I’ll admit that I was one of those parents who worried about exposing my child to mobile devices at too early an age, but after seeing how much my daughter has learned from apps and videos starting at age 1-1/2, I’ve become a convert. At the same time, I cringe every time she picks up my iPhone or iPad, worried that my devices will meet a premature end in the hands of a not-so-gentle toddler. Happily, she now has her Ematic Fun Tab Pro, and my phone and tablet are safely back in my control. A great device for today’s tech-curious youngsters, the Fun Tab Pro pairs with Zoodles, an interface that gives parents control and insight into what their children can access. So, you can set your child up with age-appropriate content and let them go at it!
The Fun Tab Pro is an Android tablet with a 7” multi-touch screen. Geared towards children, it has a chunky, ergonomic case that little hands can comfortably grip. A rubber skin you can stretch over the device makes it even easier – but note that this skin covers up the snap-on face plates (three choices of red, blue or pink) that give the tablet a fun, personalized touch. It also makes accessing the buttons at the top of the tablet, including power and volume control, more difficult.
For content, the tablet comes pre-loaded with kid-appropriate apps and videos that teach letters, numbers, art and more. It even includes Angry Birds and a nice selection of Sesame Street videos, of which my daughter can’t get enough. Tabs at the top of the screen allow her to select from Games, Art, Books, Mail and Favorites. Icons are everywhere, so the pre-reading set has little trouble navigating.
Parents interact through a Zoodles.com account that they set up online. The basic package lets you find age-appropriate content, add/subtract apps, record storybooks for your child, view your child’s tablet activity, award stars to artwork and even send your child video mail. You can also invite relatives to take part in the fun. Advanced features like setting violence filters and blocking characters, sites and ads requires upgrade to a premium Zoodles account, which has a subscription fee. Parents can also control settings directly on the tablet by entering a code-protected Parents Mode. In this mode parents can also use the Fun Tab Pro as a traditional Android tablet to access email, music or the Web. In Kid Mode your child can access kid-safe websites that you select and approve. Also, if you have multiple kids, you can set up a profile for each so that older kids see a different selection from their younger siblings, and each gets an experience tailored to his or her own needs.
A simplified version of a tablet at a lower cost, the Fun Tab Pro doesn’t have the fastest response time, and the touch screen isn’t as sensitive as your iPad. However, given that this is meant for young children who have not yet been introduced to faster, more responsive models, the Fun Tab Pro will serve their needs just fine. But, do beware if your child is older and has a basis of comparison with other tablets, as the Fun Tab Pro could prove a little frustrating.
Additional features include WiFi compatibility, making downloading apps and accessing YouTube videos easy. Should you rather download content from your computer, there’s also a USB port and cable included. A MicroSD card slot gives yet another option for expanding memory and adding content. In addition, the Fun Tab Pro has both front and back cameras, which keeps our budding photographer well entertained while giving mom and dad a fun look at the world from her perspective. An HDMI port and cable let you hook the device up to your television should your child want to interact or watch videos on a larger screen. For quiet use, the tablet comes with earbud headphones to keep sound contained.
Curious to learn more? Here’s a rundown of pros and cons:
• tabs present separate menus for games, art, books and video mail
• access to parent-approved, kid-safe web sites
• icons make it easy for pre-reading kids to navigate on their own
• can be used for multiple kids, with profiles that allow access to specific games and apps
• works with Zoodles Kid Mode, which gives parents an interface to control what their kids can access and view, as well as interact by awarding stars to artwork, recording stories and sending video mail
• WiFi capable
• front and back cameras with zoom
• HDMI port + cable to connect to your TV
• MicroSD card slot for additional memory
• USB port and cable, for transferring to/from your computer
• earbuds for quiet use • chunky design and a rubber case for little hands to grip
• 3 different colored faceplates – red, blue and pink
• ability to unlock Parents Mode and use the Fun Tab Pro as a fully functioning Android 4.0 tablet
• must pay for a Zoodles.com pro account should you want more advanced features like blocking ads
• tablet must be charged for 6 hours before first use, so be sure to do so before you get your child too excited or be prepared to turn this into a lesson of patience, because your child is likely to be very excited to jump in and start using their own tablet!
Overall, the Ematic Fun Tab Pro with its durable design and parent-approved content will serve young children well while giving parents peace of mind. My daughter loves using the tablet, which she’s dubbed “my computer,” and I love not having to compete with her for use of “mommy’s computer.” Win, win! Available for $149.99 at Amazon and Walmart.