Vtech Storio – Review

I’m very lucky here at Toybuzz in that I often receive things to review, and this week the postman brought us VTech’s new children’s ebook reader the Storio.

Aimed at children from 3 – 7 , the Storio promotes reading to the younger audience by using your children’s favourite movie and TV characters in fun and exciting stories. They can listen and watch at first before graduating onto reading along and then reading them by themselves as they grow in confidence.

The storio comes with a Toy Story 3 cartridge included, other story cartridges like Shrek, Disney Faries, Scooby Doo and Dora are available for purchase separately.

The end of August will see the launch of the VTech Download Store, the online store for downloadable Storio and Mobigo games and stories.

By connecting the Storio via the included USB lead up to your PC or Mac, you’ll be able to download content for the Storio quickly and easily. The downloaded goodies will need to be stored on a SD card, which you will have to purchase separately.

The download store really appeals to me because it will be an easy way of getting new stories onto the Storio, and you wont need to take loads of cartridges out with you as they are always ready to go on the SD card.

The Storio is touch screen and comes with a stylus handily tucked into the casing for storage. Even if your child hasn’t used a similar touch screen device like the Nintendo DS or iPad  before, they will instinctively know what to do and will get the hang of it incredibly quickly.

Storio Main Screen:

When you first turn on the Storio, you’ll be asked to type in your name and then pick an avatar from a list of kid friendly pictures. You can also type a welcome message that will display every time you turn the Storio on.

I think it’s a pity you can’t choose to have a few users set up like on a PC or Mac for siblings to all use the Storio, you can only have one name shown.

It is easy to change the name though, so if your passing it on from one child to another for a length of time it would be worth quickly changing the name and avatar.

On the main screen you will find several icons:

  • Backpack – This is where all of your downloaded content can be found
  • Certificates – When your child has finished the story you can download a certificate which will be stored here
  • Setup –  This is where you manage the users name and Avatar
  • Game –  A fun letter game called Wordfinder with 3 levels of skill suitable for all ages of child.
  • Loaded Cartridge – Either an image of the loaded cartridge will be shown – in my case Toy Story 3, or you will get a VTech image to represent that you have no story cartridge loaded. You can insert the cartridge once the Storio is on the main screen and it will still load fine and the image will change.

Toy Story 3 Cartridge:

The Storio is primarily a virtual storybook. You can do everything you can do with a normal story book, look, turn the pages, or bookmark your place but also a whole lot more.

At the start of each page you will see an animated scene, then the narrator will read the words below. The words are highlighted at the same time that the narrator reads them.

After the page has finished being read your child can click around the screen looking for extra bits of animation and dialogue, which is fun. You can touch every word on the page and the single word will be spoken, so younger users can touch every word one by one, and once they build up reading confidence can only touch the odd word they’re stuck on.

Certain special words are always highlighted and these words are in the story dictionary. By doing a longer click on these words a bubble comes up onscreen with the word definition, the definition is also read outloud by the narrator and accompanied by an image representing the word.

Only specific words are included in the Story Dictionary, words like College, Furnace (as shown) or a Character’s name. I would have liked to see more words added to the dictionary, but I did like the general idea.

Once you’ve finished reading and page you can either press the forward or back page buttons on the Storio, or the onscreen next page button on  the touch screen. You can also bookmark your place to come back to next time, although you can only have one bookmarked page.

There are eight Toy Story inspired reading games included on the cartridge, which add up to almost as much fun as story itself.

  • Left and Right – From a line of toys you need to touch the toy who’s left or right of the who the game says.
  • Big or Small – From a line up touch the correct toy. Usually which is bigger or smaller but sometimes which is faster and similar too.
  • Whats That Sound – Touch the toy that makes the noise of the sound that’s played.
  • Starting Sounds – Complete the first letter of the word by typing it in on the keypad. The announcer will then say the letter phonetically to show you how the letter sounds. You can use the blue clue button if you need to get a hint and the shady letter will shown.
  • At the End – Teaches about punctuation marks. full stops, exclamation marks and question marks are explained. Less of a game this is the same every time.
  • Capital Idea – Change the lowercase letters in the names to capital letters.
  • What Happened – Pages from the story are shown are you are asked questions. smaller readers can touch the answer in the picture, or older children can touch the actual word in the story page to answer.
  • What Comes Next – After being shown and read a page from the story you are asked where they went next from two possible options.

