* Prices may differ from that shown
==Buying the System==
I always keep an eye on the forums on www.moneysavingexpert.com as I am one for trying to save money any way possible and last year I was extremely lucky to catch a post where someone told me (and others) about a mistake on the Tesco website where they had listed the Storio system for sale at £16.97 rather than the usual £54.99. I decided it was worth a try and after a complaint when the wrong item was despatched Tesco decided to honour their mistake and I got the Storio system complete with Dora the Explorer game for £16.97.
The Storio system is made by Vtech which is a leading brand in childrens educational toys and I had no doubt in my mind that this would be a really good educational yet fun system. The computer system is aimed at children aged from 3-7 years and Sophie was 4 years old when she was given the system and she has been able to use the system with ease. The system and the games which go with it are used to teach,
The system is available in 2 different colours way, blue with orange or pink with purple, we bought the pink version as Sophie loves pink and at the time the system came complete with Toy Story for the blue system and Dora the Explorer for the pink system.
The system comes packaged in a cardboard box which has a flap on the front which can be opened so that you can see the system inside the box. On the front of the box the system is pictured and there are two little girls on the front who look really pleased with the system. The box is very brightly coloured with the main part being blue but then there are different little bits with promises of what the system can do all containing different colours. The system is easy to get out of the box and is simply held inside an extra piece of cardboard inside with a plastic covering on the front. Inside the box you get the system, the Dora the Explorer cartridge, A user Manual and a USB cable for connecting the system to your computer.
==The Storio System==
The system is made of plastic as you would expect, on the front of it there is a wriggly line of little flowers running up which are really pretty and add a nice girly touch to the system. There is of course the name of the product and the logo of the makers displayed on the front. The front of the system is bright pink and then when you open the front cover (like a book) the inside is pale pink on half and bright pink on half. You have a pretty large screen about 4 inches x 2 ½ inches and then there are a row of brightly coloured buttons for navigation, an on/off button, volume controls and then a full querty keyboard. I think the system is really pretty and you can certainly tell it is for a girl the only time I think this could be a bad thing is if you wanted a system for both and boy and girl to play on as there doesn't really seem to be a neutral option.
The system is very easy to navigate your way around, underneath the screen you have the main navigation buttons which are exit which does as you would expect it sends you back from whatever screen you are on, you often get a are you sure message on the screen when you press this so that you cannot exit by accident which is great as obviously is is very easy for young hands to knock buttons. You have a button for repeating a page, a button for playing and pausing the story, a button to bookmark your plae in a story if you want to leave it for a length of time and finally a help button. These buttons are coloured yellow, orange, red, green and blue so if your child is too young to read what the buttons say they can learn which colour they need to use which I think is really helpful and really helped Sophie navigate the system herself and as she is a very independant young girl this was great for her.
==Setting up the System==
To begin using the Storio system you need to put 4 x AA batteries into the panel on the back of the system, I would suggest using rechargeable batteries as when it is used a lot the batteries don't seem to last 5 minutes. When you first turn the system on it asks you to enter your name and then it remembers the name every time the system is turned on. Once you have set the name the system goes to the menu screen which is split into 2 different tabs, there is the playroom tab which has the options colouring book, photo album and art studio and then there is a bookshelf tab which has backpack, writing, certificates and setup on it.
The cartridges for the system are about £20 each which is actually not too bad a price as you really get a lot from them and my daughter doesn't get bored of them either. There are a wide range of cartridges available in many different character options, we got Dora the Explorer with the system and bought Sophie the Disney Princess cartridge to go with it too. To place a cartridge in the system is very easy, the slot is at the top of the system and the cartridge fits in it with the picture pointing outwards although it only fits in one way anyway so can't be put in wrongly which of course is a great thing with young children so that they cannot cause the system any damage in that way.
You can download items from the website and you have V coins so that you can buy new E books from there, any downloaded items are stored within the backpack on this tab. We have never downloaded from the website so we haven't ever used the backpack feature.
