Saturday, October 10, 2015

XO Tablet Computer for Kids

The XO Tablet (XO-880) is a 7 Inch Android tablet computer with extra software designed for children. There are hundreds of models of 7 Inch Kid Android Tablet Computer offered on Amazon, with little to distinguish them, apart from the color of the protective cases they come with. As an Engadget review indicates, the XO Tablet has much the same hardware (from Vivitar) as other generic 7 inch tablets, but with the addition of the XO educational applications from the Open Laptop Per Child project. The OLPC previously produced custom hardware for educational computers. The OX Tablet's sleeve and screen icons echo that OLPC heritage.

Previously I tried a Onix Kids 7" Tablet (Model Number: ATK1-815) from Aldi for AUD$69.95. The XO feels much heavier than the Onix for around the same price (AUD$73.37 including shipping). That is an advantage as it feels more solid, but the Onix may be easier for small children to hold. Like the Onix the XO has a colorful rubber sleeve. This makes the unit easier to hold and protects it. There is a carry loop on one corner which is useful for orientating the unit. However, the power button is hard to see and it would have been useful if some of the bright blue contrasting rubber used on the back for an XO logo had instead been used to label the power and volume buttons and the ports.

The unit has front and back cameras, an audio socket, micro-USB and, interestingly a mini-HDMI socket. At the MoodlePosium yesterday I was impressed by the use of a mobile device plugged into a large screen. This worked well, as the icons and text of the mobile device were easy to see (the presentations from laptops tended to have small text). The battery is described as high capacity, but only 6 hours is quoted, which is not long for a tablet and may not make it through a day of use (especially in a village relying on solar power).

The XO provides both a kids and full Android interface. Parents can use a password to limit their child's access. Unlike the Onix, I was easily able to access the Android system.

Unlike the Onix, most of the kids applications are stored on the unit and do not require WiFi access to download. But even so, the kids applications do not look extensive, all that exciting, or educationally useful. This is disappointing for a product which is supposedly the end point of a multi-million dollar, multi year project initiated by people at MIT, and endorsed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, for revolutionizing education in developing nations.

The XO appears to have been slightly upgraded since the Engadget review. At half the previous price, it is worth the small premium over the cost of a generic 7 inch tablet. However, is the 7 inch tablet a good size: or is it too big for small kids and too small for big ones? I assume that this size comes from the availability of low cost 7 inch screens made to fit car dashboards, not fit kids hands. A kids computer might be better with a smaller six inch screen, or a larger eight inch one.

Technical Details

Screen Size7 inches
Max Screen Resolution1024x600 pixels
Processor1.2 GHz Tablet Processor
Wireless Type802.11bgn
Average Battery Life (in hours) 6 hours
Operating SystemAndroid 4.4
Item Weight1.8 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H7.60 x 0.39 x 4.65 inches
Rear Webcam Resolution5 MP
Flash Memory Size8.0

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