My 3 year old twin boys know that one of Mama's favourite toys is her computer, they've seen me use both a desktop PC and a laptop and quite often I've spotted them both trying to have a sneaky tap away at my keyboards. This is why last Christmas I went on the search for some sort of childs laptop for them. I bought them one each actually but for once not both the same.
One of the laptops I did buy them was the toy story star command laptop, which cost me roughly £25 on Amazon, however I've noticed it's about £35 elsewhere. They love toy story so I knew it would be a toy which would be played with and the fact it was a childs laptop was even better so now they could be just like Mama!
The laptop looks just like a spaceship a perfect fit to match Buzz Lightyear and his 'space' like antics! It is all white in colour with the toy story logo and the little green aliens decorating it in sections - theres no mistaking it is a toy story product that's for sure. Buzz Lightyear features right in the middle of the space ship - even when the laptop is close, his head is protected by a see through shield - just like the film. On either side of the laptop is what looks like the edge of Buzz Lightyear's expandable wings too.
To open the laptop your child simply needs to press down Buzz Lightyears protective shield, resulting in the top part of the laptop lifting open and his expandable wings popping out. All very exciting this was for my boys. When they press his head a little blue light flashes and Buzz Lightyear begins to speak - all the more exciting for my 3 year old boys!
The inside of the laptop is even more appealing as now not only can you see Buzz Lightyears head but you can see his arms, shoulders and chest too, this indicates he is probably going to be a main feature of this laptop, especially now we've heard his voice.
The screen for the laptop appears on the top part of it and it is a fair size, being larger than your typical digital camera screen. The animation on the screen is very clear even though it is just black animations. They keypad is Qwerty style keyboard all very colourful and quite a nice size too so the letters can be easily seen and recognised, the keyboard includes both letters and numbers as well as setup, enter,answer, repeat and esc. A parents favourite button is probably the Red power button situated further up from the actual keyboard, next to a speaker. On the left of Buzz lightyear is four alien head shaped buttons in different colours, one being letters and language, the blue button being numbers, the red button is logic and the orange button is games.
I was a little confused though as there was no mouse option - that was until I looked beneath the laptop and found a flat white mouse with a 3D green alien sitting neatly on top, tucked neatly within a space at the bottom of the laptop. Even the green wire attaching this mouse to the laptop had spaces to be placed neatly without them becoming loose. The alien on the mouse moves about therefore acts as a cursor for your child rather than them just clicking buttons the way adults do on theirs.
The laptop does require batteries, but they were included when I bought it. It needs 3 x AA batteries, and despite this laptop being used quite often by both my boys it is only now in August 2011, from last Christmas day that it has needed a battery change. Wow!
Buzz Lightyear speaks all of the time, either saying popular phrases from the Toy Story film or guiding my boys through the activities they play. My boys havn't explored every activity this laptop offers yet, but all of the activities are explained in an instruction manual that comes with the spaceship style laptop. The blue led light in Buzz's helmet flashes constantly throughout the games and activities adding to my boys excitement whilst using their mini computer.
The laptop offers so much for a child do, there are in fact 30 activities altogether these including letters, memory games, phonics, maths and even basic Spanish!
Navigation of the activities is fairly self explanatory if your child can read the alien headed buttons - but my boys do a lot of listening when playing with the laptop and listen to what Buzz is saying to recognise games they like to play and engage with. All of the activities allow my boys to play independently and be rewarded with encouraging phrases from Buzz Lightyear himself. They have the option throughout the games of using either the keyboard or the cursor which adds to their computer fun.
One of my boys favourite games is Grab the Shapes featuring Buzz Lightyear running on the screen finding handles - each of these handles are different shapes and my boys have been learning their shapes for a while now and are extremely confident with them which is probably why they enjoy this game so much. Using the alien mouse cursor they have to direct buzz to the shape they believe is the correct handle, when the shape is correct Buzz Lightyear jumps to grab the shape handle to swing across to the next section, in which my boys continue trying to find the correct shapes to guide buzz on his journey.
Some of the games my boys are not confident enough to play on their own but with my help the 3 of us have great fun together working out puzzles such as 'Where is Woody's Hat' or even playing games such as 'Rock Paper Scissors'. Some of the games are quite challenging for a younger child, but the laptop is reccomended for children aged 4-7 years, so the games are all age appropritate for varying ages in between. Children are always at different levels in education and enjoy some aspects more than others so there is a good variety of games and activities to choose from and play. Matching games, Typing letters, sums, lasering numbers, memory games with letters and many, many more, there is plenty for your children to explore and either play and engage with your help or independently.
For me there is only one downside to this laptop and that's the fact that even when it's shut, Buzz Lightyears head/shield when pressed activates the laptop and switches it on, despite the power button being on the inside. It only needs the slightest knock and it switches on and Buzz starts talking and tunes start playing, no end of times this has gone off in their toy box, and the only way to rectify the situation whilst the children are not playing with it is by either putting it high up on a shelf where it can't get knocked, not in the slightest or taking the batteries out! Apart from this it offers so much fun and activities for children to play and interact with. It's not just a typical toy laptop it's a spaceship style laptop which is even more appealing for a child. It's a laptop that will really grow with your child as they gain more knowledge and confidence throughout school too!