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Dewain27

Why Is Surface Rt Great For Kids...

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Dewain27

So, I am listening to the Surface Geeks podcast #23 when I hear Darren and Dave start in on how the iPad is better for kids.  Here are my thoughts:

 

I have and use the following devices for my kids:

  • Surface RT 32 GB w/ 64 GB expansion SD card
  • iPad (Original) 32 GB
  • iPod Touch 4th Generation 32 GB
  • Google Nexus 7 32 GB
  • Tabeo w/ 32 GB expansion SD card
  • Nokia Lumia 920

I thought I might give you a little view from a father that has a 6 and 3 year old.  Again, I am a Microsoft employee and therefore I have knowledge on certain platforms, but keep in mind that this has little to do with this discussion as I will try to be as non-bias as possible.

 

iPad and iPod Touch:

 

I will discuss these two as a single review and explain the differences in each from my experience.

 

Ease of use:

iOS is great to hand a kid and they seem to get it quick.  It is probably the easiest from an ease of use perspective.  You can just give it to a 3 year old and they can get the idea.  You might have to show them to push the button to get back to home screen, but that is really it.  Now for the bad part... I actually prefer these systems before multi-tasking was introduced as now the devices get slower and slower until I have to grab them and go through and close all the different open applications.  If it is on it in 2 hours everything has been launched and with no global close all open applications makes for a fun 10 minutes of closing all the apps.  I guess I will add that there are also times that my kids, especially my 3 year old, where they get into the system where you can delete applications and starts deleting the applications.  There is really no way to stop this.  Putting videos on these are sometimes painful as you can't simply just drop a file on them, you have to have the video in the right resolution and the right format.  If all you do is iTunes, then it works great, but this is not my case and I have had to down convert many an HD movie to SD to be able to get it on the iPad.  I know that this might get fixed with later versions, however it is my opinion that it should work better.

 

Parental Controls:

Parental Controls? Wow... you mean that such a thing exists?  Not here.  You put it on there and they got it.  You give them an apple account and they are off to the races with whatever they want.  If you think you can control this for your kids, then you are sadly mistaken.  If you want to lock the device for only one kid you can, but multiple profiles is not something you are going to do.  If you want to keep your kids off certain websites, then I think you might find a program to do so, but come on now... should this not be baked into these devices?  How do I keep my kids from jumping on porn sites... or just not using a web-browser or an app that I don't want them to?  Yeah, wild wild west here boys and girls.

 

Resulting Use:

So for each of the devices, I am going to give you their final use in my household as they are all leveraged for my children.  The Touch Game (iPad) and the Phone (iPod) have resulted in different worlds.  The iPad has resulted in the device that we bring that is pre-loaded with only videos and games that are for my kids, it once was the place that both my kids wanted to go, but now it is more focused on the 3 year old.  The iPod has actually proven to be the much better solution as it is used as a very portable solution for my 3 year old that makes him feel like he is using a phone, but he can watch videos and play games.  The interesting thing is that we bought a mini-van and the apple adapter that lets us play videos has turned the iPod into a video on demand thing for my son in the car for the screen in the back.  This allows us to provide video on-demand for him.  My wife and I have tried to retire them from use with my daughter as now she is moving toward wanting to do web-based content that there is just not enough control for us to use these any longer with her.

 

End Rating:

Apple iPad -  For younger kids it is a little big, but as they get bigger and that is not an issue it becomes an issue that there are no parental controls

Apple iPod - Great for younger kids it is the perfect size, allows for you to say that is your phone and keep yours safe.  There are great bumpers and just a very versatile little device.  I think it is the best on the market for 3-5 years.

 

 

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Dewain27

Android Tablets:

 

I will put together in this the Google Nexus 7 32GB and the Toys R Us Tabeo.

 

Ease of Use:

 

Well, this is sticky.  The biggest issue I think is the lack of consistency in the navigation and the layout.  The example I can give on these devices is that neither of them works exactly alike.  Where you turn the volume up is on the screen with one and not obvious even to me and my wife (Tabeo).  Then you get into things like where is the power button (both).  It seems that this is the greatest weakness.  I did install a parental control and simple UI called Kids Place on the Nexus 7.  I think that navigation can be overcome and learned, but this was not as easy to give to a 3 or 6 year old and say go to town, and would be impossible if you don't have something like Kids place on it.  As for getting movies on it, that was a breeze and it will play things easily (both).  Keep in mind with a Tabeo, this is impossible without a SD card.  Both of these are great size for kids both 3 and 6.  I find that the 7 inch form factor is awesome.  This said, you noticed that I had not stated anything about the iPad Mini as I don't have one from above.

