Over the summer, HP asked if I would like to review their new TouchSmart desktop computer.  My family quickly fell in love with it, and thanks to my refusal to send it back my enthusiasm about the product, HP let us keep it a little longer.  I mentioned in my previous review that I’m a little bit Amish about kids and computers.  Yep, I’m one of those moms who thinks that the next generation is having their brains sucked out by the video games.  I’m not against technology in general, but I do try to limit most of my kids’ screen time to pursuits were there is at least some semblance of learning involved.   I’ve been really blown away by how well the TouchSmart aligns with my value for education on the computer. Okay, we watch Ozomatli videos on it, too. What?  We were going to a concert.  Educational! A couple months in, and Starfall remains a favorite website for both me and my kids. I’ve really kept their choices paired down to sites that I feel maximize their learning potential, and I continue to be amazed at how well Starfall integrates with the TouchSmart.  In this video you can see India using the TouchSmart to move around word puzzles.  She could play this all day.  Even though she is still in preschool, she is sounding out words and beginning to read, and I really do credit this combo. The touch screen elimates the need for a mouse, so even Karis (age 2) can play on this device.  She has learned all of her letters and sounds with the help of the TouchSmart/Starfall combo as well.  It really is amazing to see how fast kids can pick things up with the help of technology. [IMG_2871%255B4%255D.jpg] IMG_2606 IMG_3437 When I first got the HP, someone told me about the free Angry Birds download for the touch screen.  Jafta is absolutely addicted to playing Angry Birds on my phone, so I was a little reluctant to introduce it on the HP.  I was worried I would never be able to pry him away (see above, about the video games and the sucking out of the brains).  I held off for a while, but I finally relented and introduced it as an incentive to the completion of homework each day.  It’s pretty effective.  Here he is, trying it out on the first day: Of course, we do use it for activities beyond education.  It really has become our entertainment center.  We use it to watch clips of musicals on YouTube: Newsies, FTW!  It has also become our home stereo system, and the touch screen means the kids can control the pause and play when they are playing Freeze Dance: IMG_3503

Since the screen is just a few inches smaller than our tv, we also use it as our television when we feel like streaming movies.  In fact, while I had the flu I watched the entire 2nd season of Breaking Bad from the sofa, by just turning the screen around.   We’ve really enjoyed getting to use this fancy computer (and in case you are a fan of Project Runway like I am, it’s the same computer they’ve been using to make prints this season).   I like the wide screen so much that I haven’t opened my laptop in about two months – so the days the kids are in preschool, this baby is all mine!  I may still have some conservative views on kids and technology, but I’m a big fan of the fun this computer has been for our family.