Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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An Android Learning Tablet That's Powerful Enough to Hold Our Son's Interest with Reading & Visual Tracking Apps

Using preloaded and custom learning apps to help our son with reading and visual tracking.
Thank you to ClickN KIDS for providing a sample children's tablet for us to base this review upon.  All opinions expressed are our own.

If it is not painfully obvious by now, we are a family that embraces technology. Sometimes I feel we even take our technology use too far (impossible!). One aspect of new technology that will never be unwelcome in my home is any tech that helps my children learn.

We own, have owned, or at least tried, about every tablet type device made specifically for children. Most were merely OK, some weren't good at all, and a few were surprisingly good. We even reviewed a few here on this site. But mostly tablets made for kids are just that: Made for kids. I dont know about your kids, but my kids are very tech-savvy and a device that is too “toy-like” just doesn't cut it for very long, even if done very well, especially when they see mom and dad using tablets that can do everything a computer can do.

My amazing son Luke, the future DNA scientist, astrophysicist, or restaurant owner (depending on what day you ask him), who hates to read, has a visual tracking problem that bottlenecks information before it gets to his brain. His eyes skip around and jumbles the information as he scans the page. It has been quite a challenge and can be extremely frustrating for him. The issue is compounded as his thirst for knowledge is so high. You can imagine that any tool we can use to help him improve his tracking is very welcome. There are a host of applications available designed specifically to improve visual tracking and coordination and a tablet is the perfect delivery device. Luke is just smitten with tablets anyways, so getting him to spend time using one is easy.

The problem, before now, is that most tablets made for kids do not provide the ability to install special or custom apps on them. The kid tablets we own, even the good ones, almost all have proprietary apps you can only download from their sites. Many of the apps are superb and fun and all offer various learning levels, but none of the tablets can be pointed to any site on the web and download an app outside of the proprietary app service. For this you normally need a real full featured adult tablet. But at $300 and up, I hesitate to buy one for a 7 year old and frankly my personal tablet is too important to lend out to a child.
Android ClickN Kids Family Tablet

Fortunately, there is a solution to our problem: The ClickN Kids Family Tablet.

The ClickN Kids Family Tablet is a real full featured tablet with an Android operating system that can do anything you would expect from an adult level tablet, but it is very much a kids tablet with an interface and loads of content designed just for kids. I can hand the ClickN Kids tablet to Luke and know that 100% of his experience is designed for him and controlled by me. But I can grab it back, log out of the kids interface and have regular adult oriented experience. The best part? It costs just $99. I can install custom apps designed to help Luke with his tracking without limitations and present it to him in a kid friendly interface. To my knowledge there isn't another kids tablet on the market that has such flexibility, as well as preloaded educational apps. And, amazingly, it costs under $100!
Android ClickN Kids Learning Tablet

The ClickN Kids tablet is full of great apps right out of the box, including the award winning Looney Tunes Phonics (an amazing value by itself). One of my kids favorite apps is Talking Tom 2, a funny cat you can pet, feed, tickle, and make do silly things. But the apps that are most important to me are the custom apps I installed from outside of the ClickN Kids tablet pre installed apps designed to help Luke with his visual tracking issues. One of those apps is called Falldown, an addictive game where you guide a ball down a series of lines with holes in them by moving the tablet from side to side, if you go too slow the ball gets stuck and you lose. This game is deceptively simple yet entertaining, but most importantly, Luke likes to play and as a result improves his visual tracking without even knowing he is learning.
The ClickN Kids Looney Tunes Phonics App

This tablet offers everything you would expect in a full featured tablet. In the kids interface there is a kids safe browser and a camera in addition to the plethora of installed apps. Switch over to the adult interface and you see a home screen that is very familiar to anyone who uses an Android based device. You can install any app you can find on the web designed for Android operating systems.
ClickN Kids Android Tablet

Parents have complete control over their kids experience with the ClickN Kids tablet. Time and content can be controlled easily through the adult interface as well as available apps.

So, the big question: Has the ClickN Kids Family Tablet improved Luke's visual tracking? It is hard to say as the problem is dynamic and hard to measure.  However, I can answer the question another way: The ClickN Kids tablet is the only kids tablet that we own Luke asks me to use. Additionally, when Luke uses the ClickN Kids tablet he spends time using the custom apps designed to help his tracking . . . on his own. So, although I cannot measure the results easily, Luke is using a tool that improves his tracking in lieu of all the other available tools we own. I would say that is a big win.

For $99 the ClickN Kids tablet gets a no brainer recommendation from me. It is powerful for the price, offers the flexibility I need for Luke, and comes in fun colors with a protective gel case, and all for a fraction of the price of an adult tablet. Honestly? This tablet would be good for anybody, even an adult, that doesn't want to spend a ton of money. Being a technology snob, that is an enormous endorsement from me!

NOTE:  I have read on retail site reviews that some people have had problems with their tablet freezing, so I wanted to share that we have been using ours for over 5 months and have not had any issues with freezing so far.

To learn more about the ClickN Kids 7" tablet, visit www.clicknkids.com.  You can purchase this android learning tablet at Walmart.com and Amazon.com.