Innotab 2 – First reactions out of the box

I have a very lucky little boy! I had considered getting him some sort of tablet like device, designed for his age of course, for maybe his fourth birthday, but when I was searching a toy sale on I came across the ‘Innotab 2’ for a little over £50. I checked a few reviews and it seemed that a lot of people felt that the Innotab and Leap pad devices were more suited to a 3-7 age range rather than the 4-9 range that the relevant companies state.

I didn’t want to make a decision too quickly as there was always the option of a ‘Leap Pad 2’ as I’ve heard plenty of people recommend them too. So, being me, I set myself to doing some good research. For those who want to purchase a tablet device for their little one there are pros and cons of both of these makes. They’re both quite competitively priced, though the Innotab is cheaper, they both do very similar things and they both have a good amount of people recommending them.

I’m not going to do a whole post about both devices as it’s obvious which one I chose; but the reasons I chose the Innotab was, mainly, because you can put your own films onto it rather than just the ones branded by Vtech (which you can’t do with the leap pad, you have to use the leap frog branded ones) and also it has expandable memory via an sd card which, again, the leap pad doesn’t. You might think that you don’t need that much space for this sort of device but I’d rather not take any risks, plus I have some films and programmes in digital format which I’d like to put on the machine so that it can become a sort of portable dvd player for when we’re out and about. I don’t like my boy watching too much tv, but he does enjoy it and sometimes it’ll be nice for when we’re out somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of entertainment. As will the rest of his device as a whole (Yes, I do like real books to take with us, for those who think these digital devices aren’t necessary  but if you know any toddlers you’ll know that even if you offer them 5 different books they’ll definitely want the ones that you left at home)

So, anyway. I decided to buy the Vtech Innotab 2 for my boy’s third birthday which is early April and I just wanted to share a quick summary of what I think of it so far. I’ve only, really, had a very preliminary play with it, but so far I’m really impressed. I’ve charged up some rechargable batteries which haven’t had a use for a while, so they’re going to be perfect to go in it. It feels nice and sturdy, with rubberised corners, and it’s quite big and chunky which is exactly what I’d want for my three year old (I do plan on getting him a gel skin for it and a neoprene case as you can’t be too careful with these things). The touch screen is hardly iphone quality, but it is nice and responsive for such an inexpensive machine and I think my little boy will find it easy to use. There’s a narrator which talks during almost everything you do, explaining what to click, when and why, which for younger users will be really helpful but, thankfully, there’s also a volume switch so that you can switch him off!

I had a quick play with some of the pre-installed apps and I plan on plugging it in to the laptop to install the two free apps that come with it via their version of the ‘appstore’. The game that comes on the device will be pretty much impossible for my son, just now, as it’s motion sensor based and it involves balancing the machine so that the character gets across a tight rope – just won’t happen. So my main plan is to find some games that involve clicking the screen more. There’s a nice digital book on there, and I plan on getting him a couple more. I am yet to play with the art type program but they’re all much of a muchness and I know he’ll love it.

The cartridges are quite pricey at about £20 each, but I have some relatives which will hopefully get my son the Mickey mouse one and the Thomas the tank engine one for his birthday and I plan on looking in to the individual apps which you can download in order to get him more content.

All in all, I’m impressed so far. I think this is going to be a great toy to keep my son entertained. I know there are many who are against children using this sort of thing but my son has a Lot of books, in fact he’s getting mostly books as his other presents for his birthday, and he has a lot of real, imagination toys too. But he loves ‘helping’ when the fiance and I are on our phones, he loves music on an mp3 player (which this has its own version of), it’ll be so handy to have digital books on for going out and I hope to get some nice, educational apps, too. We’re in an age of technology and this is the world that our children are growing up in, I love technology and don’t feel that it’s caused me any harm and I am happy for my son to embrace and learn that too!

I know that this has been an incredibly long post, and kudos to anyone who’s got all the way to here, But one last little bit. I’m thinking that I’ll make this a series of posts; obviously starting with this one, and then another once I get it all set up and connected to the laptop and then it’ll be once The boy starts using it, how well it works for him, what he likes and dislikes, general review but from the toddler pov as much as possible. I’d also like to end up compiling a list of apps that we recommend, things like that.

At the end of the day I consider a device, such as this, a big investment. Even if, as this one was, it was a really reasonable price, you’re going to buy games and apps for it, maybe films too, and ebooks. It’s going to be your childs first experience of technology that’s aimed at them, for the most part, so this is a decision that you want to make properly; so I’d like our blog series to help people with that =)

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