As a parent who is not overly concerned about my toddler getting a head start in life, it was ironic that a tablet promising to prepare children for future success landed on my desk. Nevertheless, my son is a little too keen on my iPad, and I had been considering getting him a more age-appropriate tablet when the Vinci tablet flagged my attention.
First, the positives. The design makes it easy for a child to hold the tablet, a feature I appreciate after my son dropped my iPad on his foot. The Vinci tablet meets US Food and Drug Administration child safety regulations and its content is commercial free.
The curriculum offers three levels for children aged from 18 months to five years covering thinking skills, emotional/social learning, maths/logical reasoning, language, general knowledge and science.
My 20-month-old was not taken with the Level 1 content. While some of the characters are cute, overall the graphics could be more sophisticated and the colours bolder. The touch screen is not as sensitive as the iPad. My annoyed toddler jabbed at it, frustrated by the drumming app. Levels 1 and 2 need parental involvement, but it might be simpler and more engaging to teach children in the real world with kitchen tools, a trip to the zoo, pencil and paper, etc. For older children who have discovered video games, Level 3 has some games and puzzles, but they might not be fast-paced enough.
My son enjoyed the songs and rhymes. The Kids' Library has a selection of popular children's app-makers. Some might be available on YouTube free of charge, but downloading it is more convenient.
The tablet is great for parents intent on age-appropriate, edutainment-only screen time for their children. Results-oriented parents may be pleased that there is an assessment module.
The tablet has 512 megabytes of RAM and eight gigabytes of internal storage that can be expanded up to 32GB with a MicroSD card, a three-megapixel back-facing camera/camcorder, an MP3 and MP4 player, and a battery good for six to eight hours of continuous play time.
The verdict: could be more economical than buying a sophisticated tablet. The learning apps, however, are priced separately.
Vinci Tab II (HK$1,779.90) and Vinci Curriculum packages (from HK$699.90) at vincigenius.com and selected Toys 'R' Us stores