I didn't have a review blog before VTech caught my attention. Then I was seduced by their table of products at BlogHer and eagerly signed up to be on their "Demo Team." Because my family is composed of suckers for electronics in general and video games in particular.
I was excited beyond words when I got a package in the mail a couple of weeks ago that included their V-Motion Active Learning System.
Before I start my review, I would like to say a few words about the necessity of a video game system for small children. I remember when I first saw the V.Smile. I wondered why anyone would need to give a video game system to a 3-year-old. I still kind of wonder that.
(Do you think he likes it?)
But I also kind of live in the real world. Well, my real world. And my real world includes screen time. VTech's take on this issue seems to be, if they're going to ask to play video games, why not give them something educational instead of something mindless?
That said, you're either the type of person who's going to let your small children play video games (me) or you're not (my sister). If you're like my sister, go back to Stimeyland. If you're like me, read on.
The game was really easy to set up and connect to the TV, although it didn't come with the adaptor. So we had to start out with battery power, which ran out pretty quickly. Then I went to Target and bought the power cord, which made me much happier. (And $10 poorer.)
All the VTech systems come with something called the V.Link, which allows you to track your child's game time and scores, plus access extra games, or something to that effect. As far as I can tell, the V.Link only works on PCs, and I have a Mac, so I obviously can't review that part of the system. But, frankly, I don't think my kids will miss it.
My guys had fun with the system using the game that came with it, but the biggest problem we had was that they had already played on an Xbox 360, and the V-Motion just cannot compete with that. I had to remind myself that the Xbox and its awesome graphics retails at around $300, and the V-Motion is $70.
However, Quinn (the 3-year-old) is not coordinated enough to play with the Xbox controller. So the Xbox is not really a possibility for him. But the V-Motion controller is basically a joystick and a button. That he can do. There is also a motion-activated function for the controller so kids can play the games just by moving the controller around. (Think Wii.)
This option was kind of tough for my kids. They actually prefer the joystick option, but I'm sure they could get the hang of the motion activation if they practiced. For now, though, the motion-activated option requires serious contortions, which is actually sort of entertaining to watch.
All the VTech games have an educational basis: matching letters, color sorting, counting, etc... For kids still working on things like letter and number recognition, this is fantastic.
We like the V-Motion with the game they include with it, but we LOVE the V-Motion with the Thomas & Friends game I bought at Target. Quinn is a little bit of a train nut, so he was thrilled to guide Thomas around a train track to find the letters in Percy's name. Especially if it meant he could occasionally crash Thomas into Edward.
Plus, and I haven't tested this yet, but the packaging on the games ($25 each) claims that they work in all the different systems. Which is awesome, because I think I'd be upset if they wanted me to buy different games for different versions of the same system.
Excuse me. I have to go now because Quinn is yelling, "I like Thomas! I like Thomas! I want to play the Thomas one!" I think I have to go turn the V-Motion on now.
Stay tuned for my next review coming soon: The V.Smile Cyber Pocket and why it is making waiting rooms waaaaaaaay more fun.
Honesty Clause: VTech gave me the V-Motion system for free. Other than that, I was uncompensated for this review. The V-Motion retails for $69.99.