V.smile or Leapster?
July 28, 2007 1:53 PM   Subscribe

V.smile or Leapster? Looking for informed opinions on a learning-game console for a toddler.

My kidlet is almost two but fairly bright and loves technology. She likes pounding on Mama's old Pentium 200 laptop but keeps prying the key caps off the keys, and Daddy's not quite ready to hand it over to her yet.

Most of the general parenting boards seem to be all about the Leapster [as did the two threads I found searching here] as opposed to the V.smile. Also I really hate the name V.smile. But one of my good pals is all about it for his sons. Am I missing something with the V.smile?

My house is the friggin' Noah's Ark of game consoles, but I've already ruled out the Game Boy and DS, so please don't suggest those instead, like in the previous threads. I want something built for a small child that can play letters and numbers games, and if it doesn't have any games based on Japanese cartoons about collectible card games, then that's icing on the cake.
posted by britain to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Repeat: Don't tell me to get her a DS. She's two years old, for BoB's sake.
posted by britain at 1:54 PM on July 28, 2007

Best answer: How about an old computer? You can find them on craigslist for under $50, and with all the educational games and software available, they're so much cooler than a handheld system (that will probably end up in the closet in a month). Just pick up a few extra keyboards if you decide to go this route.

More info here and here
posted by Sufi at 2:41 PM on July 28, 2007

Best answer: You know this is a good question. I can give you an answer from experience... I have a 7 year old boy and a 6 year old girl, both went through the Leapster and the V.Smile Pink Pocket.

But- they both started out with an old Apple 7200 that I laid in their bedroom. They just pounded on the key board but managed to learn their alphabeta, numbers and simple arithmetic playing Reader Rabbit over and over and over.

At four they graduated to Leapster and V.smile. They both worked well. Especially in the car but no matter what they would always go back to the computer.

The Leapster was the toughest and got the most use but my daughter liked the way the V Smile looked (I think). Your subject is pretty young for either the Leapster or the V Smile. Bottom line recommendation... old computer in their bedroom with a tough as nails keyboard and let the kid go to town. Once she hits 4 or 5 grab a used Leapster for the car. When she reaches 7 get her an eMac, and let the internet do the rest... be sure to check the history each and every day but you will be surprised to find how fast they will realize all the questions they can answer for themselves.
posted by bkeene12 at 3:04 PM on July 28, 2007

Best answer: We have a V.smile that lasted about two afternoons, not because baby cocoa (2yo, boy) was uninterested but because the aux cord kinked and the wiring gave out. It wasn't a huge draw--the games were visually ok but the controller was overwhelming for an 18mo-- so we haven't fixed it yet. In general I'm trying to hold off on the tv/computer stuff but at some point (can anyone say 'winter'?) we'll fix it and give it another go.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:09 PM on July 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. I have a couple of old Macs I was thinking about setting up. We're a little short on space, so we were looking for something compact that's not a full-on laptop PC. But I might tuck the CPU under her little table and put the monitor and keyboard on the table. [Not sure if we'll do the mouse yet.]

When she gets a little older, I'm looking forward to building her first PC with her. We'll decorate the case any way she wants -- pink, plaid, or giant robots, whatever she's into -- and I figured Edubuntu or whatever the hotness is in a few years. [I'm a Mac dude myself, but it will be Windows if she needs it for classes or something.]

I want her to be a normal girl, whatever that means, who happens to know her way around a computer.
posted by britain at 7:46 PM on July 28, 2007

Best answer: On the computer tip you can get a lot of great fun software for super cheap now too. Lots of absolutely amazing stuff came out in the late 80s to mid 90s, especially anything done by The Learning Company. She'll be too young to care about what kind of shading reader rabbit has or his polygon count for quite a while and the games are just perfect.

pink, plaid, or giant robots
I hope she wants all three.
posted by teishu at 8:53 AM on July 29, 2007

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