We already have and love the LeapFrog Tag reading system, so I was very interested to see what VTech's similar toy, the Bugsby Reading System was like.
I assumed that it would be almost exactly the same, but I was wrong. There were some very different—and cool—variations with the VTech version.
First, and most obviously, the "pen" is a character: Bugsby. This is really fun, especially for younger kids. Plus, many of VTech's books feature Bugsby, which makes for fun interaction between the pen and the book.
I thought Bugsby was incredibly adorable. His little antennae light up when you turn him on, which I thought was extremely fun. My kids liked him too.
The other major difference between Bugsby and the Tag is that the Bugsby system doesn't require a computer audio download to read the books. Each book comes with a cartridge (in a handy little compartment attached to the back cover) that you can put into Bugsby's back and then immediately start reading.
I LOVED this. The thing that bothers me the most about the Tag is that you have to download the audio for each book into your Tag before you can use it with your book. Honestly, it's not that hard, but each Tag Reader only holds five to ten books, depending which version you have. So if you have a lot of books, you have to go back and forth to your computer to switch the audio files in and out.
This is much easier. It is a little difficult for kids to get the cartridges in and out of Bugsby (my kids couldn't do it by themselves), but it is much easier than dealing with audio downloads. The downside is that cartridges can get lost, so you have to be very careful to stow them away back into their books when your child is done.
The books themselves are really cute and a lot of fun for young kids. Kids can touch Bugsby to any page in the book to hear the story or sounds. Plus there are games for every page, as well as a game at the end of the book that has the child look for things throughout the book, which is great to teach kids about the structure of books, page numbers, and the like.
There are a lot of Bugsby books to choose from. They are hardcover with thick, quality paper. Some are new and feature Bugsby. Some feature popular characters that your kids already love, such as the Wonder Pets, Max and Ruby, Scooby Doo, Olivia, and more.
All three of my kids (ages 4, 6, and almost 8) liked Bugsby. But Quinn (4) and Jack (6) loved it most.
I have to say that I was really pleased with the Bugsby Reading System and would definitely recommend it for young kids.
Honesty Clause: VTech gave me a complimentary Bugsby Reading System (which comes with a book) and two additional books. The Bugsby Reading System sells for $29.99. The books sell for $12.99 each.