I would be surprised to find a kid that doesn’t play games on some sort of an hand-held device. They are either borrowing their parents smartphones or tablets and playing game apps there, have their own smartphone or hand-held gaming device devoted purely to gaming, or using some sort of other gaming outlet like a gaming console or a computer. This day and age, it is hard to get away from those interactive pixels and sore thumbs.
We have entered the next generation of gaming – portable, app-based game gadgets. Yes, there have been other devices that kids (and parents) have used to “get their game on” but they were single-use, meaning, devoted to games. Now we have multi-function devices, most likely a smartphone or tablet, that allows us to challenge, scheme, and interact with these flashy and simply amazing games.
A new device on the market, PlayMG, gets this (with MG standing for “MyGeneration”). But they also understand that parents need to control the experience and the purchase of the addictive games. Based on the Android operating system, the PlayMG is really designed to be purely a gaming device, allowing parents to not have to share their smartphones all of the time. It has a 4-inch touchscreen but is slightly longer due to some “handles” on either end (personally, I found this nice because I have larger hands). It’s light-weight but distinctive in its looks – you won’t get it confused with a smartphone.
WAIT! STOP! Before you read on, I’m going to be doing a giveaway to one lucky winner! Details are at the end of this article.
Another problem with the smartphone route (that is, getting your kids a smartphone for gaming) is that you have to pay monthly fees for having that service. The PlayMG is not a phone, nor a tablet. It’s actually more similar to a tablet that simply has a WiFi data connection. You purchase and download your games when you have a WiFi connection and then play those games wherever you are, and usually no data connection is required (unless you are doing some sort of multi-player game). But many homes and public places have WiFi that you can hook into so that shouldn’t be an issue.
PlayMG takes it a bit further as well, by developing a trust between parents and kids. Parents control the gaming purchases via an “allowance” of sorts. You, as a parent, are notified when purchases are made and what the balance is on the account. As parents, you load up a pre-paid MasterCard which is then applied to the PlayMG device. On the kid’s side, they see how much “allowance” they have left to spend. In some odd way, it introduces them to the concept of budgeting…do I really want this $5 game or these two $2 games. And there are other advantages to this type of system:
- Easily load from anywhere
- As purchases are made, you get notified
- No risk of running over – you spend only what you have, no more
- Runs through a 3rd party called “Bill My Parents” (ouch, but makes sense)
Another thing that is simply a pain about using just a regular smartphone for gaming is the fact that Parental Controls are very restrictive. If the device is borrowed from a parent, more likely than not, there are no controls in place. With the PlayMG, you use a “Remote Trust” tool that lets you get notified on their activity like amount of time the device was used, what apps were used and what apps were downloaded. And you get the notifications remotely.
Here are some quick specs. The PlayMG has a 4″ touchscreen. It’s WiFi-enabled (as I mentioned). It has 4GB built-in memory and PlayMG provides an 8GB SD card with each device, and since you can swap out the SD card, you have unlimited expansion. It’s got a 1.3 MP front-facing camera that you can use to shoot video and take pictures. Remember, it’s built on Android (Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0) so you can do email and whatever an Android phone can do as well. Do note, it doesn’t come with a charger but it charges using a microUSB connection and cable (which is pretty standard for most smartphones and digital cameras). Oh, and of course it has a headset jack – you don’t want to hear all of those games in action (but bring your own headset).
To get you gaming immediately, there are 2 EA Mobile games pre-installed: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and NBA Jam. I played NFS, always a winner in my book. Also, it comes with 8 Com2uS games preloaded: Slice It, Swing Shot, Homerun Battle2, Tiny Farm, Tower Defense, 9 Innings Baseball, Super Action Hero and Derby Days. I played Tower Defense (very addictive) and 1 game of baseball in 9 Innings Baseball (definitely fun). Unfortunately Homerun Battle2 didn’t want to launch or upgrade so I didn’t get to test that out. The performance was fast and smooth. I almost lost my grip on the PlayMG because it is so darn light and I was driving pretty recklessly in NFS. But the wider form factor is definitely nice and will be great for kids. If you want more games, just head over to Google Play to get more (remember that “Bill My Parents” feature?).
I then was able to see, using the parental app, to see how long I played certain games and what applications I used. This is extremely helpful for parents.
One innovative PlayMG program that is included is one called the MG Origins Avatar System. Through a series of screens and interactions, the user is not only introduced to various aspects of the PlayMG system but also Android and the Google Play marketplace. The more tasks you do, the more points you get and you start to “unlock” sections of the avatar robot.
So now the fun stuff…the GIVEAWAY
The kind folks at PlayMG have provided the opportunity to win a brand new PlayMG device (not the one that I used for my testing). I’m going to try to keep this giveaway simple. First of all, you need to know my overall rules which you should read over here. Here’s the bottom line though (including the rules listed in the previous link), you have to be 18 years or old and a resident of the US. And the giveaway is from November 13-30, 2012.
Here’s what you need to do to enter:
- Use the widget below to enter. Note that some items are required, some are optional. But you get extra entry points the more things you do!
- Answer the question “Why do you want to win a PlayMG” (use the widget)
- Like my Facebook Fan Page
- Follow me on Twitter
- Tweet out about the Giveaway (use the widget)
- Enter every day if you want!
Easy enough, right? Only the Answer and the “liking” are mandatory. Ready to enter?
With a price point of about $149 (plus the cost of games but MINUS the cost of having to pay monthly fees for an Android smartphone), this is a perfect gift of kids. Not only does it give parents back their smartphones, kids can be entertained as well as learn about allowances, screentime and how to pick and choose the games they really want. And it’s a pretty good introduction to the Android OS. It’s easy to set up and manage too. You can pick up a PlayMG either on Amazon or directly on the PlayMG site. More info about PlayMG can be found on PlayMG’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channels.
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. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: The PlayMG is definitely a fun and easy gaming device that will keep your kids entertained for hours!
A Portable Gaming System for Families - Kids Will Love, Parents Will Appreciate! The MG is an ultra-sleek, mobile gaming platform with a big 4" inch touch-screen that will connect you to the massive world of free Android games via Wi-Fi. MG is a great gift for kids who love video games. MG comes pre-loaded with great games from EA and Com2Us, including Need for Speed, NBA Jam, Tiny Farm and Slice It. The MG is light and features ergonomically designed rounded ends, perfect for two thumb, touch-screen gaming. MG is for those who want their own portable, pocketable device to play games on; but without the big expense of packaged video games or the monthly data plans that come with smartphones. The MG includes a proprietary notification function called "Remote Trust". The feature allows parents to view their kid's activity (downloads, what apps are used, and even time spent on the MG device) from a distance. Add your email to the system at set-up and then you can receive updates on your computer or smartphone about your child's MG activity. MG has partnered with SpendSmart(TM) Prepaid MasterCard(R) - to provide a way for parents to control spending. This feature will allow parents to set up a reloadable debit account for their teens and then create "game allowances" that the teen can use for micro-transactions. No more putting your credit card at risk. No more being bothered for every $.99 purchase. (SpendSmart is only available in the US market).