Our audience most likely knows Toys R Us for the company’s retail stores selling toys, clothing, and other baby products all across the world. What you may not know is that Toys R Us has got into the tablet manufacturing business for a while now, developing a couple of kid-friendly Android-based slates.
The latest such gadget has just been unveiled and will try to make it into a highly competitive niche starting October 21. That’s when the new “Tabeo” tablet is set to go on sale in Toys R Us stores for $149.99.
The Tabeo doesn’t exactly seem to be toddler-oriented and will more likely target kids in their pre-teen or even early teen years. That said, the tab comes with the usual pre-loaded parental controls software, but also with a bunch of educational apps and fun games.
Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope, Temple Run, Tiki Golf and Tiki Cart 3D are amongst the tab’s “nearly 20 included games” that will probably make you a very popular parent all of a sudden (of course, if you don’t end up using the gadget more than your children), while apps like AlphaTots, Discovery Kids Putterbugs, Operation Math and TechCalc will make you “uncool” again.
The 7-incher runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, and, although it doesn’t offer full Google Play access due to obvious reasons, it does have more than 7,000 free apps and thousands of other paid ones accessible via the Tabeo App Store.
Unlike similar Toys R Us kid-friendly slates, the Tabeo isn’t a sloucher, sporting a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with 800 x 480 pixels resolution and featuring a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, 1 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity, mini-HDMI, micro USB, and a Lithium Polymer battery supposedly capable of going for up to 10 hours of “normal use” between charges.
The more content-hungry kids might have a problem with the tab’s 4 GB of on-board storage, but fortunately there’s microSD support for expanding the memory with an additional 32 GB.
The design might be another downside, with the tab looking a bit bulky at first glance. In fact, the Tabeo looks downright massive, unless the Toys R Us’ listing has some spelling errors in it. According to the info at this page, the 7-incher weighs in at 1.7 pounds and measures two whole inches in thickness, which would make it double the size of the Nexus 7, for example. It doesn’t look like the tablet’s manufacturers used that extra weight to reinforce the gadget or make it ruggedized in any way, so that’s one thing you should think about before purchasing the Tabeo.
You should also take into account the Tabeo's direct competitors, which include a bunch of other tablets targeting kids, like the Archos ChildPad or the Nabi 2. Not to mention that you could simply get the brand new Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7 (both a bit more expensive than the Tabeo, but much snappier and lighter), and “baby proof” them.
If you still think the Tabeo is your best choice, you can pre-order the tablet right now and get it after October 21.
[Update: This tablet is actually nothing other than Archos Child Pad, with an additional $20 added on top for good measure, and with different colors available.