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Disney AppMATes: Toy cars that come to life on the iPad

Consumer Reports News: September 27, 2011 10:42 AM

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Kids love tablets. Some toy companies, such as Vtech, LeapFrog, and Fisher-Price, are responding to this love by creating tablet-toy hybrids (and we plan to test these in the near future). But Disney and Spin Master are taking a different and creative tack with AppMATes: "a new line of toys that comes to life digitally when used with an Apple iPad," for ages 4 and up.

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The AppMATes toys are Disney-Pixar Cars 2 characters; they come two at a time in a $19.99 package (available in October at Apple stores and other mass retailers). Each of the Cars 2 toys has sensors on its base that identify it uniquely to the iPad. To play with the cars on the tablet, you download a free app and simply place the toy on the screen. You can then explore, race, and perform missions in the virtual world of Radiator Springs by moving your car around. (See the embedded video below for a demo.)

AppMATes are inexpensive and look easy to use. And there's a lot of replay potential in the virtual-world connection, to which new content can be added endlessly. The big question, though, is whether mom and dad want to share their expensive iPad for kids to play on. No doubt anticipating potential hesitation on parents' part, Disney also announced a very well padded iPad case, also with a Cars 2 theme ($49, coming this fall).

Carol Mangis

   

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