nabi 2: Keep your kids off your iPad

Kids’ gadgets often look great, but can offer disappointing results – the kids’ cameras on the market are a prime example – but it looks like the latest tablet designed for the children’s market is taking a leaf out of the books of the people who make devices for the grown-ups.

nabi-2

The nabi 2 tablet is the most powerful kids’ tablet available, boasting an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, with Super 4-PLUS-1 Quad Core and a fifth core that extends battery autonomy.

The screen has a 1024×600 resolution plus there’s 8GB of onboard storage, which can be extended by up to 32GB via the SD slot.

It’s not often you list the specs of a kids’ gadget before getting onto the more interesting and quirky features, so this sets the nabi 2 apart from the competition for a start. Having said that, it does cost £149.99 – although its makers say it comes with applications, books and music worth more than £120.

The tablet features a food-grade silicone bumper for protection – and for safety if it gets chewed! Go online to www.nabitablet.co.uk and you can see how it can withstand drops from 7ft without sustaining any damage – and see how some of its non-kid-friendly rivals fare in the same tests…

Onboard, you’ll find FoozKid University, which features 2,000 lessons in math, science, and English, as well as detailed insight into skills mastered and trouble spots for parents. For tunes, it comes with Spinlets+ Music, a music solution for kids that has more than 9,000 albums, while Spinlets+ TV offers more than 700 hours of kid-friendly entertainment.

The makers also promise console-quality HD games and more than 500 apps picked by mums and approved by kids in the AppZone application store.

And just in case they’re having too much fun, the Chore List and Treasure Box, are designed to help them learn how to make good choices, be responsible, and understand consequences. In Chore List, parents are able to assign tasks, set priorities and reward with nabi Coins when jobs are completed.

Nabi also offers facilities for storing content in the cloud, syncing wirelessly and troubleshooting any problems.

The Nabi 2 is available to buy from Argos, Toys R Us and Smyths.

Proporta’s four ‘Back to School Essentials’ – Essential or superfluous?

Corresponding with the GCSE results day, the British iPad and iPhone accessories specialists, Proporta announced a new range of Back to School products for the iPhone 4 and HTC Sensation. In our gadget-obsessed society, the kids of today have a lot more to worry about than merely being seen with the right pair of trainers. iPad, iPhone and MacBook cases have the power to influence the esteem of kids in a school playground, hence when Proporta name their range of such cases as being “Back to School Essentials”, no one bats an eyelid. Here are four items from Proporta’s ‘indispensable’ new range.

Proporta-Back-to-School

Times Table Hard Shell (Apple iPhone 4)

£14.95

Teachers better watch out that gadgets such as the Times Table Hard Shell don’t lead to some serious cheating in exams. Oh well, at least this one is mildly educational, as by having the times tables printed on the back, lessons spent gazing at an iPhone instead of listening to the teacher may at least result in kids finally learning their times tables.

Perfora Hard Shell for the HTC Sensation

£14.95

Those children owning a, dare we say it slightly inferior HTC Sensation, can now deck their precious gadget out with a Perfora Hard Shell. This super tough crystal case will protect an HTC Sensation from the inevitable knocks it will endure during a day at school, and its soft feel finish with funky range of colours, means Perfora Hard Shell cases are likely to be a big hit at high school.

Leather Protective Sleeve for the Apple iPad 2

£34.95

For those kids lucky enough to own an Apple iPad 2, they could further their enviable status by tarting up their iPad 2 with this custom made, hardwearing and stylish leather bag – Although it has to said, leather isn’t always the most desirable material of those so young they don’t appreciate its quality.

Aluminium Lined Leather Style Case for Amazon Kindle 3

£29.95

Are Amazon Kindle’s a popular gadget amongst schoolchildren? According to Proporta they are, as the company has placed this aluminium lined leather style case for the Amazon Kindle 3 in their ‘Back to School Essentials’ list. Well at least buying your child an Amazon Kindle would encourage him or her to read, and placing it in a sturdy case would help protect it from any potential damage that may occur on the commute to school. We still reckon the ‘cooler’ kids are seen with an iPhone or iPad though!

Three ‘must have’ back to school gadgets

Dare we say it? The summer is drawing to an end and no sooner are we worrying about how to keep the kids entertained for six weeks, we are rushing around buying everything our little darlings may need to prepare them for the new academic year. Whilst the only thing our parents and their parents before them needed to fork out for in the run-up to September was a school uniform, satchel and a pencil case, parents of today are increasingly pressured into buying the latest and coolest back to school gadgets. LG checks out three gadgets to help our kids beat the back to school blues.

