Here are some top technology gifts, both appealing and appropriate for children.
It's a Small World ($4 on iTunes) is an iPad app from Disney Publishing Worldwide. The artwork is beautifully rendered, evoking charm without being overly saccharine. A swipe with a finger can make flowers grow, ducks glide, balloons pop and children laugh. Appropriate for children ages 4 and up.
If the thought of placing an iPad in tiny hands gives you pause, consider the SuperShell from M-Edge, a simple foam cover that costs $35.
The LeapsterGS gaming system, intended for children ages 4 to 9 and costs $70, has a built-in camera, video recorder and microphone. Its best feature is a motion sensor that allows children to play games by jiggling, tilting and turning the device.
For outdoor play, Hasbro has updated its Lazer Tag battle system with so-called augmented reality via the iPhone. The game, intended for children ages 9 and up, works with a free app that turns the iPhone into a view screen when it is secured in the rugged blaster. Players can train with the single-player mode, then switch to the multiplayer mode and engage their friends in battle. A single blaster costs $40, a blaster two-pack for $75.
One of the biggest trends this year among toymakers was to create iPad versions of their existing brands. This resulted in a combination of physical toy and digital app, creating a new twist on family game night.
Hasbro's Zapped line includes iPad-enhanced editions of Monopoly ($30, ages 8 and up) and the Game of Life ($25, ages 8 and up) in which the tablet acts as a sort of game show host, prompting players to take their turns. The games also have special features that can be unlocked as players move around the board, like mini-games and animation.
One of the first offerings in the Apptivity line from Mattel was Batman, inspired by the summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight Rises" and appropriate for children ages 9 and up. A Batman toy glides over the surface of the iPad, fighting villains without scratching the screen. Apptivity games, which cost $10 to $20, were also created for Mattel's Hot Wheels and WWE Rumblers toy lines, as well as toys that unlock exclusive features for existing Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope games.
For more experienced video game players, Nintendo recently released its Wii U home console, which starts at $300.
— Gregory Schmidt, New York Times