 

Parental Controls:

 

To be fair, this is not something that the Nexus does native, however with Kids Place I could even put not only videos, music, and application controls but also even You Tube videos that my son could watch.  Now you have to explain why that doesn't work when not connected, but he got the idea.  I would say this was a great experience, except there is an issue.  Don't ask me how or why, but occasionally I would have my 3 year old hand it to me saying "Help Daddy" cause he had gotten out of the program some how.  I think this was by getting into the notification center some how or with an application crashing.  in the end that is scary.  Profiles is not there and is not something that you can hand to one and then the other and it adapt.  For the Tabeo, it has great parental controls, but to the point that you can barely do anything with it and makes it completely useless in a lot of cases.  You can't use the Google play store, you have to use the Toys R Us one and that sucks if you have invested in some games that you will have to re-buy.  I have recently seen a new device called the Nabi and it looks superior in my opinion in this case.

 

Resulting Use:

 

We ended up using these as purely game and video devices.  We find that the kids like the size of the device a little better and the selection of games is slightly different.  This is not normally the first set of devices that they use.  Because of the great bumpers on the Tabeo, this is basically the one we let the 3 year old use when we are worried about him dropping it, but really is not the preferred of the two by him.  The Nexus is preferred one by the kids, but not one that I would recommend without an investment in Kids Place.

 

End Rating:

 

I would say the Tabeo is just a no go.  I really don't recommend it at all. It is just too hard as a parent to get it to do what you want.  The kids have a hard time working it.  The Nexus is a great device and offers some application launchers that allow parental controls that are pretty darn good.  The great thing is that you can enter your parent pin and use it for the kids and then for you too.  The reality is that is not really something that I do, but it is possible.  It does video well, but with the lack of the external video out, which even the Tabeo has, it becomes limited to just a gaming and local moving watching device.  I would say that it is not as good as the Apple, but has the parental controls that the Apple doesn't have.  In the end I would suggest the Apple devices until around 5 or 6 and then move to the Nexus 7 to get the parental controls.

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Dewain27

Surface RT:

 

Unlike the other devices as Windows 8 and Windows Phone are vastly different in this use case.  I will separate them.

 

Ease of Use:

 

So, again I am going to try to be very transparent here.  I put this in front of my daughter after a little configuration, not install a launcher and spend all night configuring it as in the Nexus 7, but pin the apps she would use to the front screen.  She had it as quick as the iPad.  Now understand that she uses it like an iPad she hits the button and goes to the start screen. I did teach her how to swipe down to close applications and she got that easily.  Now we are talking about my 6 year old who got it when she was 5.  We also have Windows 8 running on a touchscreen in our kitchen.  Here's where it got interesting.  I use the Microsoft Family Safety stuff and have been doing that for about 2 years on public PCs in our household.  My daughter has a pin which is her birthday and she knows that is how she logs onto here computer in the kitchen.  So, this was normal to her.  Once in she does what she needs and launches what she wants.  It is larger than the iPad, however it seems to be about the same in her ability to carry the device.  She likes being able to put on the touch cover and type as she is now learning to read and write.  Overall, I say for 5-6 it is easy to get.  My 3 year old picked it up and has got it going with no training, but it is a little big for him to carry.  Again, it seems that the UI is good, but keep in mind a kid just wants to push a button and launch an application.  As they grow they venture more and it seems that Windows 8 lets them do that.

 

Parental Controls:

 

As stated earlier, I am using the Microsoft Family Safety system.  It is built into Windows 8 but, managed from a website.  I setup the Surface RT under my wife's account as the primary and built windows accounts for each of my kids.  FYI, this was done so that I could manage their Xbox live accounts before the Surface showed up.  Also, this was then extended to the kitchen PC as well.  I then setup them a logon PIN that allows them to just type in a 4 digit number their birthday.  My 6 year old got this easily, however my 3 year old would just ask me or my wife to log him in.  As my daughter had no idea what her password for her Microsoft Account is and only the pin that we setup on the device, she can't really do much including if we don't want her to get into the Microsoft Store, then you make it enter a password to buy something.  This keeps her from buying stuff in the store.  This allows me to not only control the ratings of movies, applications and so on with the device, but it also let's me setup curfews, maximum daily use, ability to request access to stuff and so on.  The best part was that it even filters out the store applications to not allow her to download an application that is rated beyond what I have approved.  So, all this is great, but it gets better.  She can only go to the sites on all the machines she uses that I have approved, including web ads.  Now there are some sites you got to let through to let some things work, like the xbox application, but that is fine and it takes me looking at it and typing my parent passcode in and then it is all go.  The great thing is that it also lets her get there on the home machine.  Lastly, I get a weekly report on her useage.  I see how much she uses certain applications when she used the computer and so on.  This is sent to me in Email and I can even view this from my phone.  If she gets restriction, then I simply turn the curfew on for all the time and she can't even logon.  I have to say that this is hard to beat and is better than any platform by a mile.