Back-to-School
Image courtesy of Flickr user Liz Henry

Nike Core Medium and other high-tech school bags  

Long gone are the days when a school satchel was made from vintage leather and resembled an old donkey pannier rather than a bag for school. Modern school bags, like the Nike Core Medium, are super lightweight, super snazzy and comprise of secret compartments for all those gadgetry essentials, such as a laptop sleeve and pocket for an iPhone or iPod.

Altaz Internet Clock Radio

Trying to prize your child from their bed and get them ready for school is particularly difficult after the six week break. Why not let the Altaz Internet Clock Radio help you out? Waking up to the sound of their own music collections and checking to see if there has been any developments on Facebook since they have been asleep, is a lot more enticing than grumpily switching off a conventional alarm clock before turning round a going back to sleep.

The Smash Pad

With all that homework, revision, exams and dreadful teachers to contend with, school can be a stressful time to say the least, and it’s no wonder kids can have a tendency to get a little wound up every now and again. Why not let them channel their anger in a more manageable manner with the RageCage Smash Pad? These customizable smash pads contain a pressure sensor embedded in silicone gel that is capable of withstanding the angriest of abuse. The cheeky RageCage will even attempt to pacify its aggressor by coming out with words such as “Why are you hurting me?” – Sounds more like an anger aggravator rather than a pacifier.

Honestech Claymation Studio 3.0 review

Claymation-Studio

 

I have long harboured secret desires to make my own animated movies – I think several visits to the Disney parks in Florida, where you can see behind the scenes helped. And of course I grew up in a world before CGI, where stop-motion animation was the big thing (I’m a big fan of Bagpuss and its ilk). So when I got the chance to try out Honestech’s own Claymation Studio 3.0 software, I was very excited. I also hoped that it might be something I could interest my young son in (although at five he may be a little young), as I’m not a huge fan of kids just playing games on computers.

If you’re hoping to produce the next Wallace and Gromit, you might find you’re in for a lot of work – and will need a lot of patience (so maybe that’s my five-year-old out of the picture then!). However, you can be up and running very quickly and the software is very reasonably priced at a smidge under 40 quid, and comes with a cute webcam in the shape of a dog. The camera quality is no better or worse than the average webcam and for younger players will probably not cause too many issues. However, the software should be compatible with any webcam you have.

You are able to choose your frame rate – from 1 fps up to 30fps, so if you are prepared to put in the time and effort you’ll get a smooth result, but again for younger viewers you can adjust the frame rate so that they can finish a film before they head off to Uni!

So, getting started is pretty simple really, set up your scene and hit the red button to start capturing your images. The delay function can be set to 5-, 10-, or 60-second intervals, which really speeds up the process. For kids of a certain age, they can use Plasticine, Lego, Star Wars figures, Bakugans – all kinds of toys – for their mini movies.

There are plenty of settings and options to fiddle with, such as the green screen (or chroma effect). This means everything of a certain colour can be replaced with a photographic or video image (it’s how they move characters to appear as if they are flying, on a beach or whatever without leaving the studio). It could be more accurate, but when you think how much this software costs I feel you can’t be too picky.

Once you’ve made your film you can add narration, although be aware that there is no option for multiple tracks, which can make voicing different characters a bit tricky. In fact a lot of the editing facilities are a bit clunky and you may decide to use some video editing software at this stage if you can.

I had hoped that this software would make the process really easy, and to an extent it does – you can be producing your own short clips in very little time. Younger children will be able to get it out of the box and create a film (maybe with some help from Mum or Dad) – which is great – but if you’re looking for a lot of control and editing ability this won’t be for you.

More at here

Apps to unlock the voice of autism

Approximately 1.5% of all people have autism. The recorded prevalence of this neural development disorder has risen in recent years and reviews estimate that 1 -2 people per 1000 have autism. For the parents of children diagnosed with autism, the diagnosis is naturally a worrying and confusing time.  Fortunately traditional therapies in treating autism, such as repetitive speech and developmental activities, are finally being replaced by more sophisticated methods such as multi-touch technology, providing those suffering with autism a renewed sense of hope. As researchers develop low-cost applications, those living with autism are able to advance much faster than when using traditional methods of treatment. We take a look at three of the most recommended apps for autism to date.

