Did you know there was a desperate need for a children-focused tablet on the US market? I didn't know that, but apparently a number of tablet makers disagree. First Archos, then Fuhu, and now Ematic are making tablets just for kids. (And don't forget B&N's upcoming family media tablet, the Nook HD.)
At first glance the Funtab Pro looks like your average budget tablet. It's a 7" tablet running Android 4.0 on a single core 1GHz CPU with a 400MHz graphics chip. The screen resolution is 800x480, and it has a capacitive touchscreen, Wifi, 8GB Flash storage, a microSD card slot, USB Host, HDMI out, and even a pair of cameras.
But then you get a chance to see it from the side and you discover that it has wings:
Yes, rather than go with the more common rubber case, this tablet is equipped with a couple wings which I suppose are intended to make it easier to grip. The wings are nonfunctional (they don't even contain extra batteries), but they should work to make this tablet thicker. But I'm not so sure it's going to help with small hands.
The thing is, I know that any number of parents have been buying cheap tablets like the Polaroid ones I've reviewed this spring. I can't recall any asking about a case or some other way to make the tablet thicker so it would be easier to grip. And even with my moderately large hands I have never had trouble holding onto a small and thin tablet.
Does a tablet really need to be thicker? I will leave that question for parents to answer.
Softwarewise, this really is a kid's tablet. While it doesn't come with Android market, Ematic has integrated the Zoodles.com platform into the Funtab Pro. Zoodles offers a safe and secure user experience which has been tailored for kids, including careful curation of apps and other content. Parents can access Zoodles.com from any computer to track and control their child’s activities on the FunTab Pro. It showcases educational progress, artwork, and the child’s video messages. Parents also have the ability to customize their child’s experience by promoting subjects, previewing and blocking content, and more.
The tablet also ships with apps like interactive story books, Video Mail, and an Art Studio. Interactive Story Books allow parents to make a video recording of themselves reading to the child using Zoodles.com or the device’s built-in camera. Parents can also ask relatives to send a reading to the FunTab Pro using their own computer. The Video Mail feature allows invited family members to send short video messages to the FunTab Pro from Zoodles.com. The child can respond by recording their own message using the tablet’s camera.
Parents can also control kids access to apps. The Ematic Kids App Shop lets a child choose new, kid friendly apps that require approval before installation. Children can enjoy a bundle of fun games on the FunTab Pro including Angry Birds, Where’s My Water?, Cut The Rope, Skitch, School Assistant, Fruit Ninja, and educational apps from Intellijoy. There’s even a kid safe web browser full of kid-friendly content.
As boring as I find such restrictions, I'm sure they will appeal to parents. List price for this tablet is $150, and you will soon be able to find it at J&R and Walmart.com.