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Peewee PC: a $600 Netbook for 2 Year Olds

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 27 comments

Today sees the launch of the Peewee PC, a convertible netbook designed specifically for kids.

The Peewee PC  - described as an introductory PC for kids with none of the fuss involved in modifying a netbook so that it's safe to give to a kid - comes with a bunch of useful stuff like time limits, internet filters and software packages that are tailored to specific ages. It also costs $600.

When we first saw the price, we recoiled. Six hundred bucks for what’s essentially a stripped down netbook, are they serious? A trip to the Peewee website explains the price tag. According to the site, your hard-earned cash gets you the following:

  • 10 Age-Targeted Software Titles ($179 Value)
  • PeeWee PC Security Suite ($60 Value)
  • Kids Windows XP Theme (Disney, Sci-Fi etc)
  • Rugged, Durable, Tablet Laptop under 3 pounds
  • Custom built for your child's age, name, and interests

You’re looking at a netbook with an 8.9-inch 1024 x 600 touch screen LCD and runs on Intel’s N270 Atom (1.6GHz) and an Intel 945GSE chipset. Packing a 60 GB 1.8-inch PATA HDD, 1 GB of RAM, 2-in-1 SD/MMC memory card reader and a water resistant keyboard, the Peewee converts to tablet mode to offer a virtual keyboard and handwriting recognition. It comes pre-installed with Windows XP Home, features a 1.3MP webcam which rotates 180 degrees. The Peewee can survive a 50 cm drop and has a five hour battery life. Alright so $600 just about fits.

We love the machine itself. It’s durable, portable, light (about 3-lbs) and offers a safer (albeit more expensive) alternative to computing that’s optimized for learning. A bit pricey to make it into classrooms all over the country, but great for encouraging at home learning. However, we do have one bone to pick.

The website contains at least three comments from parents who say this computer is perfect for two year olds and claim it builds their vocabulary (with games from the likes of Dr. Seuss) and also teaches them cause and effect (pushing a button on the keyboard makes something happen on the screen). We’d advise any parent against giving a kid under the age of about 8 or 9 something that costs $600. We’re pretty sure a 4 year old could show you some great examples of cause and effect with the Peewee PC, really expensive examples.

Whatever happened to LEGOs and reading Dr. Seuss from a book?

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  • 12 Hide
    solymnar , April 30, 2009 4:03 PM
    Kids, computers and Dr. Seuss

    "Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Dr Seuss wrote technical manuals for computers............


    If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
    And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort
    and the address of the memory makes your hard disk read abort
    Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

    If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
    And the double-clicking icons put our window in the trash,
    And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
    then your situation is hopeless and your systems gonna crash!

    If the label on your cable on the gable at your house,
    says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
    But your packet wants to tunnel to another protocol,
    That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.!

    And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
    So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse.
    Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang.
    Cause as sure as I'm a poet , the suckers gonna hang!

    When the copy of your CD's getting scratchy on the disk,
    and the micocode instructions cause unnecessary RISC,
    then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
    Quickly turn off your computer and be sure to tell your Mom!"

    (with slight tweaks by yours truly to somewhat modernize)


    To be on topic...while bustapr is correct, many parents are intimidated by those options and what they should do to better control the environment of their kid's computer. So if a company wants to provide an arguably preconfigured parent friendly computer, its hard for me to consider that a bad thing.

    Of course...the flip side of the argument is that if the parent needs help making a PC safe for their kid...that parent is pretty much screwed once the kid gets savy enough to circumvent the protection that the parent doesn't really understand to begin with. Then it becomes a weird mix of challenging respect and understanding with the all consuming powers of curiosity.
  • 11 Hide
    cryogenic , April 30, 2009 3:44 PM
    Looks nice, if I buy this the next logical step would be ... to make some kids!
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    cryogenic , April 30, 2009 3:44 PM
    Looks nice, if I buy this the next logical step would be ... to make some kids!
  • 1 Hide
    bustapr , April 30, 2009 3:45 PM
    Dang, $600 for a netbook with only 60gb PATA HDD, and some kiddy features you can download on the internet for free. Setting a pc for a kid isn't really that difficult. Just set the parental controls and restricted sights, or install openDNS for example. Ther are also some freeware kid games on the internet. Just get a real netbook and spend an hour or two with the software and thats it, sva $200.
  • 2 Hide
    gwolfman , April 30, 2009 3:45 PM
    CryogenicLooks nice, if I buy this the next logical step would be ... to make some kids!

    lolz
  • 6 Hide
    SAL-e , April 30, 2009 3:48 PM
    Quote:
    Whatever happened to LEGOs and reading Dr. Seuss from a book?

    Agree Jane. I am big supporter of outsourcing, but parenthood can't and should not be outsourced!
  • 0 Hide
    timswar , April 30, 2009 3:57 PM
    Ok, so I recoiled too at the price. Then I went to the website and really looked at the machine and what it offers. I have to admit, I kinda want one now. Ignore all the educational stuff (although my fiancee and I are thinking children in the next year or two), I want the touch swivel screen and mildly ruggedized nature of it. Plus the cheesy themes actually look kinda nice. The Darkmatter ones in particular look well designed.

    Seeing as my internet-fu must be too weak to find a suitable tablet netbook for a lower price I could see a lot of people going for this, whether or not they want to use it for kids.
  • 0 Hide
    michaelahess , April 30, 2009 3:58 PM
    I let my 6 year old play with my netbook, he really likes tux math. When he was 5 he started playing guild wars with his mom on her laptop, please don't ask. My 3 year old plays with my omnia (drawing on it) and netbook with some of the linux games as well.

