For curious little kids who are fascinated by Mom and Dad’s tablet, VTech rolls out the new InnoTab 3 and 3S tablets for kids. Now your youngsters can have their own touch screen tablet full of learning games, educational activities, apps, and more.
This is multimedia learning toy that keeps kids busy with a wealth of features. It’s an e-book reader, MP3 music player, digital camera, video player, and handheld video game console all in one. It’s a toy that truly grows with your child.
Just like the previous version, there are some new enhancements to the tablet, which we’ll take a look at in detail. While one tablet changes for the better, the other takes a step back. Hopefully this review will help you decide which InnoTab to buy.
The InnoTab 3S has secure Wi-Fi, allowing access to kid-safe sites and making it easier than ever to connect directly to the Learning Lodge Navigator to buy new apps anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi connection, without having to connect any USB cables to a PC. Add apps on the go, while you’re traveling, or from anywhere there’s Wi-Fi access.
There’s also a Wish List Maker on the 3S that kids can use to list the games and apps they want for Mom and Dad to buy later.
As with all Innotabs, you can add movies (in AVI format) and other media by putting it on an SD card first.
What’s the Difference between the Innotab 2S & 3S?
The following features represent how the Innotab 3S is different from the 2S version:
* The 3S has a 5 inch screen (vs. 4.3″ in the non-WiFi version)
* It has 4GB of onboard memory (up from 2GB in the 2S)
* Comes with a free AC adapter and rechargeable battery pack
* Allows access to parent-approved websites, but no Flash capability. (The 2S only allowed access to the VTech Learning Lodge — there was no general internet access.)
* Comes with the new Wondercam app with 55+ photo effects
* With purchase, you get a free 1-year subscription to Kid Connect which lets kids text parent’s iPhones, IOS and Android phones that have the app installed
* Designed to be used in “landscape” orientation
* 20 pre-loaded apps, no free download with purchase
Innotab 3S Review
The 3S’s capability to access external kid-safe websites is supposed to be the real game changer, and an attempt to make it more of a “real” tablet that can grow with kids over the years. However, with a slow browser launch speeds and sluggish web browing, this feature leaves much to be desired.
The tablet comes pre-loaded with Innotab’s own browser and bookmarks for 9 sites (an Astronomy site, a storybook site, Sports Illustrated Kids, etc.). Parents can save additional sites by logging into the Learning Lodge and clicking the Parent Approved menu tab. You also have the ability to set time limits to restrict kids’ internet time.
The Wi-Fi is really convenient for downloading apps and Learning Lodge content on the fly, but that’s about it. (The 2S offers wireless Learning Lodge access as well, btw.) It’s going to take a faster processor (at a higher cost) to make the Innotab truly functional for web browsing.
The texting feature is cute, but the rest of the 3S’ upgrades won’t even be noticeable by kids.
As far as hardware, it includes 2 stylus pens, a USB cable and a headphone jack, and each runs on 4 AA batteries.
You will have to re-download the Learning Lodge software to your PC, even if you already have it installed from a previous Innotab, so be prepared for that.
The Bottom Line
If you want an educational tablet, then the Innotab family is a fantastic choice. If you want wireless access to the Learning Lodge, the Innotab 3S is your best bet. However, if you want a kid’s tablet suitable for surfing the internet, watching Netflix movies, etc., then you’re better off with the Android OS-based Nabi Jr.
What’s the Difference Between the Innotab 3 and the Innotab 2:
Here’s what’s different in the Innotab 3 vs. the previous generation:
* Innotab 3 has a smaller screen than the previous versions (4.3 inches vs 5″ — I don’t see how this is a good thing. The 3S still has a 5-inch screen)
* 4 GB of built-in memory (vs. 2 in the previous version)
* Memory is expandable with a Micro SD card (The previous version took SD & SDHC)
* A new D-pad controller (previous versions had touch-screen controls only)
* Built-in swivel camera /video recorder is now 2.0 megapixel (up from 1.3 MP)
* 15 pre-loaded apps and a free downloadable app of your choice
As they to move closer to the look of a real iPad, both new versions have undergone a button redesign for the worse, I think. “Big and clunky” works best for little fingers. The “small and sleek” stuff is best left to the adults.
While the increased memory is nice, the Innotab 3 takes a step back with it’s noticeably smaller screen size.
If you don’t care about WiFi or web access, then the older Innotab 2 is actually the better buy than the new version.
The InnoTab 3 retails for $69.99, and the 3S is $99.99. It comes with a 1 year warranty.
The software library has over 350 (soon to be 600) apps, games, and e-books for the Innotab, including activities based on Disney and Nickelodeon favorites. The online Learning Loddge gives parents access to activity and progress reports. (Just connect the tablet to your computer via USB.)
While the tablet and games operate in English only, there are a couple of Spanish language Plaza Sesamo video downloads available from the Learning Lodge.
Games are compatible across all Innotab versions, and can be shared across 5 compatible VTech toys. That’s good to know for handing an older Innotab down to a younger sibling.
Books literally come to life on this tablet. Kids will love reading animated books featuring narration, character voices, graphics, sound effects, music, and animated characters that they can interact with. Of course, this is VTech, so while they’re enjoying the stories, they’re also building reading comprehension and learning vocabulary and phonics. Kids can touch individual words to hear them sounded out, and they can look up words they don’t know in the story dictionary built into each eBook. They can either read along, or choose to have the book read to them.
InnoTab downloads cost $2.99 each (vs. $7.50-$25 for LeapPad downloads).
With plenty of additional games, books, music, videos, and apps that downloadable through the Learning Lodge interface, along with the cartridges for purchase, there’s no need to worry about kids getting bored with this tablet. If you own a V-Reader, be aware that the ebooks included on the InnoTab cartridges are the same stories from the V-Reader cartridges.
Just connect the InnoTab via USB to a Mac or PC, and download the Learning Lodge Navigator, from which you can access more content. Parents can also monitor kids’ completed lessons and learning milestones with the Learning Lodge.
For even more learning fun, there are cartridges (sold separately for $24.99 each) with additional eBooks, games, and activities featuring kids’ favorite TV and movie characters including Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Cars, Toy Story, Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Scooby Doo, and other favorites from Disney and Nickelodeon. Cartridges each contain eBooks, games, and creative activities, all in one. Content is segmented by age as well as by level of difficulty. The robust learning cartridges contain a variety of activities around a theme, rather than just one game or one ebook.
What’s the Difference Between the InnoTab 1, 2 & 2S?
Vtech has improved its tablet over the years since it was first released. Let’s look at the previous round of upgrades over the original:
* Rotatable 1.3 megapixel digital camera and video recorder, so kids can flip it around to shoot their friends or themselves. (The original did not have a camera at all.)
* A microphone for sound-activated games (Blowing or speaking into it triggers actions within a game)
* Recommended for ages 3-9 (Previously, content was rated for kids 4 and up. It was probably a good move to extend the age spectrum in the other direction, because a 9 year old would definitely find this tablet to be too kiddie.)
* Increased memory storage: 2GB onboard memory and expandable SD card slot for up to 32 GB, which is handy for little photographers. (The original tablet had 64MB of memory.)
* The tablet has a 5-inch touch screen, just like the original.
Out of the box, this version comes with 16 apps (15 in the 2S), including an ebook, a tilt-sensor game, and art apps, plus 2 free game downloads.