VTech has followed up last year’s popular kids’ tablet, the InnoTab, with the InnoTab 2, and its smaller MobiGo “learning system” device with the next version, MobiGo 2. Both are great devices that will keep your kids entertained and learning for hours.
InnoTab 2 (and 2s!)
The biggest change to the InnoTab is the addition of a 1.3 megapixel rotating camera that lets kids take pictures of you, their siblings, and thanks to the rotation, their favorite subject — themselves. A built-in set of editing tools lets them become amateur Instagram-ers. For your aspiring film directors, it also takes video.
The five-inch touchscreen nestled inside a chunky frame might seem small when you’re used to looking at a regular tablet. But this is a device that was designed with kids in mind. It’s easy to hold and plenty of room for all the things they want to do “just like mom.” Many of the apps that come with it will look familiar from your own “real” devices, like a calendar, contact list, calculator, and e-book reader. The InnoTab comes with two free downloads. You can purchase additional downloads or cartridges featuring your kid’s favorite characters, like Madagascar, Disney Princesses, and Cars.
More than one kid with hands on the InnoTab? Each one can customize it (up to four users) with their own wallpaper, avatar, and voice greeting. (Or, in the case of my daughter, singing greeting.)
Should you upgrade if you already have an InnoTab? That may depend on what other gadgets you have and what your kids’ favorites are. The biggest difference is that camera, and kids love taking pictures of themselves and their friends. You might already have a kid-friendly camera, but on the other hand, the InnoTab lets them edit the photos right on the device and incorporate the pictures into their apps.
Recently released in time for the holidays, you can also choose to go with the InnoTab 2s, which has the additional feature of a wi-fi connection for downloading new games, books, and music. The extra benefit is that you can connect to Learning Lodge Navigator (the system through which you download new apps, books, and music) over wi-fi rather than having to connect it to your computer.
- 2 GB internal memory with up to 32 GB expandable memory on an SD card
- Up to 4 user profiles and a guest
- Photo-frame-style stand
- Parental setting — content lock
- 400 Mhz Processor
- Comes with 2 styluses — they’re not attached, but there’s a hole for a string
- Uses 4 AA batteries but AC adapter and car adapter are available
- Camera and photo viewer with slide show feature
- Video recorder and player
- MP3 player
- InnoTab 2 Read, Play & Create cartridge
- “What’s That Noise?” e-book
- Alien Rescue – motion sensor game
- Color & Pop activity
- “Face Race” motion sensor game
- “Friends” address book
- Clock with stopwatch
The MobiGo 2 is almost as multi-functional as the InnoTab, just in a different shape. It comes ready-to-go with a picture gallery, coloring book/art apps, and an e-reader app. It’s a smaller device than the InnoTab (I think of it as a young kid’s Nintendo DS) similar to LeapFrog’s Leapster. Unlike any of those devices, however, the MobiGo 2 has a keyboard that pops out from under the screen for games and interactions that benefit from it.
The new features for this version of the MobiGo are two extra inputs, a motion sensor and a microphone. (If you have other handheld gaming devices with microphones, you already know the amusement of watching your child nearly hyperventilate while trying to achieve something in a game by blowing into the mic!) In addition to the motion sensor and mic, it also has a touchscreen, directional keypad, and button controls. The only significant drawback for younger hands is flipping out the keyboard — my three-year-old sometimes needs some help getting it to pop up. But that also means that it’s not sliding out at inopportune times or because you pushed a button at the top too hard.
It comes ready-to-go with an art app, coloring book, and three games. One of the latter is called “Hamster Highway.” It’s a simple game where you guide a hamster in a ball around a track in a race. And yet, like countless simple Flash games online, the night after we got the MobiGo, I found myself sneaking a few rounds of Hamster Highway after the kids went to bed.
Similar to the InnoTab, once you install the Learning Lodge Navigator software (the gateway to downloadable content), you’ll instantly get three free downloads to give you a head start. And of course, like the MobiGo, then it’ll be cartridge time. It also comes with two free downloads. After that, you’ll probably start hearing requests for cartridges — tryJake and the Never Land Pirates, Dinosaur Train, Toy Story, and Hello Kitty.
Both devices come with a handful of apps that you can play with right off the bat, but eventually you’ll want to either download or purchase cartridges for additonal activities. They’ve both got a chunky feel that’s perfect for little hands (the same hands you’ve probably seen drop your far more expensive grown-up tablets and phones!).
Neither is just about games. They’re both great for books, looking at photos you’ve taken with them, drawing and coloring, and more. Downloaded apps and books are only a few dollars and sometimes on sale for 99 cents.
The MobiGo is targeted at kids ages 3-8 and the InnoTab at ages 4-9. The InnoTab does have features that make it more well-suited to older kids, but my three- and six-year-olds have loved both devices equally. In fact, the problem is getting them to put them down!
- The InnoTab 2 has a list price of $79.99 and comes in white and pink. The InnoTab 2s has a list price of $99.99 and comes in white with blue accents or white with pink and purple accents.
- The MobiGo 2 has a list price of $59.99 and comes in orange/blue and pink.
I received these devices for review.