Within the writing option there are two further options letter and numbers or words, in letters and number you are provided with the letters A-Z in upper case and lower case and then the numbers from 0 - 9 and you have to touch one with the stylus provided. When you touch one of the letters or numbers the system will tell your child which it is and then the system draws the letter or number on the screen and then gives your child an outline to draw in. If your child doesn't start writing the system will show them what strokes to follow one at a time to encourage them. I like this part of the system as it makes it very easy for your child to learn to write their letters and Sophie enjoys practicing her letters with it and loves to show me how she does her letters and she uses the rhymes she learns at school whilst she is doing them too.
The certificates section stores exactly that certificates that your child earns through playing with the system. The set up option is exactly as you would think it is where you set your name, what picture you would like to represent you, you can set yourself a welcome message and you can also control the music option which is a great option in my opinion as the music gets really annoying.
If your child wants to listen to a book they do that from the Bookshelf screen which will display whatever book you have inputted in the centre of the screen. Your child simply has to touch the picture of the book and it will start to tell the story, your child can play, pause and replay bits of the story with the brightly coloured buttons under the screen. Aswell as hearing the story there is also reading games and a story dictionary on every cartridge.
Sophie loves the Playroom tab, you have the option of a colouring book where you select a picture from a selection of ten to begin with an then colour it in. The pictures are pretty simple things such as a camera, a couple of balls and even a cartoon style car. When you have picked your picture to colour you get a paint palette down the right hand side of the screen with red, orange, yellow, pale green, dark green, pale blue, dark blue, purple, black and white. You get three different palettes all with the same options of colours but in different hues, there is also an eraser button and a save button. To colour the pictures is very easy you touch the colour you would like to use and then touch the area on the picture to fill it with that colour. I would say that apart from listening to the stories this is Sophie's favourite activity on the system, she loves colouring in real life and loves doing it in a virtual way too.
The photo album options has a range of pictures stored such as a squirrel and a flower, you can rotate the pictures and change the sizes aswell as adding extra bits on such as frames, this option also stores all your saved pictures too which Sophie enjoys looking through and often asks us to look through with her and of course we have to tell how great every picture is.
Finally you have the art studio, I think this bit is great fun and better than colouring the pictures in, you can select any picture from file or start a new picture, you can add clip art style pictures, frames and different effects onto the pictures. I can tell you a picture of a Squirrel completed in mosaic style tiles looks pretty good. Sophie likes to use this option to go and change her pictures that she has coloured and add frames onto them, there is a great range of shapes and frames so plenty to keep your child amused.
Sophie loves this system and it is the first computer system that she has actually played on properly as she is more hands on in real terms than having a liking for technology. Sophie loves to listen to the stories and she will often get the system out when she is tired and flick through a story on it which I think is because she wants a story but knows if we try and read a book her sister tries to kump in. Sophie finds the system really easy to navigate and the whole thing is touch screen and there is a pale pink stylus hidden inside the system at the bottom. Sophie takes the system with her when she stays the weekend at the caravan with her Grandparents and it keeps her amused for ages and with strong rechargeable batteries it does last the full weekend.
I don't honestly think that a 3 year old would be able to do half of the things the system can do but I think it is easy enough to use and with a little bit of help it could give a young child a great head start on their letters and numbers. The system is really durable, ours has been dropped many times and has a couple of scratches on it but the flap protects the screen really well so it is still in perfect working order. It lovely watching Sophie being so pleased with herself when she has managed to complete a game herself or the system congratulates her for completing letters in the writing mode. This is a really great system and I would say it is well worth paying the full price for it although obviously I was very happy with the amount I paid.
The storio is a child's ready learning system for 3 - 7 year olds and so we decided to purchase this for my eldest son for Christmas as his main present in 2010. He had recently begun to enjoy learning about letters and reading and as he is computer mad we knew he would love this.
What do you get?
