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CTR, May 2012: Low Ratings and Sad Faces

By Warren Buckleitner, May 18, 2012

May 2012
Volume 20, No. 5, Issue 146

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Low Ratings & Sad Faces... But It Has To Be Done
We’re always sorry to give any product a less-than-glowing-review, but like a doctor that tells you need to shed a few pounds, our job can’t involve hurt feelings. Will our rating of a product change? Not unless the product does, and that leads our readers to a question we think about a lot. “How can a product earn five stars?”  We feel that a valid reviewer should be able to provide a clear answer, especially when serving up a less-than-favorable review. In an effort to bring transparency and fairness to our review process, we’ve turned on our camera and recorded two of the testing sessions for two important products in this issue. The first is Elmo’s Birthday Bash on page 5 It isn’t such a bad app (it earned a 4.1 star rating), but it could be much better. See if you agree at https://youtu.be/l135P7TQHZU. The second, the Hatch iStartSmart (page 7) system was hard to review because it involved both hardware and software. You can see what we saw as strengths and weaknesses here  https://youtu.be/m8nDZmZQlWA. We’re quick to remind our readers and disgruntled publishers that we’re not the only source of reviews, and our ratings have a constructivist slant. We understand that not everyone views the world in this way which is why we have to fully disclose our evalution process.

Tablet-Based eBook Libraries with Funny Names
We’re all famililar with the process of buying eBooks on iTunes or Amazon.com. In the past month, however, we’ve notice a dramatic increase in the number of tablet based book collections that specifically target children. Each uses the same script: download a free app, try some samples, and then pay up with an in-app sale. Which is best? If you study the ratings, you’ll see that while each has specific strengths and weaknesses, Scholastic’s Storia comes out on top. See the comparison.

Since the days of “Lost in Space” and R2D2 Robots have captured our imaginations, which is why we’ve done this month’s LittleClickers on the topic.

Reviews, May 2012
Vol. 20, No 5, Issue 146
* = Editor's Choice

Arcade Stereo Headphone, p. 4
Beauty and the Beast HD, p. 13
Big Nate Comix for U, p. 13
Builda the Re-Bicycler, p. 4
Elmo’s Birthday Bash — A Step Into Reading, p. 5
Fancy Nancy Dress Up, p. 13
FarFaria, p. 5
FIFA Street, p. 6*
Fly Plane, p. 6
Foam Fighters Pacific, p. 6*
Getting Started with Arduino kit V3.0, p. 14
Goodnight Safari iPad App, p. 7
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, p. 14
Interactive Telling Time, p. 14
iStartSmart Mobile System by Hatch, p. 7
Just Scribble, p. 14
KlabLab, p. 15
Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, p. 8
MeeGenius p. 8
ModNation Racers: Road Trip, p. 8
Molly Moccasins, p. 15
Motion Math: Wings, p. 9*
Number Bonds, p. 9
Old MacDonald, p. 9
Pac-Man Party 3D p. 15
Ready for School Elmo, p. 15
Ready to Print, p. 10*
Ruckus Reader, p. 16
Sarah, the Little Fairy: Grandma Gets Lost!, p. 10
Scoot & Doodle, p. 10*
Sims 3 Showtime, The, p. 16
Storia, p. 11*
Super Grover 2.0, p. 16
Tablet Teddy Bears, p. 17
Teddy Tennis Sticker & Stamp Book, p. 11
The Going to Bed Book, p. 12*
Tillie’s Time Shop HD, p. 12*
Trickomatics, p. 17
Trucks by Duck Duck Moose, p. 12*
Uncharted: Golden Abyss, p. 17
Xenoblade Chronicles, p. 17