Features of the VINCI Tab II Touch Screen Learning Tablet
- A sturdy handle that surrounds the screen, making it easy for kids to hold on to and less likely to drop
- Android operating system; parental-controled Wi-Fi
- Available for purchase separately: the VINCI Curriculum, a step-by-step learning structure comprised of 43 learning subjects and thee levels of assessment, that features six aspects of a child’s developing mind: Thinking Skills; Emotional & Social Skills; Language and Literacy; Math & Logical Reasoning; General Knowledge; and Science
- 7" touch screen covered by tempered glass
- 3 megapixel back-facing camera/camcorder
- 512MB RAM, 8G internal storage (more storage is available up to 32GB with MicroSD card slot)
- MP3 and MP4 player
- Rechargeable battery that lasts six to eight hours
- Multi-language support in English, French, Spanish and Chinese
- Includes an "Age Norm" reference guide to help you track your child's progress and to compose your child's personal story book.
- Designed, tested and FDA-approved for children 18 months and older
- Preloaded with Android Market, Gmail, Skype, Adobe Reader, QuickOffice, Web Browser and more
VINCI Tab II Touch Screen Learning Tablet Overview
Usage-wise, the VINCI (which retails for about $200) offers a great educational experience for kids -- eventually. One of my concerns about the VINCI is that you have to purchase the curriculum separately, so it's important to factor that into the overall price. I realize that with other tablets, apps and programs also need be purchased separately, but this generally occurs in smaller chunks. With the VINCI II, you buy entire blocks of curriculum (priced at $90 and up), sorted by your child's age. There are three levels:
- Level 1: The Curious (13 subjects for children aged 18 months to 30 months), normally priced around $90
- Level 2: The Confident (13 subjects for children aged 30 months to three-and-a-half), normally priced around $140
- Level 3: The Capable (18 subjects for children aged three-and-a-half to six), normally priced around $180
To compliment the learning experience, the device is preloaded with Gmail, Skype, Adobe Reader, QuickOffice, a web browser, and the Android Market where you can purchase more third-party apps geared at kids. These platforms can only be accessed in a password-protected parent mode.
The VINCI also includes a camera/video camera and a parent diary where you can keep track of your child's progress.
I should say first off that I'm not at all familiar with the Android platform. I've always been a Apple girl, so I did expect to have some clumsiness at first using the tablet. My tester, 3-year-old, Mr. S., however, had no such worries or concerns. As with most kids his age who are inherently familiar with electronics, he seemed to know what to do as soon as he put his hot little hands on the VINCI (no hunting around for the user guide for him!).
I really like the handle that surrounds the tablet itself. It makes the device easy for little hands to hold and carry around. The screen is a touch screen. If your child is new to touch screens, it's pretty easy to pick up. Once you get the hang of the device and orientated to where everything is, using the device is quite easy and somewhat intuitive. Everything is clearly sorted and organized.
While pricey, I do think the curriculum is sorted nicely between the age groups. I had Mr. S. start off with Level 1 and work his way through. The games were definitely age appropriate as he was able to get through Level 1 and Level 2 rather quickly. Now when he plays he immediately heads to Level 3. I can see where he will definitely reach a point where he will master these activities, but since you can download apps from the preloaded Android market, this is a device that can grow with your child. I would recommend though, if you are purchasing a curriculum level to go with your child's VINCI, definitely buy for the age where your child falls or above. And if you can start off on the ground floor with a toddler, that would definitely give you the most bang for your buck in terms of life of the device.
As for games, Mr. S. definitely has his favorites (as do I). There's one game on the Level 3 curriculum where kids get to practice sequencing. They watch a short movie and then have to put four still pictures from it into the proper order. It's a great way to introduce a somewhat complicated concept to little ones. Another is where kids roll a ball down and knock down pins. Once the pins are knocked down, the game helps little ones practice addition, subtraction and counting by asking them to add and take away pins to make a certain number.
That's why I like the VINCI so much. The games and activities are complex and thoughtful, employing a scaffolding approach to learning. It's not just about adding, it's about teaching kids about numbers and then introducing how the concept of addition works. This method carries through throughout the VINCI, whether the lesson is about letters, science, or anything else.
On Level 1, younger kids can play a farm game where they stop at different areas, filling a basket with food. In order to get the food however, they need to milk a cow and shear a sheep, among other tasks. Through this type of play, kids are not only learning how to use a touchscreen, but also about basics and lessons of life. ("Rice grows in water," Mr. S. told our family the other night at dinner, something he picked up from playing the game.) Another game teaches about parts of the body -- where they are located and what they do.
There are also a few tools for parents to help them keep track of what your child is doing, including a diary where you can keep a book of your child's progress and assessments where your child runs through a bunch of age-appropriate activities and then you get a report listing strengths and weaknesses.
In terms of nuts and bolts, I found the battery life to last a good amount of time although the device does not automatically shut off so that can definitely drain it. I thought the sound was good and the apps themselves were colorful and visually appealing. I do wish there was some type of cover for the screen--I'm constantly cleaning it off thanks to Mr. S.'s sticky fingers! The VINCI website also offers support for parents in terms of technical advice as well as some free apps you can download.