“ Manufacturer: Carousel / Type: Electronic Toy „
This was a present for my son for his first birthday a year ago. We decided to have it as a 'car toy' as he was starting to get bored on longer car journeys.
This is a small chunk and well built laptop with several noises and sounds. When you open the lid there is a mirror and when you press the animal buttons that animal lights up on the mirror (which I think is very clever as I have not seen anything like that!)
It makes animal noises and does small numbers. It is simple but at 1 year old my son didn't really understand what was being said and he spent quite a long time playing with it on car journeys. He is now two and will still sit with it for a long time as he now understands what is being said and can follow commands. But it is beginning to get too simple for him now.
The batteries in this last a very long time, in fact I have only changed them once! It is very hard wearing as it has been thrown around and trodden on but you certainly wouldn't know it from the outside or inside and it works just as it did the day it was bought.
I know it was £10 to buy and I think that is a good price as it lasted so long with heavy wear and tear, it will entertain a toddler on and off for about a year so worth the money.
Although he has a developmental delay, in many ways Freddy is your typical two year old, who thinks there's nothing more fun than playing with something he knows he's not supposed to. One of
Freddy's favourite little tricks is to wait until he's alone in the living room and then start playing with Mummy's laptop, seriously he takes every chance he gets to play with it and can manage to switch it off even left alone for twenty seconds. In an attempt to protect my laptop we asked Grandma to buy him his very own for Christmas and trying to make sure she didn't spend too much we asked her to get him the Carousel Chunky Laptop from Tesco for a touch under £9. To be perfectly honest this was a mistake and I now really wish that we'd put extra towards a slightly better, more feature rich toy laptop, but you can learn from my mistake.
==An Adult's View==
Billed as suitable for children over the age of twelve months the Chunky Laptop is supplied in an open faced cardboard box that allows you to test out the functions before opening. On removing the laptop from the box the first thing that hit me was how small and light it is. At only 20cm by 16cm and weighing just 0.28kg it's the perfect size for the younger toddler to carry round and access. The Chunky Laptop has a simple and yet fairly attractive colour-scheme, with the bottom being a pale green, the main body white and the display area yellow. Just as with the real thing the lid opens to reveal a screen, but unlike the real thing the screen is mirrored, which looks pretty cool (at least to start with). The power switch is on the top surface of the laptop and as it is of the slide variety it is easy for toddlers to operate.
The Chunky Laptop can be operated with the lid either open or closed and with the lid closed four light-up buttons draw the child's eye. These easy to push, round buttons are each a different colour and have a lower case letter of the alphabet (a,b,c,d) printed on them. When pressed these buttons light up and activate sounds where a childish voice will tell them either the letter or colour. When the display is opened pictures also light up on the mirror screen. Within the recess that holds the display there are a number of of buttons for the child to press. There are four numbers buttons that are all different shapes, and when pressed these will either state the shape name, number or play a tune while the lights on the display and light up buttons flash. There is also a note button that plays tunes and sets off the flashing lights. In the main the tunes are all recognisable and there are even some that you can sing along to, but there are a few that are more obscure. Below the note there are another set of buttons, this time with different animals on them. Pressing these buttons will cause the laptop to either make the animal noise and light them up on the screen or play yet more tunes.
While I imagine that the manufacturers intended the sounds and voices to be child-friendly, as an adult I find them extremely annoying. Firstly there is no volume control and they are sufficiently loud to drown out a TV at moderate volume. Then the voices are simply patronising, although they are clearly supposed to mimic a child's voice, in reality they are very obviously an adult putting on a child-like voice. Believe me this voice will grate on you after half hour continuous play. The final aspect of the sounds this produces that annoys me is that it is one of those toys that gets lonely if it's not played with for a few minutes, only this has the shortest attention span I've ever seen in an electronic toy and cries out for attention if it hasn't been played with for thirty seconds.
Although the laptop is powered by three AA batteries an initial set of these are supplied and after almost five months of use these have not needed replacing. As with the majority of children's electronic toys the battery compartment is safely hidden behind a flap that is held closed with a tiny screw. In the main the laptop is fairly toddler friendly with it's easy to press buttons, but a lot of the decoration is in the form of stickers, many of which have now been torn off. While body of the laptop has managed to survive some rather rough toddler play (including being thrown across the room) I certainly can't claim that it's survived completely unscathed. With under five months play the mechanism holding the display open has worked loose, meaning that rather disappointingly rather than standing proud as it did new it flops back. Even worse one of the lights on the screen has stopped working, in fact it gave up the ghost within a week of use.
As an adult I'm very disappointed in this toy laptop and seriously wish I hadn't suggested it. It looks cheap and really isn't very well constructed. If it were simply down to me I would only give this two stars out of five...but as with any child's toy it's not just my opinion that counts.
==A Toddler's View==
At twenty months old Freddy was well within the recommended age range for this laptop when he received it, so I had no worries about it being safe for him to play with. Almost as soon as he set eyes on it he wanted to play and it was played with daily until his birthday at the start of the month when it was replaced in his affections by a far more advanced Leapfrog laptop. He's loved to sit, press the buttons and watch the lights flash and has been known to spend well over half an hour playing with it at a time. There were times when he would simply mash the buttons and others when he would dance to the tunes. It didn't take him long to work out all the different buttons, which played his favourite tunes and how to cycle through to the one he wanted to listen to. Since he received his new laptop this had ended up relegated to the bottom of the toy box, but a testament to how much he loved this is that as I brought it out to review he wouldn't let me anywhere near it. I would that if Freddy could give his opinion he would give this laptop four out of five because it was an absolute favourite but isn't quite as good as his new one. In fact as I type he is sitting next to me talking to the little boy in the mirror.
==Suitability And Developmental Benefits==
While a child will be able to gain some developmental benefit no matter what toys they play with, I do always try and choose toys for Freddy that will go that little step further, especially as he has a developmental delay. Although he was coming up for two when he received this laptop, in reality developmentally he was below eighteen months. But at the same time he is a child who loves pressing buttons and can work out how to use an electronic toy quicker than most children his own age. Even taking his developmental age into account this laptop really didn't do much to stretch him even when he first received it. Yes it's great for helping toddlers understand cause and effect as they press the buttons, but any other benefits are a little on the sparse side. I guess the fact it names the colours, numbers up to four and first for letters of the alphabet could be considered a plus, but this is very limited and I really can't say that it helped Freddy learn them. To be perfectly honest it didn't even distract him from playing from my laptop.
Age wise I would say the younger age limit of twelve months is just about right with an upper developmental age of eighteen months as children above this stage will find it too basic.
The Carousel Chunky Laptop was quite basically a disappointment, it feels cheap and is far too basic for the larger part of the recommended age group. Add this to the fact that it is poorly constructed and the sounds are annoying for adults and you have a toy that I really can't in all honesty recommend. So I'm going to give the Chunky Laptop two stars out of five and recommend you spend a little more on a better made, more well featured toy laptop that will last the distance.