Gadgets: Toy tablets for kids, or the real thing?

  • Updated: November 24, 2012 - 5:10 PM

The boundary between toy tablets and real tablets keeps getting thinner. Cases in point: the LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog and the $100 Wi-Fi-enabled InnoTab 2S. As the price and processing power of these types of toys begin to approach those of real tablets, more parents are facing a tricky choice. Is it better to invest in a toy that acts like a tablet, or a tablet that has been configured to impersonate a toy?

In the last 12 months, a variety of Android tablets for children have been released. They are often more similar than they are different, with a girl- or boy-themed silicone frame for protection, slots for adding more storage, 7-inch multitouch screens and a handful of preloaded $1 apps like Angry Birds. Examples include LexiBook ($150), Kurio ($200), Nabi 2 ($200), Meep ($170) and Tabeo ($150).

This fall, toy rivals VTech and LeapFrog have also updated their portable platforms, succeeding in offering the lowest price of entry to the world of apps and touch screens. The cheapest option is VTech's MobiGo 2 ($50), followed by the updated LeapsterGS ($70). Both are solid choices, despite having smaller screens that can process only one finger touch at a time.

Designed to fool a child into thinking he or she has a real tablet, VTech's InnoTab 2 ($80) comes with a new rotating camera. A second model, the InnoTab 2S ($100) has built-in Wi-Fi that only lets your child browse apps, while generating e-mails telling you which ones you should buy. The LeapPad2 Explorer ($100) starts faster and comes with two better-quality cameras, in front and in back.

The bottom line is that the differences among this year's Leapster, InnoTab and LeapPad models are slim. Whichever you choose, remember that each is a platform that can lead to a significant investment in software. After you add up the $100 for, say, a LeapPad or an InnoTab, and buy four $20 cartridges, you've spent more than the price of the latest iPod Touch ($175).

NEW TWITTER FEATURE: SEND TWEETS BY E-MAIL

Soon you will be able to share your Twitter posts easily, even with people who aren't on Twitter.

The social microblogging service is introducing a new sharing feature that will let people pass along posts by e-mail directly from its site.

Here's how it will work: When you see a post you want to send to a friend, place the cursor over it. A list of links will appear below it in blue, just as it does now, but there will be an additional link, titled "More." Click on it and you will see a button that says "Share this Tweet via e-mail." Fill out the address, hit send, and off it goes.

E-mailing has advantages. For one, you can more quickly ridicule someone's post before an audience of select friends without going public. It also means you can expose people who have avoided Twitter to its siren call. Don't count on them thanking you.

NEW YORK TIMES

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