Kids-with-Autism
Image courtesy of Flickr user ShannonRosa

TapSpeak Apps

Ted Conley started to develop TapSpeak apps, after his son Pierce was diagnosed with autism and told that he would never be able to communicate without the use of a device. The TapSpeak apps have helped Pierce and other autistic children communicate. These apps are easy to use and allow users to record messages, download pictures, have scanning and switch access, as well as PC-symbol libraries which are available for all the TapSpeak apps.

The TapSpeak Choice 2.0 app is now available and features a Navigation library, text to speech with support for 20 languages and 43 voices, enhanced auditory prompt support voice manager, amongst many more features to help people with disabilities communicate with the world.

Speaking to Latest Gadgets about how TapSpeak apps can improve the lives of children living with autism, Audrey Conley the marketing director of TapSpeak said:

“Our apps are focused on emerging communicators, children that are starting out with just learning cause and effect, that’s our TapSpeak Button. TapSpeak Sequence is able to help a child with schedules, recipes and songs, a countdown timer is will be put in the next update. TapSpeak Choice, helps children express choices from 2 to 56 on a screen as well as compose sentences making requests or statements.”

Talking about the feedback TapSpeak had received from the parents of autistic children who have used TapSpeak apps for communication difficulties, Audrey Conley commented:

“We have had feedback from parents who have tried more complicated (communication) apps and have found that their child was not ready for that level of communication, but TapSpeak seems to be a great starting point for many of these children. The TapSpeak apps were all built as family of apps with the traditional progression from app to app.”

Visit www.conleysolutions.com for more information on the TapSpeak apps.

Grace

The Grace App is a non-speaking, simple picture exchange system created to help people living with autism communicate. This ultra-simple non-verbal app is designed for both iPhone and iPad and enables children with learning difficulties such as autism to communicate through complete sentences by linking together colourful images and symbols. Grace App was winner of the 2010 Irish Web Awards and United Nations World Summit Award Mobile.

iConverse

iConverse functions as a picture exchange communication system (PECS) to help autistic children and adults communicate with others. This innovative app features six built-in communication tiles that represent an individual’s most basic needs. When activated by the touchscreen, the icons provide both a visual and auditory representation of the specific need.

This easy to use, effective and discreet assisted communication app is a desirable replacement of the bulky and expensive communication devices of the past.

Hands on with the latest Griffin App Powered Accessories gear

Griffin were kind enough to invite us down to a space-age camper van in Central London to play with their latest and greatest App Powered Accessories range and nibble on a doughnut. How could we say no?

Crayola

Our inner child was delighted to play with the Crayola Colour Studio HD, that leveraged hundreds of pounds worth of cutting edge technology to replicate scribbling with crayon. And it was totally worth it. A Griffin rep patiently explain all the subtleties of the app to me, subtleties that were totally lost as I was hard a work colouring in a monster and some curtains. It’s incredibly engrossing and with the well-designed iMarker digital stylus, you can easily forget you aren’t colouring in with a conventional crayon and just focus on enjoying the experience. iMarker safely interacts with iPad’s Multi-Touch display, allowing the ColorStudio HD app to differentiate between the child’s input (fingers, swipes, etc.) and the iMarker automatically. Of course they bring a little more to the table than simply colouring in and in ColourStudio HD you can create pages that move and react as they colour; combining custom-produced pictures, animations, music, sound effects and high quality special effects.

Our inner middle age man was delighted by the sensible remote control solution the Beacon Universal Remote. Griffin has partnered with software developer Dijit to make an iOS Universal Remote Control app, enabling fingertip control of your entire entertainment system, thanks to hardware and app integration from Griffin and Dijit. The Dijit app uses a constantly updated device code library to make setting up controls for your TV, set-top box, sound system, media players and more simple and intuitive and for components not yet included in Dijit’s library, the app also includes an integrated learning feature. We were a little disappointed that the iPad app was simply an iPhone app scaled up, but “they are working on it”.

TC-Velo

Best of all, our outer child was ebullient to play with the Helo TC, a iOS controlled helicopter. Charged via the magic of USB, the Helo TC is navigated by a flight deck module that slots into your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and transmits infrared signals to the helicopter giving you total flying control. There are two flight modes available, you can use the Multi-Touch display to control the Helo TC’s throttle and flight controlled joystick or Helo TC’s Tilt-to-Fly, which uses the iOS device’s accelerometers to control the helicopter’s flight.

