V.Smile Baby – TV Games Console for Young Children

The first Toy Review: Baby – Computer Console for Babies and Young Children from vtech, was mainly a technical description as we’d only recently bought it. The second provides some information if the connector doesn’t work on your TV – Update to Toy Review: Baby – TV Games Console for Toddlers from vtech. The final was really about baby signing, but mentions that the Baby Sign language available on the V.Smile baby is unsuitable for teaching baby sign language Baby Sign Language – Makaton and British Sign Language.

We have now had the console for a while and our daughter is much older, so here’s an update on how well our daughter interacts with it. We were hopeful that our daughter would take to the V.Smile baby as she had shown a fascination with the TV remote control, and we thought that being able to interact with the TV would be beneficial. I must however concede that for some reasons remote controls will always be more attractive to young children than any kind of toy!

The console says that it is suitable from 9 months upwards, but I think that is very optimistic. Our daughter didn’t really take to it at that age, and it’s only really now that she’s 2 years old that she is starting to appreciate it. Even now she needs encouragement and constant supervision, it’s not something she can play with on her own.

Each console has 4 or 5 different activities, each of which can be played in a different way depending on the status of the level switch, which has Playtime, Watch & Learn, and Learn & Explore. My first complaint about the console is that this level selector is quite enticing for young children whereas it’s generally better set by the parent rather than the child. I found our daughter would often end up restarting the activity because she moved that selector. Whilst discussing the control pad, in addition to the 6 buttons it has a roller ball. I haven’t yet found anything that uses the rollerball, which is a shame as it’s something that our daughter enjoys playing with. In addition to using the control pad with the TV, it can also be used in play alone mode, where the child can press the buttons in response to a spoken voice.

Even at two years old the interaction with the TV seams to be more down to trial and error in pressing the different buttons rather than responding to the proper game play. I’m sure that she will find this rewarding as she plays a bit more now that she is old enough to comprehend a bit more, and is starting to understand colours and shapes. Aged below two it is however little more than another toy to randomly press to get a response.

Quite a bit of thought appears to have gone into the games, although the quality of both the video and sound is quite poor, reminiscent of very old computer consoles (for those that remember the Atari 2600). It’s worth getting this console as it’s the only one around that young children can interact with, but don’t expect too much out of it until your child is about 2 years old.

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