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Review: If You're a Star Wars Superfan, You Need Sphero's BB-9E and R2-D2

Robotics company Sphero skyrocketed to popularity in 2015 with the release of BB-8, a miniature iPhone-controlled toy droid modeled after the BB-8 character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As the release of the The Last Jedi approaches this December, Sphero has introduced two new Star Wars-themed robotic toys, BB-9E and R2-D2. R2-D2 is a well-known classic droid that's starred in Star Wars movies since the original trilogy in the 1970s, while BB-9E, an Astromech droid that serves in the First Order (aka evil BB-8), is a newcomer that will appear in The Last Jedi. Like BB-8, both of Sphero's new droids are exquisitely accurate in design compared to the movie versions, and they come to life when paired with the Sphero app. Design BB-9E shares a design with BB-8, and BB-8 was based on Sphero's original robotic ball technology. BB-9E's body is a plastic sphere that houses a motor, a gyroscope that keeps BB-9E upright, counterweights for balance, internal wheels, magnets, and other electronic components. BB-9E's head attaches to the ball-shaped body using magnets, and a set of wheels underneath the head to allow it to move in around in stay in place on the body while BB-9E is in motion. Instead of a round head like BB-8, BB-9E has a flatter head that fits in better with the First Order aesthetic. Size wise, BB-9E fits in the palm of a hand, and if you own BB-8, BB-9E is the same size. In contrast to BB-8's white and orange design, BB-9E is black with gray accents and red and blue lights (on the head) when in operation. BB-9E is made from a durable

'Star Wars' Articles

Air-Gapped MacBook Air Helped Rian Johnson Avoid Leaks When Writing 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Writer/director Rian Johnson did an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week, discussing his favorite tech essentials that he uses both casually and professionally, including for the creation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In regards to the scripting process of The Last Jedi, Johnson said that he wrote the entire film on an air-gapped MacBook Air. Star Wars: The Last Jedi official title via starwars.com An air-gapped computer is never connected to the internet, ensuring that the device is completely isolated from other, potentially non-secure networks. Johnson explained that this prevented secrets within The Last Jedi's script from ever getting out, and he "used it for nothing except writing the script," although he didn't specify which model of Apple's MacBook Air he used. I typed Episode VIII out on a MacBook Air. For security it was “air-gapped”—never connected to the internet. I carried it around and used it for nothing except writing the script. I kept it in a safe at Pinewood Studios. I think my producer was constantly horrified I would leave it in a coffee shop. Johnson also mentioned playing iOS game Desert Golfing on his iPhone X, admitting he's played "more than 1,500 holes" in the game. Other tech discussed included a Leica M6 35mm film camera used on The Last Jedi, his Omega Speedmaster Pro wrist watch used to time out moments on the set, and "The History of Rome" podcast he listened to when writing the movie. Ahead of the release of The Last Jedi, Apple hosted free Star Wars-themed workshops at select Apple retail stores. The sessions taught

HEX and Disney Release Official Star Wars Cases for Latest iPhones Ahead of 'The Last Jedi' Premiere

Disney and accessory maker HEX have teamed up to release official Star Wars cases for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, ahead of the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on December 15. The genuine leather cases are debossed with Star Wars art and iconic characters such as Darth Vader, R2-D2, and stormtroopers, with styles including snap-on cases, folio wallets, and zipper wallets with slots for cards, IDs, and cash. The cases are available now on HEX's website and at select retailers for between $49.95 and $69.95 each in the United

