The way children play has traditionally changed to some extent over each generation and as technology expands, new ways of play are being introduced. These days you can’t go too far without seeing a child holding a smart device. Tablets and phones have become the 21st-century all-in-one babysitter/pacifier/toy. While there’s plenty of debate on the use of these devices by children, there is no denying kids love them. Smart devices can deliver everything from educational apps and books to games and fun.
But one thing that the modern smart device is missing is that warm fuzzy hug you get from a physical plush toy. That’s what Bluebee Pals provides through their line of Bluetooth enabled plush toys. Read on for the full review of Bluebee Pals and find out why it’s a Top Pick for 2016.
The Bluebee Pal has the following features and specifications:
- The new Bluebee Pal Pro is a talking plush learning tool for Ages Pre K-3.
- Bluebee Pals connect to any Apple or Android Bluetooth-enabled device: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
- Bluebee Pals interactive mouth moves while connected to Educational, Storybook, Music, Speech & Occupational Therapy & AAC Apps.
- A user-friendly voice activated command switch: On/Off, Connect Device, Remind to Charge.
- Entertains family members when connected Apple or Android smartphone.
- Rechargeable battery with USB micro-charger cable included (adapter not included).
The Bluebee Pals plush we received for review was the Bluebee Leo the Lion, and it was made from super soft plush material. The design is very nice and the doll measures around 9.0 x 7.0 x 13.0 inches. Like most electronic plush toys the voice box and Bluetooth receiver is housed in the back of the doll. A sturdy and expansive Velcro closure keeps all the innards tucked away. Pretty much the whole doll is constructed of soft plush and soft interior batting. The mouth is the one area that’s mechanical and that’s where the gears and motor are for the mouth movements. That is one area I’d advise you be gentle with as the types of gears and motors in any of these types of toys can break if manipulated with force. Overall the design is lovely and our kids really fell in love with Leo almost right away.
Ease of Use
The beauty of Bluebee Pals is there are no discs, tapes, cartridges or media to buy with it, all the interaction and content comes straight from the apps on your smart device. When you power up Bluebee you’ll hear the plush announce “Hi, I’m Bluebee! Please connect me to your Bluetooth via your smart device.” Bluetooth pairing is easy and once you’re paired Bluebee Pals will find your device each time its powered on. After you connect you simply find your child’s favorite app, we used a variety of story apps, and the child or you can navigate the app while Bluebee Pals narrates. The Bluebee instructions do suggest a few apps you can use with the device and I found a few of their suggestions to be useful, but the iStoryTime app was completely useless and is rated 2.9 on the App Store. However, quite a few other (personal) apps worked great with the Bluebee and more suggestions are on their website. Overall it’s dead simple to use and the amount of content available is huge as you can use just about any app on the App Store or Play Store. Be aware that some apps will require purchases but again, these are not associated with Bluebee Pals.
The plush is supposed to talk along with whatever app you pick, basically giving a narration of the story or song, which in turn gives your child something physical to play along with. Bluebee Pals does a great job of moving its mouth to dialogue but I did find that background music also caused the mouth to move, which wasn’t a huge deal but it is something to be aware of. Playing music yields a bit more mixed results as the mouth does move to the words but again, picks up the music as well so once in awhile the mouth doesn’t always sync to the words. Bluebee Pals also has the ability to take phone calls, with the answer/end call button being housed in the left ear. It was very fun for the kids to hear mommy and daddy talking through Leo the Lion and its a fun feature to have. Overall though, this toy performs very well.
Battery life is going to be a mixed bag and highly dependent on how much you use Bluebee Pals. We saw about two weeks of battery life with I believe moderate use. Bluebee recharges via Micro-USB and you can use a phone charger or USB hub or computer to charge (cable not included).
The price and value of Bluebee Pals is going to depend on your situation and needs. Personally, I believe this toy is worth the cost and the value it brings into the home is worth it.
Bluebee Pals is so much more than just a toy for kids and parents. The Bluebee website has a plethora of educational uses, apps, and resources for a variety of applications from parenting to special needs and therapy use. As one of my social media followers put it: “Bluebee Pals is this generation’s Teddy Ruxpin.” This is a fun and useful plush toy that can be used in many scenarios and is well worth the money and it easily earns a Techaeris Top Pick of 2016 award.
*We were sent a review sample of Bluebee Pals Pro for the purposes of this review.
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