Mellow Mummy: VTech Innotab - A Pre-schooler Review : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 25 October 2011

VTech Innotab - A Pre-schooler Review

Traditionally I don't post reviews on a weekday but I wanted to post this one because it is an observation about Mellow Mummy and about why I blog. I reviewed the VTech Innotab a couple of months ago after a preview I had attended. I was impressed and shared my review which has since become one of the most popular blog posts I have ever written. I've had comments and questions from real parents wanting to know whether I'd recommend it for their children. People like help making decisions if they are going to spend £80 on a gift like the Innotab and I'm glad to have been able to help them all. This is one of the reasons why I started Mellow Mummy. I like sharing my views and I enjoy helping others find out about products.

And so I now want to share my experiences having owned a VTech Innotab of my own (OK, Lara's own) for the past two months. I wanted to update the world on my real opinions of the Innotab rather than just my thoughts after a 2 hour preview.

It is worth pointing out that Lara is 2 which is a couple of years younger than VTech recommend the Innotab for. Despite this, I think Lara has a lot to get out of using the Innotab and I have been absolutely astonished at how quickly she has picked up the technology and how, every single time she uses it, I see a new skill developing in her. Counting, Drawing, Co-ordination, Control, Accuracy.

Lara's favourite applications are the 'Colour and Pop' and 'Art Studio' which are both colouring/drawing apps. I think it will be many years before Lara would show an interest in the calculator, notebook or friendship apps. It will also be some time before she can fully benefit from the educational reading assistance of the Innotab but this doesn't stop her from spending hours sitting with her innotab, listening to the stories and turning the pages.

When I registered the Innotab and downloaded the Learning Lodge software I got three free software credits. I downloaded two books and one game. Both books have an american accent, which is frustrating, and neither of them offer content anywhere near as high quality as the default book that the product came with. The game I downloaded is pretty awful too. I'm tempted to try out one of the branded cartridges to see if the content is more impressive.

Occasionally Lara tries the games - she is pretty awesome at the built-in penguin game. But generally she prefers to draw.

One of the most common questions I am asked is about the battery life of the VTech innotab tablet. Honestly, its appalling. The first set of batteries (OK, they were cheap ones) lasted about 2 hours of use. That day I went an invested in a mains adapter for the Innotab (I got a VTech branded one for less than £10 at argos). OK, being attached to the plug socket does rather negate one of the appealing qualities of the Innotab but within your own home you're never that far from a socket anyway. On a fresh set of Duracell batteries we get maybe 4 or 5 hours use at an absolute push.

The other thing I get asked about is the age range for which the Innotab is suitable. Really I think this is hard to judge but VTech recommend 4-9 years. I think more like 3-7 years; once your child is school-aged they will become far less impressed with children's tech.

One last point, I have found it easier than I expected to transfer photo and video onto the Innotab (tonight, for the first time I transferred over some M-PEG music too). As long as you are prepared to transfer video into MPEG format you can upload most photos and videos via the Learning Lodge software and the only thing that limits you is the size of the SD memory car you plug in to the Innotab.


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