One of the big trends this year is toys that interact with apps on your smart phone or tablet. And ShopSmart thought the Monopoly game was a lot more fun with an app. Monopoly's "Zapped" edition costs $30. You download the app for free.
For kids 7 and older, ShopSmart liked Sifteo Cubes, for $130. They are pricey, but there's no other toy like them. Kids will play with them for hours. First you download the software to add games to the interactive cubes. Then shake, flip, tilt, or press the blocks to play a variety of brainy games including puzzles or math challenges.
If you want everybody off the couch, try Mattel's Loopz Shifter game for $45. Players 7 and older use their best karate-chop-like moves to repeat a pattern.
And there are tech toys for creative kids, such as Crayola's Digital Light Designer for $60. Budding artists 6 and older can move the wand to draw pictures with LED lights. They look even cooler in the dark. The toy is magical, but there is one drawback: Its motor is really loud.
And SmartLab's $20 DJ Rock Dock lets kids 8 and older build a speaker dock that really works. Don't expect high fidelity, but your child will love being able to say, "I made it myself!"
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.
(Copyright © 2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All Rights Reserved.)