Positives and Negatives:

I love the way that the Storio caters for all ages skill levels.Being able to touch the words you don’t know and have them read out loud is obviously invaluable for learner readers.

The Blue hint button on the bottom of the Storio is another great way to help the youngest users feel empowered whilst playing the word games, and when they are older the skill level increases too so the game grows with them.

I’ve got a few small negatives about the Storio, not about the stories or games, more the hardware itself.

When I first turned on the Storio I was met by a very off-putting high pitched buzz. This might not bother some people, but I have Tinitus and am more susceptible to noises driving me crazy, and this one certainly was. After a bit of investigation I found out that the culprit was the brightness setting.

There are 4 different levels of brightness, on the middle two levels the Storio emitted the Buzz, but on the Lowest and Highest settings there was no noise. I’m so happy I found this out, because if I’d been left with the buzzing then the Storio would have been unusable for my family. On the highest setting it’s now totally quiet.

Now were all used to constantly changing batteries on the kiddies electronic gadgets, it’s inevitable and the Storio is no different. In normal use I think you would be using at least 4 batteries every week, so some rechargeable’s would be in order. The thing that makes it extra annoying with the Storio is the actual hassle of changing them.

I physically couldn’t get the batteries out! It took me around 15 minutes of prodding,squeezing and eventually tweezing to get the  old ones out. I’m going to put one of those pieces of material in there behind the batteries next time, to make it easier to get them out.

Apart from those relatively small niggles, I can’t fault the actual idea and implementation of the Ebook reader idea by VTech.


The Storio is a great learning to read tool. I don’t think it will ever replace reading to your child, but it doesn’t want to either. Even when you do read books to your child they always go and get them afterwards and pretend to read the book themselves later. This way they feel independent reading the book themselves and they learn at the same time.

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Top 10 Boys Toys for Christmas 2010

Here are my predictions for whats going to be the most requested toys from Santa in the Christmas of 2010.

This is what I think most young boys will be hounding you for this year, Check out the other lists here:

Top Ten Girls Toys for Christmas 2010

Top Ten Toddler Toys for Christmas 2010

Top Ten Baby Toys for Christmas 2010

Imaginext Batcave and Imaginext Toy Story Tri County Landfil Playset

Ok so technically my first choice is really two choices, but I couldn’t bring myself to choose between these two great Imaginext Playsets.

Both are full of amazing features like trap doors, Grappling hooks and lots of hidey holes for your little heroes.

With their chunky parts and action figures ideal for smaller fingers, all of the Imaginext playsets are simply some of the best Christmas presents your little could ever ask for and guaranteed to entertain your youngster for long after Boxing Day!

Fisher Price Imaginext BigFoot the Monster

BigFoot the Monster is the newest creation from the guys at Fisher Price, and is part of their  immensely popular Imaginext range.

BigFoot is all set to become your child’s brand new best friend. Using the large chunky child friendly remote control your youngster can make BigFoot say and do an impressive over 80 actions and phrases.

Whether he’s Angry, Sleepy, Hungry, Exercising, Eating or even throwing a toddler style temper tantrum, BigFoot will enthrall and amaze little ones in equal measure.

Imagine how much fun you and your toddler will have Christmas day playing ball with this big guy!

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Lego Toy Story and Lego Star Wars

You can’t really go wrong with Lego for Christmas can you? and Lego fans have really been spoiled for choice this year, with tons of amazing sets being released throughout 2009.

So once again i’m stumped as to which way to go, so have decided to add both Lego Star Wars and Lego Toy Story sets onto my 2010 best toy Christmas list for consideration.

Being obsessed with the baddies of the movies as I have mentioned before, Thomas has pleaded with me to get him the Emperor Palpatine’s Shuttle set.

Jacob however is still loving playing with the Construct-A-Buzz we have, so I’m thinking for maybe getting a Woody one to keep him company.

SpyNet Video Watch

Calling all secret agents! Looking like something that M dishes out to James Bond on a daily basis, this is your very own secret mission video watch.

During their covert missions your amateur spies can record over 20 minutes of video, 4 hours of audio, or over 2000 photos.

