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    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Product Review: Fly Fusion Pentop Computer

    As I expected, the new Fly Fusion Pentop Computer from Leap Frog is the best educational toy available for it's target age group (middle school & high school). When we were offered the opportunity to get this from BuzzAgent, I jumped on it, as I knew it was going to be a superb piece of fun & educational technology.

    The only "toys" that make noise we allow in our home are made by the Leap Frog company, but this one has the added bonus of a headphone jack so you won't disturb people nearby while using it! In addition to all of the educational software available, the ease of use, the games, music maker program, translation software, and recording capabilities, it is also really durable. My 13yo has been dragging it everywhere with her in her junk-filled purse for the last 3 months, and it still works like new, despite a couple of small scratches. For additional protection, you can buy a Fly Fusion carrying case, but it is so sturdy, we haven't bothered. On the other hand, with all the other crud Ladybug carries in her purse, it keeps getting turned on on accident, so it may be a good idea just for the sake of not having a magically talking purse. *chuckle*

    I really like that the handwriting recognition insists on basic legibility like proper letter formation and spacing between words. This pen has been the only thing in the past six years that has made my daughter want to practice her handwriting. Thanks to the Fly Fusion, I can now read and understand what she writes!

    When you hook the pen to your computer via it's USB cable, it starts charging the battery automatically, and you can sync with the included pen management software (upload pen info to comuter). You can choose to either keep the handwritten look by saving it as an image, or let the software digitize it and turn it into a word document.

    The FLY World application is included with the pentop, and is how you manage your notes by viewing, saving, printing or even e-mailing your notebook pages. Transferring your data is seriously simple; just plug in your pentop and upload your notebook pages. After your pages have been uploaded, they are permanently deleted from the FLY Fusion.

    The way the FLY World application manages your notes is incredibly slick. For example, when converting a page that includes handwriting and drawings, you can highlight the drawings to tell it not to make those areas text. The FLY World Application has a search function which will search your notes for keywords too, which is really handy.

    If this wasn't amazing enough for a "kids' toy", the Fusion does tons more. It can do basic and advanced math problems, translate Spanish and French to English (and vice versa), play mp3s, and more. The available programs list is very comprehensive, and they are adding new stuff all the time. To find out more about the software offered, check out the FLY fusion website at www.flyworld.com. Some of the software is included with the pen and preloaded for use straight out of the box, and some you have to purchase. I strongly recommend getting the subscription to the fly download store when you get your Fusion. You will be very glad you did. There are programs for all ages available, and new ones being added constantly.

    You can upgrade the memory on the pentop with the Fusion memory expansion cartridge so that it can hold nearly every program currently made for it, and you need no technical expertise to do so, because it just snaps onto the back of the pen. You can also easily replace the ink/writing part of the pen with no mess or fuss, and inks come in several colors.

    The high-powered internal battery lasts about two days on a full charge with constant use, and recharges either with the cord that comes with the pen to hook up to the computer, or you can charge your pentop with the AC wall charger, automobile charger, or dynamo-style hand-cranked charger with adapter set 1, made for a Motorola RAZR phone. It is the same charger-type and plug, and with how often my kids forget to do important things like recharge their toys before they leave the house, it is a real bonus to have an on-the-go option for powering up the pentop.

    Like most Leap frog products, the Fly Fusion Pentop Computer is fun and educational for a lot wider age range than it's target demographic. The 6yo had a blast with it playing games, and we parents refused to give it to my daughter until about an hour after we removed it from the box, when we were done playing with it ourselves. As an adult, I can honestly say that I want one of these for myself to do scheduling, notes, doodles and more without having to drag my notebook computer everywhere.

    It does have some negatives: You have to use special paper that the Fusion recognizes (160 page notebooks run around $8), and the pen is a bit bigger than your average fancy writing utensil. I don't think you can reload your notes back onto the pen from your computer once you have synced. It also only works on PCs for now, with no mac or unix support, but I'm sure they're working on that.

    Product Review Update: The Fly Fusion has No Lead paint!

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    1 comment:

    Rick said...

    I love leap frog electronics! We recently bought a bunch of the interactive books for our 3 year old and she loves them! Great post!