if you’ve read my past LeapFrog reviews then you know I’m a big fan of the Tag reader. My three-year-old loves using the Tag reader to hear the dinosaurs in T. Rex’s Might Roar really roar and the critters in Ozzie and Mack chatter away. The only problem is, he’s still a bit young to truly get the idea behind using the Tag for more than play, and perhaps that’s my fault for not spending more time with him. Then again, I’m all about learning through play so it’s been a great experience so far!
Even so, in the back of my mind I thought it would be nice if there were a similar product for the slightly younger set, of which I have two in our family. Not surprisingly LeapFrog had the same idea and now you can find the Tag Junior on store shelves. This cute, chunky, perfect-for-little-hands reader uses the same technology as the original Tag but its library is made up of board books (yay for board books!) and is designed for children ages two to four. Little ones can hear stories, sound effects and music every time they place, or “stamp,” the Tag Junior on the pages of a Tag Junior book. And the library includes everything from ABC’s to Dr. Suess to Winnie the Pooh.
We received the new Tag Junior for George to review, but alas, we had issues…and not with the reader itself. First we didn’t have any AAA batteries, and then I bout AAA rechargeable batteries but the charger wasn’t working. We finally got the charger working and then couldn’t find the Tag Junior. Found the Tag Junior and then couldn’t find the accompanying book, If I Were…—and we still can’t find the book. But I will say the Tag Junior is still a hit without the book. My almost-two-year-old loves the sounds it makes and its perfect even for her little hands. I so totally love our original Tag I am desperately looking for If I Were…. My little ones (and my older ones) are just as anxious as I am to see this little guy in action!
Like the Tag, the Tag Junior also lets you track your child’s progress with LeapFrog’s Learning Path. Learning Path lets you see what skills your child is learning and find related articles and activities to help them refine those skills. It is truly an awesome product and awesome program. And with weeks still left in summer, the Tag Junior is a great way to mix things up when it’s 100+ degrees outside and Blue’s Clues is no longer cutting it. The Tag Junior starter set is only about $35 for the reader and the book; additional books are only about $10. (Note: As of right now you can not use the original Tag on Tag Junior books.)—Emily
Back in December I reviewed the Flip Mino from Flip Video. This little handheld video camera has had a permanent residence in my diaper bag or purse since I first used it. I loved that I could whip it out at a moment’s notice for those once-in-a-lifetime video opportunities like hula hooping with my girlfriend or the need-to-upload-quickly videos like those I did for MomDot’s America’s Next Top Blogger competition. But my Flip Mino has recently been relocated to the desk drawer to make room for what might not be the “supermodel” of Flip cameras but what is definitely my favorite: the Flip Ultra HD.
The company sent the Flip Ultra HD so I could compare it with the Mino. Plus, the Mino has received a lot of hype lately and for some reason the Ultra is not getting any attention. I’m happy to send some of the spotlight its way! The Flip Ultra HD has a lot of similarities to my Flip Mino but one big difference—those two important letters, H and D. Is the picture that much different? Check it out for yourself. Here’s the aforementioned hula hooping moment:
And here’s our recent Saturday morning spent at the Hot Air Balloon Festival on the 4th of July:
By the way, if you can’t tell the difference then you might want to make an appointment with your optometrist. The HD has a much prettier picture for sure, and get this, it has a place for you to attach an HDMI cable from the camera to your TV so your family doesn’t have to crowd around the computer monitor to watch the videos. Now THAT is cool! Because my Flip Mino is not HD, I’m kind of comparing peaches to nectarines, which isn’t really fair when looking at my two sample videos but what the heck! I had to show you the difference HD really does make on this camera.
For the sake of this review I’ll stick with comparing the Flip Ultra HD to the Flip Mino HD, so here’s what else I love about the Flip Ultra HD: I actually like the slightly thicker body; I find it’s easier to hold on to and more comfortable when navigating the controls on the top. I also like having actual buttons (of a sort) to push rather than the touch-sensitive buttons on the Mino. And that’s not all—these features pretty much make the Ultra my permanent favorite:
8 GB of memory vs. 4 GB
120 min. of recording time vs. 60 min.
