma isn’t buying this thing. The Rolly Choreographer allows you to transfer mp3s and create dance files that can also be shared with friends. Individual motion tracks allow for independent movement of each wing, wheel, shoulder, and ring of LEDs. Users can cut and paste pre-programmed moves, or do everything from scratch.

While the software is easy to use, hand creating a fully choreographed song is rather tedious. After deciding that the Rolly was born for disco, I spent a full five hours creating a detailed dance to Abba. Yes, five hours on a three minute, eight second song. Somehow, I doubt most people will have that kind of time on their hands. But the result is pretty impressive, especially in low light conditions. Check out our video below if you want to see the Rolly put through its paces.

Sony Rolly in hand

All in all, the Rolly kept me enthralled for a week or so, and then tended to sit silently on my desk. It’s not to say we didn’t have good times together, it’s just that the Rolly is far from what one might call practical. For one thing, there are no sensors to keep the little dancing mochi ball from rolling right off the desk into gadget oblivion. And the speakers might be fine for a quiet room, but one certainly can’t host a dance party to them.

And there’s the purchase price.

At $399, no one can accuse the Rolly of being a cheap date. But while the Rolly may not be practical, it does live up to all promises and expectations. And really, what more can we ask for? So let critics say what they will, but I’m still smitten. The Rolly may be frivolous, but if you have the cash, why not add a little egg of joy into your life? The Rolly is impractical, exotic, weird and wonderful. And who knows? There may be a few us who need just that.

PRICE: $399 Available in white and black
CONTACT: 800.222.7669, sonystyle.com


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