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Of Dragons and Bears 

A treasured child’s toy is often a teddy bear which could provide comfort at any time. Now technology steps in to add entertainment features.

iTeddy

Putting a dragon and a bear in close proximity might be considered a recipe for disaster.  Fur and scales could fly in every direction while the cacophony of battle could easily freeze the blood of a casual observer.  However this was not the case when this particular bear ventured into the Dragon's Den.  Instead the bear was made welcome before being launched on to the consumer toy market in its guise of iTeddy.

Invented by Imran Hakim, a 29-year old Bolton entrepreneur, iTeddy brings together the popular teddy bear toy with the more recent PMP (Personal Media Player) device into a single product.  Designed for children in the 3 - 11 age range, iTeddy gets off to a good start with the teddy bear element.  With its smiling face, soft light brown fur and personal T-shirt, this 14-inch bear certainly oozes child-appeal, apart from its eyes which are sunk so low into the fur that they are hardly visible.

Lifting the T-shirt reveals the PMP held in placed by a permanently attached, circular compartment in the bear's belly (do bears have belly buttons I asked myself?).  The PMP is constructed of orange plastic which gives the unit a more toy-like appearance than many other such devices.  Featuring both a built-in speaker and 1.8-inch colour LCD screen, there are four buttons arranged around the screen providing power, pause and volume level control.  A further array of navigational/selection buttons, along with a connecting socket, are located beneath the screen.

The connection socket doubles for both power and USB connectivity.  Rather than supplying two separate leads, iTeddy comes with a proprietary lead that can be switch between power and USB by connection a supplied 3-pin plug.  When used for power, the lead will recharge the built-in lithium battery which should give up to 15 hours of playback.  USB connectivity provides the means to add content to iTeddy's play list.

The PMP uses a circular menu that can be rotated to give access to content that is classified as audio, photos, video and games.  Support is provided for a range of formats that include MP3, WMA, MPEG4, SMV, WMV and JPEG.  Several sample files were pre-installed on the review unit and I was able to quickly supplement this content with other files transferred from my computer.  This content could be commercially sourced material or even a recording of a parent singing the child's favourite song or narrating a story.

By default, the PMP has 512MB of internal memory which should be ample in most cases.  If you do need to supplement this memory then a SD card can be used.  In order to insert the SD card you will need to remove the PMP from its docking station - a simple enough task that can be carried out by the child or parent.

While I was more than satisfied with the teddy bear element and found the quality of the PMP screen acceptable, other aspects of the PMP gave me cause for some concern.  However before getting to these concerns I should point out I was using a review sample which obviously had been used by others before me, and it was a prototype, rather than a brand new production unit.  I found the volume level, even when set to maximum, was rather quiet.  It would be ideal for playing in order to help the child fall asleep but not otherwise. 

There was also a problem with the navigational/selection buttons.  Sometimes a button would work while on other occasions it wouldn't.  There were also times when pressing a button to carry out a specific task would, instead, send you back to a previous menu level.  Children would find this to be extremely frustrating.

iTeddy is available from various retailers. If you're an Amazon fan then one of their partners is currently selling the i-Teddy for £48.92, including shipping. Specially selected content can be purchased for downloading from www.iTeddy.com.

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Rating:

Comment by Keirf, Jul 20, 2010 12:37

We picked up three for 15 euro a piece, and at that price they're fantastic value.

The iTeddy doesn't recognise SDHC format, so 2GB SD cards are the limit. I leave the SD card cover of the iTeddy player off permanently, and have a variety of programs on different cards for the kids.

The proprietory cable is a bit annoying, because you can't use a normal cable for charging. Note also that some USB hubs aren't set up correctly according to USB specifications for charging - if your iTeddy won't charge then try plugging it into a native USB port on your PC rather than a hub.

There are plenty of programs out there for converting video files - I use Emicsoft's converter to make AMV files for the iTeddy. Any converter that creates AMV files should be fine, and most allow you to have a free trial. The supplied software is slow and buggy so switch to something else.