2” LCD screen with 960×240 resolution vs. 1.5” LCD screen with 528×132
The only thing that wasn’t totally superstar about the Flip Ultra HD is it took a bit longer to recharge than the Mino, but we’re talking twice the recording time, so it’s worth the wait!
I’m sure the Flip Mino HD has its benefits but the only one that comes to mind at this moment is size and weight. That half-inch difference in thickness when you’re talking about something this small does make a big difference, but since I’m toting around so much stuff anyway, the Flip Ultra HD suits me just fine. Of course, it has come in handy to have both the Mino and the Ultra, so I recommend buying one of each—and DEFINITELY go for the HD version.
By the way, I’m not kidding when I say, “Flip goes the world.” You know it’s big when Leslie Mills from Yanni Voices sees you backstage, recognizes your Flip camera and tells you she so totally wants one…—Emily
Okay, I am about 99% sure this will be the coolest review of 2009. (Hey, I can’t see past July on the schedule so you never know!) I am 110% sure it’s the coolest review so far! And I used one of my Flip Mino—one of my most favorite reviews—to help vlog about how cool the HP Vivienne Tam Edition makes me look amazing the HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition is and how much I love it…and my daughter loves it, and my husband loves it, and my babysitter loves it and all my Twitter girlfriends love it… It is THE must-have gift for Mother’s Day!
First let’s judge this notebook by it’s cover. The HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition (I call her Vivi for short) is a digital clutch by award-winning designer Vivienne Tam. The cover features a peony design in scrumptious violets and reds, which you can find throughout her Spring 2009 collection. I only just found out the colors represent happiness, prosperity and good fortune in the Chinese culture. The “Enter” key even features the double happiness symbol! (So that’s what that symbol means!) If the case weren’t yummy enough, the Vivi comes with it sown protective Vivienne Tam silk sleeve…this baby has more silk than my closet!
This mini-me version of a laptop (aka “digital clutch”) is only 10 inches long by 6.5 inches deep by less than 1 inch high and less than 2.5 pounds. The Vivi features a 10.1-inch diagonal HP Brightview Infinity widescreen display, HP Mini webcam, integrated mic, stereo speakers and a 92% full-size keyboard. But would I find substance when I looked beyond its chic and sexy exterior? Do runways have models?
Inside the Vivi you’ll find Microsoft Windows XP, an Intel Atom processor, 60GB of hard drive space, WiFi and Bluetooth. (Yes, I sound like I know what I’m talking about but it’s more my husband telling me all this stuff is super nifty.) There are a slew of other impressive features but I’m all girl and get distracted by pretty things. You’re lucky I looked further than the peonies!
Size: Fits perfectly in my Kate Spade knock-off (see photo above).
Weight: Feels heavenly compared to my diaper bag.
Windows XP: Beats Vista an ol’ day. (If you want me to convert to Mac feel free to send me an iBook for review…)
Bluetooth/wireless: I look so cool typing away while noshing at Blue Lemon Bistro (see photo below).
Key symbol color: Don’t get me wrong, the red keys are fabulous, but the dark gray used for the key symbols is fine in daylight but makes it really hard to see in darker settings (like Twittering while watching Celebrity Apprentice at night; see video).
Silk sleeve: Yes, it’s silk, but it is also a bit too large for the notebook. It needs to have a more snug fit and some way to secure it closed.
Envious people: Everyone wanted a piece of my Vivi and it made me rather uncomfortable.
Suboptimal handbag: I’m still on the lookout for the perfect handbag to complement the notebook. It may cost me a couple hundred dollars to find one.
Okay, couldn’t come up with number five, and as you can see numbers three and four were a stretch anyway!
