Product Type: VTech Child Development
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Education can be fun!
VTech Storio Animated Reading System
Member Name: xmum2threex
VTech Storio Animated Reading System
Date: 19/02/12, updated on 19/02/12 (139 review reads)
Advantages: Makes learning fun
Disadvantages: Battery power is rubbish
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.
Summary: A fun way for children to learn to read!
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