ProsInnovative new take on a classic toy; tremendous value in this starter set; appealing to kids of all ages
ConsTrack not compatible with Brio, very limited track types; some smart commands lead to derailing
We're very lucky here at The Tech Buyer's Guru that after more than six years of writing about and reviewing tech, we occasionally get a sneak peak at something really special - not just new, but different, with the potential to establish a whole new market for tech. Think iPod, iPhone, or Echo levels of ingenuity and polish. So when we were contacted by Intelino regarding its new smart children's train set, we had to try it out. Combining the centuries-old appeal of toy trains with the learning opportunities afforded by simple programming and smartphone control, it holds the potential to be the perfect educational toy.
As background, we played with Brio sets extensively as children, and play with them today with our own children. But Brio has followed the same path as Lego, moving increasingly upmarket without necessarily adding a lot of innovation. A Swedish company that once actually made its wooden train sets in Europe, Brio is now selling its Chinese-made trains for more than ever before, despite their being of lower quality. In fact, it has incorporated a whole lot of cheap plastic into what was once a beatuiful wooden toy worth cherishing for generations. What does all this mean? The market is ripe for a revolution, and we think Intelino may just be the one to lead it!
So, with that stage set, let's jump into our review of the Intelino J-1 Smart Train Set. Special thanks to Intelino for providing us a sample for review.
To cover all that the Intelino Train Set has to offer, we've put together a full video review, which you can see below:
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By the way, on November 14, 2019, we appeared on Portland KGW-8's morning news program to show off what the Intelino can do. Check it out here:
While the first-generation smart toy train from Intelino may not be perfect, it's a first step in a bold new direction for the classic children's toy. We applaud Intelino for packing in more innovation and creativity than you'll find in just about any toy on the market. And don't be scared off by the fact that it is smartphone-compatible; this toy can be used entirely "offline," and in some ways actually encourages even greater degrees of thoughfulness and creativity when used in this manner. We just wish that Intelino offered more track types in the kit, and honestly, we're a little worried that its steereable train engine design may not be capable of navigating more than one angle of curve, which would be a shame. We also think that some of the "smart" actions that can be programmed via the colored track guides will only lead to frustration, in particular because the caboose (or "wagon" in Intelino-speak) can't actually be pushed in reverse without derailing, it can only be pulled.
Hopefully these issues can be resolved in a future iteration of the train without breaking compatibility with this first-gen unit, as the true appeal of a toy like this is the ability to build on it for generations. Here's hoping Intelino succeeds in becoming the next household toy brand!
The Intelino J-1 Smart Train Set is available for $99.95 fulfilled by Amazon, as of our publication date, making it a tremendous value versus other toy trains on the market.