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Display Daily News contains a variety of articles covering all aspects of display-rated technology, products, markets, business and applications
by: Aldo Cugnini
Tablets - Yes, of course, and the reverse is true – kids under one year of age show a remarkable affinity to mastering the user interface of touch-screened devices. But is there a benefit to selecting a tablet aimed specifically at kids? After all, couldn’t child-friendly features be implemented on any tablet? The answer is yes, but if you don’t want to spend iPad and Galaxy-Tab prices on a device that could get easily damaged, there are some alternatives to consider – provided you’re OK with the Android operating system. To give you an idea of what’s available, here’s a limited sampling.
The Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet, while not aimed specifically at children, provides a number of child-amenable features starting at a price of $139 for an ad-supported device. The 7” IPS display has 1280×800 resolution, advanced polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology. The tablet features a 1.5GHz Dual-Core CPU, with 8GB (or 16GB) of internal storage, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, an accelerometer and gyroscope, and Bluetooth. The unit runs a forked (customized) version of Android 2.3. For child convenience and safety, Kindle FreeTime is provided, which allows parents to create a profile for each of their children and choose what books, apps, games, and videos they want to give their kids access to. They can also set daily limits for tablet use, or restrict certain categories—like games and video—while leaving unlimited time for reading.
LeapFrog produces a variety of “kid-tough” tablets, starting with the LeapPad2 at $89.99, which comes with a 5″ touch screen with stylus, 4GB memory, two cameras and video recorders, and tilt and shake motion sensors. In addition to the five included apps, LeapFrog produces an educator-approved library of 800+ games, eBooks, videos and music. The tablet includes a 1-year limited warranty on LeapPad tablets purchased directly from Leapfrog.com, that purportedly covers mishaps such as “a tablet in the fishbowl.”
The Vivitar XO 7-inch Kids Tablet, XO-780, lists at $149, but is available for as low as $120 online. Readers may recall the “XO” moniker as originating from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative started in 2005 at the MIT Media Lab; and this unit is a result of a collaboration between OLPC and Sakar International, the 33-year old consumer electronics manufacturer that acquired the Vivitar brand in 2008. The XO-780 has a 7” 1024 x 600 display, 1.6 GHz processor, 8 GB of memory, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a 2 megapixel webcam.
Rullingnet recently launched its newest Vinci kids tablet, the Vinci MV tablet with a 7-inch screen, MTK 6577 processor with integrated GPU, dual cameras, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a 2,800 mAh lithium-ion battery. Its 8GB of internal storage can be expanded up to 32GB with a MicroSD card. It also features dual, unlocked quad-band SIM slots should users wish to make use of 3G connectivity. The Android 4.1 device, which comes preloaded with a variety of educational apps and music videos, is designed for children up to 9 years old. Suggested retail is $199 and the unit comes with a case.
Vtech produces a line of tablets starting at just $39.99, aimed at 3 to 9 year-olds. The InnoTab 3 features a 4.3″ color touch screen, 2 GB memory (expandable up to 32GB with optional micro SD card) and 180° 2.0 MP rotating camera / video recorder, sufficient to support the 16 included music, e-reader and camera apps.
So, what do these kid-tablets have in common? Mechanical ruggedness, for one, either in the form of rubber bumpers or a hardened case. No-questions-asked warranty returns would be ideal, but there will always be some limitations. Kid-safe apps are a must, so web browsing must be constrained or not provided at all. Higher-featured tablets, with parental controls, have the potential to provide a path to grow with a child — provided the device lasts that long or is not made obsolete by the next OS version. Finally, while it’s not hard to find sub-sixty-dollar tablets online, if these are not targeted to kids, one has to question how durable they can be. – Aldo Cugnini
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