    Would I spend 600 bucks on a machine just for them? Hell no! That's like buying the Eddie Bauer version of a stroller! Stupid people can make that company survive, I won't help.
  • 12 Hide
    solymnar , April 30, 2009 4:03 PM
    Kids, computers and Dr. Seuss

    "Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Dr Seuss wrote technical manuals for computers............


    If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
    And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort
    and the address of the memory makes your hard disk read abort
    Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

    If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
    And the double-clicking icons put our window in the trash,
    And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
    then your situation is hopeless and your systems gonna crash!

    If the label on your cable on the gable at your house,
    says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
    But your packet wants to tunnel to another protocol,
    That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.!

    And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
    So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse.
    Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang.
    Cause as sure as I'm a poet , the suckers gonna hang!

    When the copy of your CD's getting scratchy on the disk,
    and the micocode instructions cause unnecessary RISC,
    then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM.
    Quickly turn off your computer and be sure to tell your Mom!"

    (with slight tweaks by yours truly to somewhat modernize)


    To be on topic...while bustapr is correct, many parents are intimidated by those options and what they should do to better control the environment of their kid's computer. So if a company wants to provide an arguably preconfigured parent friendly computer, its hard for me to consider that a bad thing.

    Of course...the flip side of the argument is that if the parent needs help making a PC safe for their kid...that parent is pretty much screwed once the kid gets savy enough to circumvent the protection that the parent doesn't really understand to begin with. Then it becomes a weird mix of challenging respect and understanding with the all consuming powers of curiosity.
  • 0 Hide
    rykerabel , April 30, 2009 4:05 PM
    my three year old got so computer savy that i had to make another computer just for him. granted its a desktop and was made from old computer parts lying around the house. but he browses noggin.com better than i can and makes cool cars planes and houses in Spore. its crazy what he can do.
  • 1 Hide
    vgdarkstar , April 30, 2009 4:08 PM
    Who says you still can't buy legos and read to your kids... I'd buy this if I had kids.

    Not to mention have a massive lego collection... I miss legos, I'd spend hours playing even today. This, although a bit expensive, is a great idea, get your kids using computers early on, it'll take them far.
  • 1 Hide
    falchard , April 30, 2009 4:37 PM
    I think there might be something wrong with getting a 10- year old a $600 laptop.
  • 0 Hide
    apmyhr , April 30, 2009 5:00 PM
    I have seen 500 dollar laptops that come with Core 2 Duo processors. Their only claim to value is that the netbook comes with child software and its durable. You can easily make your PC child safe by implementing your own parental controls and you can probably find free software online which can do everything the expensive pre-installed software does. As for durable, I could drop an egg from greater than 50cm without it breaking. Just put some of your own cheap padding on parts of the netbook and your fine. And you know what, if I'm wrong and your netbook does break, well buy a new one for another 200 and you have still saved money overall. I have to agree with the author though, you shouldn't be getting children smaller than 8 an expensive piece of technology anyways. Im sure there are cardboard boxes or bright colored objects they would much rather play with.
  • 1 Hide
    mdillenbeck , April 30, 2009 5:10 PM
    I would never give a kid something that cost $600 to tote around. A computer is not a toy, it is a tool. My wife and I don't have kids (and don't plan to), but having time to do things like browse the internet with the child would be a requirement - I would want to raise my kid instead of allowing the internet or television to do so. Parental involvement is the strongest security package you can ever have.
  • 2 Hide
    NuclearShadow , April 30, 2009 5:10 PM
    My two year old son would love this but I'm not crazy enough to buy it for him. I do plan on building a PC with him when hes five for his birthday though.
  • 1 Hide
    Dax corrin , April 30, 2009 5:18 PM
    BTW.... what is a notbook? Have to abuse you for your typo, sorry.
  • 0 Hide
    kittle , April 30, 2009 5:33 PM
    vgdarkstarWho says you still can't buy legos and read to your kids... I'd buy this if I had kids.Not to mention have a massive lego collection... I miss legos, I'd spend hours playing even today. This, although a bit expensive, is a great idea, get your kids using computers early on, it'll take them far.

    yeah exactly. Ive still got my lego collection from long ago.
    cheap? not hardly. but neither do they require "upgrades" (read: replacements) every year or 2. 1-2 sets every birthday and for christmas and your good to go.

    Building a PC from spare parts around the house like most of us TH readers have is probably much cheaper than this $600 kidbook
  • 1 Hide
    fatedtodie , April 30, 2009 5:34 PM
    @Dax
    It was a reference to it being not so good.

    It is a common writing device used to insult something.
  • 0 Hide
    fazers_on_stun , April 30, 2009 5:52 PM
    Hmm, seeing as how my 2-yr-old gets bored with his toys and loves to experiment with gravity by opening a 2nd-story door (where a deck will be eventually) and toss the toys on the grass below, I seriously doubt he'll be getting a $600 anything, let alone something more fragile than, say, a boulder or concrete block :D .
  • 0 Hide
    The Schnoz , April 30, 2009 6:24 PM
    Throw in an SSD and optional accidental insurance and I'd get one for my kid, that is, after I actually knock someone up.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 30, 2009 7:50 PM
    looking at the specs,I have to say I'm not impressed.
    The swivel screen with some handwriting recognition are about the only remarkable things. As far as to get $179 of bloatware on a mininotebook, I'd say no thank you!
    Rather have the money back,and download some free games,or buy a $50 kids mega software pack with everything in ranging from a few spongebob games,to calculation and grammar games.
  • 0 Hide
    jsloan , April 30, 2009 11:21 PM
    too expensive and looks like fragile for small children
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