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|Kevin Krock, editor|
A year ago or so when I was at a video distributor’s convention, and I saw this little booth from this company called Baby Einstein. I could not quite figure out what they produced, but it was clear that their videos are targeted at the infant-to-toddler set. It was a curiosity at the time, since they were only available on VHS, and I did not think too much more about it. Then, in late 2001, I read a press release that the Walt Disney Company purchased the Baby Einstein Company, evidently in an effort to shore up Disney’s home video product gap with infants and toddlers. It struck me as an interesting corporate move and one that made me even more curious to see what the Baby Einstein videos were all about.
So, who—or what—is Baby Einstein? The discs are an interesting blend of classical music, simple vocabulary words, cute and vibrant images, animals, and even poetry. The videos are well produced, and the founder of the company, Julie Aigner-Clark, narrates them all. The music, while written by the world’s most famous classical composers, is simplified to be more pleasing to little ears. I know classical music purists are probably cringing right now, but the music seems to work well for the young set. All of the discs have a similar look and feel to them, but each disc has a different focus:
They are kind of like watching a Mr. Roger’s version of Sesame Street, but ultimately, the discs succeed as tools for parents to introduce their very young children to art, music, language, and science.
Since these discs are mostly for very young children, the bonus material is pretty minimal. The structure of the discs however, is much different than traditional movie DVDs. Every disc allows the main feature to play either once or continuously, which can be quite beneficial for parents at various times. In addition, each disc includes a concert section that plays the feature’s soundtrack plus a number of other related musical pieces.
Finally, the discs include a resource section for parents that includes a video tutorial on how to use the discs, a Baby Einstein product catalog, and a “toy chest” that lists the toys shown in the video along with the manufacturer information.
The Video, Audio and Interface
All three of these areas are completely acceptable for the intended use. The video is clean and simple, and the bright colors look great, which is a must for keeping a young child’s attention. The audio is simply in stereo, but the material does not require an advanced soundtrack. Finally, the interface is very basic, and it lacks any animation or audio.
The Final Evaluation
Used either as a parent-child interactive tool or a video to keep your children occupied for a few minutes, any of these videos can provide an engaging experience. Disc selection will depend on the age of your child and what interests them. You might not want or need all of them, but there is something for everyone.
If you have very young ones, the series is definitely worth a look, and now that Disney is distributing it, you should be able to find the various titles just about anywhere.
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