Sphero Launches New R2-Q5 iPhone-Controlled Star Wars Droid

Following the launch of BB-8 in 2015, and R2-D2 and BB-9E last month, Sphero has introduced an all-new iPhone-controlled droid ahead of New York Comic-Con, which begins today. This one is R2-Q5 and is the Imperial counterpart to R2-D2, with a glossy black finish and matte gold trimmings. R2-Q5 first appeared in Return of the Jedi. Similar to Sphero's R2-D2 droid, R2-Q5 has functional lights, a rotating dome, retractable third foot, on-board speakers, and can be piloted manually via the same Sphero app that controls the other Star Wars droids, or patrol on its own. The app has augmented reality features that place R2-Q5 in settings within the Star Wars universe, including the Death Star. You can watch Star Wars movies with the droid and have it react to certain moments within the film as well. R2-Q5™ is an Imperial astromech droid from a galaxy far, far away.... Control it with your smart device or keep this nefarious Droid in top shape with augmented reality training. R2-Q5’s signature front and rear LED lights are fully functional, and an integrated speaker means all sounds come right from the droid itself. Watch R2-Q5 interact with other Star Wars™ App-enabled Droids by Sphero, and view films from the Star Wars saga with R2-Q5 reacting by your side. This special droid has been brought to life thanks to Sphero technology. Sphero is planning R2-Q5 as a much more exclusive model than its previous droids, with only 100 on sale at the company's New York Comic-Con booth today. After that, the droid will debut on Best Buy's site and in stores on November 5 for $199.99. Pr

Disney Confirms Upcoming Streaming Service Will Include Marvel and Star Wars Films

In early August, Disney revealed that it plans to pull all of its movies from Netflix and launch its own streaming service in 2019. Users were understandably curious as to which Disney-owned brands that might include, particularly once Disney CEO Bob Iger referenced the company's interest in potentially branching off Marvel and Star Wars into their own, separate streaming services. Today, Iger cleared up any confusion by confirming Marvel and Star Wars films will be available on the upcoming Disney-branded streaming app (via Deadline). Current films in these franchises on Netflix -- like Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story -- will be removed from Netflix and arrive on the Disney platform when it launches in 2019. It's still unclear at what point between now and 2019 Disney will begin removing these films from Netflix. Last month Reuters reported that Netflix was in "active discussions" with Disney to keep Marvel and Star Wars films on the popular streaming platform, but it appears those talks have now fallen through. Films from Marvel and Star Wars that now go to Netflix will move to Disney’s planned ad-free direct-to-consumer streaming service, CEO Bob Iger said today at an investor gathering. “We’re going to launch big, and we’re going to launch hot” by late 2019, he told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. The outcome for Marvel and Star Wars TV shows was not specified, but Iger said that the Disney streaming app "will have the entire output of the studio — animation, live action and Disney

New Star Wars Toys Added to Apple's Online Store, Including R2-D2 and BB-9E Droids

A collection of Star Wars toys, including Sphero's new R2-D2 and BB-9E droids, are now available to purchase from Apple's online store. R2-D2 and BB-9E can be controlled with an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. More details can be found in our earlier coverage of the droids. BB-9E App-Enabled Droid by Sphero — $149.95 R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid by Sphero — $179.95 Apple's new Star Wars accessories page also has a trio of Star Wars quadcopter drones by Propel, and a kit for creating your own Star Wars droid. Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Starfighter Battle Quadcopter Drone — $179.95 Propel Star Wars Tie Advanced X1 Battle Quadcopter Drone — $179.95 Propel Star Wars 74-Z Speeder Bike Battle Quadcopter Drone — $179.95 littleBits Droid Inventor Kit — $99.95 Apple is also hosting free Star Wars–themed sessions at many of its retail stores starting today through Saturday, September 9. The new Star Wars toys and sessions are in celebration of Force Friday II, which begins today and runs through this weekend. It's all to promote Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which debuts in theaters December 15.