Using the aforementioned Flip Mino I put together a video documenting life with my HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition. I have used it more than the few minutes you glimpse in the video and I’m sure it would’ve been three times as long if this review had been scheduled post BlogHer ‘09. But you’ll enjoy catching almost the entire family involved with Vivi, including my husband. (Should I be worried?)
And the picture below? My daughter, who asks me almost daily if she can use my Vivienne Tam. Her expression, which you might recognize from the video, shows exactly how I feel when I’m typing away in such chic and sophisticated style…even in my pj’s. The runway-meets-everyday HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition is the perfect Mother’s Day gift!
Bliss has landed in my studio in the form of a hot pink TV, can it be any more girly it matches my luggage?! Feast your eyes upon the 19-inch FAVI Pink 720p LCD HDTV DVD/Card Reader/USB Combo from FAVI Entertainment. This awesome television may look prim and proper, but even my husband was impressed to discover that it’s full of functionality. It’s truly like the Swiss Army Knife of media systems. Not only can you watch Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday night, but you can use this multi-use technology for so much more! Use as a desktop computer monitor, toss in your fave new DVD to watch (the DVD drive is built right in), drop in your camera card to view pictures as your own digital photo frame – it’s all jam packed into this sweet little unit from FAVI.
I first heard about FAVI Entertainment when I saw it featured on an episode of “The View” and how FAVI was supporting the Susan G Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer research. I was impressed with what I saw that day and contacted the company to find out more. I can honestly say that once I saw the product in person, that’s where my real excitement began. The HD picture quality is excellent, the unit is light weight and slim to suit your kitchen counter, desktop or bedroom. I also was impressed with the price point considering the quality of picture and the many uses and input jacks it provides, at $399 it’s a fantastic buy.
Plus it’s Pink, and we could all use a touch of that! – Daria
Last September I reviewed LeapFrog’s uber popular (and for good reason) Tag reader. This little handheld reading wonder is still a big hit with all our kids, whether 18 months or 11 years, and we are continually adding books to the collection. Hint: it’s the gift that keeps on giving—and gives Grandma and Grandpa a great idea for birthdays!
Did you know March is National Reading Month? To be honest, I had no clue until I received an email from LeapFrog telling me about its latest effort “to bring attention to literacy and encourage families to make time to read together.” As if introducing the Tag reader to the world wasn’t enough, LeapFrog has launched its 1 Million Reading Hours campaign in conjunction with the NEA’s National Reading Month.
What is the idea behind the 1 Million Reading Hours campaign? By pledging to set aside at least 10 minutes a day, parents can contribute to the national goal of 1 million reading hours. But it’s not just about achieving a goal. When parents pledge to spend more time reading together with their children they reinforce the importance of shared reading time in their own family. So how does the program—and the giveaway—work? Here are the details:
Visit the 1 Million Reading Pledge page on LeapFrog’s site and enter the number of minutes you pledge to read per day. That’s pretty much it! All participants will receive special rewards and offers from LeapFrog—if they give you one on the Tag reader, use it! Now for the giveaway…and this is the super fabulous part. (Okay, spending quality time reading with your child is the “real” benefit, but let’s be honest…a giveaway doesn’t hurt!)
LeapFrog is giving one lucky Daily Dish reader:
One Tag reader plus 5 books for personal use AND
One expanded-memory LeapFrog School Tag reader plus 10 books to donate to their local library
To enter the giveaway you will need to visit the 1 Million Reading Pledge page and enter your pledge. (Yes, I mentioned this before but as we all know, some people don’t catch it the first time.) Then return to this post and leave a comment telling us how much time you pledged in LeapFrog’s 1 Million Reading Hours. On April 1st we will draw the winner from the comments posted below. (Please include a valid email address for our drawing.)
P.S. We’re not going to check LeapFrog’s records to see who really visited the site and made a pledge; we’re all about the honor system here at Boutique Cafe. Just know you’ll feel really guilty if you didn’t pledge and end up winning…
Congratulations to Johannah B., the winner of the Tag Reader giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!
