The SPRK+ has a unique approach to its design, because that the spherical casing moves at times, while maintaining the LEDs, motors, and logic control safely inside the body. In addition, its external design is strong enough to accommodate all of these without breaking frequently.
In order to strengthen the SPRK+, the Company includes an additional scratch-resistant coating (YV), and this layer is very resistant to rough treatment from both within and outside the housing. To add to that, the whole unit is easy to wash because of its waterproof nature, so you can let it drive a raft as much as you can use it in activities that involve paint.
The design of the Mini is more fragile compared to the SPRK+ though. The Mini comes in form of a small, plastic ball, which encases the device itself. The device is full of gyroscopes, LEDs, and motors, and you can replace the shell if you want to.
We really like the variety of colors available, which are white, orange, blue, pink, and green, while the LEDs have a whole range of colors that you can adjust from the app. The concern we have though is that the small size makes it easy to lose, and the plastic is fragile and prone to breaking.
We prefer the design of the SPRK+ here, as it is less prone to breaking as well as being easy to find and use due to its larger size.
Programming and setup
The app is the most impressive aspect of the SPRK+ – it acts as a place where you can code your SPRK+ programs and tailor them to your preferences, as well as acting as a part junior development hub and a part activity hub. If you want to operate ready-made programs, you can also do so, provided you download them from the Sphero or Orbotix community.
One point we did not like is that you cannot use the SPRK+ with other Sphero apps, even though the Lightning Lab app works well with other Sphero robots. This unfortunately makes the SPRK+ less versatile, even though its design is great and works well for kids who are starting in the world of coding.
The Mini was surprisingly versatile in functionality, as its many driving modes increase the variety of things it can do. It also includes a Face Drive feature, which allows you to control the device when you pull faces at it – for instance, tilting your head to move it sideways, frowning to make it move to you, and smiling to make it move away.
If you do not want your face to be the control source, you can use other driving modes, such as Tilt that uses your phone’s gyroscope to control it, and Joystick, which is a simple controller. Unlike the SPRK+, the Mini app is compatible with other Sphero apps, which gives it a distinct advantage when adding its functionality.
We really like the options that the Mini offers, especially in regard to the ability to work with other Sphero apps unlike the SPRK+, which makes it our winner here.
Sphero SPRK+ vs. Mini – A comparison review
Sphero SPRK+ – Overview
Sphero SPRK+ is a spherical robot that you can control through a tablet or smartphone app, although its difference from the Mini is primarily because of the method of programming you use in the SPRK+.
Out of its box, you will need to charge it through its charging cradle, which uses a standard micro-USB cable as the power source. The charging process takes up to 3 hours, which provides plenty of time to download its accompanying app (SPRK+ Lightning Lab) for Android, iOS, and Amazon Kindle. The only thing we did not like about the battery life is how short it is, only lasting for an hour at most.
- It can scale nicely if you want to move to expert level from a novice level
- Very easy to program and set up
- The design is waterproof and scratch-proof
- The coding app is excellent
- Very fun to use
- The charge life is only an hour at most
- Lacks support for other Sphero apps
Sphero Mini – Overview
Considering that the Mini is a toy that is a Ping-Pong ball that you can control through a remote, there are surprisingly many things you can achieve with it.
- Very fun to use
- Compatible with other Sphero apps
- Comes with numerous functionalities
- Very slick app interface
- It has issues with battery life
- The small size makes it easy to lose or break
Verdict: So what is better? The Sphero SPRK+ or Mini?
Keeping these two fun robots in consideration, we will pick the Sphero SPRK+ as the winner of this review. This is primarily due to its design, which is strong enough to handle a variety of tasks without breaking down, while still maintaining the fun coding learning process that many know Sphero for.