Game night: Screenless tablet encourages families to play together

At a time when many electronic devices are getting smaller, Beyond Tablet is enormous. Measuring 17-inches square and about one-inch high, this smart tablet is large enough to bring the family together for a jolly game night. Instead of a typical tablet display screen, it has five maps that prompt the tablet to start a particular game featuring music, or memory challenges, or trivia questions.

Our reviewers found the games to be engrossing, suspenseful, and educational for parents and kids, ages 3 and older. The “Beyond Screen” senses the player’s touch and responds with encouragement, and occasionally, comic groans of frustration. LED lights provide visual feedback, too.

When we took on “Play Do Re Mi” piano mini-keyboard game, we progressed far enough to earn the cat symbol reward. Not knowing what to expect, we began touching the piano “keys” and they meowed! Longer pressure on the keys produced hilarious caterwauling. And there we were, parent and child together, truly belly laughing. What more could you hope for during a summer vacation game night?

The Beyond Tablet games have three difficulty levels, and it’s enjoyable for kids up to age 12 — and parents, too. And kids do learn through play; these games aim to improve kids’ executive functioning skills such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, and focus. But the biggest reward was enjoying some overdue quality time together.

While we found the Beyond tablet and its included games to be easy to use right out of the box — the tablet offers voice and light prompts to guide you — you can also download the app on your smart phone to unlock more features. Each Beyond Tablet set includes the tablet, two game tokens, a power cord, and five game maps. (For more information, visit www.BeyondScreen.com.)

Additional games, such as “The Battle of Submarines,” a two player game for kids ages six and older that includes mine tokens and six submarines, can be purchased for $19.99 each.

Beyond Tablet and five games, $199.99, Amazon.com.