At a Glance
It may be a slow and potentially costly system, especially if you go down the cartridge route, but the children we gave it to really liked it. Kids eh?
The Innotab 3S is Vtech’s take on a
children’s tablet. You can’t really miss this as the device looks and feels very much like a toy. Of course this isn’t a bad thing, as younger folk can find precision-milled aluminium a tad dull, plus the rugged plastic casing looks like it might survive the odd fall or two.
It’s a chunky tablet, mainly to accommodate the required four AA batteries, alongside a cartridge port for dedicated games. There are also more buttons than normal, with controls for power, navigation, volume, and a D-pad for games all on the front panel, which is topped off by a cool swivel-mounted camera. Due to the bespoke nature of the software we weren’t able to run our usual battery tests, but the unit kept going for several days of light use. See:
What is the best tablet you can buy
The 5in screen is bright and colourful, featuring both resistive and capacitive responses. Using your fingers is a painfully frustrating experience, so its best to stick with the supplied stylus. There are a variety of bespoke apps installed, but you’ll need to connect the tablet to your PC and download the Learning Lodge software to activate many of them.
Once up and running your child can access an art app, camera, some fun utilities and a few gently educational games. Generally these are enjoyable, but don’t feel deeper than ones you can find on Android or iOS. One cool feature is Kid Connect, which (coupled with the corresponding app on your smartphone) allows the child to send and receive text messages with you.
Additional apps can be bought from the Learning Lodge. These average out at around £3, but the Disney/Pixar and other premium brand content seems to be available only on the cartridge format that costs around £20. The unit also features a child friendly web browser which has several preset, educationally-focussed sites. Scrolling through the list is ponderous in the extreme, the screen only updating one line at a time, but once at the destination site things improve. Only marginally though, as the poor resolution can make text hard to read.
As an adult using the Innotab 3S you want to give up after about three minutes thanks mainly to the laggy interface. Our laboratory children had a quite different response: They loved making movies, playing the games, and just interacting with the device, although they did mention the constant delays.
Vtech Innotab 3S: Specs
- 5in, 480×272 pixel touchscreen, 110ppi
- 360MHz ARM v11 processor
- 4GB internal storage (expandable via up to 32GB microSD card)
- Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
- 180• rotating cameras: 2Mp front (video recording up to 480p)
- Mini USB port
- Dimensions: 400x300x60mm
- Weight: 1.2kg
- Warranty: 1 year return-to-base