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Toy Fair 2012: Mattel's Apptivity line merges smart devices with toys

Consumer Reports News: February 13, 2012 08:08 AM

At Toy Fair 2012, Mattel introduced the Laugh & Learn Apptivity line. The idea of these toys is that they work in tandem with your Apple iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches—a common theme at the show this year—to let kids interact with their toys in a digital way.

The obvious question: Can parents let go of their iPhones and iPads long enough to let their kids play with the toys?

We liked the idea of the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey, a plush toy with an iPhone or iPod touch case embedded in its belly. Download the free app and then place the smart device in the monkey's case, where it is well protected, and your child can interact with with the app by squeezing the monkey's paws to learn about numbers, letters, colors, and more. Even without a smart device embedded, kids can listen to songs and phrases.

The Monkey should hit stores in July 2012, at a suggested retail price of $29.99.

Mattel is also adding to its line of Kid-Tough electronics devices for children with the Kid-Tough Portable DVR. You connect it to your TV's set-top box and record shows, then play them back on the DVR whenever the kids want to watch them—in the car, for example.

The Kid-Touch Portable DVR features a 3.5-inch touch screen, a rechargeable battery, 4 to 6 hours worth of built-in memory, and a micro SD slot so you can expand that storage. This toy arrives in May, at a recommended price of $150.

Testing tablet computers for kids
Kids' cameras reviewed

For more news and reviews, see our guide to Video games, consoles & tech toys.

Carol Mangis

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