Toy Review: Baby – Computer Console for Babies and Young Children from vtech

This is a review of the V.Smile Baby TV Console from vtech. Also known as “V.Smile Baby Infant Development System”. This is like a playstation designed for babies, designed to educate and entertain children from 9 to 36 months. This is an initial review of the product as this has just been given to our daughter (17 months old) as a Christmas present, I may post an updated review in future.

The systems consists of two parts. The console part that plugs into the TV, and a wireless (infrared) keypad. The games are available as plug-in modules. There is one included in the system called “Learn and Discover Home”. There are four others available to buy separately called.

  • Baby Einstein World of Discoveries
  • Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood Adventure
  • A Day on the Farm
  • Noah’s Ark*

* The Noah’s Ark game is due for release in the UK on the 31st January 2007.

The console and controller are both battery powered, so there is no need to connect them to the mains. The console connects to the TV using A/V cables. A number of TVs have these ports available on the side of the TV (coloured Yellow, White and Red), or they can be connected to the TV through a Scart adapter (supplied). The cable is quite short so the console needs to be positioned physically close to the TV.

The controller uses infra-red, which has a reasonable range, and despite my fear that it may have to be accurately lined up, it worked well from a few different positions around the lounge.

The controller consists of a slide selector to choose from 3 different modes “Play Time”, “Watch & Learn” and “Learn & Explore”. There is also a selector to choose between TV Play and Play Alone. In play alone mode the controller works without the console and talks to the baby asking to press certain buttons.

There are 6 play buttons and a roll ball on the controller. These are: Yellow Star; Blue Triangle; Orange Circle; Green Square; Red Heart and a Purple button with a flower shape in the centre. The games prompt for certain colours / shapes to be pressed, or allow for any button to be pressed, but respond with a different character or sound.

The games are quite basic and appear to be very similar across the different games modules (although we haven’t spent a long time on these yet). They do have sound based activities, colouring and counting games etc. The modules also have some baby sign language demonstrations. A word of warning though is that the characters are not very clear when they are performing the sign language, and for those outside of the US these appear to be based on American Baby Sign Language. There is a British variant of baby sign language which we have been teaching our baby, which is based on BSL (British Sign Language) / Makaton, so V.Smile learning activities may contradict what you have been teaching your child. I will no doubt post more on Baby Sign Language in the future as it is something we’ve been teaching our daughter.

All in all the console seams quite good, but would be more useful for children that are quite a bit older than the minimum age of 9 months. Hopefully I’ll post more information in the future.