21 March 2006

VSmile TV Learning System review

Ben passed along this detailed (lukewarm) Ars Technica review for anyone considering a VSmile TV Learning System "edutainment" game console (Vtech). Any VSmile owners care to pipe up?

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Crappy review. The entire review focuses on the mediocre graphics and how pissed he is about an AC adapter.

We have one of these, my child got it at age 2, and my review falls in to two questions:
1) Does the child play it? Yes.
2) Does the child love it? Yes.

Review complete.

The graphics aren't great, but we used to play the Atari 2600 for Christ sakes and get *nothing* from it.

In the "Ugly" category he mentioned not reading to your 3 year old and get a start on gaming instead. I guess not all of us have the ability to read to our child during his/her entire waking life so as to not engage him in any other mental activity.

Let's be sure to completely remove our child from the culture that they're creating.

Unfortunately, this review is so poor that it can elicit no other response except "I need to find out for myself because the information in this write-up is completely useless."

Preschoolers love vsmile. They get to feel like big kids, and they love the fact that they are controling the action on the TV. They will, of cousre, outgrow it, but that is part of the program.

It is a wonderful toy for occasional use - our 2 and 3 year olds just like the ritual of pulling it out of the drawer, plugging it in, pushing the buttons, etc - just like the big kids!

I just can't agree with all of the things that the review said. My daughter adores her VSmile, and the only problem that we have with it is that she cannot remove the games by herself. She's in the "I can do it ALL. BY. MYSELF." phase of life, and her not being about to remove the games from the console by herself has caused many a fit.
While he does have a point about the AC Adaptor, all you have to do is read the box, and you'll figure out that you need to pick one of them up. While I don't always read the packaging, when it comes to electronics, I've been burned too many times not to pay attention to their packaging.

Yes, the graphics are horrible, no, it doesn't have an A/C adapter (we've been going on our first set of batteries since Christmas though -- albeit at a usage rate of once a week for 10 minutes or so).

Strange product -- the graphics are much worse than anything else on the market, and it drives me batty. But my son loes Bob The Builder, and playing the game is better than sitting him in front of the TV doing nothing.

That said, at 3 years old, he plays with the game for 3 or 4 minutes, and then wants Daddy to finish it for him. There's some educational value, but not much... and I wouldn't recommend VSmile as anything other than a random diversion for a kid, something for a rainy afternoon. The terrible controller needs upgrading though... how can a kid learn to fine-tune hand-eye coordination when I can't get the dang thing to work correctly myself?

Bottom line: If you're looking for an Atari knockoff with a bad joystick to entertain your child, this is it. If not, you'd probably be better off getting some CD-ROMs for the kiddies to introduce them to educational gaming.

V Smile is a great thing for the preschool set. With 2 boys under 5 and the owner of an Xbox (used to house Balamory pulled down from the net) and a Gamecube (which we actually play)I can tell you that the V Smile is age appropriate. I find the controller hard to use and agree the graphics are marginal but the fact that it doesnt have an AC adaptor makes me happy (dont need the boys experimenting with AC power, yet.) and the big boy aspect cannot be ignored. Let ARS stick to bog boy toys.

My son Jack loves playing Spiderman on it.

My 4 yr old son has the Vsmile handheld, which works GREAT for long car rides when bordem sets in. I think this one works much better for hand eye cordination. He also feels like such a big boy since he has a hand held game system. You can also buy an additional car charger so you don't have to buy batteries all the time.

watch the boxes the cardboard box did not have the ac adapter -- but the hard plastic case box did and it was the same price --

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