Top positive review
49 people found this helpful
on September 20, 2011
This is a great addition to LeapFrog's line. Here are my thoughts:
PACKAGING: Easy to get out of the box. Nothing excessive. Comes with a USB cord.
SETUP: You have to sign up for a parent account and go through about 10-15 minutes of downloads and choosing which options you want on the device. It's a simple process and lets you pick which stories, songs, and melodies you want, plus it lets you add your child's name and a couple of personal touches-- their favorite color and food (chosen from a list). You can also choose from pre-selected sentiments to "email" your child from you or anyone you choose. You'll get to have 3 e-mails preloaded on the device with simple sayings like "You make me so happy" and "I can't wait to see you."
One down-side is that you can choose only one name, so if you have more than one kid who'd use it, you're out of luck. Of course, you can go back and change it later, but just one name at a time.
BATTERIES: You can't use rechargeables. Requires 3 AAs, and it comes with only "demo" batteries. There's an auto-shutoff feature if you leave the device on accidentally.
APPEARANCE: It's about the size and weight of an e-reader like the Kindle or Nook. The actual viewing screen, however, is much smaller. The screen is just 2.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches high, and I wish it were bigger than that. We could have done without the three characters on top, who don't really have a purpose (they just say things like, "Let's listen to a story!" or "Let's listen to music!" when you press them.
SOUND: The speaker is in the back of the device. There are two volume settings. I found the quiet one too quiet, but the louder one is fine.
WHAT IT DOES: There are four functions:
1. The ABCs. This is a really common part of kids' electronic devices, and there's nothing special about this one. You press a letter and it tells you the name of the letter, its sound, and something that starts with that letter.
2. E-mails and messages. This shows the three pre-loaded e-mails you've sent (at random), plus Scout sends some e-mails, too. Then it writes an e-mail back from the child. ("Hey! Let's write back. 'Dear Aunt Lisa, You make me happy too. Love, [Your Child's Name].") It also provides a screen for the child to write their own stories-- but!-- and here's part of why I deducted a star-- it doesn't actually do anything once the child finishes writing. It doesn't save the story or try to read it. It just erases it once you hit another button. This won't matter for the 2-year-old set, but for kids who actually are learning to write, it's frustrating that there's no way for them to save what they wrote to show anyone.
3. Stories. These are very short, animated stories about Scout and his pals. Some of them are customized with the child's name, favorite food, or favorite color. This is what makes the device different and interesting, in my opinion, and this is the other part of the reason I deducted a star: You can save only 5 stories on the device, and like I said, they're really short. I love that this device incorporates my child's name into the stories... it's exciting for kids to hear their names spoken by Scout. I just wish there were more stories, and options for longer stories. My daughter (age 4) is a real bookworm. I would eagerly have taken the tradeoff of losing the other common features (like the ABCs and songs) in favor of more stories and/or stories with a little more to them.
4. Songs. You can load four songs with Scout singing the vocals (eh) and five that are just melodies. You get to pick from a list of about 20 of each. They're what you'd expect-- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, The Wheels on the Bus, etc. plus two classical songs. The music is nothing wonderful, but nothing that'll drive you batty, either.
OVERALL: I think this is a great toy for the 2-4-year-old set, especially for car rides and rainy days.