Sony Rolly review

Alan Lu
30 Jan 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT


Sony's Rolly is an MP3 player with a difference.

The egg-shaped device isn't designed for listening to music on the go - it doesn't even have a headphone socket. Instead, it has a small pair of built-in speakers. The real draw, though, is that it can 'dance' on any flat surface by moving and spinning round in time with your music. It also wiggles its two articulated flaps, situated at either end, and flashes its multicoloured LED lights.

It sounds tacky, but the Rolly charmed the entire Shopper office with its antics. Proximity sensors stop it rolling off table edges, and its sturdy metal case feels built to last. The Rolly connects to a PC using either USB or Bluetooth. Both songs and dance routines are copied using Sony's Rolly Choreography software, although it's a shame that it can't import your existing iTunes or Windows Media Player playlists.

The program can generate dance moves for each of your songs, but the results quickly become repetitive. To see the most spectacular and eye-catching moves, you'll need to create your own routines manually. The interface for this looks daunting, thanks to the wealth of possible movements and light effects. Better documentation or a video tutorial would have been welcome.

Despite being very satisfying, creating complex routines for more than a handful of songs would take ages. Thankfully, you can download routines created by other Rolly owners from Being able to do this from within the Choreographer program would be far more convenient, though.

The speakers sound muddy and lack stereo separation, but they're surprisingly loud. Despite the lack of a display, the Rolly is easy to control when resting on a flat surface. You can raise or lower the volume by rotating the Rolly clockwise or anti-clockwise respectively. You can skip to the next track or return to the previous one by pushing it away from you or pulling it towards you. Pushing or pulling a little harder changes playlists.

The battery managed five hours and 15 minutes of continuous dancing and music. The Rolly can also be used as a handheld music player, although it obviously can't perform any of its manoeuvres. Twisting the two rubber gasket-like wheels changes the volume and skips back and forth through tracks and playlists.

Despite its high price, the Rolly has only 2GB of storage. This is enough for around 500 songs, though - more than you can properly navigate without a screen. The Rolly plays MP3 and AAC music files, but not WMA or any kind of DRM-protected music.

We quickly tired of previous MP3-playing novelties, such as Hasbro's i-Dog. The Rolly's choreography software and downloadable routines make it a far more long-term amusement. However, its extremely high price means that few people will ever enjoy its special charm.


Headphone RatingN/A


Formatted capacity1.85GB
InterfaceUSB Hi-Speed
Storage mediumflash memory
Battery and charge optionsLi-ion, USB


Device has screen?No
Native resolutionN/A
Memory card supportnone
FM Radiono
Audio record optionsnone
Video record optionsnone
Supplied withUSB cable

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback)701h 15m
500MB transfer time4m 37s
Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackNo
Audio WMA-DRM playbackNo
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackNo
Audio WAV playbackNo
Audio Audible playbackNo
Image BMP supportNo
Image JPEG supportNo
Image TIFF supportNo
Video MPEG-4 AVI playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playbackNo
Video WMV playbackNo
Video MPEG-1 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 VOB playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD supportNo
Video H.264 supportNo
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio supportNo
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio supportNo
Download compatibilitynone

Buying Information

Price per MB12.2p
Warrantyone year RTB

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