With the help of the all of SpyNetHQ.com website, young recruits can upload and review their evidence using lie detector and video analysis.

Download missions from the website direct to your phone, so you can feel like a real spy having missions beamed over to you by the boss.

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Ben 10 Ultimate Alien Disc Ultimatrix

If you are the parents to a young boy chances are you have some Ben 10 toys in your household.

Well be prepared to welcome another load of cartoon monsters to your vocabulary with the arrival of the all new Ben 10 Ultimate Alien series.

There’s going to be a few different styles of the new Ultimatrix out for Christmas, but the Ultimte Alien Disk Ultimatrix is set to be the most popular.

Unlike the Ultimate Omnitrix the disks go inside flat, and the alien then pops out 3d.

Having seen a sneaky peek of the new Ultimate Alien series online, Rath is already my favourite because he reminds me of Tony the Frosties Tiger.

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Stinky the Garbage Truck

Following the amazing success of Rocky the Robot Dump Truck, Matchbox and the Big Rig Buddies are back with another predicted big seller Stinky the Garbage Truck.

This big guy will keep the little un’s amused by telling jokes, dumping cars out of his back, singing, dancing and generally being a fun toy!

This clever garbage truck has hidden sensors inside, so knows when he’s full and will stand up and tip himself out.

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Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear

Hot on the heels of the biggest blockbuster movie of the summer Toy Story 3, comes Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear.

Press the buttons on his front to hear some of his most famous quotes from the movies.

Start up his jetpack and get ready for action. Watch as the engines light up and pretend flames come out. Hear the roar of the jet pack as he blasts off to Infinity and beyond!

Just be sure to set his lasers to stun, just in case you bump into Zurg along the way.

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Tomica HyperCity Mega Station Station

Part of the new and rapidly expanding Tomica Hyper City range, The mega station is probably the showpiece.

With pieces like the Police HQ, Fire Station and Petrol Station HyperCity is shaping up nicely, but what’s a town without a train station. That’s where the Mega Station fits in.

Although not just a train station, there’s also an on site shop for those pre- train journey munchies. Pavement, and Parking spaces for the commuters.

Full of flashing lights, sounds and impressive automation , this is a train set set to impress.

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Star Wars Bobba Fett Electronic Helmet

Dressing up like their favourite tv and movie heroes is always a fun thing for your kids to do, although sounding like them can sometimes be a bit harder to reproduce.

Don this electronic helmet and transform into every one’s favourite Bounty Hunter Boba fett.

Press the buttons and hear Boba speak, shoot his blasters, and start up his jetpack. Activate the light up antenna and use it to help you hunt down your targets.

By adjusting the straps inside the helmet can accommodate heads from your 5 year old all the way up to mum and dad.

This is the voice changing Helmet that all true Star Wars fans have been waiting for, so if not for your son buy it for dad!

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Kiddizoom Video Camera

Another Christmas, Another Kidizoom camera!

This latest incarnation is both still photo camera and video camera.

A fun directors mode lets your children have fun creating mini cinematic masterpieces featuring cartoon borders, cinema style openings. Thanks to the face-tracking technology, comical gags like a pie in your face are also on the cards.

I know my son would just love making funny movies with the Kidizoom featuring all of his action figures and toys.

It’s set to be  big on the I want list this Xmas, Just don’t blame me when you end up on You’ve been Framed.

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New Vtech gadget, Storio the Ebook Reader.

Read My new Full Review of the Storio here:

Trust me to be behind with the times, I’ve only just started thinking about getting Thomas and Jacob the Leapfrog Tag and Tag Junior and now all of a sudden the Storio comes along.

Vtech’s newest gadget the Storio is described by them as an animated reading system, I would say more like my first Kindle, although quite a bit jazzier.The Storio has been designed to be an interactive storybook, enabling your child to read the story, watch the story and play reading games featuring key words and definitions relating to the story.

Even better than a Kindle, the Storio has a colour touch screen and a qwerty keyboard.

Apart from the included story which comes with the Storio, additional titles will also be available for purchase.

Parents will be able to monitor their child’s learning by printing out progress reports and reading certificates, sounds suspiciously like the Leapfrog learning path to me but a good feature nonetheless.

