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Mossberg on FlyPen

December 22nd, 2005 · No Comments

Walter Mossberg writes about the ‘ballpoint’ with a brain:

The FLY Pentop Computer comes from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. — a respected and well-known company that makes educational toys for kids. This $100 digital toy, geared toward kids aged eight and older, is a thick ballpoint pen, with a brain. Using built-in software, it reads, and reacts to, certain things you write with the pen. In effect, it turns paper into an interactive medium.

With FLY, you can hand-draw a calculator or a simple musical keyboard and actually use them — the calculator really does math and the keyboard really plays notes. You can practice math and spelling and geography; and play educational and noneducational games. The pen offers extra instructions, sound effects and encouragement through a tiny speaker. There’s no shooting, no sex, and nobody dies.

FLY’s brain is a small cartridge that snaps onto the pen; the standard cartridge can be removed and replaced with different cartridges that power separately sold programs called FLYware. The whole thing runs on a single AAA battery. The pen has a switch for retracting its ballpoint ink tip; a speaker; a power button; and a green light that glows when the pen is turned on.

The FLY Pentop Computer is a smart product, made to help kids become smarter, and it would make a useful gift for any child, if you can afford it.

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