XO Learning TabletFall 2013 Toys
The XO Learning Tablet is a 7" Android tablet, manufactured by Vivitar. It is the latest foray into electronic devices from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a charitable group started at MIT to bring laptops to underprivileged children across the world. They have brought low-cost laptops to 2 million children to-date, donating approximately 4% of them, and selling the remainder for $100 to $200 each.
The XO Learning Tablet is a standard 7" tablet with middle-of-the-road tech specs. Most parents would agree that probably makes it just fine for a young child. The XO has both forward and rear facing cameras, a mid-level processor, and decent screen resolution. The actual tablet is a bit clunky with a large black bevel around the screen, but the included rubberized "wrapper" case is very nice. It feels great in your hands and the "O" ring makes it super easy and comfy to carry around, especially for little hands. The XO web site also has a lot of good video tutorials for customizing and setting up your tablet or troubleshooting problems.
The included XO Learning System—consisting of a child-friendly protected interface and a curated core of apps that OLPC hopes differentiates it from other 7" tablets, and justifies the cost.
The Dreams Interface, which lives on top of the standard Android 4.2 system and interface, is a clever approach to providing apps for children. Segmented into career categories, you click an icon such as “I Want To Be A Writer” and you're presented with the included apps related to writing. Those apps are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections. The theory here is that all children learn at different speeds therefore dividing them into age categories isn't as effective or appropriate. There are many categories such as Musician, Engineer, and Doctor.
The Dreams Interface includes over 100+ apps in both English and Spanish (changed with a single tap) that make up the XO Learning System’s educational curriculum. On the surface, that is an impressive volume of included apps. In practice, the quality of the apps is mixed. The additional unfortunate catch is that many of those really good apps are actually demos of the apps where you still have to purchase the full versions if you like them.
The included apps are much more appropriate and geared for children over 7, in particular tweens. Because of that, this may not be the best choice on the market for younger children.
The interface and system does include the ability to serve multiple children with multiple protected and monitored accounts, limit access to apps, the internet, and all the other features you’d expect in a parent-controlled environment.
Overall, the XO Learning Tablet is a decent Android tablet with an interesting child-protected interface and learning system. If you are looking for a tablet pre-loaded with many apps and like the sound of XO's Learning System and specialized Dreams Interface, then the XO may be for you.