The Storio obviously isn’t the Leapfrog tag, it does so much more. However they do primarily do similar things, read out the story and hopefully help your child with learning to read at the same time. It has made me think twice about buying the Tag system now as I was seriously going to go out and buy one at the end of the week. I may go and have a look at the Tag and check it out, and maybe wait for some more info on the Storio before I decide.

The Vtech Storio has been announced with an early Fall 2010 release date and will retail at approximately $59.99, so that’ll be £59.99 in the UK then.

Read My new Full Review of the Storio here:

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Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Disney Pixar Cars Fans

Okay so Cars may have been released in 2006, but it’s still a big player in the kiddies toys and gifts department.

Kids just can’t get enough of Lightening Mcqueen, Mater, Doc Hudson and his friends.

And as time goes on the merchandise keeps growing and growing. They definitely arn’t resting on their toy laurels, there is more cars stuff out now than ever before.

So on that note I had a nosy around the virtual shops and decided to make the definitive list of the top 10 toys this year fans of Disney Pixar Cars want to see wrapped up under the tree this Christmas.

Walking Talking McQueen

Watch your child’s eyes light up when make their Lightning Mcqueen walk and talk all on his own.

By moving the levers on his back up and down, you can make Lightening move around the room and say many of his famous catchphrases.

This toy will be lots of fun on Christmas morning for sure.

Tractor Tippin’ Track Set

Recreate the classic Cars movie moment where Frank the combine harvester chases Lightning and Mater through the corn field.

This set comes with an exclusive Lightning Mcqueen and Frank the harvester with Spinning blades.

Vtech Lightning McQueen Laptop

This fun laptop in the shape and style of loveable Lightening McQueen makes learning a blast.

Packed with mini games that teach Letters, Vowels, Numbers, Logic and memory accompanied by fun animations and sound effects.

Has a Qwerty keyboard and the ingenious design sees a wheel become a mouse.

3D Character buttons take you directly to their fun mini games.

Mega Bloks Cars Piston Cup Race Set

Their are several different sets available in the Mega Bloks Cars range, but this one is my favourite.

Capturing the main event of the movie the Piston cup in all it’s glory.

Comes with buildable versions of Doc Hudson, King and of course Lightening.

You even get your own miniature Piston cup, how cool is that!

Battery Powered Lightning McQueen Ride on

OK so if you’ve got the room for the youngsters to go speeding around, how great would this be!

Their own battery powered version of their favourite movie hero, just waiting to take them on a spin around Radiator Springs.

Cars Play Tent

This pop up tent is a quick and easy present to set up on Christmas morning.

More than just a normal tent, it has a roll up door and is styled to look just like Mack from the movie.

With the added bonus of the portable soundmat, you can activate three movie related sounds.

Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Micro Scalextric Cars Race O Rama

Every little boy dreams of a Scalextric set for Christmas don’t they. And this Cars Race O Rama set wont disappoint.

Lightning races Chick Hicks round the Piston Cup circuit and onto the wilderness of Radiator Springs.

Realistic barriers and Big Screen all add to the excitement.

The color coded controls are also easy to use and the perfect size for small hands. Suitable from 3 years and up.

Cars 19′ HD TV and built in DVD player

wow, this is a great TV and the perfect gift for any Cars Fan’s bedroom.

It has a large 19′ LCD screen, is HD ready and has a built in DVD player.

What more could you ask for?

In the shape of Mack the Trailer, it’ll fit in perfectly with a Cars themed room.

The remote control takes the shape of Lightning. Ker-chow!

Cars Driving Game

Perfect for smaller racing fans, get into gear and burn rubber with this fun driving simulation game complete with realistic steering wheel, brake and gear stick.

Will delight young learner drivers with amazing sounds and effects.

Also fully portable, so your little one could even take it on car journeys and become a fully fledged back seat driver!

Cars Aquadraw

Aquadraw is a great present for creative young minds. Brilliant as it’s guaranteed no mess and no fuss, so you can just let your kids imagination go wild!

This special Car’s version comes with fun Cars designs decorating the Aquadraw mat. Either use the regular aquadraw pen or use the roller to create tyre tracks and watch as Lightning Mcqueen follows your path.

