Forget video games and television. A whole new crop of tech toys is on the market for your 10- to 14-year-old child. From wireless games to a programmable robot, these gadgets will have your child amused for hours, while they learn at the same time. Product reviewer James Oppenheim from was invited on the "Today" show to show off his recommendations.
The LeapFrog pentop computer: “Fly” is one of the most innovative products of the year, and in a new product category called pentop computers. You write, it watches what you do and responds — by talking to you! You can draw a musical keyboard and play music by touching the keys, or do calculations by drawing a number pad on the special “Fly” paper that tracks your writing. Sells for about $99.
Wild Planet gloves and jacket: This is a cool camouflage jacket that comes with tricked-out gloves with built in lights and a compass. The gloves are fingerless so they are best used after the snow melts. Sells at the Gap for $49.50.
Digital microscope: Expand the world with Digital Blue's digital microscope. It plugs into the computer, so you can take pictures, movies or even time-lapse images from 10x to 200x magnification. This is an update to the old model with vastly enhanced resolution. Sells for $89.99.
Apple Mini: Apple’s newest Mac has a tiny footprint and a tiny price. The company kept the price down by letting you use your old monitor and keyboard — they plug into the box. It's a breakthrough product that should get lots of kids using Macs. Sells for $499.
MP3 Players: 'Tweenhood is often when you discover the music around you. Tiny flash-memory players like the Apple Shuffle and the hard disk Creative Zen Micro offer great sound in a tiny package. I also like external speakers for the players like the cool Altec Lansing mini-boom box for iPod.
Disney’s Pendant Camera: Available later this year, Disney's camera is a great example of ’tween digital cameras that put the emphasis on cool uses over image quality — results tend to look more like those taken from a cell phone than a digital camera. Another cool ’tween camera is Digital Blue’s Binoculars with built-in camera.
Scanner: One of the most useful products for school reports is a scanner. Kids use them to get images from books into reports. They are now widely available for under a hundred dollars, and a snap to hook up to a laptop or desktop computer.
X52 Flight Control System made by Saitek: If you have a ’tween who's interested in flying, check out this incredible joystick-and-throttle combination for computer flight simulators. This system gives a realistic flying experience and encourage kids to delve into the deeper experience. ’Tweens can program the gadgets with customized layouts, which also gives them an introduction to programming.
RoboPet made by WowWee: Another device that will get kids thinking about programming is the RoboPet, the follow-up to last year’s hit, Robosapien. More than just a “toy,” these robots lay a foundation for future studies in computer science. The pet can lay down, roll over, jump, and even avoid obstacles in its path.
Wireless gaming accessories and surround speakers for gaming systems: Microsoft’s new racing game, called Forza, is controlled with a wireless steering wheel and a wireless hand controller that has a built-in fan to keep your hands dry. Connect a surround-sound speaker system to your television and it will make the games come to life. The speakers can also play movies in surround sound.