We were crest-fallen told have the flight desk, which feels nice and chunky, placed in our hands, only to be told that we had a flightless prototype in our hands. However our spirits perked up again when they told us the prototype was the only one in the UK and the dinky little helicopter we’d had our grubby mitts all over was worth £10,000. The actual version will be ready for Christmas and will sell for much, much less.

Beacon Universal Remote is available this month from Apple stores nationwide and online for £54.99.

Crayola ColorStudio HD, £24.99, from Apple, includes Crayola iMarker digital stylus (AA batteries included), a free download of the ColorStudio HD App, periodic content updates, and built-in user tutorials.

TC Helo will be available in time for Christmas and can be yours for under £40.

For more information, visit www.griffintechnology.com

Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure: Essential education tools or sedentary lifestyle invokers?

Parents of today are faced with a dilemma parents of the past were never faced with… Let your children embrace the digital era and in doing so inadvertently encourage a sedentary lifestyle? Or restrain exposure to today’s technology and inadvertently thwart the educational and technically-minded benefits such technology can bring? If you are a parent of the former inclination, you may be interested in hearing about an iPhone app for kids available, which is already being played in over sixty countries worldwide. “Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure”, is an interactive, educational app which is getting fantastically positive reviews in the App stores.

maze

The app, which has been beautifully hand-drawn with its sensational graphic design being extensively praised, is an exciting journey, which combines a game and a book, and is great for the whole family to become involved with. Players battle their way through various landscapes, stumbling upon countless obstacles and challenges, which they have to figure their way out of. Throughout the journey children are encouraged to search for numbers, letters, ice-cream vans and many other surprises.

Educationally, “Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure”, in taking children through a journey of mazes, apparently promotes decision-making and critical learning skills. According to research, mazes help to teach children to judge spatial relationships and alternative ways to solve problems. For younger children especially, mazes help to develop fine motor skills, whilst for older kids, manoeuvring through the mazes of “Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure”, will help to improve handwriting. Not only this but many experts also insist that mazes can prove to be particularly advantageous for promoting learning and development in boys and reluctant readers.

“Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure” is just one app in a whole string of apps for kids which provide a stimulating educational experience. iSoundGrid Kids, by providing children with a screen of objects and sounds, helps children to quickly associate objects with sounds, and proves beneficial to the development of pre-school kids. Drum Circle Kids is an iPad app which helps children learn about different cultures as they explore the sounds of drums from around the world.

Although despite the obvious motor development skills and a familiarity with numbers, letters and problem solving racing through Roxie’s virtual mazes may have on a child, the dilemma remains: Wouldn’t racing though ‘actual’ mazes in the fresh air prove more advantageous to a child’s mental and physical development?

Encyclopaedia Britannica – on your smartphone

Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I still remember when the Encyclopaedia Britannica was sold in huge books, which you would paid for weekly or monthly, and I can remember seeing them all lined up on a stand at the Ideal Home Show I think it was.

Britannica

Then came the pioneering days of the likes of Encarta and we were all amazed how all that info could be squeezed onto a CD-ROM (those were the days eh?). And now, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is truly entering the 21st century as it brings a range of educational apps for children to the smartphone.

The latest app to be released covers the rise and fall of the Aztec Empire, from its foundation by nomadic farmers, through the reign of Montezuma II and its fall to Hernan Cortes.

The app is aimed at children aged eight to 12 and has been developed around Britannica’s curriculum-based content, so has been designed specifically to help your kids with their projects, homework and exams. (Blimey, in my day all we had was a lucky Gonk and a packet if Polos).

The app has content on the Azter rules, society, and culture as well as their gods, religion and beliefs.

Ian Grant, Managing Director of Encyclopædia Britannica UK said: “Educational apps are fast becoming one of the most important learning platforms in the 21st century. Not only do they deliver interesting and relevant content at the touch of a button, they are a great way of keeping children engaged while they explore new topics and subjects.”

Aztec Empire is the latest in a series of educational mobile apps developed by Britannica. Other titles in the series include Volcanoes, Dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Knights and Castles, Solar Systems and Rainforests.

The app costs £4.99 and also features interactive features, quizzes and games. It is available for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded from the app store.