The same person who sent me the Flip Mino, which I reviewed—and totally fell in love with—on a past Daily Dish (it has since been “misplaced”...I’d rather not talk about it) asked me to try out One True Media, a site whose mission is to “empower you to express yourself in new and creative ways with the media that matters to you most – your own – and to share your creations with your most important network – your family and friends.”
Okay, I have to be honest here; though I am a pro with things like Shutterfly (I can design a mean Christmas card) and Facebook albums I have never tried to create one of those cute videos like you see at wedding receptions with the photos in a slideshow-type format set to music. For my oldest girls’ baptisms I handed that responsibility to my dad, who did a knock-up job with it. (It’s SO his thing.) Fortunately the now-MIA Flip Mino eased me into the whole uploading to YouTube thing so I was excited to try One True Media and see just how easy (hopefully) it would be to create my own cool photo show.
Super cool. Super easy. Super, dee-duper fun! Yep, that pretty much covers it. I signed in to my One True Media account (much of the site is free; premium membership gives you access to extra templates, songs, and services) and decided to dive right in without the help of tutorials. I selected one of the montage QuickStyles and within minutes I was uploading about 30 photos for my very first montage (a.k.a. hip slide show with music). I then put them in order, played around with things like transition and effects (I almost sound like a pro) and even uploaded my own song. I changed the timing on some of the photos and voila! I got the song and photo montage to end at the exact same time. The process was so easy I bet my girls could easily do it (i.e. I shouldn’t have any problems).
Once the montage was done I had a number of actions from which to choose. I could email it, embed the code into my favorite sites, post it to YouTube, share it to TiVo, add it to One True Media’s public gallery, send it to a mobile phone or post it to TypePad. And for those who like to hold a physical copy of their creations in their hands, you can even purchase a DVD. I exercised my right to choose and did two things: emailed it and embedded it. Now you get to “review” my very first montage. I took about 30 pictures from 2008—a very small sampling for sure but a good overview nonetheless…
I didn’t spend a ton of time on my first montage attempt but I sure could have! It was so much fun and I’m already trying to figure out what I will create next to share with friends and family. My only complaint? One True Media is highly addictive so proceed with caution. I get very little sleep as it is so I’m going to have to control my newfound addiction to it!—Emily
Okay, that was a bit on the cheesy side but I couldn’t help myself. I was sure “You’ll flip for the Flip Mino” had already been done so I decided to get a little creative. But don’t let the title of this review fool you. The Flip Mino is definitely not cheesy. In fact, it is so not cheesy it illicited a “Wow! That is pretty amazing!” from my husband, who loves all things tech and is not easily impressed.
What is the Flip Mino and why is it cool enough to catch my husband’s attention? (By the way, it had my attention when it showed up in all its tiny sleek glory.) The Flip Mino is a pocket-sized camcorder that allows you to record with just a touch of your thumb. Its memory can hold up to 60 minutes of high-quality video. No need to replace the batteries; this baby has a rechargeable lithium ion battery and charges using your USB port. You get over 4 hours of recording per charge! I loved the flip-out USB arm because it meant one less time I’d have to mess with a USB cord.
I am totally one for reading directions, to my husband’s chagrin, but I thought I’d try the Flip Mino without them. I powered it up and was recording within seconds. I did have to browse the directions to make sure I was fully utilizing the on-screen features of the Flip Mino, but I had it down in no time. I did notice the tripod mount but I’m not sure I’ll ever use it. For me the Flip Mino is all about ease of use and impromptu videos.
While writing this review I discovered a couple other features: a “child safe” mode to prevent accidental deletions of clips; 2x digital zoom (though like most digital zooms it leaves something be desired); 1.5” color high-brightness (transflective) display for super-clear viewing in bright sunlight (I did notice it was a lot easier to record our kids’ snowman with the Flip Mino than it was to take a picture of it with our digital camera); silent mode for recording in sensitive situations (wow, never thought about that…opens up a whole new world of possibilities!); and a TV connector cable so you can watch videos on television.