We have actually had 2 versions of the storio I am guessing one is the older model and 1 the newer one as we needed a replacement for the first one as after a few days of use the first storio we received gave up life and so we had to return it for a replacement that is when we received our second storio which differed from the first. Both were the same apart from the keyboard which has small effects on the rest of the keyboard but nothing majorly.
This case has a lock function with a small button at the side that can be easily pressed by the child and closes and locks easily too so both can be independently done by the child. The case is rather thick and very sturdy to protect the screen inside and all round makes this reader very durable which is important for small children.
When you open the case it opens just like a book on the left hand side is just a blue plastic but on the inside on the right hand side of the case is a large screen and this is where little one views and reads the story.
The screen is nice and big on both although did differ to accommodate the keyboard with the first storio we had the actually screen size for story play did not differ as it was larger on one but the bottom half was taken up by the keyboard. The screen covers 2 thirds of the whole of the storio meaning a large screen size for the child to read and play with this storio.
On the sides on the screen is the on /off button and also the volume button. The storio has a rather large volume difference when at its lowest you can barely hear it and it goes up to around 9 different setting we found half way was perfect for you to be able to hear the sounds easily and the highest volume to be extremely loud and you can actually here it becoming distorted when turned up to maximum available.
Under the screen is the keyboard and this is the only function which the storios differed but it is a rather big difference. With both stories we received a stylus which is kept in a small compartment at the bottom of the storio it has a rubber protection to make it easy to grip for little hands and the perfect size. It is easy to pull out and insert back in and so little one can also do this independently.
On the first storio we received which I believe to be the newest version the keypad was actually a touch screen keyboard and these were set out on an extended screen. The buttons were nice and large so easy for little ones fingers to catch them and type correctly. The sensitivity was perfect the lightest touch did not set them wild but at the same time you only had to touch it gently with the stylus or their fingers and it worked well. We found these to work well throughout reading and game play and my son loved this version as it had a screen like mummy's phone.
The second had a slightly smaller screen to allow room for a keyboard that was actually made up of orange buttons. These buttons were round and large also to allow plenty of room for little one to press them and although you did not need the stylus to use these it was still needed for the activities on the screen while in play. Although at first these were a disappointment to him and he asked for his old one back my son soon became used to them and it thought it was great he could use his fingers a lot more rather than holding the stylus.
Underneath the keyboard is the speaker and either side of this the turn page buttons there is one to turn the page forward and another on the left hand side to turn the page back. Also below the keyboard are function buttons which include the menu option, exit button, undo button and play and pause button. Each of these is self explanatory by their title and is also large buttons which are easy for little one to use independently.
When purchasing the Storio you receive a free cartridge included ours was cars 2 and we also purchased Shrek 3 and toy story 3. Each cartridge costs around £20 each which seems expensive but for the variety for stories at bed time and the activities they provide I think these are rather good. The selections of stories are not great around 14 in total but they include a lot of favourite characters including Dora the explorer, Olivia and Disney princess. So there is a wide range for both boys and girls.
The cartridges are easy to add there is a small section at the top back of the storio for them to be put in they go in very easily and also are easy to take out my son can also do this independently which is great as although we brought this to be used as a family unit for story time it also means he can play fully independently.
Setting the storio up
This is also very simple when you turn the power button on for the Storio it brings you to a log in option and all you have to do is enter your name and then it remembers you for each time you log in. You can have more than 1 account stored on the storio which is great as it means both my daughter and son have accounts logged on there without their games and progress becoming mixed up and it makes them feel special having their own section to log into.
You are then taken to the menu option which is touch screen and these have all the options available listed below. All options are big bold and easy to navigate through them.
This is the main function on the storio and the main reason we purchased it. Depending on the storio cartridge inserted you are brought to the only options. Simply click the story mode section on the left hand side and away you go. You can use the turn page buttons at the bottom of the screen to navigate your way through.
