A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this has limited play value as a standalone device for $99. It gets more interesting -- and expensive -- when add-on software titles are purchased including those that help with spelling, math, Spanish, and test-taking. As with any new system, parents should look at what add-on software is available, and what it will cost. And they must be willing to gamble that the system will take off, thus creating a demand for Leapfrog to develop additional software.
What's it about?
Leapfrog's FLY PENTOP COMPUTER, targeted at the 8-to-13 tween market, has kids create menu icons on the enclosed FLY paper. Writing the letter M and drawing a circle around it creates the Main Menu, for instance. By tapping on the encircled M, the FLY will voice the menu options, including scheduler, calculator, time, notepad, settings, and, the hands-down favorite, games.
To select an option, the user draws a checkmark next to the menu button and taps on it when the desired application is mentioned. Then the audio will instruct the users to draw additional menu icons relevant to operating the application selected. For example, let's say your child decides she wants to use the calculator application. The FLY will instruct her to draw the numbers 0 through 9 and basic mathematical symbols, and thereafter, when she taps on the numbers and functions, the paper and pen will behave like a calculator.
Is it any good?
Kid-testers were particularly drawn to the games applications. The FLY has three built-in games, and it comes with an additional pad of 10 interactive games and two fold-out game boards. The built-in FLYtones game was "awesome," according to testers, because it allows them to create a keyboard and drum set on FLY paper and then record their own music.
To make this product worth it, you've got to buy additional software. Eight add-on packages are currently available, each costing between $24 to $35, including FLY THROUGH SPELLING and FLY THROUGH MATH: MULTIPLICATION AND DIVISION. Because FLY paper -- which comes in notebooks and pads that range in price from $6 and $10 -- looks like regular paper, kids can do their math homework on it. Overall, the FLY Pentop Computer is fascinating to explore and easy to use. It looks cool, and it's the perfect size to slip into a pocket or backpack.
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