Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk Reviews

Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk

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Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk: not quite the Intelli-table

Jan 12, 2002 (Updated Jan 15, 2003)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Durability:

Pros:Electronic Learning, Removable Legs

Cons:no on/off or volume, can tip over in desk mode

The Bottom Line: Lots of activities but can't compare to the Intelli-table.


My son received the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk for his first birthday, from his Nana & Papa. Kind of funny, because they were the same people to give him his Fisher-Price Microsoft Intelli-table Not surprising, because my step-father-in-law is a techie so electronic learning toys & gadgets appeal to him. They purchased the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk
from Amazon.com (ToysRUs) and had it shipped to us. So when a gigantic box arrived beeping and talking we knew what was inside!

The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk is a computer-like desk for ages 12 months and up. The desk is a flat kidney bean shaped console (white with a teal green bottom) about 14 inches from side to side. In the center of the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk is a small (approx 5X5) interactive learning area called the Learning Lab. On each side of that are 2 other colored squares that can slide into place over the Learning Lab, they are the Animal Academy and the Music Studio.

Magic Screen
The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk
has a fold down/up screen that is mounted on the desk that is about 4X6 and somewhat ressembles a robot's head. Playskools intention was to make this look like a little computer and appeal to techie parents, I am sure. On the screen border there are a couple of Kiddie-fied icons including a smiling trash can, envelope, and clock.


Under the screen itself there are 3 mock-buttons (just painted on) that include a volume icon, power button, brightness knob, etc. As mentioned, these are actually fake. Its too bad that Playskool didn't include an actual on/off button or volume (even if they were on the bottom underside of the unit).

The Magic screen itself uses about 50 or so dots the size of pencil erasers to draw simple images including letters and numbers. The dots light up in a lime green color against a darker background. The display is nothing fancy. Most of the appeal of the Magic screen is actually that it talks and acts like a little robot. It even has makes a little smiley face and say's things like "Hello", "Bye Bye" and "Press a Button". If you flip up the screen, the unit turns on and greets you. Likewise, if you fold the screen down it will power down after bidding you farewell.

Mouse & Screen Saver
The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk has 2 screen-savers including a fireworks display and a fish-tank effect and is also equipped with a functional mouse.
In the indented part (front and center) there is a purple mouse (actual shape of the animal) with a red & yellow roller ball. The mouse definitely gets my vote for being cute!

Any movement of the roller ball will "wake up" the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk just like movement of a real computer mouse would unlock a screen saver and bring a computer to life. The toy will say, "Hello", "Let's Play, Press a Button", "What's next", and "Lets's play again, Press a Button". If no buttons are pressed the fireworks or fish tank screen saver will activate. The After 30 seconds or so of playing the screen-saver the toy will shut off after saying, "Bye Bye"

If your child is playing with the desk and play is stopped for a few seconds a similar interaction will take place with the toy talking and encouraging the child to continue, if not - one of the screen savers will activate and the toy will shut down.

I have no complaints with the mouse, its appearance or functionality. In fact, its one of my favorite parts of the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk. The screensaver's however leave a bit to be desired. I understand the principal of them, but the implementation is weak. For the screensavers, Playskool uses a visual display that includes a sound reinforcement. Because its a screen saver, its repetitive. Thankfully, its quick and only repeats itself a few times (5 or 6) before shutting off. Because there is no volume control on the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk its loud enough to drive you bonkers. Also, since the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk turns itself on/off based on play from your child, there is no On/off Switch that can be used as an over-ride.

The toy takes batteries (3 C) and comes with them installed. We did have to change the originally factory installed batteries after about a week of using the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk. This probably has to do with the fact that our package arrived beeping, talking and playing music while shipping.


3 Play & Learn Activity Panels
As stated previously, the 3 different Play & Learn Activity Panels can be switched and played with as easy as sliding a panel from left to right. This is one aspect of the design where the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk excels over the Fisher Price Intelli-table, which requires swapping out the different larger learning rings.

As a bonus, when the panels are slid from side to center a design is revealed on the teal bottom layer of the desk. On the left portion of the desk is the complete alphabet from A to Z. Under each letter is a picture of an item that starts with the letter. So A - apple, B- Boat, etc. On the right portion of the desk are the numbers 1 through 10. Over each number are raised dots, of course the number to match each number.

