Hasbro Magic Screen Learning Pal Reviews

Hasbro Magic Screen Learning Pal

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We Love to Learn with the Learning Pal

Jan 1, 2003 (Updated Jan 1, 2003)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Durability:

Pros:Educational. Very cute and quite fun. Great learning tool for toddlers.

Cons:No big ones

The Bottom Line: Excellent, cute learning robot geared toward young toddlers. Can grow with your child. Lots of fun!


It seems like everywhere I went this holiday season there was a Fisher Price "Kasey the Kinderbot" beckoning to us from a little display case. I figured my 17 month old son would be all over it, since he loves mechanized things and adores noisy toys with lots of buttons -- but for some odd reason my little guy didn't show the slightest interest in Kasey. Although he snubbed Kasey, he did manage to find an educational robot toy that held his interest -- he was quite fascinated with the Magic Screen Learning Pal. After he zeroed in on it at a few different stores, I added it to Santa's gift list.

Product Description:

The Magic Screen Learning Pal is described as an "interactive, light-up friend who engages and entertains your child with fun games and learning activities".

The Learning Pal is absolutely adorable. It stands approximately 12 inches high, is made of hard plastic, and is mostly a greenish-blue color with white trim. His hands are cloth -- one is red and the other is green. His "ears" are large buttons, each with a different texture -- one is yellow and the other is orange. Instead of feet he has a large, rollable orange & green bar. He also has wheels in back that make a clicking noise when rolled.

The Learning Pal's face and stomach are his most interesting features. His face is a dark blue oval that is actually a light grid (approximately 8 lights high and 7 lights across). The Learning Pal's eyes and mouth are formed by these lights. Other cute, helpful, and educational pictures can also be displayed on the light grid. On his stomach you will find a dial and various shape/color buttons, which are explained in more detail in the "How to Play" section below.

There is some very minor assembly required -- the back "stabilizer" must be attached with 4 screws (you will need a Phillips head screwdriver). The stabilizer allows the Learning Pal to stand on its own, and has wheels for rolling. To be honest our boy started playing with the Learning Pal right out of the box without the stabilizer attached, so the fact that there is some assembly required didn't dampen the fun for him at all.

The Learning Pal automatically shuts itself off if it is not activated for more than 2 minutes. It will make a couple of attempts to get your child to press something before it shuts off.

The Magic Screen Learning Pal requires 3 "AA" batteries (which are included at time of purchase). The manufacturer recommends this toy for children over 18 months to 5 years.

How to Play:

There are two learning stages - Basic and Advanced. Basic is intended to entertain toddlers; the advanced setting is for preschoolers.

There are 6 "Play and Learn" activities in each stage. You choose an activity by spinning the dial on the robot's chest. The robot's ears and hands can be used to interact during the activities, as well as the buttons on his chest. The buttons are:
~ Circle-shaped yellow 1
~ Heart-shaped red 2
~ Triangular blue 3
~ Square-shaped green 4
~ Star-shaped orange 5

The Activities:

1) Letters:
~~ Basic ~~
* Will sing the complete ABC song while the letters appear on the screen in time to the music. Pressing either hand will re-start the song from the beginning.
* Press any shape button to hear the first segment of the ABC song ("ABCD"). Press the button again to hear the next segment.
* Press either ear to advance the alphabet one letter at a time.
~~ Advanced ~~
* Press the green hand to hear the complete ABC Song, encouraging your child to sing along.
* Press the red hand to play the "ABC Learning Quiz". In this game, a letter is displayed on the screen, and the Learning Pal asks if it is a particular letter. Your child responds by pressing the green hand for "yes" or the red hand for "no". Pressing the ear will give the correct answer.

2) Numbers
~~ Basic ~~
* When you switch to the Numbers mode the Learning Pal will sing a counting song (which counts from 1 to 10)
* Press any of the shape buttons to hear and see the number on that shape. Press the shape button again to see the number of dots on the screen that represent the number pressed.
* Press the ears or hands to show a number, followed by the number of dots for that number.
~~ Advanced ~~
* Press the green hand for the counting song, encouraging your child to sing along.
* Press the red hand for the "Counting Game". A number is displayed on the screen, and your child is asked to press the button that corresponds with that number. Press either ear to count the dots along with the robot.

3) Shapes & Colors
~~ Basic ~~
* When switched to this mode, the robot recites a shape and color rhyme
* The robot will identify the shape and color of the ears, hands, and shape-buttons pressed by your child.
~~ Advanced ~~
* Color Spy Game - the robot will say "I spy something green" (or some other color), then you press the button, hand, or ear that matches that color
* Shape Spy Game - the robot will say "I spy a square" (or some other shape), then you press the matching button
* Shape Game - A shape is displayed on the screen, and the robot asks if it is a particular shape. Answer using the robot's hands (green for "yes", red for "no").

4) Emotions & Feelings
~~ Basic ~~
* Press each shape button to see the Learning Pal's face display a different emotion/feeling. Circle = sad, Heart = happy, Triangle = silly, Square = sleepy. Pressing the Star will cause the robot to hiccup, sneeze, and then excuse itself.
* When an emotion is being displayed, press the ears or hands to see other faces and sounds that go with that emotion (for example, when he is happy pressing an ear or hand may make him giggle or cause his heart to beat loudly).
~~ Advanced ~~
* Press either hand to find out how the Learning Pal feels right now (the feelings are happy, sad, silly, or sleepy).
* Press the ears for additional faces and sounds that match the current feeling
* Press a shape button to generate a response such as giggling or crying, then press it again to hear the name of that emotion or feeling
* Pressing the star button will cause the robot to either wink, blink, hiccup, whistle, or sneeze.

