Saturday, 1 December 2012

LeapFrog TAG Reading System Review

The Tag Learn to Ready System is designed to guide children through their learn-to-read journey. Beginning with the Get Ready to Read series and the Tag Junior book pal, children are introduced to reading basics and essential preschool skills. Moving on to the Tag Reader, the Early Reading series expands upon these skills with core phonics practice and exposure to basic sentence structure. As children build confidence they can develop their reading comprehension and vocabulary skills with the longer text and more complex sentences of the Read on Your Own series. And their growing reading skills lead to even more fun with the Learn through Reading series, which features maps, puzzles, flash cards and sets that expand the learning to geography, writing, science and more.

Product Features

Color: Green
  • Learn to read with the #1 selling reading system!* Tag? is recommended by 99% of teachers**
  • The Tag library includes over 40 books and games based on favorite TV, movie and classic tales
  • Tag storybooks and learning activities help children build reading skills such as vocabulary, phonics and reading comprehension
  • The Tag Reader holds audio for up to 10 books at a time and is sized to fit small hands with a no-slip grip
  • Parents can connect the Tag Reader online to see their child's play and learning on the LeapFrog® Learning Path

Engaging and educational - worth a look for every parent
THE QUICK TAKE: The Leapfrog Tag Reader is a terrific toy, one that every parent with children from ages 3 or 4 to 6 or so should consider purchasing. Just plan on spending another $30-60 a year on books, so that you'll have age-appropriate books as your child grows. Also, to download the audio for a book, you need a computer with an internet connection.

FULL REVIEW: There are several ways to use the Tag Reader with the Tag books. In a storybook, the Reader will read the text for a page if the child taps a symbol. Or, a child can tap individual words to have them read aloud, or tap one of many characters or images on a page to get dialogue or a sound effect - so each page has more to explore. Some pages have letter or number activities. And some pages have games. The content on some pages is a little thin, but overall the entire system - the Reader and the books - is thoughtfully designed and works well.

I'm always a little skeptical about the claims about toys that will make my child smarter, while they are having fun. But the Tag Reader delivers on that promise:

- It's interactive and self directed, which keeps our child engaged.
- The games and activities are fairly well-designed and engaging, though a child may need some help getting started.
- All of that encourages exploration, and gets the child to go through the educational content.
- Our child also uses the audiobook mode to play an entire book at times.

The system works well for us, and provides an activity that's both enjoyable and educational. Since our 4 year old gave up naps, the Tag Reader has been a great activity for the "quiet time" in the afternoon when she used to sleep.

Every child is different, and develops in their own way, so you may need to try re-introducing the Tag Reader more than once to get your child started. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of children had to try the Tag Reader a few times before they really got going with it.

Note that the Reader is actually detecting special encoding hidden in the books, and that triggers a programmed sound - it's not actually reading the letters, etc. So the Tag Reader and only be used with the specially designed books.

WELL DESIGNED: The Reader seems well designed and durable. The electronics are all inside the case - the little point at the end has a switch built in, but it isn't fragile. And the eye of the reader is inside the nearby hole. It took a little while for our child to get the hang of how to use the Reader, but overall it works well.

BOOK SELECTION: Leapfrog currently offers about 40 books. But keep in mind that those span the entire age range, so there may only be a handful of books for your child's age and tastes. There are also some other products the Reader works on, such as National Geographic Activity Cards - Land Animals and some maps.

SETUP IS STRAIGHTFORWARD: To use a book, you need to first download the audio to the Reader, then activate that book by touching the Reader on something inside the book. The software needed for the downloads installed quickly and worked well enough for me. The Tag Reader was recognized quickly when connected using the included USB cable. The audio files are not large, so adding a book is a reasonably quick process. And you only need to do it once per book. The reader holds about 10-12 books in the 32 MB of memory, so most parents should be able to keep all the books a child is currently using on the Tag Reader. It's easy to imagine going for months without needing to update books on the Reader.

MORE INFORMATION: If you want more information, read the product description and some of the reviews for the previous version of the product: LeapFrog Tag Reading System (32 MB). Amazon has a much better description of the product there.

NOT QUITE PERFECT (BUT CLOSE): The Tag Reader has been around a while, so it's been refined. But I do have a few minor quibbles:
- The included "Let's Play Tag" sampler book isn't really much use, even as a demonstration of what the Reader can do. We never used it after the first day. I'd much rather have had a real book, or a better, expanded version of the sampler with more content.
- The instructions could be improved a little. For example, there is a diagram that points out the audiobook button, but as far as I could see there are no instructions on how to use it or what it was for. Although like most things with the Tag Reader, it's not hard to figure out.
- The USB cable that comes with the reader is a little short.
- After being used for a while, the Reader starts to talk about getting rewards online when you turn it on. I'd rather that wasn't on by default, and want to disable it.
- The software is a little bloated and rough, but works well enough.

And, while we're dreaming, it would be great if there was a way to locate the darn thing! We've lost it (in the house) a few times already.

The Tag Reader and the books go on sale from time to time, which may help make it all more affordable if you can wait.

Click link below to learn more about LeapFrog TAG Reading System :

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