A few weeks ago I received a pre-production version of a new tablet targeted toward children ages 2-4 or so called the “VINCI Tab“. I had been dying to review an Android-based tablet, but the VINCI threw me for an unexpected curve. It really is not what you might expect. While it is technically a tablet, it is really a crippled one. But it is crippled for an important reason and that is something that I didn’t immediately get.
Typically when I get a product, I just jump right into it without reading instructions, or if I do, I try to keep that at a minimum. My goal is to see how well a product “works” without having to read a manuscript on “how” it is supposed to work. For me, the usability factor, coupled with understandability, is core to a products success. Initially, the VINCI for me failed this. But there is actually a reason why and it makes sense.
I’m pretty spoiled by using an iPad as my primary tablet so getting to poke around the Android-based VINCI was definitely a bit of fun. However, one of the first things that I did when I turned it on, was to explore the OS a bit. The screen showed some bars for signal strength, but yet when I tried to activate the wifi, I received an error. Obviously, I was not one of the people who had actually read up about how and why the VINCI was designed.
The VINCI is made for babies and toddlers. This is the important thing to remember when looking at this Android tablet. Babies touch everything. They put things in their mouths. They drop things. They bang things against floors and walls. Giving your 2 or 3 year old your $500 tablet investment is probably not a smart thing to do (more about pricing later). So the VINCI Tab was designed to be a baby-friendly tablet computer, even down to the fact that there are no harmful wifi or cellular signals emanating from the device simply because the hardware isn’t there within it. No wifi means no radiation which is important for everyone, especially babies who’s cells and bodies are continuing to develop and grow.
The VINCI has actually two layers to the OS, one for babies and one that is your standard Android OS layer. On the “baby” layer, there are applications, games, videos and other little goodies that can teach your young child some basics like counting or colors or words (through storybooks). The tablet is designed to act like a tablet that mommy and daddy would have, but that can be handled roughly, have every button pushed and doesn’t have any harmful radiation coming from it (other than what is emitted from the screen I guess).
There is even a 3 MP camera where the toddler can take pictures or video. The idea here is that you want to let you toddler play with a tablet, receive some education from it in the form of video and game content, and let them explore the device, just a long as it isn’t YOUR tablet that they are using. That make sense to me. And there are definitely some kid friendly features like:
- Handles – there are red handles that wrap around the VINCI. This makes it much easier for little hands to grab and hold the device. Also, the handle, which will most likely spend a lot of time in your baby’s mouth and used as a teething device, is made without PVC, latex or BPA.
- No Radios – I mentioned this before already, there is no Wifi built into the Vinci. That means no radio emissions. It also means no Internet (which is a good thing for young children as Internet content is typically not good for this age unless carefully moderated by the parent). There also is no hardware for a cellular radio, just like the missing wifi hardware. If you try to enable the wifi, you will get an error.
- Full Color Touch Screen – kids in the coming generations will expect all screens to be touch screens. You already see them trying to touch computer monitors to interact with them. The VINCI has a 800×480 LCD multi-touch, capacitive screen which changes orientation depending on how it is held. Your child gets to experience touch-screens safely.
- Games, Programs, Videos – your baby can watch specially created content in the form of applications, storybooks, videos, and games that can help them interact with the touch screen.
I let my youngest daughter who is well beyond toddler years being at the “ripe old age” of 7 and a half play with the VINCI tab for a bit. The problem was, she is not only older, but also used to using an iPad and an iPhone. Her opinion was that she really didn’t like it and she spent an hour or so with it. But that is to be expected though. She is much older than the target audience and spoiled by the iPad. From a baby’s perspective, it’s a shiny toy that interacts with you and potentially teaches in the process. I didn’t have a “test subject” of the appropriate age to try the VINCI out on unfortunately.
There are two models, the VL-1001 and the VH-2001, the difference being battery life, internal storage, learning curriculum and, of course price point, with the prices being $389 and $479 respectively. Honestly, at that price point, you might want to simply invest in a true Apple or Android tablet for about the same price. Regardless, this product is definitely geared towards families who have a bit more disposable income. Overall, the VINCI tab is an interesting new player in this space. Its success will largely depend on the content, current and future.
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: The VINCI tablet is an interesting niche-oriented entrant into the Android tablet marketplace. It is truly designed for babies and toddlers and depending on how the content develops, could make a nice little name for itself in that space.