Ed Note: This is part of our "In The Sandbox" series, where we invite teens to test and review connected toys, giving their perspective of what's fun to them—and what works.
In The Sandbox: Moff Band
As summer vacation approaches, children will have more time than ever to zone out on social media and video games. Moff Band aims to get kids to be more active by combining digital with physical, allowing you to make noises out of your phone by waving your hand.
The design of the Moff Band itself is simple. I got a review copy, a pink plastic bracelet with a sensor the size of a watch face. It had a purple rectangular button on the side and a little dash on the button that lit up when the band turned on. It was also pretty comfortable to wear around. My first thought when I put it on was that if the toy didn't work, you could definitely wear it as a piece of high tech looking jewelry.
Moff is pretty cool to wear, and flashes colors on your wrist.
There was no instruction manual inside the packaging, but the back of the box told me to go to the website. From there, I gathered there was an app to download and I found it easily enough—it's called Moff. It would have been more helpful if the box had just told me to get the app, but I found it anyway.
The app offered to show me a tutorial video, and sent me to YouTube when I agreed to watch. The problem? The video was eight minutes long. Had it been two or maybe three minutes, I could have watched the piece. But I don't know any kids who wants to watch an eight-minute tutorial video on their new toy, and I am no exception. I swiped back to the app and got started.
Once I went back and tapped start, the app connected to my band with the click of a button and a wave of my arm. Then I was asked four questions (my name, dominant arm, age and gender) to set up the device. Overall, I was able to start playing in less than a minute.
Start your own band
There were rows of options to choose from. I could click the sword button and sound like a pirate when I swiped my arm. But not only that—I could use four different types of swords too. I could also be a ninja, wizard, rock star, tennis player… The list goes on. I could bring my stuffed animals to life by making cat, dog, horse and lion sounds.
The drums were especially cool, because you could hit the cymbal or drum depending on where you swiped your arm. And with two people, one on the guitar and the other on the drums, you could start a band. I'm way past the age of playing pretend with My Little Pony and foam swords, and I was still excited to try out all the sounds.
There were more things you unlocked the longer you played. You could only get the motorcycle sound, for example, after playing for a week. There were also some sounds that you had to download to play. I didn't figure this out until I clicked one of them on my phone and it said "Downloading…" but that happened pretty fast. However, when I tried to download my second sound, the download didn't launch as quickly.
There are more than 30 sounds on the app.
I downloaded the fireworks sound, and and then tried to download the laser sound. Here's where I hit an issue. The download took so much time that I put my iPhone aside and came back five minutes later to find that the sound was still downloading. What could I do? The app was useless until the sound finished downloading. So I deleted the entire app and tried to download the sound again only to find that I had the same problem. The first sound downloaded fast and the second didn't download at all. The third time I got the app and tried to download multiple sounds, however, everything went more smoothly.
Of course, some sounds were better than others. I think the best ones were those that really paid attention to the way your hand moved. Take the example of the drums. The fact that you can play different things depending on where you arm swipes makes playing so much more interactive than, say, the guitar, which will make a sound no matter how you move your arm.
Moff Band doesn't run forever. After a while, you have to replace the battery. But being watch batteries, a parent can probably find them in your local pharmacy.
Moff Band is a great way to make playing pretend more realistic and the more you play, the more you unlock—so you can play more. With the glitches and instruction searching, Moff Band wasn't perfect, but I'd call it a success.
Pros: Looks cool, easy to slap on without buckles, fast to set-up and rewards you the more you play
Cons: Hard to understand how to set up because lacks an instruction manual, and occasionally froze while downloading new sounds
Tech Details: Moff Band has more than 30 sounds running through its app. The device works with both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, and pairs over Bluetooth. The band and device need to be more than 30 feet apart from each other for Moff Band to work. The battery should bring 20 hours of continuous use, but will go into "idle mode" after two minutes, says the manufacturer.