Smart-e Bear is akin to a plush iPod. This soft stuffed animal has a hidden USB port which connects to your computer. You can program the Smart-e Bear to say your child’s name, and you can select from thousands of songs, games and stories.
iPod users customize their playlists, but Smart-e Bear users create customized “playdates.” In just a few minutes, I created a “playdate” full of energetic songs, interactive stories and games (like Simon Says) as well as a “playdate” of lullabies and classic stories perfect for naptime or bedtime. Smart-e Bear is soft and cuddly, so your toddler can snuggle with him during naptime too.
Smart-e Bear comes pre-loaded with over 90 minutes of songs, stories and games. You can download additional songs, stories and games online at www.smartebear.com. Currently, the only content offered is in English, but Spanish, French and Chinese songs and stories will be available soon.
Some content is free, but most songs are $0.99. Stories and games are $1.99. These prices are comparable to the iTunes store, which makes it affordable to buy new music and stories.
I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t transfer my own mp3s and iTunes files of children’s music onto the Smart-e Bear, so I contacted Smart-e Bear’s customer service to ask them about it. According to the customer service rep, regular mp3 and iTunes files aren’t compatible yet with the Smart-e Bear software.
Given the highly interactive nature of the Smart-e Bear software, that explanation makes sense. When you turn on the Smart-e Bear, it greets your child by name and then asks if he wants to hear a song. Your child is instructed to “squeeze my hand” for yes or to “squeeze my foot” for no. The Smart-e Bear lists the names of available songs, games and stories. By squeezing the Smart-e Bear’s hands and feet, your child can choose which to play.
I found the Smart-e Bear very easy to use, and my toddler absolutely tester loved it. So do the critics. The Smart-e Bear is a Dr. Toy’s Best 10 Technology Toys and Best 100 Toys pick, and it also won a Greatest Product Award from iParenting and a Gold Seal from NAPPA (the National Parenting Publications Awards).
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