5) Songs
~~ Basic ~~
* Switching to this mode will cause the robot to play one of 2 tunes
"Hello My Baby" while displaying hearts and notes on the screen
"Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone" while displaying a little dog on the screen
* Press the right or left hand to hear the last tune again
* Press any of the shape buttons to hear a different song
1 - "Itsy Bitsy Spider" while a spider crawls across the screen
2 - "Let me call you sweetheart" with hearts on the screen
3 - "Sailing, Sailing" as a boat is displayed
4 - "Are You Sleeping/Frere Jacques" while a bell is displayed
5 - "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while a shining star is displayed
* Pressing the ears will play a variety of fun sounds effects
~~ Advanced ~~
* Press the shape buttons to create a song, then press the green hand to play it back
* Press either ear to hear one of the 7 songs listed above
* Press the red hand to make sound effects

6) Games
~~ Basic ~~
* Hide-and-Seek - the robot's face runs off the screen and he asks you to find what button he is hiding behind. When found, he says "Peek-a-boo! You found me!", then he will hide again.
~~ Advanced ~~
* Shape Match - The robot will call out a shape, then you must press the shape before the robot calls out another shape. After each successful round the time between shapes gets shorter and shorter. After 10 successful matches in a row, you win!
* Catch Game - A dot will descend on the screen, and you must press the ears or hands to move the "cup" at the bottom of the screen to catch the dot. The dot falls faster with each round. After 10 catches you win!
* Copy Cat - The robot will light up either the left or right half of the screen in a sequence. Match the sequence by pressing the corresponding ear after the robot says "go". After you get 5 in a row correct you win!

Our Experiences:

So far we are extremely pleased with our Magic Screen Learning Pal. For a robot he simply couldn't be cuter! The animated face is adorable and very expressive for just a bunch of dots. He nods, whistles, laughs, and is generally fun to watch. The face and all of the various pictures that accompany songs and games are very well animated. Unlike Kasey, the Learning Pal's screen is still visible from all angles and under any lighting condition, from total darkness to direct sunlight. Aside from the face, the robot's body is cutely detailed too -- even down to a robotic smiling face made from dials and a lever on the battery compartment door!

The voice recordings are excellent as well. We have a lot of "speaking" toys, and not all of them have the crisp, clear recordings that this toy boasts. You can clearly hear the difference between a "B" and a "D". The voice is cute as well. It sounds like a young child's voice, high pitched but with excellent enunciation. The dialog is good and encouraging as well. Whenever you turn the robot on he exclaims, "Hello my friend! Let's be pals!" -- it is a really cute way to start a play-session.

Luckily for us this toy is very durable as well. Made entirely of a hard plastic, it has withstood being dropped quite a few times, as well as some other damaging play from my rough-n-tumble little boy. Clearly Playskool had toddlers and their destructive ways in mind when they designed this toy. It is small and light enough that my son can lay the Learning Pal flat across his lap to play, or he can stand it up and the Learning Pal is sturdy enough to withstand my son's pounding of the buttons without falling over.

This is an excellent toy for my son. He is a real button-fanatic and he adores music, so this toy has managed to keep him occupied for some good, long stretches. Because it is fairly small and because it has an on/off switch it is also quite good to travel with -- always a plus with us.

As for negatives, I do wish there was a volume control. The Magic Screen Learning Pal is set at a quite nice volume, but I wish I could control it myself anyway.

My son plays with his Learning Pal at the Basic setting, but my husband and I were trying out the toy on the Advanced setting and found a minor issue. The designers obviously tried to keep the toy and its functions simple and straightforward (and rightly so), however this left them with no good way to switch between multiple games on a given mode. The robot will ask if you want to play a particular game, then you answer yes or no, then if you said no it asks if you want to play a different game, then you answer yes or no to that one -- and so on until you finally get to the game you want. I can't fault them for wanting to keep it simple, and since it is teaching shapes, colors, and numbers they couldn't exactly say "Press the circle for game X", but I still think young children might find the game-selection frustrating.

This is probably both a positive and a negative -- the wheels have some locking mechanism that keeps the robot from rolling away from your child (although it can roll forward, or toward your child). No doubt this is so the Learning Pal can stand while your child sits in front and pushes its buttons, otherwise the robot would roll away during play. My boy, on the other hand, has recently developed a real love of anything that rolls, and he wants to be able to roll his Learning Pal around in whichever direction he pleases. He gets quite upset when the robot won't budge.

Quickie Summary:
Pros:

*) Educational! Teaches letters, numbers, emotions, shape, and colors.
*) Two learning modes (basic & advanced) so it can grow with your child
*) Built-in handle for carrying
*) On/Off switch
*) Well detailed and very cute
*) Bright and colorful
*) Although some minor assembly is required, it is quick and easy to do
*) Very sturdy
Cons:
-) No volume control
-) Tedious game selection on the advanced mode

Final Thoughts:

At 17 months of age my boy seems to be hitting an in-between stage -- baby toys are too simple and don't hold his interest, but most other toys (such as Kasey the Kinderbot) start at "Age 3 and Up" and are not geared for his developmental stage. That's why I'm so thrilled with the Magic Screen Learning Pal -- it has activities that are just right for him right now, and can continue to grow with him through Pre-School-hood.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 29.99
Type of Toy: Educational
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months

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