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Top tech toys of 2012

Top tech toys of 2012

Tablets: iPad mini stands out
(iPad mini; from $329, best for all ages, from Apple)

The resolution of the iPad mini isn’t as high as the newer full-sized iPads (3rd and 4th generations), but kids won’t miss it. I ran an experiment and played “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” an outstanding children’s book app, side-by-side on a 3rd generation iPad and the iPad mini; and I didn’t notice a difference.

After attending Toy Fair last February, I thought this column would be dedicated to explaining the slight differences between the many Android tablets for kids, including Vinci Tab II ($199), Nabi 2 ($199.99), Kurio ($149.99), MEEP! Kids Tablet ($149.99) and Tabeo ($149.99). But then in October, Apple surprised the world with its new iPad mini.

The smaller size and lighter weight of the iPad mini makes it a perfect fit in kids’ hands. For games that require them to tilt the screen, it is now easy instead of being challenging. And the iPad mini operates in a super-fast, crisp manner, with a battery that lasts 10 hours. As with the bigger iPads, iPad mini comes with dual cameras (these are better than the iPad 2′s), Facetime (a fabulous way to video chat with grandma), Siri (kids love to talk to this virtual know-it-all lady) and offers robust parental controls.

Other fun tech toys-LeapPad2
Leapfrog’s LeapPad2 is available from $99.99.(Photo: LeapFrog)

If you aren’t ready to splurge on the iPad mini, a less expensive alternative is the LeapPad2. With a 5-inch touchable screen, two cameras, an accelerometer (so kids can play motion-based games) and a library of over 325 educational games, downloadable apps, ebooks, music and videos, it’s a great starter tablet for kids. It connects to your computer for downloading content, and comes with a service that makes it easy to figure out what to try next. But its add-on content gets expensive quickly; so gauge your child’s appetite for content. If it is high, bite the bullet and buy the iPad mini.

InnoTab 2S
The InnoTab 2S is a 5-inch tablet designed specifically for kids.(Photo: VTech)
($99.99, best for ages 3-9, from VTech)

A worthy competitor to the LeapPad2, the InnoTab 2S is another 5-inch tablet made specifically for kids. It too has a touch-sensitive screen, plays motion-based games, and has a large library of over 200 educational games, apps, music, ebooks and videos for kids. Instead of two cameras, its camera swivels. The InnoTab 2S has an SD card slot for expanding the memory. But unlike the LeapPad2, you don’t have to plug it into your computer to download new content. It uses Wi-Fi to connect to its store and its recommendation service. The add-on content can get pricey; so only choose it if you don’t think you will burn through a ton of content.

Crayola Digital Light Designer
Crayola’s Digital Light Designer(Photo: Crayola)
(49.99, best for ages 6-14, from Crayola)

This domed plastic surface allows kids to draw, using LED lights. As they touch the 360-degree surface with the light stylus, colored light appears under the surface of the dome. You can spin your drawing and add special effects.

original from: usatodaydotcom

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