Given my high level gadget adoration status (so long as it isn't android, I'm yet to be convinced on those) it's hardly surprising that the girls are similar. This years christmas list comprises almost entirely gadgets… And if I had my way I'd be replacing my Kindle to a paperwhite (though I'm holding out for a touch version of that!) using Max's hogging of mine as an excuse. It's barely two years since I wasn't sure I would like a Kindle and couldn't see a use for an iPad, but now I adore both. Last year Fran got a Kindle too, which she loves (when she has time to read at all) and I've been debating whether one that would be shared would be a good idea. It slightly annoys me though that a Kindle ties me into Amazon though so I wondered about looking around at some other versions.
Binatone offered me a free KidzStar to review and I thought it might just fit the bill, particularly as it is colour and has a few other, not too distracting, additions that I thought might appeal to Amelie 'shiny thing' Puddle. It's a rugged eReader, encased in a removable protective bumper, with a colour screen for navigating around your books, photos and videos. At 7″ or so, it's on a par with my keyboard Kindle for size and while its a good bit heavier, the size of it in your hand is not much different to mine inside its case with light. I don't like thin things anyway, I quite like to feel like I'm reading a book still.
This is it pictured without the orange bumper. Taken out, it's a fairly grown up looking thing. I like the bumper though, which is raised enough around the front to give the screen some protection if dropped or put face down. It wouldn't save it from a front on smack, but what would? It amuses me the bumper has holes in the top for (I assume) a neck strap, in case you want to wear your book like a millstone around your neck 😉
So; it can display PDF, ePub, txt and various other documents and the instructions include a hint on where to find software to convert a Kindle book. So Waterstones, iTunes, Project Gutenberg and various others are immediately open to you, with Amazon requiring some work. The instructions also include suggestions for other places to find books, including FreeKidsBooks, which has picture books as well as some novels. There is 2gb of internal memory and a memory slot for a micro card up to 16gb. The books display on pictorial shelves, so you can navigate around them and they display the name of the file, so you can make it as user friendly also your child needs. Its very easy to load books on to it, just dragging sny diwnload ino an obvious folder in the my computer screen of a laptop. Then there are additional opportunities to use it for audio books, photo storage and display and videos. We will come back to these and add to the review later as we've not tried it yet and promised the review for today!
What do we think?
In general, I'm pretty impressed. For the price it's a solid eReader with good functions and the gadgetry means Amelie, who is a good reader but not much of a reader, is currently devouring Alice in Wonderland. She loves having it, likes how solid and book like it is to hold and has got to grips with the navigation very easily. It's clear and it is backlit (you can alter the brightness) and that suits her well. While I prefer non backlit for reading, a Kindle light case was expensive and I do use it mostly at night and for a child, who might read in the car, I think it works pretty well. Plus, they are used to ds's etc and non backlit probably seems most odd!
I do think it is a little weighty and, being someone who hates reading instructions, I took a while to work out how to use it. I think that was my process though as Ams had no trouble. Her only real gripe is that the tilt based switch from landscape to portrait is slightly too sensitive and, when reading from PDF anyway, the pages change a little slowly; I'd say about 1.5 of a kindle turn. Neither is a deal breaker though and I suspect you just get used to handling it. She gave it a solid 8.5/10 (!). I'd say, mainly because battery life is a little short and it comes with a USB charger, that I'd say 7.5/10 but that neither of those things would put me off buying one. In fact, since I never get round to putting PDF books on my kindle, I might even use it myself!
Disclosure: we were sent the product free to review. Opinions are genuine and my own.