Sphero Reveals New iPhone-Controlled R2-D2 and BB-9E Droids

Sphero today unveiled all-new iPhone-controlled Star Wars toys, including R2-D2 and a new character from Star Wars: The Last Jedi called BB-9E (via TechCrunch). This latter droid is described as originating from the same astromech series as BB-8, but is instead associated with the villainous First Order. Similar to Sphero's BB-8 droid from 2015, BB-9E (priced at $149) comes with a set of pre-programmed moves and voice lines, but users can also manually control the droid from their iOS device. BB-9E's head is equipped with LED lights and is magnetically attached to the droid's body, so it can roll around similar to the character within the upcoming movie. The company said that BB-9E will interact with its other Star Wars iPhone-controlled droids, as well as react to Star Wars films when users watch with the droid nearby. Sphero said that BB-9E will receive consistent updates, including new voice lines, particularly as the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi draws closer. Additionally, Sphero revealed an iPhone-controlled R2-D2 droid (priced at $179), which includes all of the same features as the other Star Wars products from Sphero. R2-D2 can patrol on its own and includes fully-functioning LED lights and an integrated speaker that produces the droid's recognizable sounds. Both BB-9E and R2-D2 use the same app that Sphero launched with BB-8 two years ago, so users can simply keep adding new droids to play around with, without needing to download a separate app for each. Both of the new droids will support a few augmented reality experiences in the

Apple Stores Hosting Free Star Wars-Themed Sessions Starting Friday

In celebration of Force Friday II later this week, Apple has invited customers to attend free Star Wars–themed sessions and workshops at select Apple retail stores between Friday, September 1 and Saturday, September 9. Participating countries include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Hong Kong, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. Most stores will offer a one-hour session called How To: Build Your Own Star Wars Trailer using an iPad and iMovie:Explore how to create a Star Wars trailer with authentic footage from the films. You’ll discover signature Star Wars trailer-making techniques in an exclusive video from The Last Jedi director, Rian Johnson. Then you’ll create your own trailer complete with titles, transitions, sound effects, and official Star Wars music using iPad and iMovie.There will also be Kids Hour: Coding the Droids from Star Wars, in which children ages six to 12 can learn how to program a BB-8 droid:Join us for an exciting Kids Hour starring the galaxy's favorite droids. Using the same code developers use every day, kids will bring Star Wars droids to life by programming simple movements, loops, and more. Then they’ll design a maze and navigate their droids through the obstacles. Kids can bring their own iPad and Sphero robot, or we’ll provide them.At Apple's flagship Union Square store in San Francisco, Lucasfilm's VFX and animation studio Industrial Light & Magic will explore how they use animation and 3D modeling to bring the Star Wars galaxy to life.

Disney Announces AR Scavenger Hunt for 'Force Friday II', Some Star Wars Toys Coming to Apple Stores

Two years after the original "Force Friday" launched in celebration of new toys and gadgets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is now gearing up for "Force Friday II," which will see the launch of new merchandise centered on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Force Friday II will run September 1 through September 3, with toys being sold at Apple, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and more (via Reuters). The items that will be at Apple retail locations have not yet been specified, but for the original Force Friday one of the most popular gadgets was Sphero's iPhone-controlled BB-8 droid, so there's a chance fans could see a similar toy launch next week. Force Friday II officially begins at 12:01 a.m. PT on Sept. 1, with more than 20,000 retail locations in 30 countries joining in on the Star Wars merchandise celebration, ahead of the debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December. Further enhancing the toy hunt this year is a new augmented reality experience for fans shopping during Force Friday II. Anyone who downloads the official Star Wars app for iOS [Direct Link] or Android devices will be able to scan select retail standees that have a "Find the Force" logo printed on them. When scanned, fans will activate and unlock various Star Wars characters, which they can then take pictures and videos with, post on social media, and unlock that character's data chip. The more data chips collected, the more users will earn exclusive digital rewards, including Star Wars video clips and character emoji. Disney has shared a full list of retailers [PDF] that will have Find the

Disney May Split Out Star Wars and Marvel Into Standalone Streaming Services [Updated]

During its quarterly earnings report yesterday, Disney revealed that it plans to remove all of its content from Netflix and debut a streaming service of its own in 2019. The announcement didn't make clear which exact Disney-related pieces of content might be found within that service, but more information from the earnings report has been shared today by TechCrunch, with Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioning Marvel and Star Wars could get their own streaming services down the line. This means that the 2019 service would be related to Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar films like Lilo and Stitch, Zootopia, Moana, and Finding Dory (all of which are on Netflix right now). Then, the company would debut a Marvel service for movies and television shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a Lucasfilm service for properties in the Star Wars universe. Disney is said to be "considering" these services right now, but a decision "is not yet set in stone." According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the company is still considering how it wants to bring Marvel and LucasFilm titles to consumers. There’s been talk of launching proprietary Marvel and Star Wars services, he said on Disney’s earnings call on Thursday. But that decision is not yet set in stone. “We’re mindful of the volume of product that would go into those services, and we want to be careful about that,” Iger explained. Currently, Netflix subscribers can watch a number of shows and movies from these Disney-owned brands, including Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogue One: A Star Wars

