VTech V-Smile

                The VTech V-Smile is a gaming console specifically intended for kids ages 3 to 7.  This gaming console is meant to be connected to a TV, and works pretty much like a PSP or X-box, except that the game cartridges compatible with it are all intended to be educational.  As for the design of this product, the VTech V-Smile is brightly colored, and its large buttons and chunky lines are meant to accommodate young kids whose fine motor skills are not yet that sophisticated.  This product comes in two colors: orange for boys (unisex, actually) and pink for girls.

As far as gaming consoles go, the V-Smile is a rather passé version, since VTech has already moved on to the VTech V-Motion—a system that works fairly similar to the Nintendo Wii in that it can capture actual player movements through sensors in the infrared joystick.  Thus, the pricing for the VTech V-Smile system tends to fluctuate from one seller to the next, since some online websites would offer sales or discounts off the original price.  For example, I have seen online stores selling a brand new V-Smile system for about $50, complete with 1 joystick and 1 cartridge.  Here in Manila, the Toy Kingdom sells it for about P4500, give or take a few hundreds.  On e-Bay, you could purchase a V-Smile system for as low as P1500, especially if you buy it used.

I had my mom buy the VTech V-Smile system for my kid because he really displays a keen desire to play with electronic games such as the PSP and the Nintendo Wii.  Naturally, these gadgets are not suitable to be used (and abused) by a toddler.  An attendant at Cuts for Tots, the kiddie barber shop where Inigo gets his hair cut, told me that the V-Smile system they have to keep the tots entertained is really hardy.  Apparently, the set they have already sustained numerous blows and falls, only to stay undamaged.  So even though I realize that at 1 year old, my son is too young for the V-Smile, I went ahead and got one.  I figured that it would last a long while, so he might as well get a few years’ worth of use out of it.

Right from the start, Inigo loved his V-Smile.  He was intrigued by how colourful the unit was.  His V-Smile came with a Wiggles cartridge, which did not really use the touchpad and stylus attached to the joystick but he likes grasping the stylus and pretending to write on the touch screen.  His V-Smile also comes with a microphone, and he particularly enjoys singing along to the Wiggles songs featured in the Music Room.  He is also able to play some of the games like driving the Wiggles car with the joystick, though he does not really understand the game mechanics (he’s 1!).

As can be expected, Inigo’s cousins, who are between 7 to 11 years old, are the ones who do appreciate the V-Smile more.  John Luis (8) benefits from hand-eye coordination based games, and has learned some educational concepts like recognizing letters quickly.

Despite my son being too young to truly maximize his VTech V-Smile system, I am still glad that I bought it.  Just the Music Room feature is enough to keep him satisfied for now, since it’s like having his own videoke machine.  This system is really built tough, because it is still running perfectly despite being stood upon, thrown, and pounded.  It does drain batteries fast though, so better have rechargeable ones handy or better yet, get a 9V adaptor so you can just connect it directly to a power outlet.

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