Brainstorm Toys prides itself on creating educational and interactive STEM toys that help children learn about their environment. As avid fans of all things space here at space.com, we love nothing more than to see engaging toys and activities for kids that inspire curiosity and exploration of the night sky. .
Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector: Key Features
Cut: 130mm x 250mm x 320mm
Bulb type: 2 LEDs
Spin: Yes (late planetarium)
Sleep timer: Nope
Projection area: slides 1m, unspecified stars
After reviewing a range of the best star projectors, the product that piqued our interest is the Brainstorm Deep Space Home Planetarium and Projector. (opens in a new tab).
Created for kids six and up, it includes a slide projector and rotating star projector that also doubles as a simple blue domed nightlight. We bought one for ourselves to give an honest hands-on review.
Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector: Design
- Fun, kid-friendly packaging
- Looks like a famous sci-fi character
- Pivots vertically on its stand to expose different features
The first thing to mention is the packaging, it’s colorful and appealing to kids and would be nice to unwrap as a gift. It comes in the kind of packaging that makes you want to open the box and investigate inside right away. Obviously aimed at children, it shows the projector, constellations on a purple background, and a photo of two children gazing at the projector in awe. Everything is translated into five different languages, just like in the instruction manual.
Whether intentional or not, the appearance of the Deep Space Home Planetarium and Projector resembles the beloved Star Wars character R2-D2. Constructed from blue and white plastic and sitting on a triangular base, the device is free to rotate vertically almost 360 degrees. It has two different ends: the planetarium, which rotates and displays stars and constellations depending on the provided domes you use. At the other end is a slide projector with a large focus ring.
It comes with three separate, easy-to-hold discs, each containing eight color images of spacecraft, astronauts, nebulae and planets taken by NASA and the Hubble Telescope. The “end of the planetarium” can also be covered with another supplied translucent blue dome to turn it into a night light.
It’s well-built, but of course, as it’s designed for kids, it feels toy-like compared to the sleek ‘grown-up’ design of the Sega Homestar Flux. We haven’t tested it, but we can imagine that if it were dropped on a hard surface it would likely be damaged as with most devices containing electronic components with a plastic construction. That’s why it’s reasonable to recommend it for children six years and older.
Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector: Performance
- Nice analog feel when in use
- The rotary motor is quite noisy
- The projection is clear and bright
The first thing we tried was the slide projector feature. It’s pretty self-explanatory to begin with. Insert one of the discs into the slot on the front of the device and slide the power button to the right (labeled disc projector). You then manually rotate the disc with your finger to the desired image and use the large child-friendly focus ring, shown below, to bring the image nice and sharp onto the projection surface.
Everything feels very analog; it wouldn’t be the same if you had the ability to electronically flip and focus the slides – we like the hands-on approach. When it’s dark, the resulting image is beautiful and clear, and it’s possible for the projection to be as large as 3.2 feet (1 m) wide.
The end of the planetarium is a bulb on a rotating surface, on which you place one of three domes. One is a star chart, another shows the shapes of constellations in the northern hemisphere, and the other is an opaque blue dome to turn the unit into a beautiful blue tinted night light.
We would like to be able to turn off the engine because it is quite noisy. We found the noise annoying while writing this review and turned it off. Unlike devices like the National Geographic Astro Planetarium or the Encalife Aurora Borealis Projector, there’s no built-in speaker to play sounds or music next to the projection to dampen motor noise.
Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector: Feature
- 3-in-1 functionality, with limitations
- Powered by 3 AA batteries (included)
- Portable because there are no cables
Unless you have a child who likes a rumble to sleep (we know some do), the motor will likely keep them awake. The device is also powered by 3 AA batteries (included) which we imagine would drain quickly if used overnight.
That said, the projector functionality works great, and with 24 different images and a “secret code” that links to eLearning material on each image on the slide, this can be a fun product for teaching at home or simply to take time with your child to learn more about space.
If you load the Fun & Games section on the Brainstorm Ltd website (opens in a new tab) First, it breaks the discs down into categories (nebulae, spacecraft and astronauts, and planets and the moon) and walks you through some interesting information about what can be seen on each slide.
We would rate the star projections as satisfactory. They are, however, frustratingly blurry, giving the impression that they need to be focused, which is not possible. However, they fill the room with small blue dots and slowly rotate to create a beautiful, space-inspired vibe. It is the same with the constellations. They can be seen more clearly when using the constellation dome with the blue translucent dome on top, although this removes the “projection” element.
Should I buy the Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector?
This model’s three-in-one functionality and reasonable price make it a good value.
While it’s not a mind-blowing star projector, it’s great as a STEM educational toy and we’ve yet to review a device that acts as both a star projector and a planetarium.
We are in favor of the hands-on approach, but we also appreciate that it can be enjoyed with digital educational support. It might have been better to have this accompaniment in print rather than having to go online to negate the need for screen time. That said, we appreciate the “secret” code because we think “exclusive access” is exciting for younger users.
To sum up, if you don’t want to spend too much and are looking for an educational yet fun product for kids ages 6 and up, we don’t think you can go too far wrong.
If the Brainstorm Toys Deep Space Home Planetarium and Star Projector isn’t for you
For a less scientific learning tool and a more impressive light display, with a quieter motor, the BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 deserves your attention. It’s not at all scientific, but it’s a fun way to see lights and patterns that are vaguely comparable to deep space imagery. It’s also often discounted to the same price as the Planetarium and Brainstorm Projector reviewed here, so there’s usually not much in between financially.
If all you’re looking for is a simple back-to-basics laser pointer to fill your child’s room with stars, then again, BlissLights has the tiny BlissLights StarPort USB Projector that would be just right, but only for kids who have the appropriate age. and will not look directly into the laser beam.
If only the real night sky is good enough for your child, check out our best telescopes for kids and our best binoculars buying guides for kids to help them get the most out of their viewing experience. stargazing.