iTeddy: Advanced teddy bear or digital babysitter?

If you're looking for a way to introduce your 3- to 6-year-old to MP3s, the iTeddy is the cuddliest option.

iTeddy

No, it's not Internet lingerie (how would that work exactly, anyway?), but it might be just as questionable. According to its Web site, iTeddy is the "cuddly way to watch, learn, and play." Is it just me, or does that sound slightly foreboding?

In any event, the U.K.-based company iTeddy appears to focus on just the one product: an otherwise standard-looking stuffed bear with a screen on its belly and memory in its brain...512MB of it, to be exact. The iTeddy also includes an SD card slot for memory expansion, built-in external speakers, a built-in rechargeable battery, and a USB cable (which I can only hope attaches to his foot).

If it hasn't become clear yet, iTeddy is just your typical stuffed animal with a media player built right in. The bear, which is aimed at preschoolers, offers a small color screen and--from the looks of it--very basic controls, which allow a child to navigate music options as well as look at photos, watch videos, and play games.

The device is intended to provide young children with an appealing entry point into digital media, but it makes me yearn for the days when all that was on a bear's gut was a Tummy Symbol (call me sentimental). However, anecdotal evidence suggests iTeddy's target audience is enthralled by the gadget, and some parents seem to think its a pretty neat idea (others note that the screen quality is poor and video encoding is a hassle).

I will say this: if you're looking for a way to introduce your 3- to 6-year-old to MP3s, its the cuddliest option available. The iTeddy is now available in the U.S. through Zizzle.

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