Can't stand the things but DS borrowed one and he loves it.
Only trouble is it does letter names instead of sounds/phonics. I'd really like to get one that doesn't do letter names at all, just phonics only. I'm guessing vtech is the way to go, but I know nothing of these things.
Also it'll have to be ebay as I want to spend no more than, ooooh, about 35p.
Try the V-Tech Bus. It's fantastic. DS1 loved his & it talk him all his letter sounds as you can play a game on it where it will ask "Where's the letter.....(letter sound, not name)" etc etc. There are also other games to play. DS2 now loves it 5 years later !!!
Leapfrog's Alphabet Pal is cute too. It's a caterpillar that does both phonics and letter names, if I recall, and also colours and some songs. Bear in mind that some children take to some toys and other children take to others so it's a bit of trial and error.
I'd say leapfrog leap pad every time, you can set different levels and settings so that it reads a single letter (properly, in phonics) or reads the whole word, tells the story, or gives you a sound profile of the story. Fantastic piece of kit
I have the same one as paisleyleaf but my DSis (teacher, i/c literacy at her school) told me it didn't use all the right sounds. I'd not noticed as I'm normally running away at high speed from the tinny tune.
The only issue with those toys is that they don't teach the right kind of phonics. Reading in reception is taught using pure phonics, most of those toys, especially older 2nd hand ones won't use that.
With pure phonics you don't put the 'uh' sound on the end - so 't' isn't 'tuh' it's the same as the sound you make when you say 'cot', a sort of click behind your teeth. 'M' isn't 'muh' it's 'mmmmmm', same with 'n', 'f' 'v' 'z' 'r' 'l' 's', letters like 'b' 'd' 'p' 'k' 'j' 'c' are all much shorter sounds than you would normally say - try saying a 3 letter CVC word like 'dog' and you'll hear it. 'h'and 'p' are more sort of breaths of air than actual sounds.
It's all very dull but it would help him much more when he starts school if he knows how the sound should be, rather than having to relearn it all.
Having said all that, any phonics is still better than letter names or, worse american sounds .