Gadgets Of The Week: Educational Games 'To Go'
GADGETS OF THE WEEK The New York Times SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2005
New technology toys are further blurring the line between educational software and television. Consider VTech's V.Smile Pocket, a book-size gadget for ages 3 to 8 that plays arcade games laced with educational content.
Available for $90 at major electronics and toy stores, it also runs 19 games made for the console-size version, released last year.
Plugged into a TV, the device acts like a standard game controller.
Pull the plug, and the game switches to the V.Smile Pocket speaker and screen. Instead of prying a stubborn player away from the TV, you can carry the child right out the door, game in hand.
The crisp color screen is better than the one on the Leapster L-Max from Leapfrog, due in August, and the software library features children's all-stars like Bob the Builder and Mickey Mouse. Every cartridge has plenty of mazes, shooting galleries and scavenger hunts, and all the games are focused on teaching things like letters, colors and math skills.
A camera easy on the eyes
Despite their high-resolution images, film cameras suffer from a basic problem: a frustratingly small viewfinder that you must align with your eyeball. Digital cameras changed that with liquid-crystal displays.
But these neat mini-TVs tend to be thirsty for battery power, compelling many digital shooters to resort to the thumbnail viewfinder.
Samsung's Pro815 has innovations that address both problems. It features a high-capacity lithium-ion battery that powers up to 500 shots a charge. And with its impressive 3.5-inch display - as much screen real estate as you get in some bulky photo vaults - you may never want to bend your nose against the back of the camera again.
The camera has a 15X optical zoom lens, uses Compact Flash storage cards and has a shutter lag of only half a second.
The Pro815 will be available next month for $849 in the United States, certainly more expensive than basic point-and-shoot models. But if you calculate the costs of broken eyeglasses from jamming your face into a camera back, it may not be a bad deal.
- Andrew Zipern (NYT)