The iPad and iPod Touch have been huge hits with children and schools. But there’s a new wave of Android devices and tablets created by vendors taking advantage of Android’s open-ness to create devices tailored specially for kids and teachers.
Intel StudyBook: the Classmate PC goes touchscreen
The Intel StudyBook is a 7-inch tablet that uses a power-sipping single-core Intel Atom Z650 chipset and runs either Windows or Android (Honeycomb 3.0) on top.
The StudyBook will start for less than $200, a price point aimed not at besting the iPad but at competing with the One Laptop Per Child project for the hearts and minds of, not parents, but schools, especially those in the Third World.
OLPC XO-3: One Tablet Per Child?
Speaking of the OLPC, the non-profit is introducing the XO-3, an 8-inch Android/Linux based tablet that uses an Armada 610 system-on-chip – essentially an ARM v7 chip running at 800 MHz. No speed demon, but OLPC’s hardware never is. Rather, the XO-3′s goodies are in the area of power – it can be charged via a hand crank or optional solar panel – and display – the Pixel Qi sunlight-readable screen.
Oregon Scientific MEEP: slightly upscaling the kid tablet experience
The newish MEEP tablet is from Oregon Scientific, which I know best as a maker of fancy thermometers. The Portland company is pitching the MEEP as having all of the kid-friendly touches of the LeapPad and InnoTab (ruggedized plastic case, parental controls, curated MEEP app store) but with grown-up features (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 7-inch screen, 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, 512 MB RAM, streaming video to TV via HDMI slot).
Reviews of the MEEP are neutral to positive. Parents whose kids have outgrown the kiddie tablets but don’t trust them with their family iPad might find the MEEP a good deal, especially if Oregon Scientific can deliver a good, inexpensive app store. But the two tablets I’m really excited about lurk later on this slideshow.
Toys R Us Tabeo: the child counterpart of Barnes & Noble‘s Nook
Another $150 tablet aimed at upscaling the child device category dominated by LeapFrog and VTech, the Tabeo is a 7-inch Android 4.0 ICS tablet. It has an impressive 4 GB of RAM and built-in Wi-Fi. More impressive is the Tabeo’s apps: included for free are Angry Birds Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope, among others, as well as access to a curated app store, which includes 7,000 free apps and thousands available for purchase.
Most impressive to me is the feature that lets parents set limits on the amount of time their kids can play the device every day or week. That’s a feature I would love to have on my iPad.
On the other hand, its 1 GHZ single-core ARM chipset and 800×480 screen are unexciting, especially compared to the Fuhi Nabi, which I describe later.
Arnova Child Pad: worth the discount?
This is another 7-inch Android 4.0 ICS tablet that predates some of the others by a few months. It was originally marketed by Archos, but now seems to have been taken over by Arnova instead.
Besides sporting a 1 GHz ARM A8 chip, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of storage and a capacitive touchscreen (latest version only), the Child Pad’s main merits is its $139 price tag, or $20 less than the MEEP and Tabeo.
Kurio 7: decently-reviewed veteran of the bunch
The Kurio comes from a newish company called Inspiration Works. It was introduced several months ago, and, like the MEEP, Child Pad and Tabeo, runs Android 4.0 ICS on a 1 GHz single-core ARM processor with 4 GB of storage and 7-inch screen.
Like the coming Tabeo, the $149 Kurio lets parents control how much time they kids can play, as well as filter out adult content. Reviews of the Kurio are mixed. PC Advisor lamented the quality of the Kurio’s 800-x480 screen, while PC Magazine called it a Kindle Fire for kids. The Kurio has pretty good reviews at, ironically, Toys R Us.
Coming soon: a 10-inch version of the Kurio.
Lexibook: cheap and expensive?
To be available in the US in mid-September, the Lexibook comes from a French-Hong Kong firm that has been selling its (150 pounds) $237 tablet in Europe for some time.
If Engadget is right, the specs sound awfully weak, especially for the price: 600 MHz ARM CPU, 256 MB RAM, 4 GB storage, Android 2.2 Froyo. Might as well fly to India and buy a $21 Aakash-2. Perhaps the Lexibook’s parental controls, user interface and included educational apps and games will make up for that, but I’m not optimistic.
Fuhu Nabi 2: quad-core power in $199 package
Fuhu is a Los Angeles-area VC-funded startup that has, on specs and Web marketing alone, the most exciting kid tablet out now. The just-released Nabi 2 is basically a Google Nexus 7, down to its $199 price.
The Tegra 3-based hardware spanks most of the other competitors out there. What the Nabi does come with is the obligatory orange rubber case, parental controls, and a bunch of pre-loaded games and educational apps as well as videos and songs which Wired’s reviewer (and his 4-year-old son)loved.
The consumer reviews of the first version were good; the reviews of the latest version are better. So I’m eager to get me and my kids’ hands on a Nabi 2 and see if it lives up to the hype.
Kuno: the educators’ alternative to the iPad
Tabeo, Kurio, Nabi and now the Kuno: what’s with all of the tablets that sound like sushi restaurants? Seriously, the Kuno 3 is a 10-inch tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich on top of a 1.2 GHz ARM A8 chip, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB of storage. And it costs about $500 to schools.
So what makes the Kuno stand out? Apparently, the CurriculumLoft software from the Indianapolis company of the same name that makes the Kuno. CurriculumLoft helps teachers manage their classrooms, and helps the school’s techies manage the Kuno tablets.
That combination has helped the Kuno get deployed by a number of districts. Martin Elementary in Illinois is rolling out 1,200 Kunos, while San Felipe Del Rio District in Texas is rolling out 1,600 Kunos. See my Google map of tablet deployments, fall 2012, to see a number of others.