'Tis the season for toy makers to start throwing their hats into the ring, if they want to be a part of this year's holiday shopping action. To that end, Toys "R" Us announced its own 7" tablet for kids, the Tabeo 7" 4GB WiFi Android Tablet, slated for release on October 21 for $149.99.
With this device, the 64-year-old toy retailer aims to tap into the rapidly expanding children's tablet market. It's also a way for the company to reestablish its relevancy as a prominent store for kids with original products rather than be reduced to a showroom for online vendors. But will this kids' tablet make a splash amongst the full-fledged "adult" tablets so close in price?
The Tabeo's Place in a Crowded MarketThe Toys "R" Us Tabeo will compete shoulder-to-shoulder with a handful of other 7" kids' tablets including the TechnoSource Kurio Kids Tablet and Oregon Scientific's Meep, both of which have lowered their prices to match that of the Tabeo. As a device loaded with an assortment of entertainment and educational apps, plus parent-friendly features, the Tabeo will also go head to head with the enormously popular 5" LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer ($79.99 with free shipping, a low by $7) and the Fuhu Nabi 2 ($199.99 with free shipping, a low by $7). The latter deftly straddles the line between kids' tablet and adult tablet, according to AndroidPolice
Helping the Tabeo compete are some respectable specs for a kids' device. It includes 4GB of internal memory with a microSD slot for up to 32GB of expandable memory; a 800x480p 7" touchscreen; integrated microphone, speaker, and front-facing camera; WiFi, and a built-in browser with parental controls; a G-sensor for sensitivity to side-to-side tilting; and a 10-hour battery life.
Blurring the Line Between Kids' and Adult Tablets
The launch of Tabeo also adds to the proliferation of 7" tablets in the greater market, which includes the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7, and the Barnes & Noble NOOK. These, and other 7" tablets, are appealing for parents with kids notably because of their manageable size (for smaller hands) and lower prices compared to Apple's line of iPads. However, spec-wise the Tabeo's 4GB of storage falls short: the standard for adult 7" tablets is 8GB to 16GB. (For comparison, the LeapPad has 2GB of storage, the Kurio Kids and Meep have 4GB, and the Nabi 2 has 8GB.)
Smaller storage space aside, the Tabeo does stand out from these advanced tablet competitors, namely in terms of advisory controls. Unlike adult tablets — and the LeapPad Explorer, which doesn't offer Internet access at all — the Tabeo features extensive parental controls that can safeguard kids from predatory marketing, inappropriate content, and other online dangers. There's also a timer function that allows parents to set limits on a child's overall Internet time.
But in order to compete with other tablets within this price range, the Tabeo will not only have to convince consumers that its design and features are grown-up enough to justify the cost, but will also have to sustain the interest of young users as their tablet interests become more advanced. If these conditions are not met, then parents may not see the point in paying $150 for a pseudo-sophisticated kids tablet when a 16GB Kindle Fire HD is just $50 more. But one such feature might convince them: the Tabeo's microSD card slot. It's a seemingly minor spec that's lamentably missing on both the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7.
The Best Time to Buy for the HolidaysIn spite of an ever-changing tablet landscape, the Tabeo is already rolling ahead in the race to be the hottest toy of the season. MSNBC reported that LeapFrog shares dropped 54 cents after Toys "R" Us announced the Tabeo. After its October 21 release, perhaps we'll see shoppers jostle to buy what could become this year's "it" toy.
However, dealnews readers should keep in mind that the real deals come to those who wait. For sizable deals on must-have holiday toys, the best time to buy is 14 days before Christmas. The very best strategy, though, is to set up a custom email alert now to keep abreast of the toy rush, and be notified when we find any discounts on the Tabeo from now through Christmas.
Photo credits top to bottom: Golem.de
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