Peewee PC: a $600 Netbook for 2 Year Olds

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?

  • cryogenic
    Looks nice, if I buy this the next logical step would be ... to make some kids!
  • bustapr
    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.
  • gwolfman
    CryogenicLooks nice, if I buy this the next logical step would be ... to make some kids!lolz
  • SAL-e
    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!
  • timswar
    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.
  • michaelahess
    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.
  • solymnar
    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.
  • rykerabel
    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 better than i can and makes cool cars planes and houses in Spore. its crazy what he can do.
  • vgdarkstar
    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.
  • falchard
    I think there might be something wrong with getting a 10- year old a $600 laptop.