Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Spy Video TRAKR

Spy Video TRAKR

Fall 2010 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Price: $129.95

Plug six AA batteries into the vehicle itself and four more into the remote control and you're off and running-down the hall, into other people's rooms, and into bathrooms. It's funny at first, even though the vehicle is a potential annoyance. While the Spy Trakr zips about (and it zips at a surprising pace), the small full-color LCD screen in the remote transmits color video and sound of what's directly in front of the vehicle's built-in video cam. The 'bot is loaded with a 2.4GHz wireless transmitter, an integrated video camera, an SD (secure digital) card slot for recording, and a built-in speaker and microphone that enable you to even record a audio message and let the robot vehicle deliver it. A USB cord is included for connecting to your PC. The Spy Video Trakr comes loaded with a night vision, cyborg vision, voice throwing and path mapping apps.

The Spy Video Trakr is the first toy to catch on to the app revolution. It enables kids to download free apps for this spying, video-audio transmitting, remote-control vehicle. Kids can also create their own customized apps and share them with other Spy Trakr owners who visit the Web site. We went online to site to see what else is available. The apps, both those already available and custom, aren't going to change the world. They're typically routines kids can make their Spy Trakr do, or maneuvers for the 'bot, and they all pretty simple stuff considering this is a pricey toy. There are several free apps-including spinning, speed control, "activguard" (a motion detector, siren and photo app), and "haywire" (random movement with flashing warnings). The free kid-friendly programming system (PC) where kids can create custom apps and load them into their Spy Trakr, is underwhelming. Most kids won't be able to code their own apps, and those that do know how to code will find the options for coding the Spy Trakr too simple to be exciting. Still, some have dared to create and upload apps, and current ones include a speedometer app, a compass app, and one that logs all Trakr movements.

Even with the simple online platform, the potential for imaginative and scientific play combining R/C with live video and app building is endless - which is why this is a great toy, especially for kids whose inclination is technology or robotics.

Don Oldenburg   ©2010 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Target Stores
Toys R US
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc.
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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