Holiday gifts: Four great tech toys for older kids

Consumer Reports News: December 09, 2010 10:44 AM

Spin Master Air Hogs Hawk Eye
Photo: ShopSmart

Consumer Union’s ShopSmart magazine tested some of the year's hottest tech toys for its December issue. The toys weren't formally tested in our labs, but some of our tech experts did get in touch with their inner children and gave them all a try. The toys are "designed to foster musical talent, boost reading comprehension, or simply allow for self-expression, imagination, and discovery."

We’ve already written about some ideal tech toys for little kids. These toys are better suited for older kids (and grownups who haven’t lost their sense of play). Look for a followup featuring toys for the whole family.

Spin Master Air Hogs Hawk Eye, $64.99; for kids ages 12 and up
What could be more fun that a flying spy-cam? The Hawk Eye is a remote-controlled copter and a video and still camera. Kids can shoot their aerial footage then download their videos and photos to a computer and edit and share them. Our testers found the image quality to be similar to some pocket camcorders, and photos are standard low-resolution. The copter was a challenge to keep steady when flying, so parents may have to help kids at first.

Mattel Loopz 2
Mattel Loopz
Photo: Mattel

Mattel Loopz, $29.99; for kids ages 7 and up
Need to sharpen up your reflexes? How about your memory? Loopz is a high-tech version of the memory game Simon: Its four loops show patterns of light and music, and you do your best to remember and recreate the patterns by waving your hands through the loops. The longer you play, the faster the game goes. Loopz comes with seven different games, and kids can play alone or with up to three pals.

Hot Wheels Stealth Rides
Photo: ShopSmart

Hot Wheels Stealth Rides, $24.99; for kids ages 8 and up
Remember collecting Hot Wheels? These cool new versions of the mini-cars can fold flat and fit into a pocket-size case. Slide your ride out of its case, and it transforms into a speedy fully functioning, remote-controlled 3D vehicle—and the case doubles as the remote control. Five different models, including the Batmobile, two PowerTreads, and two Racing Cars, are available.

WowWee Paper Jamz guitar
Photo: ShopSmart

WowWee Paper Jamz, $24.99; for kids ages 8 and up
This thin and light “guitar” is made of circuit-embedded paper; you play is just by touching the surface of the paper. It comes in six different designs (drums are also available). Paper Jamz is an affordable way for kids to try out a musical instrument or to just have fun. Play one of three built-in songs (each guitar comes with different tunes) or freestyle your own jams. An amplifier ($14.99), a guitar strap ($5.99), and other accessories are available. (For a limited time WowWee is giving away one free Paper Jamz guitar a day, via Twitter.)

The December issue of ShopSmart is on newsstands now; pick it up for lots more family-oriented gift ideas.

If your kids are clamoring for the latest in gaming gear, check out our video buying guide on video-game consoles You'll get the scoop on the newest in motion-based gaming: the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360, Sony Move for PlayStation 3, and Nintendo MotionPlus.

If you're thinking of getting your child a slightly more sophisticated gadget, take a look at our tips on buying your child's first cell phone.

—Carol Mangis

Carol Mangis

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