The animated pictures come up on the screen to help tell the story and below this the words for that page show in paragraphs in bold clear writing easy for little one to see and follow. There is a good space between the words so they can be pressed easily yet still set out in a story book frame to help children recognise in which order to read the story.
There are option to if you would like the story read for you if this option is chosen a pre recorded voice reads through the story highlighting the words they are saying as they go along so children can match the sound of the word to the word in its written form
The child can also choose to read the story themselves if they choose this option the words are not automatically read out. Only when the words on the screen are touched will the pre recorded voice say the word the child is running the stylus across and that only.
While reading the story you can highlight a word by double clicking on it and then a menu option comes up to ask if you would like to use the dictionary. If you click yes then this then shows the meaning of the word and reads it aloud to you.
The child can choose as many words as they like to look up in the dictionary and as it gives clear child friendly explanations this means it helps expand little ones vocabulary while also helping them understand the story better while independently reading. These are then saved in a word bank that little one can go back to at anytime and re click them to find out the meaning again of they have forgotten what it means.
My son loves this and it actually works he chooses a word a day to use in his sentences and although for words like disappointed and extremely this can be interesting other words including the character names can mean some very strange conversations just so he can slip them in.
Here there are many different pictures some part of the cartridge stories that the child is currently playing and others are completely random like flowers in a vase. Little one can then colour in the pictures how they wish and then can decided if they would like to save their finished picture or discard it and try again. This is all controlled on screen by the touch screen function on the storio and a range of colours and options are provided to help little ones imagination run wild.
There is an option on the menu screen to view saved pictures or to start a new one and as there is that much variety the child is spoiled for choice. My son loves this and spends a lot of his time colouring pictures and then saving them to show mummy and daddy his masterpiece.
The animations are not the best in the world mouths talk out of sync it is all very basic but to be honest I was not expecting much else. What did please me is they had the right idea as when there are words on the page all the animations are still. This means that there is a picture of their favourite character to help them enjoy the story but they are not getting distracted by moving objects and losing their concentration. However between story book pages they have added in small animated parts so it still has a computer game feel that my son so badly craves so I believe this was very well thought out.
Writing numbers and puzzles
On each cartridge there is an option to play games and puzzles. These include helping mator spell words, puzzle pieces where when little one gets it right they get a trophy. They are very simple and kept my son busy for ages and although it is the same puzzles on each cartridge over and over my son did not seem to get bored at all.
It would have been nice to have a little variety so each time they come back to the spelling game they were learning something different but will everything else going on with this system I think it is amazing. It has made my son a lot more comfortable with a small amount of words by creating a fun environment for him to learn. They mix different topics subtly to keep little one interested while teaching them numbers, literacy and general problem solving using their favourite characters to get them involved.
This is the major let down it runs out of batteries quicker than you can say Duracell. We always have a big stock of batteries at Christmas for the mountain of toys my children seem to get but within 3 hours of broken play we found the batteries had run out already. We changed them thinking it was maybe because it was the first times use but nope again within 4 hours of use 4 Duracell batteries were used.
I then looked around for a charger to be informed storio consol does not have one designed for it although there is a v tech smiles 9 v chargers that is compatible so I decided to purchase this for £9. We then had to return the storio before it arrived as it had given up life but we had it ready for the new one arriving. This is great it means there are no expensive costs for replacing batteries every 5 minutes but the downside with this is it has to sit plugged in to the way and is no longer a portable console.
We tried batteries in the storio for a long car drive we had to keep Connor amused but they gave up on the way to England after just 2 hours of constant use. So this seems to be a fault with all Storios rather than just the one which is disappointing as this to me is the only major downside of the storio.
Over all this is a great console for little one to have fun while improving their reading and writing skills. They can play independently or with their parents and as the pictures are bright colourful and fun it is great to use at story time for all the family. When they decide they would like to try something else rather than reading they can cool off with games and colouring and with different cartridges providing different activities it keeps the learning fresh and new.