Learning Lab
This is the most basic of the 3 panels on the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk. The intention of the Learning Lab is to teach letters, numbers, colors, and ABC's. When this panel is activated the Alphabet song will play and ABCDEFG will be displayed quickly on the screen. Buttons on this panel include:

ABC button to teach the alphabet. For example when pressed it will say "A", an A will be drawn out in dots on the learning screen, say "That's the Letter A", "A is for Apple, an apple will be drawn on the screen (in dots) and you will see a bite being taken out of the apple with the appropriate sound effect. The item that it features for each letter is actually the same item that is mapped to the letter on the alphabet map on the left side of the desk.

123 button to teach numbers. For example, when pressed it will say, "1", a 1 will be drawn out on the learning screen, and you will see a visual display of 1 insect (single dot) buzzing around on the screen. The dot configuration matches that displayed on the number map which is on the right portion of the desk.

Shape and color buttons including a Red Arrow, Orange Square, Green Circle and yellow triangle which when pressed will say the name of the shape and color and provide a visual display of the shape.

Animal Academy
When this orange panel is slid into place you will hear various animal sounds (woof, meow, quack, etc) and animals will be drawn out on the screen. Here you will learn the different names of animals and the sounds they make. The animals are: Dog, Cat, Bird, Cat, and Ducks. Like the learning lab, when each of the animal buttons is pressed the corresponding animal will be displayed on the screen while the sound of the animal (quack, meow, woof, peep, etc) is played.

There is also a yellow button that displays a woman and a baby (non-gender specific). This button changes the mode of play. For example, if you visit the Animal Academy after visiting the learning lab it will mix activities from both learning panels together. After pressing this you will hear things like 1 dog, 2 cats, 3 ducks, 4 birds. So, now you are working on counting, using animals. Other similar activities involving opposites and colors can also be activated. We've happened upon many of them by chance (which is a lot more fun than looking things up in the user's manual)

Music Studio
This is a place to play with musical tunes and musical instruments. Of the 3 play and learn panels this one is the cutest. The panel is bright lime green and has a cat in the center resting on 3 piano keys. There is also a purple music note button and a blue round button featuring a drum, trumpet and violin. As you slide this panel into place a little tune will play including a drum roll and a drum will be displayed on the magic screen.

Instrument Button This button teaches the name of several musical instruments. When pressed the name of the instrument is spoken, the instrument is displayed in magic dots and then the instrument is played. Instruments include: Violin, Xylophone, drums, and horn.

Music Notes Press the musical notes and the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk will play a tune. One example is Hickory Dickory Dock. During this song a clock will be drawn on the magic screen.

Piano - The piano has 3 keys and plays 3 different notes. Each of the keys has a different shape on them done in a raised dot braille-like fashion. The shapes are heart, square inside of a square, and a sunburt/asterick. As each piano key is pressed a note plays and the corresponding pattern displays on the screen.

Copy Cat The copy cat sits on top of the piano and you can play a game similar to "simon". The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk will encourage your child to imitate notes on the piano that were played. After playing a few notes it will say "Play it" and pause for your child to copy the notes. The copy cat uses a visual display on the screen which shows you which button to press. It also builds slowly, starting out with just one note and ending up with playing a simple tune. Since I play the piano, I am all for encouraging budding musicians. I think this is a great feature of the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk.


Is this a desk or a floor toy?
The little desk itself can be mounted on 2 blue L-shaped feet that support the desk about 8 or so inches off the ground. The feet can also be removed to use the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk directly on the floor, or on a table.

All the photos of this product show it being used as a desk, on the floor with a toddler sitting under it. The reality, however, is that unless you have a child that likes to sit in one place and positions for extended periods of time this will not be the case. The shape of the desk is such that your child will already need to be sitting and then the desk could be slid over their lap.

We learned very quickly that the desk configuration does not work for a young toddler, especially one who is beginning to cruise. My son is using everything and anything to help him push up and steady himself for balance. The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk can not be used like this. Because of the design, it will tip over (forward). After this happened twice, we took the legs off and use it flat on the floor. This could also be used on a table or other flat surface for an older toddler (up to age 3 or 4)

My Recommendation
The Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk is a fun and educational learning toy for a toddler techie. However, given the choice to get one "big" electronic learning toy, I would skip this one and opt for the Fisher-Price Intelli-table with Microsoft Technology.

For more info about the Playskool Magic Screen Learning Desk visit the manufacturer's page at:
http://www.hasbropreschool.com/product.asp?sku=6180&c=ps


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): gift - 54.99
Type of Toy: Other
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months

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