Mellow Mummy: VTech Innotab 3 Review : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

VTech Innotab 3 Review

ASDA Direct have been running some great value toy offers in the run-up to Christmas and they asked Lara to give her verdict on the VTech Innotab 3 children's learning tablet.

Thomas and Friends on the VTech Innotab 3

Having been there at the launch of the original Innotab from VTech several years ago, we were fascinated to find out how this children's tablet had evolved over the past few years.  The first thing that I noticed (even if Lara didn't) was the size.  The Innotab 3 is quite compact and the screen is tiny - about the same size as a smartphone at 4.3 inches.

Setting up the Innotab 3 was very easy.  It took 4 AA batteries and then when we first used it we had to create a login for Lara where she could set her name and a photo or image to use for her profile.  Within a minute she was ready to start exploring - no need to download any apps or plug in a cartridge at this point although many of the default apps do need you to connect the Innotab to your computer (which requires a software download/install) in order to activate them.

The Innotab 3 is recommended for children from age 3-9 and I think this is a good guideline although I suspect an older child would want more control and need access to a wider range of apps.  My daughter is 4.5 and she was instantly attracted to the colouring and drawing apps which are installed out-of-the-box on the Innotab 3.  The tablet comes with a stylus to help you draw on the screen and you can 'paint' or 'draw' until your heart's content using lots of different colours and brushes.  There is also a simple colour-in app.

For older children there are some interesting default apps such as a friends contact list where you can store names, birthdays and notes about your pals.

To download apps onto the Innotab you connect to the internet through your laptop or PC.  There are lots of apps to choose from ranging from free, to as much as £20.  You can also download video content and there are some great children's TV series to download such as Tree Fu Tom, Chugginton and Peppa Pig and the downloads for these are priced competitively compared to 'grown-up' tablets.  There are some music downloads but we haven't explored them yet.

The Innotab 3 has a built in camera which is a really great feature that my 1 year old also enjoys using.  The camera can point out or in (great for taking selfies!) and you can apply silly special effects which always make Lara laugh.  The camera can take still photos or even videos if you have enough storage to save them.  The Innotab 3 comes with 2GB storage but you can add storage by inserting a Micro SD memory card.

We haven't really made the most of the games on the Innotab 3 yet but I'm told that the little S-pad control at the base makes it easier to play some popular games compared to previous versions of the tablet.  We have however used the e-reader as we own some original VTech games cartridges (Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty) so both girls enjoy listening to stories this way and now that Lara is starting to learn to read she can use the 'dictionary' functionality whereby she can touch onto new words and find out what they mean.

I was a little disappointed to find out that the Innotab 3 didn't have its own internet browser, unlike its nearest competitor.  I think I would be happy to pay the extra money for the Innotab 3S to get this functionality if I had an older child who wanted to explore the internet a little more.  I also found that the Innotab 3 literally ate batteries.  My super-duper expensive batteries were drained within 3 days but thankfully I have learned from experience that VTech toys tend to benefit from an A/C power adapter which can be picked up quite cheaply online.

Lara was also sent a VTech games cartridge to try out on the Innotab - Thomas and Friends Exploring Sodor for Innotab. I think that the cartridges from VTech offer the best quality of app but it is a shame that they are so expensive (even with ASDA's great value this game is £19.99).  The Thomas and Friends app includes creativity activities such as building your own story and making up your own song.  There are also learning apps such as a pattern matching game as well as a read-along story that uses the VTech Innotab e-reader style and allows you to either read-along or have the story read.

The VTech Innotab 3 children's learning tablet currently costs £52 from ASDA direct (though it is proving very popular!)

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