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Trailer Recreated on Vintage Apple IIc Computer

Animator and illustrator Wahyu Ichwandardi has shared one of his newest projects on Twitter this week, where he recreated the entire two-minute trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on a vintage Apple IIc from 1984, using the bitmap paint program Dazzle Draw and a KoalaPad+, both from the same year (via TechCrunch). Image via @pinot on Instagram The project required 48 floppy discs and 288 image files, totaling 6MB of storage space. For post processing, Ichwandardi used Apple Disk Transfer ProDOS software and a floppy disc emulator device to copy all 288 image files onto a modern MacBook Pro. The result is a full recreation of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which debuted online in April. Cita-cita waktu masih kecil di th 80an: bikin trailer Star Wars pakai komputer Apple bermonitor monochrome, baru kesampaian sekarang. pic.twitter.com/kUV28VB5pq— Pinot (@pinotski) June 26, 2017 It took Ichwandardi about three weeks to finish the project due to working with the limitations of the vintage hardware and software. Specifically, because Dazzle Draw doesn't have a layers feature, the illustrator had to physically lay an acetate sheet over the Apple IIc's monitor in order to create a guide for the animation in every frame of the trailer. Complex animations required him to actually trace the characters and motion from the real trailer and redraw it back into Dazzle Draw. More information about his design process can be found in the video below. Proses bikinnya pic.twitter.com/zPTJmMpMhJ— Pinot (@pinotski) June 26, 2017 Ichwandardi has posted a few

Sphero's 'Force Band' Wearable Arrives September 30, Comes With 'Pokemon Go'-Like Mode and BB-8 Control

Back at CES 2016, Sphero debuted a prototype version of the "Force Band," a wearable that allows users to motion control the iPhone-controlled BB-8. While the Force Band can mostly be used to control BB-8 without an iPhone, it has some select features that need an iPhone and Sphero's Star Wars app (via Engadget). The band comes with five modes, two of them for motion controlling BB-8 and other Sphero robots. The three other modes are Force Training Mode, Combat Training Mode and Force Awareness mode. Force Training makes the user follow commands from BB-8 to master Force abilities, allowing the user to "become" a Jedi Knight. Combat Training mode is designed to make the user feel like they're using either a lightsaber or blaster to battle, playing the appropriate sounds based on hand movement. Force Awareness mode plays like a simplified version of Pokemon Go, with the band pinging a user when they're nearing a Holocron, which look to be some sort of digital collecting card displaying Star Wars characters and items in the app. When a user is out in the world and they are physically near a Holocron, the band alerts the user. They can then take out their iPhone, look at the app, and see what Holocron they obtained. However, it's unclear whether Force Awareness mode uses a mapping system similar to Pokemon Go. Sphero also announced a special edition battle-worn edition of BB-8 that looks slightly dirtier and worn out. Both the Force Band and battle-worn BB-8 will be available on September 30. The Force Band will be available for $79, but there'll also be a

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Now Available to Download From iTunes

Disney today released Star Wars: The Force Awakens onto digital platforms, including iTunes, Disney Movies Anywhere, and other Digital HD platforms. The company first confirmed the release date in early March, also announcing the long-awaited film will launch at physical retailers on April 5. The iTunes version of the film has the same bonus content as the standard retail editions set to launch next week, including a table read of the script and a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the film's creatures. Fans who purchase the film on April 5 will have a handful of retailer exclusive editions to choose from, some of which include bonus content unavailable elsewhere. iTunes Extras: Discover the complete story behind the film's making in Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey, revealed through in-depth footage and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers in this feature-length documentary. In The Story Awakens: The Table Read, cast members reflect on the memorable day they all came together for the first time to read the movie's script. Plus Crafting Creatures, Building BB-8, Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight, a host of Deleted Scenes, and more. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available to download from the iTunes Store for $19.99 in HD, with the SD version to follow on April 5 for $14.99. [Direct Link]