Battery life is good - we get about 5 to 6 hours of play time out of one charge, and a 2GB SD card holds 10 hours of programs.
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Comment by Purplek1tty, Feb 7, 2010 9:10

Bought our i-ted from B&M for £14.99 - has only been used since christmas and the battery won't charge up! it displays the battery charge icon but does not charge! looked on the I-Ted site and nothing and there at all to say how to get a new battery!! can get a battery from Hong Kong, but then you have re-connect the wire to the new battery for it to work and apartenly its slighty bigger! Not happy as now I have a very grumpy kid and a ted that doesnt work!!!!
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Comment by Stuart, Nov 5, 2009 11:40

Just thought readers would like to know some TJ Hughs stores have iTeddy in stock at the moment for just £19.99, grab yourself a bargain. We bought one for our daughter's Christmas present yesterday.
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Comment by marie-sophie fox, Oct 16, 2009 23:01

my daughter love and wouldnt be without her i teddy music u can cuddle and works brilliently
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Comment by dowster1, Oct 10, 2009 11:40

Not All That
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Comment by johnbev, May 31, 2009 10:51

....just aquired a second hand iteddy that won't charge using the supplied USB lead. I read on one site about a 3 pin plug! do I need a second lead to charge the battery?
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Comment by Nick Andrews, Feb 17, 2009 8:19

Just picked one of these up today for my daughter who is 4 years old.  I put various programs onto the iTeddy, in which I had added a 2gb SD card. A good source of children’s programs is the BBC iPlayer site as it allows you to download most files in mobile format.  Be warned when placing these files onto the ITeddy via explorer it will warn you they may not be compatible, but all have worked for me.

I do not use the software that comes packaged with the iTeddy and opt for another application to create full-length movie files that only take up a small amount of space.

The only 2 things I have found I dislike are the play button does not work/respond all the time and lastly the screen could be a bit bigger.  Having said that my daughter seems more than happy with screen size.

I am lucky that I know a fair bit about backing up movies (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) so getting content is no problem.  For the iTeddy to progress it either needs to have a ton of content on it's web site both free and pay for, or better accompanying software.
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Comment by laptop, Jan 31, 2009 22:20

Hi there, I have a problem with my external storage on my daugters i-teddy. When i put my 4GB or 8GB sd cards into the i-teddy it doesn't recognise them. I can locate the internal storage straight away and when i put my 256MB sd card in the i-teddy i can locate that straight away aswell. Please could anyone help as i would like to download a dvd onto her i-teddy so that she can watch a film on her birthday which is on Wednesday 04th Feb.
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Comment by emak, Jan 1, 2009 10:45

hi i brought this for my daughter for christmas and im the same as the previous member, where can i get some free downloads as in cartoons? (she has watched fifi and roary!!) the i teddy seems a good purchase once i get started on putting some more stuff on it. she likes playing games too but i think she will be sticking to the nintendo ds for that! unless anyone can shed some light on getting some free games for the i teddy too?   
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Comment by emmab120, Dec 27, 2008 16:55

hi, does anyone know of any free sites where i can download carttons for my daughters i teddy? thanks em x
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Comment by philbert, Dec 23, 2008 23:18

I bought one of these for my niece for Christmas,  and i'm very pleased with it.  It appears many users are having problems based on their own PC's problems - the Iteddy is not to blame when you cannot drag & drop files to it, nor is it at all difficult to create/convert any video or music to work in it.

The colour display is a brilliant quality picture for such a low cost item (mine was £20),  and the volume for music/video is loud and very clear even tho its only mono - you'd not notice.  Its volume is based on  a bedtime companion,  not on it being a hi-fi.

As with all such devices (even your ipods & cell phones),  to watch a film you will need to convert it,  so it's unfair to say that is a bad point - it's a bit like saying going on holiday is rubbish cos you have to actually travel there ;)

The 512Mb built-in memory appears as a standard Removable Disc in Windows XP & ME,  and putting files on is really so simple - each folder is simply named VIDEO MUSIC PICTURES etc., so easy a child could use it :)

A reviewer mentioned that tech support said you need Media Player 11?  that's wrong and again not the actual toys fault.  The CD that comes with bear has a convertor program,  thats specifically created to be easy for kids - you simply drag an AVI or WMV file onto the bear picture & click the huge START button, and it converts it - a 10Mb file took about 15 seconds.  At 25 frames and with loud clear sound (again),  it all works just like it should.

