We have recently been given the chance to review the iDeaPlay 7″ kids’ tablet. By “we”, I mean my daughter and I. I let her handle the kids’ part and I took it into the hands of the adult. At it’s price point, there are few options which will deliver an experience like this will. Read on to see how this device was received by a real child and her parent.
What we have here is a 7″ tablet designed for children to use. It ships with an orange bumper case to cover it’s white plastic exterior, USB cables and a set of headphones. The packaging is quite robust, even overkill for a tablet of this kind. Adult expensive tablets ship with less protection in the box. Several layers of extremely dense foam encapsulate the tablet and accessories within the box. Once inside, we get to the meat of things.
As far as hardware goes, this isn’t something that compares to the adult market. Sacrifices needed to be made to hit the price point and made they were. The display is a 800X480 capacitive touch screen. Far from hi-res. That said, my daughter didn’t seem to mind at all even though she has used my HTC One with a 1080P IPS display. Brightness wasn’t a huge hit either, but for most children in the target audience, this will not be a big deal either. Everything is driven by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with a gig of RAM. This is more than enough for what most kids will need. Nothing was particularly jittery or janky at all. Perhaps the lower resolution screen helped with this.
As far as ports and buttons, there is a power button and volume rocker (what doesn’t have this these days?). The charging port is not a micro USB, however a round 1 pin connector accomplishes this. Also included are a microUSB port, micro SD slot, HDMI out and a headphone jack.
The iDeaPlay chassis is a white plastic almost Nokia-like build. It includes an orange bumper case which is ribbed. It looks almost like Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba. This case seems to offer great protection on the corners which diminishes along the sides. As the corners stand out, this is ok by me.
Audio could have been better, though at this price it’s hard to justify a beat down. I’ve had phones with worse external speakers than this tablet has. They do sound tinny with a lot going on during playback, but all in all it’s far from an awful experience.
Let’s talk battery life. I tested this using the built in video app back to backing videos as fast as I could over wifi. Unlike other reviews of this tablet, I found over 5 hours of playback. This is more than adequate for streaming video and even bests some of the tablets made for adults.
The iDeaPlay tablet runs stock Android 4.2, complete with Google Now. In addition to the normal menu/back/home buttons, volume up and down as well as a screenshot key are added to the lower black bar. “Famigo”, which is the name given to the child’s interface, runs on top of this. Famigo is essentially a launcher akin to Nova or Action Launcher, however catered to children. This will allow your child to play games and watch videos without being able to tinker with the settings or get into much trouble. It should be noted that my daughter loves going into the settings of my adult devices and wreaking havoc. It’s nice to have something to prevent that from happening. (By the way, I’m sure it’s not intentional, she’s three years old)
In Famigo, children can play any apps you allow them to play. This includes watching videos, playing games and doing learning activities. Impressively, the included video app includes several titles that are quite popular. I’m a big fan of Pocoyo, personally. There are also other videos such as Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and Wild Kratts. These are just a few titles in the video app. There is an included Shrek game, as well as several other apps and games that children will enjoy playing.
My daughter’s favorite was Pou. Pou is essentially a Tomogachi type game, or virtual pet. She enjoyed taking care of Pou an awful lot. At one point she asked me what he was. I didn’t have a good answer, so her mother chimed in with HE’S AN ALIEN. The joys of parenthood. Victoria enjoyed playing with this endlessly. She tried to miss dinner one night to continue playing games and watching videos. We all know how that turned out… :)
One of the really cool things included in Famigo is a wish list. This allows your child to choose things from the store they want without actually buying it. The parent can review the wish list and purchase or download for free the things their child wants to play. When I tested this, it worked really well and I was left impressed. You can either get things from the iDeaApps store or the Amazon app store.
-NOTE: I did try to sideload the Google Play store on the iDeaPlay, because that’s how I roll. It loaded on fine, however every attempt to launch the Play Store caused an instant force close. The Play Store does not work without some tinkering, if at all.-
To be able to enter the “parent mode”, which is the admin functions of Famigo or stock Android if you press the home button, you’ll need to set and enter a pattern. If you have ever used a pattern lock screen on any of your Android devices before, you know how this works. In parent mode, you can set which apps show in the play mode. This will allow you to have some things on the tablet for you that that your child will be unable to access. Another administrative function is setting time limits for play (You can use the tablet for one hour before you have to start your homework for example). Parents have control over how their children can use this tablet completely. This is a GOOD thing.
It should be noted on the unit I had to test, getting into the settings mode could be finnicky. The touch screen seemed to be alright 99% of the time, however when touching the gear icon to leave Famigo sometimes took many touches to execute. Whether or not it was just this unit or not is beyond me. I’d rather have it be hard for the child to execute the pattern lock than for me to have a hard time getting into it. That just makes sense.
When you get to the stock Android launcher, the iDeaPlay acts as a usual tablet without Google Apps. You can browse the web and do all the nifty things you could do on say a Nexus 7 so long as you’re not reliant on Google Apps. That said, I wouldn’t want to use this tablet as my own. Adults care about screen quality, and this won’t deliver to us. It’ll be ok to check your Facebook or email, but you won’t want to be using this for long as a “big kid”.
I did take a bunch of screenshots, however I could not get the tablet to mount to Ubuntu 13.10. Fairly sure this wasn’t a huge thing in the manufacturer’s point of view, so I’m not going to knock them on it.
Price Point is a huge win.
Great bumper case included
Plenty of ports
Stock Android?! YES!!
Hours of fun for your kids in the car or at home
Screen resolution is subpar
Charge port is not microUSB
Touch screen seemed to work most of the time, but had a hard time getting into the parent mode