Perfect present to get out on Boxing day when the excitement has wained and everyone needs a couple of hours peace.

Top 10 Toys for Christmas 2009

Here are my picks for the top 10 toys that children everywhere will be wishing to find under the  Xmas tree in 2009.

Transformers Devestator

With six Transformers combining together to make this huge villain from the movie “Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen” .The Supreme Combiner Constructicon Devastator, to give it it’s full name is quite a beast of a present.

This Amazingly big boy’s toy would look mightily impressive sitting under the Christmas Tree.

Peppa Pig – Princess Peppa’s Royal Palace

Having no girls Peppa Pig doesn’t play a big role in my life. However judging from the reactions of friends little ones and girls at the local toddler group all dressed in their Peppa Pig T-shirts, she is big business.

This Beautiful palace playset folds out to reveal 7 rooms, ranging from kitchen, royal bedroom and even banqueting hall.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Dancer

Every one’s Favourite cartoon mouse is here, and he’s singing his signature “Hot Dog song”. Pre-schoolers are sure to squeal in delight, as Mickey dances the Hot Dog dance and tells a couple of jokes along the way.

Hot Diggety dog!

Rocky the Interactive Robot Dump Truck

This wise-cracking Italian stallion of a dump truck, will be just the thing for those budding Bob the Builders and Handy Manny’s.

With it’s vast array of cool moves and even cooler sayings, he’s bound to be a big Christmas hit!

Vtech Kiddizoom Pro Multimedia Camera

This new improved version of the Kiddizoom, comes with a 2 megapixel camera, 5 games and an inbuilt MP3 player.

Edit your photos on the viewfinder by adding fun effects and borders.

A fun and practical present for budding David Bailey’s.

Handy Manny  Transforming 2 in 1 Tool Truck

This has to be the number one gift for Handy Manny fans this Christmas.

Have fun playing with Handy Manny’s red truck, and then unfold to reveal his workshop.

With five engine parts and even more household objects needing mending, there will always be something for your little one to fix.

Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Robot

The NXT 2.o is the new upgraded version of the massive hit Lego Mindstorms NXT.

As boy’s get older they can get harder to buy for. This is a brilliant present for a teenage boy, guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing and not just get discarded by boxing day. What boy (and dad) wouldn’t want to make there own robot!

You don’t have to be Steven Hawkings to build one either. It comes with instructions on how to build 4 different robots, the first of which can be built in only 30 minutes.

Barbie and The Three Musketeers Kitten Miette

This adorable little Kitten is from the new “Barbie and the Three Musketeers” Movie. She comes with a CD featuring music and stories from the film.

She also sings and dances along when you play the DVD of the film. The more you play and interact with Miette, the more she will play along with you.

Sylvanian Families Caravan and the Family Car

A great addition to your Sylvanian Families Collection, I only wish my mother hadn’t chucked out all of my original ones when I moved out.

This set comes with over 25 accessories such as 2 car seats for the little baby bunny’s, and a lovely picnic hamper which you can store in the boot of the car just like real life.

This set has everything you need for your Sylvanian Family friends to get a well deserved holiday.

Little Tikes Pop Tunes Big Rocker Guitar

Get your little popstar prepared for a life of X Factor auditions when their older, with the Pop Tunes guitar. The real difference with this toy guitar is it plays kidified versions of some genuinely classic songs, no row row your boat or Twinkle, Twinkle on this guitar.

Get ready to introduce your youngster to Queen and the Police, with this fun toy that even big rockers will enjoy.

And that ladies and Gentleman is the Toybuzz list of the top 10 toys for Christmas 2009. Happy shopping Santa!

VTech Cyber Pocket Review – Update

Previously I wrote a review of my sons VTech Cyber Pocket and how he was uninterested, and I was left disappointed that his one big Christmas present hadn’t gone down as well as I’d liked. Well what a difference 6 months make! to say that he loves the Cyber Pocket is an understatement. So I thought I needed to redress the balance of negativeness in my original review and provide an update.