 

Resulting Use:

 

This has become my daughter's favorite device.  She uses it for movies, games, and even for websites that are kid friendly as when the web browser launches it gives her a list of kid-friendly sites that Microsoft is aware.  She has started to learn typing as the keyboard is something she sometimes attaches.  The kickstand integrated has been a great option as well.  In the end this is her new primary and occasionally she jumps over to the others when board.  My son has started to want to use it as he views it as a big kid toy.  Interesting enough we have even had situations that we could simply punch in our identity and do what we want as well, check a website or something.

 

End Rating:

 

Overall, I think the Surface RT is great for kids that are beyond the latter part of 5 and older.  It has the ability to grow with them all the way to college I would imagine.  Doubt it will, but possible from a use that it would serve the purpose.  The parental controls are amazing and just are light years ahead of other platforms.  I wouldn't suggest it for 3-5 years as it has a level of responsibility that needs to be understood, but if you think about it it is the same cost as an iPad.  I in some ways think that it would be preferred to an iPad, but the iPad mini or iPod would have to edge it out for that age group.  Those are just so simple and good for little hands.

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Dewain27

Nokia Lumia 920:

 

So to be clear, no my kids don't have a phone.  This is what mommy and daddy carry, but there are things about this that I think are important.

 

Ease of Use:

 

I think this is easier than even the iPad or Surface.  My kids can take my phone and swipe over to kids corner with no issue and navigation is supper simple.  I would even argue that it is more simple than even the iPod.  I don't know what more than to say this is so simple that I can't even really say any more than I have.

 

Parental Control:

 

Windows Phone 8 has a feature called Kid's Corner.  I have enabled this and simply added the music, videos, and applications to it that I might want my kids to be able to run.  They occasionally, get to use the phone to play a game or something else, but I can completely lock them out of my phone while allowing them access to just this content.  I think this to be one of the best setups around.  I don't worry about them emailing Steve Ballmer from my phone or deleting something they shouldn't.  It just works and it is simple.

 

Resulting Use:

 

Both my wife and I have found that this is a feature that we leverage on both our phones.  We use this in those rare occasions that we didn't bring in the other devices or just don't have them and want to reward our kids.  Again this is really a rare thing, but great to have in your pocket... literally!

 

End Rating:

 

As I would question as to why anyone would give a 3 or 6 year old their own phone, this is a great option for parents that can't afford another device and what that hand to my kids, but ensure they don't do something that will cause me an issue.  I think this to be one of the most under-rated features of Windows Phone 8.

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FinsUpDNC

Great work, and thanks for this.  I agree with you on Windows Phone 8, the kids area is awesome. 

 

Right now the biggest advantage iOS has for kids are the apps/media selection.  Though Hulu plus is now out for WP8 (As of today), and I hear they have a lot of shows for the little ones!

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ikon

Thanks for the write-ups -- lots of info to think about & chew on. My kids are all long out of the house so it's a bit hard to relate to some of it. Nevertheless, I think it's great for a younger crowd.

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alaskanjackson

I have three kids ranging from 10-15 years of age.  The RT is their preferred device. Our apple desk top and my oldest iTouch are gathering dust.  The ability to monitor usage and purchases is, pardon the expression, "priceless".

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berty6294

My little sister got a Surface for Christmas. I haven't seen her since... lol

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ikon

:D

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Dewain27

After writing this, I asked my daughter a very simple question.  "Of all the Touch Games, which is your favorite?"  Her response without much thought was my Surface.

 

As for content, I have movies loaded on hers and some of those I even got from iTunes...  www.audials.com is a guy or gals best friend.  Free your content.  I want it to work on all of them and this does this for me.

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