Now that we have the Flip Mino’s specs out of the way, here’s what I really thought of this pocket-sized camcorder. It TOTALLY ROCKS Yes, it was simple to power on, record and even delete videos on the Flip itself, but when I plugged the USB arm into my computer the magic really happened. I kept my fingers crossed it would recognized the “new hardware” and then the Flip would download its own video software. The finger crossing worked because that’s just what it did. Within just a few minutes my videos were on screen inside the FlipShare window. It was so easy to navigate I didn’t once need to read the directions. I saved the videos to my computer (just a couple clicks of the mouse) and even cut a few seconds off the end of one.
You can advance the movie in super slow motion, frame by frame, and then even take a snapshot of a frame and save it as a JPEG on your computer. I gave that a go and both my husband and I were impressed with the quality of the photo (seen at right). It wasn’t the clearest picture we’ve seen but for a tiny camcorder and only 2x digital zoom, it was pretty nifty. Of course my next step was to see how easy it was to upload a video to YouTube, and there it was, right at the top of the FlipShare window: “Share” I clicked, dragged the pointer to “Online” and then “YouTube…” and clicked again. A window popped up so I could log in; I logged in, clicked “Next” and it started uploading the video. After a few minutes, it was live on YouTube. I even IM’d my parents the link so they could check it out. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the video on YouTube (it looked 100x better on our computer) but it was still a kick to be able to share it so quickly! And just so you know I’m totally serious about the YouTube thing, here’s our little girl in all her musical glory (and you don’t have to watch the whole thing…I won’t take it personally):
Besides uploading to sites like YouTube, AOL and MySpace you can share your video via email. FlipShare even has editing tools so you can create custom movie mixes with music. How cool is that!
The Flip Mino costs around $180 but I think it’s totally worth it for this little guy. (You can actually get a Flip MinoHD for only $50—might be worth it.) It’s small enough for me to keep it in my diaper bag without taking up too much needed space. How many times have you been somewhere and wished you had a camera? Those cell phone cameras don’t always cut it. Now you can capture that “did he just stick a french fry up his nose” moment on video (moving picture and sound)...and then share it with the world.—Emily
...all while soothing the senses. No karts, no alien creatures, no spastic background music. The Game Factory has debuted two new Nintendo DS games designed for the growing number of female “casual gamers”—women just like me who aren’t serious gamers but enjoy a little break from reality once in a while.
The two new games are Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest, which allow players to “escape from the stress of daily life while challenging the mind, body and spirit through relaxing puzzle games, soothing ambient sounds and authentic rainforest and oceanic visuals.” Sounds pretty soothing already, doesn’t it? Well, my girls and I have tested both Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest and the verdict is in: we love them!
Okay, I was only able to play Zenses Ocean. My daughter started playing Rainforest, her favorite of the two, when the battery ran out on her DS. We couldn’t find the charger so Rainforest has sat in the DS waiting anxiously for someone to play it—and I’m anxious! I enjoyed pretty much every game on Ocean and the crashing waves in the background were rather soothing. I had a little trouble with one of the games, and I will admit, a couple truly tested my brainpower, but a little cerebral exercise is a good thing especially when you have sand between your toes!
I can’t wait to charge up the DS and check out the Rainforest game. It’s already a favorite of my daughter’s and if it’s even better than Ocean I know I’ll love it. I’ll never be a hardcore gamer—not enough time and not enough interest—but I do enjoy a little reprieve from the daily grind and The Game Factory’s new line of Zenses games is perfect for the casual gamer like me.—Emily
I know, I know, an MP3 player for toddlers seems as bad an idea as a cell phone for pre-schoolers, but after reading this review I’m pretty sure you’ll be adding the SweetPea3 MP3 player to your holiday shopping list!
