Welcome to another Good e-Reader Review! Today we got our hands on the new Vtech VReader aimed at kids 2-5. This new E-Reader raises the bar for interactive learning devices. Parents might remember spending their youth with Typing Tutor, Oregon Trail, and Records with read along books. This new device is sure to bring the old school mentality of a fun way to do word correlation with achivements and more.
The V.Reader features two different colors, pink and blue and features a 4.3 inch color touchscreen, and it also comes with a stylus. It has a full QWERTY keyboard to be able to type things like your name, welcome message and profile options. It runs on 4 AA batteries and seems to have a life of about a few days of constant use. There are built in speakers to give music and narrative a way to interact with your child and there is even an audio jack, for headphones. This is a lifesaver, because kids tend to have anoying repetitive audio gadgets, and this is a pleasant option. It also has an audio and screen dampener. So you can switch the audio on a low to high settings, and make the screen darker, or lighter.
There is buttons also on the device, that let you bookmark specific things, and go forward and backward in a book. It also has a USB port and SD memory card slot for expansion. This device is VERY durable, it features rounded corners and rubberized plastic on the edges for added protection against dings and bumps. This means that will take quite the thrashing and will not dent the screen. It comes with a built in case, that will protect it, when not in use, or if the child is running up stairs and drops it, it will be fine. Even the touch screen is contained within the unit, making it well protected.
eBooks and Multi-Media
The VTech V.Reader is a full interactive learning device, that features animated stories, that include your child into the story.
Lets talk about eBooks first. Most VReaders will come bundled with a game that is based on a cartridge. New Books will set you back around $25.00 and can be purchased from the VTech Site or at retail merchants like Toys R US.
The games often have an interactive narrative feel to them. Often you will be faced with word association games and clicking on items for the on-screen character to pick up. It also has a built in dictionary, so you can click on words and get their meaning. Stories as well, have keywords, the built in one we had, which featured the escapades of Rufus the Dog, allowed you to click on keywords and get a background story on the character, or a tangible object.
All of the books are read out loud to the child and all the voices are done by actors and voice actors, so it does not come accross as cheesy that one person does all of the voices in the game.
The V.Reader has tons of interactive content such as Built in games, such as Word Mole. Each of the mini games you can download for free from the VTech website, allow you to have 3 or 4 difficulty settings and challenges your child to spell words. The better you do at the stories and games, the more achievements you will get, and will take place on a scroll that is on your main menu. The achivement based system is solid, because it gives the kids a reason to try things at a higher difficulty to get the reward.
You can connect your V.Reader via your USB cable to the internet, and download interactive content, new stories, mini games and more freebies. Most of the content you download will be stores in your “backpack” on the main menu.
Although this device is aimed at childern between the ages of 2 and 5, it does not mean its a little kids toy, older users, over the age of five, may choose from more difficult categories of activities including phonics, vocabulary, and word recognition games.
We like the fact that this is a well designed piece of technology that is one of the most durable e-readers we have ever seen. Its rounded edges and plastic makes it bounce, rather then splat when dropped. The built in case with a see-through plastic protective cover is also good. The stories and games are rich and immersive and will give kids hours and hours of enjoyment! The fact that it has a headphone jack is also great, because lets face it, gadgets that make too much noise are fine and well. But after you have heard the same story or noises 100000 times in a row, it gets old fast.
Kids seem to love this device, its the perfect blend of educational and interactive learning. When i was young, I used to play all the educational games, because they were either software programs for my Commodore 64, or MAC computers. Games like Typing Tutor and other word association games were fun! This is a great new item, that takes all the most important factors from the past, and blends it into a modern device.
Our verdict is, buy it. If you have a child between 2 and 5, they will love this! Its rich in content and allot of free stuff is available on the VTech website! Games also are cheap ($25.00) when you compare it to a modern video game. It teaches children a love of books at an early age. Many parents I talked to, that have this device, see their 4 year old daughter reading books to her younger sister. Some kids don’t even leave home without it, bringing it in the car, to school and other places. I think its great to have the kids doing something thats FUN and EDUCATIONAL to spend their time doing, instead of watching Television or Movies all of the time.
This e-Reader will soon be available at our retail partner Shop e-Readers for around $95.00 and it is a great gift for the holidays.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.