DO WANT: Sphero’s Force Band

Every once in a while, a piece of tech meshes with my most nerdy obsessions, and my wallet cries — prematurely. This is one of those moments. 

After obsessing over the Sphere BB-8 to the point where I was practically The Worst Kid On Christmas about when I’d get it, I’ve had non-stop fun with my little droid, and it has quickly become a part of the family. From delighting my cat and little kids at the office to racing it against other BB-8 owners (VERY fun, by the way), I’ve gotten everything I paid for and more. 

Now, first debuted at CES, Sphero has unveiled its latest addition to my budget: The Force Band. 

One of the biggest selling points of Sphero’s BB-8, for me, was how intuitive and reactive it was. While it’s a galaxy far, far away from the AI capabilities of it’s on-screen inspiration, BB-8 still serves up hours of fun. But now, with the Force Band, Sphero has gotten just a step closer. 

With hand gestures, users will be able to control BB-8 in a more natural manner, making the droid react in ways that seem authentic outwardly and bring it to life that much more. While I haven’t gotten my grubby paws on it yet, the folks over at The Verge have, and their rundown of its capabilities had me bouncing in my chair from excitement: 

Here’s how the Force Band works, at least in its current state. Resting your hand to your side enters driving mode. With your palm down, Sphero looks away from you; with your palm up it looks toward you. Spin in place, and BB-8 spins with you. The direction also dictates where it drives, and the rolling speed is at least somewhat affected by your hand’s elevation. Waving your hand in place will enter a gesture mode — the only one that worked for me was a nod “yes” when we did a quick right jab — and then putting your hand back down re-engages driving mode.

The Force Band has no price or official release date, though right now, it looks like you should budget for Fall 2016 — which means we’re probably looking at another Force Friday release! Until then, make sure you keep BB-8 up to date, and may the Force be with you!

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Review: The Perfect Weapon by Delilah S. Dawson (Spoiler-Free)

The latest string of Star Wars short stories — three within the ‘Aliens’ collection, and this short story by Deilah S. Dawson — focus on a handful of supporting characters that are set to appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While their roles in the film remain a mystery, the saga’s masterminds have skillfully revived a tradition established in the early days of the former Expanded Universe (now known as Legends): filling in the gaps with mountains of backstory that make even the slightest background character into someone interesting and real.

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In The Perfect Weapon, bounty hunter Bazine Netal takes center stage with an incredible heist and a sense of wit as sharp as any weapon. At first, Bazine seems to fit within the same sleeve as the legendary Asajj Ventress, a former Sith acolyte turned bounty hunter whose tragic, beautiful story started in The Clone Wars and continued in the pages of Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple (released this past summer). But Bazine is different — despite her own fiery pride, the assassin takes on her missions with a constant physical reminder of what happens when one does indeed get too cocky.

Netal’s adventure opens the character up in an honest manner, and she’s given time to show off who she is in order reveal secrets to the reader that one might not have guessed when they first saw her in the trailer for The Force Awakens.

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Dawson, known for artfully crafted dark romances and the supernatural, does an incredible job of fleshing out a complicated woman within less than sixty pages of story. Bazine’s vulnerability does not reduce her to a doe-eyed inner child so that readers are forced to feel sympathy for. Her rough upbringing is looked at through the honest, no-nonsense lens of Bazine herself.

Bazine Netal is an extremely enjoyable new addition to the canon, and almost every bit of her outward appearance is explained. From the caps that cover her skull to the massive heels that seem so deceptively difficult to run in (for Bazine, that’s the point — but there’s a lot more to it than just the element of surprise), every part of her is a believable and refreshing definition of this new character.

For a one-shot adventure, the story packs a punch without desperately trying to make too many direct connections to The Force Awakens. From start to finish, this is Bazine’s story, so it rarely points and grins at the seventh installment to the blockbuster saga; instead, we’re given more of what the new expanded canon is in a most direct sense — a look at that galaxy far, far away at certain points in it’s history that focus on the many people, creatures and droids that make it so massive.

Get your copy of this ebook — only $2 — right here.

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Episode 18: A Name Change, Feelings, and the Future

Shattered Empire, Team Kanan feelings, and Chewbacca’s narration are just some of the highlights of our all-new episode of the show that used to be called Mos Eisley Comicport! With a name change — Comics in the Cantina — and a new guest host (this episode: Blair Beveridge, host of Webisode Watch) every episode, host Catrina Dennis is now navigating the Star Destroyer-sized amount of information that the Star Wars comics are doling out.

Listen:

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Shattered Empire #3
  • Kanan #6
  • Chewbacca #1

… and much, much more!

Make sure to get the episode on iTunes or download it here!

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