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The Parentville Fave Five

The Tech Roundup

Parentville.com

Parentville.com is the new give-and-get parent recommendation site for products, services, activities and caregivers to make your life easier. This week we are excited to tell you about our favorite tech products, great gift ideas, and announce our first giveaway ($60 value)!

Picture Keeper


Picture Keeper gave us a sample to try out of their special USB stick, and we can't imagine ever not having one! This can store 4,000 (4GB), 8,000 (8GB), 16,000 (16GB) or up to 1 million photos (160GB) so you never lose them! This will assure that your photos are safe, whereever you've saved them.

To find out which size is right for you, go to the brief tutorial and it will tell you what to look for in terms of file size (1GB = 100 MB). If you have a camera that takes larger pixel-sized images (e.g., 12 megapixels), go with 16GB.

The advantages are several: one, you have a place where just the photos you want are saved -- no other files to sift through; two, the web site reminds you when it's time to back up photos; three, you can simply take the stick to the photo printer of your choice and print from a full range; four, you can easily use in a digital photo frame to increase the variety of pictures. Plus, you get a one-year warranty and personalized customer service if you have any questions!

Everyone who registers on Parentville.com by Monday, Sept. 7, has a chance to win a Picture Keeper memory stick to back up about 8,000 photos, a $60 value! If you become a fan of Parentville's Facebook page, you get an extra chance to win! We are also featuring two great new products with discounts!

A great gift idea here. You can also get 40% off when ordering from their site using the "Parentville" code. And, if you buy a 4GB product and refer two friends to the site, you automatically get a free upgrade to an 8GB stick!

Lil'Grams

Lil'grams is from a fellow entrepreneur dad who created an online, organic, customizable baby photo album for the modern parent. To start, you register your child's information and choose a "Gram" -- a specific milestone, such as first food, word, growth update, etc. and then attach the related photo or video.

It definitely makes your life easier because each photo you create a "Gram" for already has a pre-selected list of people in "groups" who will receive it automatically based on their frequency preference! Thus, it allows you to quickly determine who sees which photos, and it is fully secure so you don't have to worry about making videos private! It also works by sending an "Gram" from your desktop, email account or via updates from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Google's Picasa (recipients can also receive "Grams" from Facebook and Twitter). You, friends and family will never forget when or why the photo was taken!

The first 30-day trial is free; and, if you use "PARENTVILLE" in the discount code when registering for one of 3 plans ($29/5GB, $49/10GB per year; $99/10GB for 3 years), you'll receive 15% off! This is also a great gift idea for new parents who can send a physical gift card to recipients.

Check out their Baby on Board Tour to see when they'll be in your area (NYC Sept. 25-27).

VTech Bugsby Reading System

Twittermoms gave us the chance to try out this product from VTech, and we have to say, this is certainly a fun, dynamic product to get your kids (ages 3-7) engaged in reading. The system includes a pointer tool, Bugsby the Bookworm, and one book ($29.99). Each book (sold separately for different age ranges, $12.99) has its own cartridge that you plug into Bugsby. They have a license from Nickelodeon for their key character books, too. Bugsby can either play the full story, and kids can turn the pages when the "chime" sounds, or they can manually change the pages.

Since many of the images reveal a word that identify it when pressed, and there are other educational games to test knowledge, your kid may want to go on his own pace. For example, one game cleverly asked which clothes are appropriate for certain activities such as going to the beach and even going to outer space! Overall, this held our kids' interest for at least a half hour, which we think is pretty good. We would also recommend going through the books with your child for the first several times to show him the various options.

This is a great holiday gift to think about! Check out their Facebook and Twitter sites for new book updates, and go to Club VTech to enter your kid's customized story by Oct. 27 for 10% off and a chance to win product and inclusion of the story in an upcoming book!

ItzaBitza


This new game by we received from Sabi is at the top of our list for learning. It was started by former Microsoft employees who were looking for a better way to empower children's creativity and promote the love of reading. Children use drawing recognition technology called Living Ink to bring objects to life (e.g., tree, house, sun) when requested by the main character, Sketchy.

This game already won a Parents' Choice Gold Medal and feature in USA Today mentioning how it is good for kids who are just starting to decode words, but it is excellent for kids between ages 4 and 8 because they can enjoy watching their drawings come to life, even if they don't look perfect.

Sketchy's verbal requests become on-screen words that can be highlighted red and called out slowly when moused over. Sketchy and your child use these drawn objects when interacting with his/her surroundings (e.g., draw a cloud to make rain and Sketchy pulls out an umbrella). Once your child completes several tasks, he will unlock the next themed level. Here are links from YouTube and the site to see a demo and more information about how kids learn.

You can download the web version from the site, www.itzabitza.com (Windows XP or Vista only for now), for $19.99, or order the software from Amazon.

KidZui

KidZui is a great option to get your kids started using the Internet while being assured that they will see only appropriate content. Rather than filter the Internet, KidZui's founders built an entirely new one - customized for kids, using 200+ teachers and parents to search for the best kids content. You have the option of downloading the standalone version or using a Firefox plugin, I chose to download the software. The interface is nicely designed, and it incorporates games, YouTube videos, web and image search results. The software allows for parental control, such as being able to monitor the hours your child has spent online. This is a free service, but paid membership is available for extra features (e.g., longer/more detailed view of online activity and sites of interest, blocking specific sites, adding favorite sites). It's backed by Scholastic, and doesn't offer advertising but is supported by Mattel. Check it out at http://www.kidzui.com.

Posted in: Blog, The Parentville Fave Five on 08/31/2009

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