Franklin Speaking Homework Wiz – Vocabulary Expander, Dictionary & Game Pack All In One!
Written: Dec 30, 2003
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Provides definitions of over 50,000 words, easy to use, fun games.
Cons:No volume control, script writing is difficult to read, only two display lines.
The Bottom Line: A good tool to teach the basics of spelling, provides basic definitions, average pronunciation quality and a large word database.
One of the things my youngest wanted for Christmas was the Franklin Speaking Homework Wiz. One of his friends had one and he really liked using it and added it to his list of things that he wanted Santa to bring. Knowing that this was probably the last year that the whole Santa thing would be in full effect, I gave in and ordered it online when I came across it on sale. Normally I like to check things out especially electronics before I make a purchase to see if they are actually worth it but I had an extremely hard time finding this locally so when I came across it online, I took a chance and ordered it sight unseen. Seeing that this didnt come with batteries I made sure that I had the required 4 AAA sized batteries on hand for it so when it arrived I could crack it open, install the batteries and make sure that it worked correctly. Lets face it, theres nothing worse than getting a present that is defective unless of course you forget the batteries.
What Is It?
While this looks like a hand held electronic organizer, its really a dictionary and game unit that is a great investment for those ages six to ten. The buttons are easy to press, you can toggle between script or block lettering, turn the sound off or on and add your own words to the unit. The nifty thing about this is that it pronounces the word you select as well as dictating the definition. You arent going to get something that is crystal clear, but the speaker is large enough that it broadcasts to anyone within three to four feet of the unit. This would be a great learning tool for younger kids since it also features fun games, the ability to learn about homonyms and to get basic vocabulary words spelled correctly. The small size makes it completely portable and fits neatly into any backpack or knapsack. The hard shell ensures that it will stand up to a good bit of abuse but it isnt waterproof so tucking it into a plastic bag is a good idea if you think rain is on the horizon.
One of the big selling points of this unit is that it can display the words and definitions in cursive or block lettering as well as adjusting the speed that either are displayed on the screen. Set it at a slower setting and you can see how the cursive words are written however it doesnt work the same way when you choose block or manuscript lettering. This would be helpful for those who are having a hard time with cursive writing but as I mentioned, seeing the block lettering is nearly impossible. One of the possible drawbacks is that it only has two lines of display on the screen. This means that if you type in a word that has a long definition or has several entries you will need to scroll up and down to read the whole thing. This isnt a bothersome task but it gets real old when you are trying to look up a list of words or trying to figure out which version of a word [when dealing with homonyms] is the best choice. When I played around with it and entered in some incorrect words, almost every single time it offered me a few alternatives to choose from. This means that even younger kids can use this without getting frustrated when entering misspelled words.
When you type in a word to get a definition or to see alternative versions of the word [been, bean or seen, scene etc] it is automatically saved to your own personal list of words. While this doesnt increase the number of words that the unit will say / speak, it helps to improve vocabulary basics and word knowledge. This list can be cleared at any time either one word at a time or the entire list or it can be used in the various games that are included with the Franklin Speaking Homework Wiz. Dont get too excited about the games, they are pretty basic and the fun lasts about ten minutes when playing them. Granted, the games are a perk but Tic Tac Toe? Two versions of Hang Man? I can understand that this unit has a limit when it comes to memory, display and functions but Id rather have a few less games than to have moronic, mind numbing ones.
Guess That Word gives you the definition of the word and an assigned number of spaces. From there you have to figure out what the word is based on the definition. A fun game but takes a little while to get used to using the cursor but its fun to try and see if you can guess it before you run out of chances. Hang Man is sort of like Guess That Word except there is a small hangman icon and it displays the letters that you have already guessed. Tic Tac Toe is pretty self explanatory however you can play against the computer or against another person. This is a great way for younger kids to pass the time in the car but given that you have to use the directional arrows to move around the tile and place your pieces, look for the fun to last about fifteen minutes.
Jumble is a fun one but only when you have a lot of stored words or select it to play from the database. This is something that can really bite when playing games since most of them ask you if you want to pull words from the ones that you have entered or if you want them to come from the standard list. With Jumble, the letters of the word are displayed and you have to unscramble them. Ive never come across a word thats had several different spelling variations like spots and stops. Flash Cards is a rather pointless game that flashes a single word for you to either type in or say verbally. You will need to select one of the modes before you start playing this would be good for kids who are having trouble saying certain letters or need verbal reinforcement but others will more than likely find this a wash. Most of the games have multiple levels as well as different skill levels that can be picked when starting up a game. If you are unclear about the different level, press the help button to have it explained to you, this works with games that have multiple levels only so if you press the button and nothing happens you may have to exit out and go back to the main game screen.
The Speaking Homework Wiz requires the use of 4 AAA sized batteries that are not supplied with the unit. You might need to adjust the contrast of the unit when you first power it up and enter in your name. When you move from room to room the amount of available light will also affect the display so you may need to change the contrast often. When it starts to get hard to read or the screen seems washed out, its time to change the batteries. There is no low battery indicator so youll have to try and keep an eye on the display.
I picked this up online for $33.00 on sale. The suggested retail price ranges between $40.00 and $45.00 so I was pretty happy to get this for a few dollars less. Combine that with the free shipping offer and I ended up saving about twenty dollars total. Is it worth it? Its a nice thing for kids to have but the definitions are a little limited and it doesnt show the phonetics of a word, synonyms, antonyms or other bits of information you can get from a standard dictionary. Since this was on one of the boys wish lists for Christmas I didnt get a chance to check it out at a store and wasnt exactly sure if it was worth the money or not. So far it is getting a got bit of use but I know that within a month or so this will be sitting on the shelf collecting dust
then its only a matter of time before its cracked open and the batteries are plucked out of it and used for something else.
Things To Know
• This comes with a one year warranty from the date of purchase. Mine did not come with a warranty card so I called the company and are in the process of sending one out to me. Make sure you fill this out and send it back in because they will replace the unit [or repair it] at no cost to you if it dies or is defective within the one year time frame.
• When you start up the unit for the first time [after inserting the batteries] you are asked to enter your name. So far it hasnt verbalized my sons name but it does display it when he plays a game or wins a game. This is a nice touch and helps to add a little personalization to it. You can skip this option if it is going to be used by multiple kids or in a classroom.
• The help feature is really nice. It allows a child to get through most of the functions without having to ask for help and almost every single feature of the unit is explained by pressing the help button. For my son this was a great perk and really gave him a sense of accomplishment; he was able to get through almost all of the features without having to ask for help.
The Bottom Line
So far my youngest has really enjoyed playing around with this. The other boys have tooled around with it and said it was cool but they wouldnt want one unless it had larger words or was more challenging. Id suggest this for kids in the five to nine year old range but those are just numbers every kid is different and has a unique learning curve. For special needs kids this could be used to stress correct pronunciation, spelling, cursive writing and of course the games. The unit is pretty sturdy, easy to hold in one hand and has a hard plastic cover that flips up when in use. Theres no backlighting so youll need to use this during the daylight hours or with some type of artificial light source. Be sure to keep an eye on the contrast, when it starts to dim you will need to replace the batteries.
If you need help with this product, have questions about the warranty or cant find it locally, call Franklin Electronics at  266-5626
As always, thanks for the read!
~^V^~ Freak ~^V^~
© 2003 Freak369
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