Vtech Spring And Fall Lineups Announced

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Vtech expanded its XL line of notebook and handheld computers and early learning aides at the Toy Fair held here earlier this month.

The company added six units that will start shipping this fall. Two are in the SkillStarter series, for children ages five to seven, with the handheld model carrying a $39 suggested retail price and the notebook coming in at $59. These allow students to practice spelling, reading, math and vocabulary skills and when used with Vtech's vPort accessory, can connect to the Web and download additional lessons. The notebook version adds a full-size LCD screen and keyboard.

The MindBooster models are for slightly older children, seven to nine years old, and are designed to promote individual learning. These can also connect to the Internet via the vPort. The handheld, with a $79 suggested retail price, has a touchscreen, class organizer and scheduler. The notebook unit features a word processing program and built-in typing tutor that teaches the fundamentals of typing. Its suggested retail price is $99.

For the next age group (nine- to 12-year olds) Vtech will ship the ClassMaster. With a $149 suggested retail price, it features more challenging game-oriented activities, adds the ability to go online and has lessons in pre-algebra, grammar and basic geometry.

This year Vtech will add to its pre-school Ready, Set, School line with five new offerings.

The Classmate Slate, suggested retail price $29 and shipping this spring, is an interactive tablet with a touch-screen LCD that resembles a chalkboard and teaches numbers and letters. Kids draw on it using a stylus. Hitting retailers at the same time is the Buzz Spelling Bee interactive book, suggested retail price $24. The final new product for spring is the SmarTV, an ELA that gives children a simulated computer experience. Two cartoon characters guide the youngsters through 10 pre-school activities that use games to teach numbers and the alphabet. It will carry a $24 suggested retail price.

Shipping this fall are the Bright Buddies Laptop and Alphabet Alien. Each has a suggested retail price of $34. The laptop program has five animal characters that lead the children through specific tasks. The Alphabet Alien talks, moves and dances its way through eight interactive pre-school activities such as counting.

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