Highly recomended.  Even getting it to update on the Internet was so simple the bear could probably have done it itself :)

Highly recommended,  and makes a very cuddly bear into an item a child may carry around for a long long time,  and it can take the place of a dvd player (ok,  small screen i know),  and a music player.  I'm very very pleased with this.
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Comment by shazzamac, Sep 13, 2008 12:24

hi djyorkie what site did you download the programmes from? what programmes are available, I was going to buy one of these for my sons birthday, thanks in advance, Sharon
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Comment by djyorkie, Mar 26, 2008 21:05

not had any problems at all with my daughters iteddy. i have been able to easily find content on the internet for it (without having to pay download costs from the iteddy site), and putting the files onto the iteddy is simple with the software that comes with it on the disc. we did not use the sd card at first, just the internal memory in the iteddy. but we have found it handy to have a couple of sd cards to hand, so we can swap programmes for our daughter without too much upheaval (she goes everywhere with it). her content at the moment includes tom and jerry, dora, backyardigans, barney... the list goes on. great purchase, and an ideal travel companion for kids on long journeys.
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Comment by Grace, Feb 8, 2008 20:42

Exerlent
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Comment by lorrc, Jan 11, 2008 12:33

I bought 2 of these idteddys from argos at £30 each - i found them a complete waste of money as i spent many hours over christmas trying to download stuff.it says "just drag and drop yopu files onto iteddy converter" - as if!  turns out after speaking to an advisor i need windows media player 11 - which took 30 mins to download.  extremely commplicated for a medium computer bod like myself and hubbie.  its a pity because the kids did like them.pleterui "  
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Comment by Martin, Dec 27, 2007 18:18

I found that the best way to put things on iteddy was to import dvds into my pc and then convert them with the iteddy converter..... works a treat and you can put quite a lot on without a memory stick.... it has 512 mb internal and a whole episode of Barney took 22mb
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Comment by Ryan, Dec 25, 2007 10:53

Looking at your comment, the site is secure to purchase content for the Iteddy, when you click checkout you are directed to a HTTPS url which is secure.

As for Identity theft, perhaps you could get yourself a payasyougo credit card, they cost 4 quid a month, do a search for prepay credit card, I find them much easier to use, and you still get the protection you would from a normal mastercard etc.
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Comment by jay will, Dec 25, 2007 3:04

I was quite impressed with iteddy. however I was extreamly dissapointed to find that there was only one method of payment purchasing downloads, which involved giving your card details over a nonsecure site. peace of mind when using bank or credit cards is most important. I have just been a victim of ID theft and had my whole bank account wiped out. this method is not an option for me, so I'm left wondering if I've wasted my money on something I cant get downloads for! so is there an alternative, or a secure way of paying, for the iteddy customers? surely this isnt suitable everybody and an unsecure site isnt good for anybody!
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Comment by Ryan, Dec 23, 2007 13:07

Can I add to this review about the Iteddy, I am very impressed with it, the Teddy comes pre installed with a few childrens programs, even sponge bob, it has a few songs too, plenty to keep kids happy xmas day, the quality of the screen is great and the sound is very loud, maybe the pre production ones had issues, but the shop bought ones are very loud.
I bought 2 for my sisters kids and I know they are going to be happy with them because I know i would be :)
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Comment by Stacey Free, Dec 20, 2007 11:57

Not at all happy with the iteddy.  I tried to download some files that I had purchased from the iteddy site so my daughter had some things to be playing with on Xmas day, it seems I need an SD card in order to download anything onto the unit before I start something that is not advertised by Argos or on the packaging of the iteddy or even in the manual for that matter.  My frustration was further antagonised by my not being told what type of SD card the iteddy would need, not in the maunal and not by the Customer Service team either.  Glad I found out before I wrapped up the bear otherwise this would have been another expensive toy cast aside because my daughter could not use it on the one day she would want it the most.
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Comment by petew, Dec 12, 2007 17:45

Just noticed this has been reduced from £59.99 to £29.99 - just in time for Christmas. Still only available through Argos though. It's also available in white

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