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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Yeah, I find that irksome--that and the fact that a screwdriver is necessary in order to gain access to the battery compartment (my guess is that generations of kids who glowed in the dark due to the ability to change their own batteries is the basis for this oh-so-cautious executive decision).
Now on to the good stuff. This is actually a very clever, functional device. It's very cute, kid-sized, and comes loaded with a plethora of functions; these include definitions for 32,000 words that don't seem excessively dumbed down and include etymology, a thesaurus, rhyming, word games (Hangman, Jumble, and Flashcards), "Confusables" (which differentiates between homonyms, homophones, and homographs), the ability to highlight any word within a definition and apply the aforementioned functions to it, the choice to see a word written in script, and the ability to time the child's reading as well as to save words to a personal list for review and practice. It's also programmed to correct spelling for phonetic-but-misspelled entries. All in all, pretty darned impressive.
Of course, the major hook is that the dictionary talks, thus enabling the child to hear words pronounced correctly...at least in theory. However, the electronic voice is so stilted and unnatural as to be bizarre; the thought of a generation of children emulating their electronic dictionaries is a tad disconcerting. This feature can be disabled; the dictionary can also be used with earphones (don't get too excited--the jack's included, the earphones are with the batteries...elsewhere). In addition, considering that there's a choice to hear or not to hear, it seems that it might have been a good idea to have included phonetic respellings (yeah, it's a word) such as those found in a standard dictionary. After all, it's never too early to start stressing the importance of looking up words (at 55, my Merriam-Webster Collegiate is never more than a few feet away from me when I write). The electronic option isn't always going to be available.
The bottom line: is this expensive gadget worth it? Frankly, I rather doubt it. Kids lose and break stuff on a regular basis and as cute as this is, it should be augmented with a real dictionary. It's possible that this could make building vocabulary fun and engaging and on that basis, it should be at least considered. I'll update with a user verdict when its intended (seven-year-old) recipient gives me some feedback.

Update as of 10/5/10: The recipient made it a point to ask her mother for the phone when I called a few minutes ago. She thanked me and told me she LOVES the dictionary and has been using it on a regular basis since the semester started (it seems the teacher is unable to give satisfactory definitions of new vocabulary that she introduces in class). Her mother subsequently cited that the definitions are clear, that their pronunciation can be heard (the bizarre vocal quality is apparently not a problem), and that they appear in both script and print are extremely helpful features. I'd change the review to a full five stars if I could based on this endorsement. However, I'd still like to get the little one in the habit of using a dictionary that doesn't require batteries as well. :)

Update as of 4/6/11: I was pressed into emergency baby-sitting duty last week and thought I should mention that quite out of the blue, my little friend told me AGAIN just how much she relies on her speaking dictionary. Clearly, this is a winner.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought my son would love this, he is 6 and reads fairly wellm and he did for the first few minutes, and then it went downhill. In theory, this is a great product. Unfortunately, theory does not always carry over into real life, as is the case here. First the good.....Phonetic spell correction is good and fast, definitions can be spoken, which is great, the design, while a little busy is not terrible and you get used to it. This could be a great tool! And at this price, quite frankly, it should be! The problems are many....first, it feels like the cover is flimsy and will easily break. It has an entire cheat sheet/instructions on the the inside of the cover which would be great if it stayed up and did not fold backwards. The graphics are just horrible and similar to some of the "made in china" trinkets you can buy from street vendors for a couple of dollars. The words are hard to read. The tone of the voice is horrible! Cheap, cheap, cheap. It's just too bad that the finished product did not pull it off.....this is probably a pass.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First let me agree with other reviewers that object to the need for a screwdriver to access the batteries. That said, I think the device is feature packed and will serve as an important item in a kids bag or backpack. I didn't try a destructive test but the cover looks and feels substantial enough to survive quite a bit of abuse. With all of the electronic games out there today I don't think the games will keep their attention long, but I don't see this as competing in that area. The instructions are on the inside of the lid, but I found it easy to operate and if I can operate it our tech savvy kids will find it a piece of cake. Depending on the word, the voice can be a bit funky, but I think it is generally good enough to let you know how to pronounce the word and that can be very important. I've used earlier Franklin electronic dictionaries and have liked them. This one has many added features and is better. There may be better ones out there, but I haven't seen them. My opinion is that it's a good tool that will serve as an important part of a kid's (or adult's for that matter) bag of tricks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I gave this little dictionary to a friend, who is the principal of the local elementary school, and asked her to give it a whirl in one of her classrooms. She chose a third-grade classroom. When the teacher returned it to me at the end of the school year, she gave the following assessment:

1. All of the kids really enjoyed using the device. It is easy for children to learn to use. The teacher said that she made using it a special treat and her kids fought to be chosen to use it for the day.
2. The teacher said that she wished that her school would purchase enough units so that every child could have one for reading and spelling lessons.
3. One aspect she really liked was that when a child did not know how to spell a word and spelled it incorrectly, the device would offer corrections to find the necessary word.
4. The teacher did say that for classroom use, she felt the device was a little flimsy. Even though she returned it to me in pretty good shape, she said that for young children who tend to be rough on their things, this device might break easily -- especially the plastic lid. That being said, she did not return a broken unit to me, and said that she admonished the children to be careful with it, and they were.

