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VTech Babytime Centre

Submitted by on March 24, 2010 – 10:12 amNo Comment

“I have to admit, the VTech Babytime Centre has proved a popular toy for visiting children to try. However, by the time it has fully loaded up they all seem to loose interest.”

Buy online from Amazon

Price £49.99

*****

Initial thoughts: This is an educational cartridge-based games console for 1-3 year olds. The big, bold control panel is chunky and friendly enough for a one year old to use but also robust enough for a three year old and is wireless, so it won’t provide a trip hazard. It appears a fun, educational toy. However, I was concerned about my ability to attach it to the television! The toddler nearly wet himself with excitement when he saw it.

We liked: Our one year old absolutely loved playing it in television mode. The control pad is just right for her and the zoo cartridge was right up her street. The bright colourful buttons really kept her attention and there were loud exclamations of joy when she managed to do something tangible.  The control pad can also be switched to a stand alone mode, this lets your child play with it as a sort of activity pad. This was a great alternative which proved as attractive as the television play.

The Zoo cartridge also kept her big brother’s attention and has improved his shape recognition and sorting noticeably in the last couple of weeks. I was really surprised by this. His attention span and concentration are considerably better whilst playing with this toy than with most of his other ones, I wonder if this is because of its association with the television.

We weren’t keen: The In the Night Garden game was a massive let down. There wasn’t enough interactivity with it and it was too slow and unresponsive for our two and a half year old. There were even loading screens, something you should never see on cartridge based system!

The price is a little difficult to justify when you can buy a ‘proper’ console such as the Xbox 360 for all the family for around £100 nowadays. Yes, the VTech Baby console has a younger age profile, but the point still stands about it being poor value as it doesn’t have the potential longevity of use and is technically inferior.

There is also the issue of whether it’s a good idea to introduce one and two year olds to playing computer games. I suppose it’s more interactive that passively watching the television but it’s still not ideal and it could become another temptation to park them in front of whilst you do your household jobs.

I have to admit, it has proved a popular toy for visiting children to try. However, by the time it has fully loaded up they all seem to loose interest.

Overall: A real mixed bag. It’s ideal for the bottom of the age range if you can justify to yourself that playing video games is okay for the under-threes. However, it doesn’t really have enough to keep an active 3 year old interested.

[By Claire W – Being a Mummy]

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