The battery life is really my only downside I would suggest purchasing the charger to accompany this as even though it stops it from being portable it will save you literally hundreds of pounds worth of batteries. The charger itself can be brought from Amazon for around £5 and has proved to be essential for us.
Over all we think the Storio is fantastic after our initial disappointment it has lasted well is very sturdy and provides fun learning for my children. They retail at around £40-£70 depending on where you purchase them so I would definitely shop around and grab yourself a deal as purchasing extra stories at £20 can be costly but is needed for a little variety. We have had this for 15 months now it has been a big hit and my youngest son is only 18 months old yet trying to get his hands on it.
This was purchased for my 4 year Child at Christmas.
I wanted to purchased something a little bit different than usual piles of toys and saw this advertised on Telly.
At the time there were various other Tablets for children of his age but i decided on this one because i like the idea that it was Touch screen but also has a QWERTY keyboard to get him used to typing.
I had noticed that it was around £59.99 at a lot of toyshops so was happy to get this from Argos at i think £39.99.
I like the fact that it has a protective hard screen that folds over when the child is not playing with it.
My Child seems to enjoy everything about it. As well as the Cars 2 Game that came with it there are also other activites in the menu such as drawing and colouring in. Once your child has coloured in a picture they can save it to the memory to look at again. You child can also get certifcates for doing various things.
The device takes 4 AA batteries. After Christmas he used it for about 1 hour a day for 3 weeks solid before the batteries ran out. This is not good for me, due to the cost of replacing batteries however is is problem normal for the amount of use he is getting out of it. (I will be investing in some rechargable batteries)
I think this is perfect for a child of my age as i am not keen on getting him into video games until he is a bit older. It combines learning and games so keeps my child very entertained. As previously mentioned i also like the fact that it has a QWERTY keyboard to get a child used to typing.
At around the end of November time I was browsing in Smyth's toy store looking for a little something that I could get to go with my 5 years old daughter's birthday present when I came across storio. I had a little read about the item in the shop and it looked great but when I noticed the price of £60.00 I decided to put the item on her list for Christmas. When I showed my daughter the storio in the Argos catalogue she said straight away she didn't want it and I can imagine this was due to the fact that she didn't really know what it was and also that it didn't look fun and exciting. On Christmas day she received the storio.
The storio is basically an animated E-book reading system that has been designed especially for kids at the ages of 3-7 years. The storio requires a games console to be placed into the top section and once this has been the system will read and show an animated story to the child.
The storio is made from plastic and the colours consist of orange and blue (this can also be purchased in pink).The storio is quite big in size and can be rather heavy especially for kids so care should be taking when using the item. The front of the storio is a clear plastic case that can be opened easily just as you would turn the page of a book. Once opened the storio is ready to use.
The first details to be noticed on the storio is the QWERTY keyboard which is placed directly under the screen. Other features include a play and pause button, bookmark, help, replay and exit. These are press able buttons and they are big and brightly coloured so easy for small hands to use. The storio also contains a volume button, menu, game and a backpack button.
When a game is placed in the storio the child is able to read along with the tale and press the screen with their finger or the orange pen provided that can be found at the bottom of the storio. As the story goes on certain words will change colour just to make sure the child is aware of exactly where the story is up to. This is a fantastic idea as kids can really read along with the words and see what letters are making the word up.
The pen can be used to press on difficult words that the child may not understand or recognise, by doing this they can see a clear explanation of the word and its meaning. Again this is a great idea to really bring kids into getting involved in the story and learning new words and meanings.
The storio also allows you to play on different games that can be more of a learning experience for the kids. For example they can learn vowels, letters and it even teaches phonics which is ideal for my daughter as she is in reception class at the moment and she is learning all about phonics so it great to have something fun at home that she can use to help her get a head start.
When you first switch on the storio console your child will be able to personalise their console just for them. My daughter really enjoys seeing her name when she switches her console on and she loved having a little bit of choice for her display picture.