All in all, I think that the experience of these kids is that this is a useful little device, and would be nice in a classroom or a home setting. I took away one star for the assessment of its likelihood to break under hard usage.

Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 12, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
PROS:

Easy to use, fits well in a child's hands.

QWERTY keypad.

Fairly large library of words.

Female voice sounds chirpy and bright.

Uses AAA batteries, no recharger to get lost.

Very portable.

CONS:

Male voice sounds distorted and slurred. This is annoying to say the least.

Screen graphics are primitive at best.

Cheap plastic screen cover is a detriment to the overall presentation and utility of the product.

Basically, my 9-year old son got bored with this dictionary fairly quickly, though he will pick it up and use it from time to time. More often than not, he and my teenage daughter use it to annoy one another by entering a word like "stupid" or "idiot" into the keypad and then repeatedly playing back the pronunciation cue whenever the other says something. This "game" gets a lot of mileage around my house. Obviously it's not the intended use for this object, but there you have it.

That alone speaks to the presentation of this product. My kids play a lot of games on the Nintendo DS and seem to be used to a higher level of interaction than this product can provide. It looks low-tech by comparison and it really just doesn't DO much other than define words. The games that it comes with aren't really very engaging and at the end of the day it's just kind of dull and utilitarian. I guess that it's difficult to make dictionaries seem exciting, but this doesn't add much to the mix.

It's OK though, and my kids DO use it from time to time, so it does get some love around my house. It's certainly more fun to use than a big book dictionary, though that annoying male voice makes me wish that it were as quiet as a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2012
Verified Purchase
Our 10 year old is a "reluctant reader" who would normally give up easily. A friend of ours suggested this Franklin product and she LOVES it!!!! She reads on her own -- and even enters in words phonetically to write on her own too! We HIGHLY recommend this product to anyone with a struggling reader or even a reader with learning disabilities.

UPDATE: She is now 11 and doing her work on her own using this dictionary!!!!! Math word problems, grammar lessons, reading assignments AND, as an added bonus, she uses it for READING FOR PLEASURE!!!!! We LOVE this product!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
Verified Purchase
Bought for my 7 year old grandson. He loves its. You can type a word and it gives the definition, show you how to write it, gives synonyms and antonyms, and rhyming words. My grandson is a voracious reader and he constantly comes across new words that he wants to pronounce and understand.

The games are simplistic but he likes them so far. You can add word lists to quiz for spelling tests.

Keyboard too small for adult use but fits nicely in a childs hand. Cover pops off fairly easily but in our experience went back on without a problem. Directions are on the inside cover which is nice. Also has a help function button that you can hit at any time. Screen is small but easy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I saw this item and thought it would be great for my grandson. Of course we all think our children and grandchildren are educationally advanced and smarter than the rest of the world.... I'm no different. But in this case it's true.... my granson is probably the next Einstein, and this little item is probably the thing that's going to put him over the top. It's smaller than it looks in the pictures... just the right size for little hands. But it is loaded with fun stuff that makes him smile all the while he is learning new things and expanding his knowledge. It's such fun. I thought it was odd that I was enjoying it so much but when my daughter and son-in-law got hold of it they were equally motivated by the many game-like tools that make it interesting to learn a variety of new things. Nothing is more impressive than have command of as much of the English language as possible. Along with that is having the knowledge of related words and related things. This thing provides all that and more and it's so easy to use. I found this isn't a "toy" that is quickly discarded, rather, it's a fun learning tool that encourages the user to continue using it... all the while learning new things. Even though my grandson is a little below the age threshold for this item, he is using it and learning with it with my daughter's assistance. This it the "toy" he brings to her when he wants to play. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2013
Verified Purchase
My daughter is a very good at reading.sometimes she had difficulty with understating the meaning of the words. browsing online or referring dictionary book slowed down her reading speed. This speaking dictionary helps her a lot with that ,also helps with sound of the words.Only disadvantage is that the product is very fragile made of cheap plastic.Buttons get stuck some time when she press it little hard.So I felt it expensive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My children find this item interesting, which is saying something,
considering it is a dictionary.

When setting up, you have to add four AAA batteries, and it will ask a name as soon as it turns on. We just used last name, since more than one child may use it.

You can:

- look up words/definitions
- look up words within definitions (jump to highlighted word definition)
- use a thesaurus function, synonyms and antonyms
- find rhyming words
- spell phonetically to get suggestions on actual spellings
- choose between words that are commonly confused
- watch as words are written out, as in cursive
- hear pronunciations of words and definitions
- save word lists
- play six different games: hangman, jumble, speaking spelling bee, guess that word, tic-tac-toe, flash cards
- time reading

I think some people that did not find this product terribly interesting possibly did not read the directions or allow their children to tinker with it much. Then again, our kids are avid readers that are both under 10 years old, and this product may appeal more to younger kids.
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