Four best tech toys for older kids

Consumer Reports News: December 09, 2011 10:08 AM

Yesterday we showed you five of the year's best tech toys for younger kids. Here are four playful gizmos that your older children might enjoy.

Our sister publication, ShopSmart, chose the best tech toys of this holiday season, and we also had one of our in-house electronics experts give them a try. (We did not formally test them.) You can find them at toy stores, mass retailers like Target, and websites such as Amazon.com and YoYo.com.

Check back Monday, when we'll list the best toys with virtual components. And don't miss our review of tablets made just for kids at Consumer Reports Online.

SmartLab ReCon 6.0 Programmable Rover ($70, ages 8 and older)
This learning toy (pictured above) is best for older kids who enjoy tinkering with gadgets. It takes a number of steps and a good bit of patience to set up—and a parent might need to help out, at least initially.

Once the ReCon is up and running, it’s supposed to hold up to 50 lines of programming that let it perform such tasks as navigating certain courses. It can also carry out commands; Say, surprising a family member with a fun message or a drink held in the compartment in the back. (Our advice: You'd better make it an unopened container or a drink with a lid!) Go to the company's site to see a video of the ReCon in action.

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Paper Jamz Pro Mic ($30, ages 8 and older)
No more singing into a hairbrush! This microphone and speaker set is new from WowWee, the company that last year brought us trendy paper guitars and drums that you can really play.

Paper Jamz Pro Mic uses an autotune feature called Perfect Pitch to correct your voice if you go a little off-key. You can also add effects like Chorus, which multiplies your voice; Melody Match; Auto Harmony; and Auto Vibrato. You can even download the free app that lets you sing songs from your own library—a big improvement over last year’s toys, which limited you to preloaded songs.

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Wild Planet Ultimate Night Vision ($50, ages 8 and older)
These night-vision goggles might make you look like a cyborg, but they’ll let you see in the dark. Kids with James Bond aspirations should really enjoy this toy.

The infrared technology enables you to see up to 50 feet, the company claims. We didn’t measure, but we were impressed with the clarity. We’re not sure why there’s a day mode (maybe as a comparison?), but the night mode is awesome. You can adjust the goggles for the width of your eyes and the distance of objects.

  • electronics_mattel_uno_roboto.jpg

    Mattel Uno Roboto ($30, ages 7 and older)
    The family card game’s newest version has an entertaining feature: A robot cardholder throws out random commands and silly tasks, but the basic rules stay the same. Another twist: You can add a new “house rule” at the beginning of each game.


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