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Oregon Scientific Smart Globe
- Fun to use, comprehensive coverage, built-in challenges, news function
- Smart Pen inaccuracy
The Smart Globe does have some minor problems, but the price is very reasonable, and it also offers live update via the Internet, making it an ideal tool to help children learn about the world.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Recently at GoodGearGuide we seem to have encountered an increasingly large number of toys that have the ability to speak. While devices such as the RS Media, with its eerie comments about watching when we sleep, are just downright spooky, the Oregon Scientific Smart Globe is a slightly less menacing product.
More of a learning tool than an actual toy, the Smart Globe looks like a regular globe, except it has touch sensitive pads built into its surface. By simply tapping different areas of the globe with the included Smart Pen, a variety of pieces of information are read out about the location in question; quite cool. It does have some minor accuracy problems, but the price is very reasonable, and it also offers live update via an Internet connection, making it an ideal tool to help children learn about the world.
While the globe itself looks quite normal, resting underneath, attached to the stand, is a menu system. It operates in the same touch sensitive way the globe does, responding to the Smart Pen, but not to a finger. The number of options on offer is huge. The Smart Globe tells all kinds of things about each country, ranging from currency, population, highest point, land mass and language. It also offers comparisons, for example, how big China is compared to Russia.
The fun doesn't stop there however; there are also a number of built in challenges, where rather than merely moving around the world and touching different places, users actually have to put their knowledge to the test. Again there are a series of options, our favourite being the "ultimate challenge". With such a name, and this being a children's toy, we felt obligated to defend our pride and boost our self-esteem a little, but this wound up proving more difficult than we'd anticipated. The challenge asks all kinds of questions, ranging from finding the capitals of specific and sometimes obscure countries, through to locating certain landmarks like seas and rivers. It quickly made us realise that knowing where New York is does not mean we are geographical wizards.
There are also a variety of fun options, including the rather enjoyable "Amazing Facts". Did you know that Cairo is home to what is thought of as the world's first university? Neither did we! A lot of the facts are completely useless from a practical sense, but they provide quite a lot of amusement between testing your geographical metal. There is also a news option, where you can find out current events from a specific location. Unfortunately there is only one of these stored for each country at a time, but using the auto update feature can get new updates daily.
We were impressed with how comprehensive the Smart Globe's coverage was. Every country was represented, even tiny islands in the middle of nowhere. That said however, we did struggle with the Smart Pen's accuracy a little bit. Hitting tiny countries like Belgium is certainly a task and we'd like to see the sensor made a little more precise in future versions.
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