CES – the best phone add-ons

There were plenty of new phones on show at CES including Nokia’s pumped up LTE enabled Lumia 900, LG’s rather tasty looking Nitro HD, and Motorola’s big battery touting Razor Maxx. However, dotted around some of the smaller stands there were lots of weird and wonderful phone add-ons too.

One of the most bizarre was the Sphero. This is a robotic ball that you can control via your iOS or Android phone or tablet. Inside there’s a gyroscopic device with a motor that’s used to drive the ball forward. The Sphero charges via an induction charging dock and the battery is good for an hour of play when it’s fully juiced up.

The ball can reach speeds of up to three feet per second and an LED light inside allows you to chance the Sphero’s apparent colour – useful when you’re racing against your mates. The Sphero app offers three control methods – a virtual circular trackball style set-up, virtual speed and direction sliders or tilt control using your phone accelerometer, and the ball communicates with your phone over Bluetooth.

CES - the best phone add-ons
You can use it to play games via the app, such as Sphero golf where you set up a virtual hole and then have to drive the ball towards it using gesture movements with your phone. There’s also a draw and drive mode, where you can draw a trajectory on screen and have the Sphero follow it.

Weirdly the ball can also be used as a controller for games on your smartphone.  You hold the Sphero in your hand and twist and turn it to control the onscreen action. We played a simple arcade shooter on it and it seemed to work pretty well, even if it does feel quite odd at first. However, priced at $129.99 (£85), it’s not exactly an impulse purchase and the novelty may wear off quite quickly.

CES - the best phone add-ons

If pounding the skins is more your thing, then Ion Audio was showing off its new drum kit for the iPad – the Drum Master. This full sized electronic kit allows you to lay down your own drum tracks in Garageband. It’s also compatible with Core Midi, so it should play ball with any other midi enabled music apps on you iPad. The Drum Master includes four drum pads, two cymbal pads and two foot pedals. Your iPad slots into a holder in the middle of the kit to make it easy to cute up recording. The pads are velocity sensitive too, so the harder you hit them the louder each drum sounds. The Drum Master costs $300 and if you don’t have your copy of Garageband yet, don’t worry as it comes with its own drum tuition app.

CES - the best phone add-ons

The company also had its Water Rocker on show, which is a spherical water proof speaker that can be used in swimming pools, lakes or at the beach. It comes with a dock for your iPhone/Ipod touch or any other device that uses a standard headphone jack. This dock wirelessly transmits your tunes to the Water Rocker which has a range of up to 100 feet. Ion Audio currently has the Water Rocker available on its website for $99.99 (£65).

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