Thomas was just 2 months over his third birthday when he received the Cyber Pocket for Christmas, I thought he would take to it immediately as it is marketed as suitable from 3 years and above and he enjoyed playing the games on his VSmile Console. Unfortunately although he was initially thrilled when he opened the box, within the first 5 minutes of playing Scooby Doo Funland Frenzy his enthusiasm had waned. He just couldn’t get a grip of the small VTech controls compared to the chunky joystick of the VSmile,I even investigated if we could plug the joystick into the Cyber pocket but it wasn’t possible.

So it got left in it’s case gathering dust in the corner of the cupboard until June of this year, when we were due to be travelling on a long car journey for a caravan holiday. I decided if Thomas had some games to entertain him for the journey it might make it go a bit quicker. So one week before we were due to travel I got out the Cyber Pocket and gave it to Thomas to have a go, it took a while to garner his interest as he was continuing to say “I can’t do it” for the first 5 minutes. However once we’d got over the first 5 minutes he was well away and there was no stopping him, there’s more of a problem now getting him off the thing! Needless to say the Cyber Pocket was a big success on the car journey, he was quiet as a mouse for most of the way.

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Obviously I’m really pleased that a present that cost a lot of money is now actually getting used daily rather than just gathering dust. I’m also really pleased that he genuinely seems to be gaining some knowledge from the games rather than just wasting time, he enjoys playing and is learning too bonus! His letter recognition has definitely improved from playing games like Winnie the Pooh’s Honey Hunt and Scooby Doo Funland Frenzy, where you have to collect letters as you travel through the game. He’s also learning more abstract things, like when the Donkey in Shrek tells him “Butcher’s sell meat”?

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We’ve now added several other VTech games to our collection like Little Einsteins and Shrek, and Thomas is going to be receiving Handy Manny and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse games for his Birthday (shhh don’t tell!) You can also pick up the older games relatively cheap on Ebay, we’ve purchased some of the now retired games from there like Spiderman and Friends.

It’s good to note that you can also use the newer VSmile Motion games on the Cyber Pocket too, although the motion part obviously wont work. This is good to know because some older games are now being re-released as VSmile Motion games and also if you find a special offer on these games you can pick them up safe in the knowledge they will work fine on the Cyber Pocket.

There is a definitely some VSmile games which are better than others, I was disappointed with the Little Einsteins game we purchased because it seems very short and there are only 2 mini games, although my son still loves playing it. In contrast the two games I’ve been most impressed by are Wall-e and Shrek the third, which both have lots of different levels and mini games and improved graphics over other games. Ok so the graphics are never going to be even Playstation standard, but I think that it’s perfectly adequate for little gamers.

In summary I think for my son 3 was too young for the Cyber Pocket, and the 6 months extra made a huge difference to his ability to play the games and use the controls. So I would say you would be better waiting until your child was just over 3 1/2 years until they got full use of this product.

VTech Baby’s Laptop Review

My one year old Jacob received this as a Christmas present from his gran, and it’s been well played with already. As it’s really light I usually take it into the kitchen and he plays with it on his highchair tray, he just taps away happily for ages.

When you lift up the lid of the laptop you will discover that the under side of the lid is a grid of 9 squares, each with a picture on it. Below is 9 coloured buttons in various different shapes, also with different pictures on them.

The computer voice is a friendly enthusiastic lady and not overly annoying. When you first turn the laptop on it will play an opening song, sung by the lady which is quite fun.

There’s also a pretend red mouse which makes different Tom and Jerry cartoon style sound effects when moved.

There is a two level volume switch and a switch for engaging on of the three modes of play, Learning, Explore and Music.

In explore mode when a button is pushed  the picture on the corresponding square of the grid is commented on e.g. a picture of a rattle and it says “I like to shake my rattle”.

Learning mode consists of firstly pressing one of the shaped buttons and the computer will say it’s name, if pressed again the picture on the button will be vocalised and lastly the picture on the corresponding grid square will be named.

In music mode each button press will result in a different nursery rhyme being played and all the grid squares will flash repeatedly.

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If not in use for 30 seconds the computer will say “are you home” ,and after another 30 seconds the initial laptop opening song will play again. When inactive for a few minutes the laptop will say “shutting down now” but if it is not switched to the off button it will come to life  as soon as a button is pressed again. 

This toy is extremely sturdy and well built as Jacob always drops it from his highchair when he’s done and it’s still unscathed and  good as new.