I’ve often thought it would be nice for my three-year-old to be able to listen to books on tape or his favorite children’s music while riding in the car. I’m on of those moms who rarely pops in a children’s tape (yep, tape…no CD player in my ‘95 Odyssey) while driving. The noise level in the car with two tween girls is nerve-fraying enough without Disney’s Silly Songs blaring over the speakers. But even the simple CD and MP3 players my girls own are still too complex for my toddler, and I’d rather not have him watching movies every time we go further than Costco. We finally have a totally toddler-friendly option with our new SweetPea3 MP3 player from SweetPea Toy Co.
I don’t feel bad about my toddler toting his own MP3 player because he’s learning music appreciation in a whole new way—and he loves it! The first day we had it he carried that thing around only putting it down to eat and bathe. Even at his young age he easily figured out how to work the three—yes, only three—buttons (rewind, stop, fast forward). It has a rubbery yet solid exterior so it can be bumped, banged and tossed around, which I guarantee will happen, and a size that makes it hard to lose. And even though it has the three simple controls for toddlers, parents can access a menu to control volume (settings 1-5 and 5 isn’t too loud for little ears), playlists and play duration. Along with a headphone jack the SweetPea3 has a built-in speaker so everyone can enjoy listening in. (I made sure to load mom-friendly children’s songs just for that reason!)
You can download songs and stories just as you would for any other MP3 player. I had three separate playlists loaded in minutes! But the SweetPea3 goes beyond toddlers; you can even use it to soothe your overtired baby with calming music. My tween girls couldn’t wait until their little brother fell asleep so they could check out his new toy and our one-year-old has laid claim to it as well. Good thing the player’s enclosure is made from rubber that meets FDA food grade specifications. In fact the entire unit is lead free and exceeds the requirements of ASTM F963 Toy Safety Specification—good news in today’s world of unsafe children’s products.
Though designed to withstand all a toddler can throw at it, the SweetPea3 player looks cool. No bright primary colors and clunky parts. It would even look good on my grown-up desk. Hmmm…maybe I need to create my own playlist and borrow the player when its owner is in bed for the night! The SweetPea3 is sure to be a very hot item this holiday season so order it early before it’s out of stock. At only $60 and a 3-day money-back guarantee, the SweetPea3 is one super sweet buy!—Emily
I don’t know the exact number of DVDs we have but I do know they take up way too much room in our cold storage. Between A Bug’s Life to Zorro is some prime shelf space I’d rather use for more important things like Girl Scout Thin Mints and Keebler Grasshopper cookies. But how to downsize? MMDesign Studio’s DiscSox are the perfect solution for saving space when it comes to multimedia storage.
DiscSox’s DVD Pro storage sleeves hold 2 DVDs plus the DVD’s graphics and wrap. These thin yet sturdy matte vinyl sleeves (with integrated fabric for extra protection) let you store over 65 DVDs in just 12 inches of space! Their side-loading feature keeps DVDs free of dust, and the aforementioned fabric actually helps clean the disc every time you put it away. My favorite option is the DVD Pro Storage System, which includes 50 DiscSox DVD Pro Sleeves, a DiscSox tray, at least 5 DVD Pro Dividers and 96 movie labels. I wish I could have reviewed this before Father’s Day, as it would have made the perfect Father’s Day gift!
MMDesign’s fabulous multimedia storage products aren’t limited to DVDs. They also offer similar solutions for music, data, game and photo storage. If you’re multimedia storage looks anything like mine (i.e. basket next to the TV, vertical towers of games, shelf after shelf of DVD cases) then DiscSox may be the answer to your space-saving prayers!—Emily
Hi! I'm Daria, Owner Host and Producer for Boutique Cafe! I am passionate about helping mompreneurs succeed in following their dreams. I love to connect people, create, and network. I'm a social media addict and love anything fashionable, girly, DIY, vintage, handmade and fabulous. If you're a mompreneur and are looking for a cheerleader, you've come to the right place! Learn more about us here.
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