Picks and Pans Review: Videosmarts

UPDATED 01/08/1990 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/08/1990 at 01:00 AM EST

Buying this "interactive video learning system" for ages 3 and up is not too pricey, but keeping up could clean you out. The basic package includes a battery-operated box with four buttons to register yes, no, true and false, a 30-minute VHS introduction, Numbers 1-5/Comparisons and an offer for a free Just Say No tape. Obviously you will want more, and each video can cost up to $27. The lesson better be worth it.

Both Kate, 7, and Nick, 3, loved the button-pushing and grinned when a correct response yielded a "very good." The action—which centers on talking bear Tcachin' Teddy—is clear and colorful, though sometimes too cute. Nutrition, Health & Safety simply lists the basic food groups; the safety tips, while solid, are few. Best of the three tapes available for review was Vowel Sounds, which smartly reduces such fuzzy concepts as long and short vowels to memorable jingles. ("Hi, hi, hi," says long-I waitress Iris at a diner. "Service with a smile is always my style.")

Nick, who found the buttons hard to push, was happy simply to shout the answer. Just as well: Midway through the viewing, the machine broke. Hmmm...may be the best idea is to forget the button pusher and just buy the tapes. (Connor, $39.99-$49.99)

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