Although my son doesn’t  play with it when I give it to him it doesn’t keep his interest for that long ,only about 5 minutes at a time. He doesn’t actively seek it out to play with it from the toy box either.

I think that it is a good toy for babies, but the age recommendation is 9 – 36 months and I don’t think any toddler over 2 years would get anything out of it. I would say 9 – 18 months would be more realistic.

VTech V.Smile Cyber Pocket Touch Review

I love computer games, my husband loves computer games ergo my son loves computer games.

Obviously rather than getting him hooked on the XBOX or Playstation 3 too early, I thought buying him a junior games console with some education value as well as fun would be the best option.

Thomas already had the V.Smile console which plugs into the TV, we bought it as a present for achieving toilet training. We had three games for this system which he loved playing, and we had no problems with it until the new baby came along.

Unfortunately his new baby brother has a fascination with anything electronic and anything with leads, and prevented Thomas playing because he would always pull the leads out of the tv and not leave him alone to play.

We then decided to buy Thomas the portable version of the V.Smile the CyberPocket for Christmas as they both took the same game cartridges so we knew he would be able to play the games he loved again, or so we thought.

As soon as we took the Cyber Pocket out of the box on Christmas morning we realised there was a problem, a big scratch across the screen. I was not impressed.  We decided to persevere for the time being with the scratch and I would exchange it after the holidays, disaster averted we began to play.

My son first wanted to play the included Scooby Doo Funland Frenzy game as he is a favourite of his at the moment. He couldn’t get to grips with this game and got very frustrated with the controls. As this game is recommended from age 5 and Thomas is only 3 we put the problems down the advanced age difficulty and popped in the trustworthy Bob the builder game, Thomas’s best game he says.

Even though he had played this game many many times and knew it like the back of his hand ,he still didn’t like playing it on the Cyber Pocket.

His main complaint is that his fingers hurt which makes sense as when you use the original V.Smile you move the character with a joystick, but the Cyber Pocket uses a directional pad which has to be constantly pressed. I had a go and I’ll admit it hurt my fingers too.

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After 10 minutes total play of 2 games on Christmas morning he’d had enough and it was put away. Days passed and no mention of playing his computer so I started prompting him but I couldn’t get him to play it again.After more harassing from me he has played it a few times for about 10 minutes each time but just gives up and puts it away, he just doesnt like it.

One of the main draws for the Cyber Pocket is that it’s portable, a big factor in us buying it was being able to use it on long car journeys to the mother in laws,  V-Tech also sell in car chargers so that this is possible. Regrettably the screen is so poor that using it in the car is not an option, too much screen glare. My son tried to use it for a while but just spent all the time tilting the lid back and forth trying to see the screen.

Even when using the device indoors the screen is a problem, everything is very jerky and lines of interference constantly run up and down the screen. It’s a very poor effort in my opinion and should have been improved.

Below the screen is a stylus pad for using the pen stylus. This is the only part my son enjoys but the stylus is not compatible with every game,  and even if it is it’s only for a short portion of the game. Thomas would have really enjoyed a drawing game and I think there should have been one included with the console to make use of the stylus. I think there maybe one available to buy separately though.

One good point is that it’s suitable for right and left handers, with a simple flick of a switch you are able to switch the controls from one side to the other.

It comes with a tv lead included in the box enabling you to plug it into the tv if you so wish.

It dosn’t come with a power adaptor which is regrettable as from other reviews i’ve read the battery life of the Cyber Pocket is atrocious, unfortunately we haven’t even run out the first set of batteries we put in as it hasn’t had enough play yet.

The new v.smile V-motion might be the answer to our prayers, it’s a tv console but it has wireless controllers and motion sensors like the Wii. Although I’m sure Thomas would love it I’m at pains to pay out for another V.Smile when I have 2 perfectly good ones at home not being used.

The cyber pocket  is Available in Pink or Blue and recommended from age 5 years.

I think that all children are different and I’m sure lots of kids enjoy the Cyber Pocket, but my son didn’t maybe he was just too young for it but as he had enjoyed the tv version so much I thought he would be ok.

Taking everything into account with the bad control system, poor screen and aparent bad battery life I am not able to recommend it.

For an update to this review after 6 months of use, see VTech Cyber Pocket Review – Update