Monday, December 19, 2005
The amazing $99.99 Fly Pen, designed for 9-to-14-year-olds, is a stylish fat pen with a small digital camera aimed along the ballpoint tip. It looks at what you write in English, and it's uncannily good at understanding it.
The pen talks to you through a small loudspeaker but, wisely, also includes earbuds, a decision that should save some parental sanity. It is powered by a single Duracel AAA battery.
Some things the Flypen lets you do out of the box:
1.Draw a calculator on the page. Tap a formula, and the pen will tell you the result.
2. Draw a series of circles. The pen will call out a state capital or state for each circle. Connect the correct state capital circles with the state circles while the pen times you.
3.Draw a small piano keyboard. As you tap the keys, the pen plays the corresponding notes.
For more meaty educational options, you need to buy add-on cartridges that plug into the top of the pen. Three fly cartridges priced between $24.99 and $34.99 teach spelling, math or Spanish.
The pen's limitation is that you have to use special paper, sold by Leapfrog, with a preprinted pattern of tiny dots that allows the camera to keep track of where it is on the page.
The add-on cartridges come with extra paper, but if the toy is a hit with your kids, you could run out of paper after a week or two, and extra paper is quite expensive at $9.99 for an 8.5-by-11 inch pad.
FLY paper: Pad (3 x 5) by LeapFrog Amazon Price: $5.99
The convenient FLY Catcher pad includes 3 pads of 25 sheets of 3 x 5 FLY paper.