Tech Toys for Kids Worth Buying This Holiday Season
You’d think kids would be the easiest people to buy gifts for. But while there are about a billion toy options out there, it can be difficult to weed through them all and know which ones will actually be played with, and which ones will end up collecting dust in the closet or under the bed. Here are some of the best tech toys currently on the market that kids should enjoy long after the holidays are over.
Buy this for the kid who’s obsessed with dinosaurs (and robots…and cars)
Three things pretty much every little boy loves: dinosaurs, robots and cars. So the geniuses at VTech decided to combine them all into one ultimate toy: Switch & Go Dino Jagger The T-Rex Dinosaur. Standing 16″ tall, Jagger the T-Rex responds to 20 voice commands and also transforms into a bulldozer for good measure. There are also 15 other Switch & Go Dinosaurs available, retailing for $13 to $25 each, but Jagger the T-Rex is the only one with the added voice-command feature.
MSRP: $70 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Getting good reviews as well as making it onto many top holiday toy lists for 2013. The voice-command feature is a major upgrade from previous Switch & Go Dinosaur models. A pretty reasonable price point for the list of features it has.
- Cons: Really noisy (ie: annoying for parents). My son has one of the smaller Switch & Go Dinosaurs and it’s really loud (with no way to turn the volume down).
Buy this for the kid who’s always stealing your iPad
LeapFrog’s newest tablet for kids, the LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra, looks quite similar to last holiday season’s big thing, the LeapPad 2, but has some pretty major upgrades. The biggest is Wi-Fi capability. With the Ultra, not only can kids download apps right from their tablet, they can surf the web using LeapFrog’s parental-controlled Web-safe Wi-Fi, play against friends in multiplayer LeapFrog games, and even “chat” with other LeapPad Ultra users.
MSRP: $150 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $149 w/ $30 gift card
- Pros: A larger display (7″ vs the LeapPad 2’s 5″), double the memory (8GB vs the LeapPad 2’s 4GB), and the addition of Wi-Fi make the Ultra a great choice for older kids. The kid-friendly design means you won’t have to worry about them breaking it.
- Cons: Especially for younger kids (the Ultra is targeted at kids ages 4 to 9), Wi-Fi seems almost unnecessary; if you have a preschooler, save yourself about half the price and go with last year’s LeapPad 2. (Walmart just announced they’ll have it for $40 starting 11/22.)
Buy this for the budding mini-photographer
A kid-friendly camera can be a great way to encourage your kids to look at their world in a different light and really get creative. The VTech KidiZoom Camera Connect tops many of the lists of best cameras for kids based on its features and relatively low price (currently $30 on Amazon). Kids can take still pictures, as well as video and voice, and even edit their photos and videos right on the screen. Another good option is the Playskool Showcam 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector ($50 at Amazon). It has similar features but looks more like a “real” adult camera.
MSRP: $40 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $24
- Pros: Destruction-proof design. Stores up to 800 photos internally that can easily be uploaded to either a PC or a Mac via USB. Reviews say it’s perfect for young children just starting to explore photography.
- Cons: Not a great option for older kids; looks very “kiddy” and only has 1.3 megapixels. For older kids, an inexpensive point-and-shoot adult camera would probably be better.
Buy this for the tech-savvy baby
Though you probably don’t need to buy your infant his or her own tablet quite yet, that doesn’t mean they won’t want to play with yours. It’s absolutely crazy how good my 18-month old is with an iPad — he can unlock it, scroll to his favorite app, and start playing his game before I’ve even realized he’s stolen the iPad in the first place. But if you’re going to let your youngest kids play with your expensive tablet, you’ll want to make sure it’s well-protected. The Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Creation Center is great because it not only houses and protects your tablet, but also includes baby toys/activities that work with and without Fisher-Price apps making it an all-in-one baby entertainment center.
MSRP: $40 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: It can be set up three different ways (flat, as a bench and as an easel), making it good for traveling as well as playing at home. Plastic screen protects iPads from scratches, crumbs and drool. Comes with a play panel that can snap over the screen when the iPad isn’t in it.
- Cons: It’s not recommended that babies get a lot of “screen time” so keep that in mind when buying any tech products specifically for kids under 2 years old. It can also be a hassle constantly installing and removing your iPad from the case (if it’s anything like the similar Apptivity iPhone cases, it’s not as quick and easy as you’d think!).
Buy this for the advanced builder with a big imagination
The Lego Minestorms EV3 Robot Set is one of those gifts you give to your kids mainly because you really just want to play with it yourself. This super awesome-looking set has you building, controlling and even programming robots with touch sensors, color sensors and infrared sensors who can walk, talk and think. Reviewers say it’s pretty darn fun.
MSRP: $350 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Includes instructions for building 5 robots, but you can create literally as many as you’re able to think of. Reviews say the programming system is easy to figure out and fun to use. Challenging, imaginative fun for adults and kids alike.
- Cons: Expensive. Looks like it could be frustrating for kids if they are trying to use it on their own without adult help.
Buy this for your kid instead of a new puppy
Yes, the Furby is back, better than ever, and ready to delight (and creep out) a whole new generation of children. A virtual pet that changes personality depending on how it’s treated, the 2013 Furby Boom has more than double the number of possible responses as last year’s Furby and it also adds more app connectivity and virtual play options with the (free) Furby Boom app. Toys R Us will have it for $30 on Thanksgiving (currently $40 on Amazon).
MSRP: $65 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $35
- Pros: Pretty advanced features in this year’s model. Kids can practice taking care of a “pet” before you actually buy them a real live animal. They’re incredibly popular and many predict it will be one of this year’s best-selling holiday toys.
- Cons: Just look at ‘em — they’re pretty weird.
Buy this for the young music lover
The Crayola MyPhones Kids’ Headphones (made by Griffin) are durable headphones designed specifically for kids. The best part about them is that they are equipped with built-in volume-limiting technology so that kids can’t turn them up past 85 decibels (the recommended max for young ears). They also come with stickers and markers so that kids can decorate them however they please.
MSRP: $25 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Getting great reviews around the web. The built-in volume control is a huge plus. Headphones in general are great for car trips or times where you just can’t stand to hear another Justin Beiber song coming through the speakers.
- Cons: Your kid might not like that they don’t get very loud. Some people mention they make it hard to hear music/games/movies when using them in noisy places.
Buy this for the child who likes to problem solve
The Laser Maze Beam-Bending Logic Game is a lot like solitaire…but with lasers. The game includes 60 challenges that have you arranging game pieces so that your laser beam hits certain targets. Best for older elementary school-aged kids (8 and up). Laser Maze is made by the same people who came out with popular Laser Game: Khet 2.0, which is another fun option that allows for more than one player.
MSRP: $30 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Has challenges that range from beginner to expert, so kids can work their way up to more advanced puzzles. It’s both fun and educational and according to reviews, will keep a child busy for long periods of time.
- Cons: Can only be played as a one-player game so doesn’t allow for much interaction with siblings or friends. Some reviews say the more advanced puzzles are pretty hard for a kid to figure out, which may lead to some frustration.
Buy this for the little gamer
We’ve already talked about the new Nintendo 2DS in our Video Game Holiday Gift Guide so I won’t go into too much detail here. But this simpler, more durable handheld gaming system is a great option for the younger video game addict.
MSRP: $129 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $124 as part of a holiday bundle
- Pros: Vast gaming library, due to compatibility with DS and 3DS titles. Built to withstand small kids tossing it around. Hinge-free design eliminates breakage and potential for kids hurting their fingers.
- Cons: Games are significantly more expensive than smartphone / tablet mobile games.