Marbotic Smart Letters are well constructed wooden cutouts of letters with specially arranged nubs on the back that tell your tablet what’s being placed on it. The result is an app knowing you’ve matched an A for apple, or sounding out the words that letter can make.
We tested these out on an old iPad 2 that I have armored up to handle the twin engines of destruction I have to test with, although there are currently six Marbotic apps listed for Android on Google Play. This is one of the few times I went the iPad route rather than Android mostly out of fear my Android tablets did not have the armor with withstand the kids.
There are six apps currently available and over the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to get my children (aged 4 and 2,) to work with three of them somewhat extensively before attention span wanders.
While the software is quite nice, I was more interested in how the physical product of wooden letters was going to survive against the twin forces of destruction I have to throw at it. Software changes and gets updates and additions, broken, crushed letters don’t.
In nearly three weeks of physical torture testing they have not managed to do much more than mildly dent a letter, so at least this run of them seems pretty sturdy.
We’ve covered other smart letters in the past with Tiggly’s offerings, in comparison physically these are a little easier to clean. Tiggly’s letters tend to need a little more effort to wipe off whatever your kid ate three days ago that somehow still was on them. That said, the Marbotic Smart Letters don’t feel nigh indestructible so your little monster’s needs will vary.
You can download and play all the software without purchasing the physical equipment it appears, this is probably going to be something you want to do before committing to a smart letter system as in the end the kids are probably not going to care what the letters look like so much as what the software that works with the letters does.
On the software front, I’m not an iOS programmer, but it seems like there should be some way to communicate between the apps so I don’t have to set up each one. I want them all in the same language, and I’ve got an account. Seems like this is something that could stick in an accounts list or some such.
That said, it wasn’t particularly hard to get them set up, just when you’ve got two kids wanting to play with letters and the iPad things tend to frustrate easily.
Overall they’re a nice tactile enhancement to some educational software, and Marbotic appears to be releasing updates and new apps on a fairly regular basis, and as of right now these appear to be free (in order to get you to purchase their smart letters and numbers.)
Overall, I like these. I’ll find out what process there is in case a letter fails or needs replacing as kids are damned tough on hardware.
You can get the Marbotic Smart Letters (reviewed here,) for $59.99 from Amazon, or the Marbotic Smart Letters + Smart Numbers bundle for $89.99.