Part of the XL Series, Vtech's line of portable electronic
learning aids for school-age children, the SkillStarter
Handheld is an exciting new product that our testers
snazzy-looking toy features a portable unit with a touch-sensitive
screen and an attached pen (stylus). This portable toy can also be
placed into a keyboard base. The toy features more than 20
different activities for fun and learning on the go. Alphabet,
vocabulary, addition, subtraction, and counting games are just
some of the product's offerings. Children complete mazes by
following letters in the correct alphabetic order; they enjoy word
search puzzles (this one was a favorite of our testers); players
solve addition and subtraction equations; they find the correct
digital time that matches analog time.
are also a variety of "school tools" available. A unit
converter converts metric and imperial units in both directions. A
calculator is built in, and a dictionary is available when users
use the "sync" feature--you can sync up this handheld
with your PC and have access to an online dictionary (the VPort
accessory is necessary for this feature, sold separately).
toy can be personalized with basic stats about the user and by
setting the clock. Kids can keep a phone book.
Game Lab contains a number of arcade-style games, such as a
fishing game that is all about timing, mazes, and more. A juke box
feature allows kids to listen to six different songs.
handheld detaches from its base, as seen in the picture at left.
Children use the pen (stylus) directly on the touch-sensitive LCD
screen. When attached to the base (the keyboard docking), kids can
use the QWERTY, alphanumeric keyboard for inputting data, use the
arrow keys for some of the games, and answer questions using the
numbers on the keyboard if they want.
you also purchase a VPort (sold separately), an infrared sensor
interacts with the device to download new activities, keeping the
unit fresh over time. The downloads do not cost anything, but the
VPort sets you back approximately $20 US. The sensor also allows
children to communicate with other kids who own a unit (for
example, they can share their personal data or play games).
3 'AAA' batteries. The unit can also be plugged in using an
adaptor, not included.
Covered: Core Kindergarten through 2nd Grade reading skills
(vowels, vocabulary, more); early math (addition, subtraction,
counting, telling time); memory and logic; creativity (music
composition and art).
- A decidedly more
educational handheld unit than other portable gaming
- Children develop
reading, math, and problem-solving skills.
- Educational and
entertaining at the same time.
- Handy school tools
included (calculator, for example).
- Portable and easy to
- Expansions require an
extra unit, the VPort, which is sold separately.