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Coming to iTunes on April 1

Disney today announced that the newest film in the popular Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will be available on iTunes, Disney Movies Anywhere, and other Digital HD sources on Friday, April 1, several days ahead of a planned April 5 Blu-ray and DVD release. Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, pitting new characters like scavenger Rey and former stormtrooper Finn against Kylo Ren and the First Order. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher also reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia. Digital bonus features will vary by retailer, but may include behind-the-scenes interviews and details on the making of the film, the building of the BB-8 droid, deleted scenes, and more. Apple and Disney have not specified which features will be included with the iTunes version of the movie.- Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey - For the first time, discover the complete story behind the making of The Force Awakens, revealed through in-depth footage and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers in this feature documentary - The Story Awakens: The Table Read - Cast members familiar and new reflect on the memorable day they all first came together to read the movie's script - Building BB-8 - See how the filmmakers brought the newest droid to the screen, creating an instant fan favorite in the Star Wars universe - Crafting Creatures - Watch movie magic as the filmmakers bring a cast of new creatures to life - Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight - Go deeper into the epic,

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Soundtrack Launches on Apple Music and iTunes

The original motion picture soundtrack for the brand new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released today on both Apple Music and iTunes. The tracklist includes all of the orchestral highlights from the movie, beginning in what appears to be chronological order with the well-known opening crawl music to the big finale. Composed by John Williams, there are a total of 23 songs on the soundtrack worth about 1 hour and 18 minutes of playback time. The full soundtrack for The Force Awakens includes: 1) Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village - 6:25 2) The Scavenger - 3:39 3) I Can Fly Anything - 3:10 4) Rey Meets BB-8 - 1:31 5) Follow Me - 2:54 6) Rey's Theme - 3:11 7) The Falcon - 3:32 8) That Girl with the Staff - 1:58 9) The Rathars! - 4:05 10) Finn's Confession - 2:08 11) Maz's Counsel - 3:07 12) The Starkiller - 1:50 13) Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle - 2:00 14) The Abduction - 2:23 15) Han and Leia - 4:41 16) March of the Resistance - 2:34 17) Snoke - 2:03 18) On the Inside - 2:06 19) Torn Apart - 4:19 20) The Ways of the Force - 3:14 21) Scherzo for X-Wings - 2:32 22) Farewell and the Trip - 4:55 23) The Jedi Steps and Finale - 8:51 Apple has been helping build fans' excitement over the new entry in the Star Wars saga for a while now, promoting a new Star Wars-themed Apple Music radio station earlier in the week and joining in on the digital release of all six films so far in the series in April. For those without Apple Music subscriptions, the new album costs $11.99 to purchase off of

'Star Wars: The Digital Movie Collection' Coming to iTunes Friday, April 10

All six Star Wars movies will be available digitally for the first time this Friday, April 10 on iTunes and other digital stores, Disney, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox have announced. The movies will be available to purchase separately and as a collection, and come with two never-before-seen special features. “We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars saga on their digital devices wherever they go,” commented Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound, and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary Star Wars artists — the masters who helped George bring his iconic universe to life.”The new special features are broken into two new categories. The first is titled "Conversations", which has key members of the cast and crew talking about the productions of all the films. The second is titled "Star Wars: Discoveries From Inside", which features new looks at the making of the movies, from models and miniatures to costume design. The full list of bonus features can be found at the Star Wars website. The versions included in The Digital Movie Collection are not the original theatrical versions of the films, and are instead the altered versions found in the Blu-Ray editions of the movies. Additionally, the New York Times reports they will not be available for rent. All six Star Wars movies are currently available for pre-order on iTunes for $19.99 each,