At the side of the story there is a slot for a usb cable to be inserted so that the storio system can be connected to your computer. This lead is supplied and once the connection has been made you are able to go onto the storio website and gain rewards and be ranked against other players.
The storio is well made and as far as I am aware it is the first animated book reader of its kind. I think it's great how my daughter thinks that she is playing on a game yet I can hear her picking things up like words and sentences and finding the meaning of words she is yet to discover. I am really glad I came across it and I must admit it is worth every penny.
The storio comes complete with a toy story 3 game; however there are a few more titles available:
I am very impressed with this system and there is no doubt that I would recommend it to anyone who has children in the recommended age group. Please note the storio does require x4 AA batteries and these are not supplied so make sure to get them before hand or like me you will be dashing straight to the shop for an upset child.
Having a 4 year old to buy for at Christmas I find a very hard job and I have had a hard time buying this year! While trawling around Toys R Us in the week before christmas we saw this on offer at £50 and thought it would be great as little man has just started reading in school!!
Made by vTech it is the latest computer in the touch screen range (see my Mobigo review)it costs around £60 and is aimed at 3-8 year olds (although the cartridges vary in age). It also comes bundled with a Toy Story cartridge and at present there are around 20 or so games for it incl Dora and Scooby-Doo (each costing around £16).
What I liked about it is that it is made of sturdy blue and orange plastic with a flip able see through panel to protect it when its not being used. The buttons are all brightly coloured and the touch screen does not have to be used all the time as there are buttons that can be used instead. There is also a qwerty keyboard under the screen to help play the games. There are also buttons for help, game and to go back to the menu. There are also big coloured buttons to exit, replay, bookmark and to turn the music on and off.
You can hook it up to the computer to track progress and also download FREE stories (as long as you're a member of the club which is free)- I find this a great idea, These all end up in a special section called the 'backpack', Although to use this part you need to buy a standard SD card as we found out when we went to download.
It comes with all the wires needed for access to the computer and you can buy a battery/mains plug it although we use 4 AA batteries (not included).
As well as being primarily a reading tool each cartridge also has games on-all of which help with reading and spelling etc for example finding the first letter of certain words, it also contains a dictionary for the difficult words which you can access throughout the story so children understand the story fully.
The outer box tells you what they are learning which is
-Letter names and phonics
So Christmas comes and I have to admit my little man was super excited when he opened it although it did look slightly confusing but he soon got the hang of it.
First to be tested was the durability as it was dropped nearly strait away but this didn't do any thing to it and I found no scrapes etc afterwards (it has since fallen off beds etc).
We started off by reading the story which was really good the words change colour as its being read and words in the dictionary are highlighted so they can be pressed the child can also tap the characters to hear them speak and then you can press the button or the screen to turn the page, it can also be turned off half way through a remember the place.
The overall story took around 10-15 minutes to complete in between looking at the dictionary and reading it after the voice as well, but I found that little man did keep his attention which I think was due to the fact that the story looked and sounded really interesting, as there was so much going on on the page.
The games i found could be a bit more difficult as my son did race through one of them quite quickly where you had to find letters although he was stumped at the noises game.
I have since downloaded the free storybooks/games and the ones we have played are all fun and high quality and also teach about animals and things like places which I was really surprised at as they use real pictures and little man found them great and so did his little sister who is now obsessed with zebras!! I also downloaded the boys theme from the site for him (this was also free) so he had different avatars which included a digger.
I have also set up the parents part to track his reading and progress etc and have downloaded his certificates as well i have found this section really good as my little man takes his to bed sometimes so at least i know what he's doing on it then!!
We have found this book reading really fab and both the children love looking at it and are really interested in it and as it is used as a teaching aid I find it even better, I am so glad I bought it and even as it was expensive it was totally worth it. I dont think i will be buying any of the cartridges in stores though as there are plenty of free ones on the site and im sure he wont really be bothered anyway. I am awarding 5 stars as i simply cannot find anything wrong with it!!