by Candyce Stapen, USA TODAY 1:48 p.m. December 17, 2013
Families on the go have special needs. These products either cleverly engage kids, making travel time fly by, or the items offer simple solutions to big worries.
BANISH BOREDOM: KIDS’ TABLETS
Polaroid Kids Tablet 2 For the product’s second generation, kid critics pointed Polaroid toward such improvements as increased speed, two cameras—front and rear facing—and more games. Bumpers add durability and the 1024 x 600 resolution for the 7-inch display makes the content look good. The tablet comes loaded with more than 70 books, apps, games and videos from the Cartoon Network, Marvel and Disney. Our kid testers, ages 6 and 8, especially liked the games and the art app, Drawing Pad, an award-winning app created by Darren Murtha Design. Ages 4-9. Polaroid, $150, sold exclusively through Toys R Us.
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Nabi Jr. At about 6.5 inches by 4 inches, the Nabi Jr. by Fuhu, fits into pre-schooler’s hands. The 5 inch display with 800 x 480 resolution, while not as crystal clear as other tablets, is fine for little ones. The home screen’s six squares represent six main options, making it easy for kids to choose. Along with a camera and a photo gallery, kids can pick sing-along ditties under Music, storybooks to read or hear aloud with MeeGenius, or complete basic math, reading and writing exercises with the Wings Challenge. Parents can add tasks to a chore list and reward kids with points. Tap the home screen’s row of dots to select from 30 simple games and apps. Kids can color, match animals, solve dinosaur-shaped puzzles and more. (We noticed some misspelled words in the Car, Ship & Rocket game). Despite that, the Nabi Jr. is a good basic tablet. More apps can be downloaded through Wi-Fi. Although Fuhu pitches Nabi Jr. for ages 3-6, the sweet spot is more likely ages 3-5. Fuhu, $100; $140 Nick Jr. version has games and videos with Nick Jr. characters.
Fingers are often too fat for fine line creation and a regular stylus can create drag. The Sensu brush prevents these problems.
DRAW ON CREATIVITY
Sensu Portable Artist Brush & Stylus This digital brush feels, looks and moves across a tablet or smartphone screen like something Monet might have used for his plein-air paintings. Fingers are often too fat for fine line creation and a regular stylus can create drag. The Sensu brush prevents these problems. Pair the easy- to-take-along tool with a kid-friendly artist’s app such as Drawing Carl, Finger Painter, or Fresh Paint and your children can create magical drawings to document your trip. The Sensu Solo has only a brush tip. The compact Sensu Portable Artist Brush & Stylus has a brush on one end and a stylus for sketching, writing and erasing on the other end. Both Sensu products, definitely not just for kids, will delight painters, drawers, doodlers and dabblers of all ages. Sensubrush, $25 Sensu Solo brush; $40 Sensu Portable Artist Brush & Stylus.
SHINE A LIGHT
Light My Way Nightlight Tots unaccustomed to sleeping in hotel rooms or even in grandma’s big house might worry about monsters that lurk in dark corners. But not with the Munchkin nightlight standing watch. The owl-shaped light, 6.25 inches high from base to top, looks like a friend and uses batteries. So instead of being stationary in an electric outlet, the big-eyed critter functions like a lantern, complete with easy to grasp handle. Your child can place the Light My Way on a night stand or take the owl with her to the bathroom. A timer turns the nightlight off after 20 minutes, but kids—or parents—can switch it back on for more sessions. Munchkin.com, $16.99 at Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and other retailers.
FIND A LOST CHILD
SafetyTat It’s every parent’s nightmare: your child too young to talk or to remember your phone number, goes missing at the amusement park, the airport, the museum or the shopping mall. Created by a mom, SafetyTats are temporary tattoos with your cell phone number that you can place on your tot’s arm. That way the kindly stranger who finds him will know whom to call. Online you can order the customized versions, applied with water, that come printed with your information (these last one to three days). The Quick Stick Write-on version, applied like a band-aid, comes with a marking pen, lasts longer and is available online and in stores. Safetytat, $6.99-$16.99.