When kids want to act like mom and dad, it can be tempting to hand over your MacBook Pro for a couple of minutes. It can also be foolish. If your kids just want to play some games these toy laptops for kids may be just the thing.
They are reasonably priced, educational and fun, but keep in mind that they are also toys. They are not designed to replace a real laptop or computer experience. Unless otherwise specified, none of these toys have color screens (they are gray scale LCD) and they all require batteries.
1. Oregon Scientific PC Trainer 5
The PC Trainer 5 looks a lot like a light-weight laptop. With a QWERTY keyboard, headphone jack and contrast controls on the screen, it is slightly more sophisticated than some of its peers. This kids' laptop has more than 100 games (10 in Spanish) that cover things like music, memory, math and spelling. It is geared for children 5-8.
2. VTech Nitro Kids' Laptop
This cute kids' laptop looks like the real thing. It has a variety of games that focus on math, reading, music, social studies and Spanish. It is designed for kids from 5-8 and comes with two additional cartridges to extend play time. An optional AC adapter is available if you find yourself eating through batteries.
3. GeoSafari Kids' Laptop from Educational Insights
The GeoSafari Laptop doesn't actually have a screen, but it plays similar games to other toys in this genre. It includes interactive lessons and trivia games on topics such as math, animals, sports, history and science. The games have several options, including multi-player modes, so you can play along with friends. The GeoSafari Kids' laptop comes with 63 activity cards and has an expansion pack available. It also comes with 4 AA batteries. The GeoSafari Laptop is available for younger kids (ages 3-7) and older kids (8+).
4. Buzz Lightyear Star Command Laptop
To infinity and... well, you get the idea. Featuring the voice of Buzz Lightyear, this kids' laptop has an alien mouse, pop out wings and a variety of learning activities designed to teach your kids Spanish, typing, phonics, numbers, and more. The Buzz Lightyear Star Command Laptop is geared toward ages 5-7 and includes batteries.
5. Spider-Man Spider-Smart Laptop
The Spider-Man Spider-Smart Laptop may be just the thing to engage your little Spidey fans in learning. With sound effects and speech from the movie, it's a fun way to learn. This kids' laptop comes with plenty of reading and number games, including hang man and word jumble. As an added bonus, you can customize the learning with your child's spelling list for the week or have it translate words into Spanish. The screen is small, but it's back-lit, making it easier to see in dim lighting. Batteries are included.
6. Wall-E Learning Laptop
This kids' laptop is from VTech. Fans of Wall-E will enjoy having owning a kids' laptop that looks just like him, right down to his blinking right eye. Learning games cover math, logic, letters and words. Batteries included. Recommended for ages 4-7.
7. Fisher-Price Color Flash Laptop
The Fisher-Price Color Flash Laptop has six different learning modes, including music, numbers, letters and typing. My one complaint about this kids' laptop is that it doesn't use a QWERTY keyboard layout. While an alphanumeric layout reinforces learning the alphabet, it can also make it difficult for kids transitioning to a real computer later. On the other hand, the mouse and mouse pad tuck away for easy storage. The manufacturer recommends this for ages 3-8, but I wouldn't buy it for a child who has already mastered letters and letter sounds. It comes with batteries.
8. Batman PowerWing Kids' Laptop
The Batman Power Wing Laptop has fewer games than some similar models in its class, but might make up for it with some nice styling. With "wings" that pop out when the laptop is opened and the Batman theme, it might get extra cool points from the kids and lead to extended pretend "spy" play. In the meantime, it has learning games in both Spanish and English. The Batman PowerWing Laptop is geared towards kids 5-8.
9. Barbie B-Smart Learning Laptop
If you're looking for a girly laptop, the Barbie B-Smart Learning Laptop is it. The bonus is that it comes with earbuds for peace and quiet, and a backlit screen for dim viewing situations. Not only that, but a cute little mouse and mousepad for more realistic computing. Games are similar to others in the genre, including math, spelling and logic with some Spanish activities as well. Recommended for ages 5-8.