VTech joins fray with tablets for children

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 February, 2011, 12:00am

VTech Holdings, the world's largest manufacturer of cordless telephones, has entered the fast-growing media tablet market with an offering that is strictly for children - the InnoPad.

The company, which is also a leading global supplier of electronic learning toys, described the InnoPad as a multimedia educational tablet computer for children aged four to nine years.

The device, which features a five-inch touch-screen and access to more than 100 applications available for download online, will sell for US$79.99 when it is launched in the United States later this year.

A spokeswoman for VTech yesterday said the InnoPad 'will gradually launch in other markets, but there is no confirmed schedule at the moment'.

VTech's new product appears to have created further segmentation in the media tablet market, which exploded last year after iPhone-maker Apple introduced the iPad. Choices for consumers have mainly been in terms of buying expensive, mid-priced or cheap media tablets, such as those from Apple, Samsung Electronics, Dell, Archos, Lenovo and more than 100 models offered by small mainland electronics manufacturers.

With other major brands rolling out devices this year, consumers have more options based on operating systems, including Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS, Microsoft Corp's Windows and Hewlett-Packard's webOS.

'Anyone who has used a tablet device knows its greatest value is its versatility, especially the wide range of applications that provide a unique experience for the user,' said Tom McClure, the director of marketing for VTech Electronics North America.

'Most parents would be hesitant to give their own gadgets to young children.

'VTech, however, has taken that cutting-edge tablet technology and applied it to the InnoPad, which encourages early learning in a fun product that is just right for kids.'

The InnoPad combines interactive and animated reading, learning games, creative activities and a rich collection of applications.

The device features a tilt-sensor for game control, microphone, and ports for USB connection, an SD card for external memory and a headphone jack - all housed in a sleek, compact and kid-tough design.

It also has an integrated MP3 player and built-in applications such as calculator, calendar, note pad, clock with personalised voice alarm and an address book.

The spokeswoman declined to provide which operating system is used on the InnoPad.

At launch, VTech will offer cartridges providing interactive e-books, learning games and creative activities.

More than 100 software applications will also be made available from the company's Learning Lodge Navigator website.

According to IHS iSuppli, worldwide media tablet shipments are expected to reach 242.3 million units by 2015 from an estimated 19.7 million units last year.