Mellow Mummy: VTech Innotab 2 Review : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday 28 October 2012

VTech Innotab 2 Review

VTech Innotab 2
Innotab 2
At 3.5 years old, Lara is very comfortable with tablet technology such as the Innotab 2.  Last year Lara was asked to review the Innotab and, although she got a lot of pleasure out of it, our issues with battery life (or lack of it) meant that the Innotab didn't often get used in our house but this year VTech sought out our thoughts on the new and improved Innotab 2 and I can tell you know that the Innotab 2 is a LOT more regularly used than its predecessor ever was.

The Innotab 2 is more compact but has the same sized screen.  There is absolutely no doubt that the battery life has been improved.  I am using the same rechargeable batteries in the Innotab 2 and they last for weeks rather than hours.  Thank you VTech!  Saying that, we do own a VTech charger so we can always switch to mains power whenever we need to.

playing with the Innotab 2
Playing and watching the Innotab 2
Lara most enjoys playing with the Colour and Pop and Art Studio apps on her Innotab 2.  These days she is very independent and needs more or less no help from me.  Occasionally she needs me to help her save or delete a picture she has created or to explain some of the more complex apps like the Friends / Contacts app which I have no intention of her populating for some years to come!

The best improvement for the Innotab 2 is the inclusion of an on-board camera which your child can use to take still images or videos all of their own.  The lens rotates so they can even take a picture of themselves and see it appear on the screen as they take it.  Lara really likes using the camera to add special effects such as pirate outfits to me and Mr. B!  The pictures are surprisingly good quality (although we do miss having a flash) and I often transfer her pictures onto my own laptop to show her.

Transferring images and movies is quite easy to do, especially if you have an SD card in which case they seem to be immediately available on the Innotab (there is nothing in the VTech documentation that suggests this is so, but our pictures definitely appear on the Innotab without me having to transfer them using the Learning Lodge Navigator).  Officially, to transfer images and videos you have to use the LLN software to move files and apps over.  You can transfer movies that are in MPEG format (my home video recorder doesn't use this format and I'm too lazy/tight to buy conversion software so we do without).

The Innotab 2 doesn't feel as sturdy as the original but I can say from experience that it is still more than capable of coping with being dropped, scraped and sucked (by baby Holly).  It comes with a spare stylus in case you lose one.

I haven't quite grasped why all the default installed apps have to be held on a cartridge these days.  It is a bit frustrating because it means that you always need at least one cartridge with you (we take Dora the Explorer with us most places we go too).

Peppa Pig on Innotab 2
Peppa Pig on Innotab 2

The apps available through the Learning Lodge Navigator are largely disappointing and overpriced compared to the equivalent types of games and videos available for an iPad.  I was however pleased to see that you can now buy and download series of children's shows such as Peppa Pig which will come in useful for our forthcoming holiday.  The better quality stories and apps are all the most expensive ones or the ones that come on pre-loaded cartridges.

I still think that an IPad tablet would offer a better long term investment if you are looking specifically for a learning / play tablet for an older child but for a child of about 3 years to 5 years to have a tablet that they are responsible for and which only contains their games, stories, music and video, the Innotab is good value and is FAR better able to stand up to the wear and stress of belonging to a preschooler!

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