Available in blue or pink, the InnoTab has a 5-inch touch-screen, which is encased in a protective plastic frame that measures 7 by 9 inches. It runs on 4 AA batteries and has a place to insert headphones. The device has an accelerometer so it can support games in which kids tilt the device to play. The InnoTab has a stored stylus and an attached stand, which pops out when needed so that you can set the device upright on a surface for easier viewing.
The InnoTab has 64 MB of onboard memory but provides a SD card slot for memory expansion. It comes with a USB cord to plug into a computer to download apps and track kids' progress on the device. The device has a special slot for inserting add-on software cartridge games which sell for $24.99. At launch, VTech is offering nine cartridge games sorted by ages "4 to 6," "5 to 7" and "7 to 9."
Preloaded on the InnoTab are the following apps and games: an E-Reader app with "What's That Noise" ebook included, an MP3 Music Player, a Video Player, a Photo Viewer, an Art Studio, a digital coloring book called "Color & Pop," a clock, a calendar, an address book, a notepad and two games called "Ice Escape" and "Pinball Letters."
The E-Reader lets kids listen to books as the words are read aloud and highlighted. Each page offers interactivity when kids tap the screen. And words appearing in a different color ink can be tapped to be defined.
The Art Studio provides a blank canvas and standard art tools to create paintings. Some of these tools are unusual and fun, including the car that drives over the painting leaving its wheel tracks or the rainbow paint ball that you control by tilting the device to create multi-colored ribbons over the surface of your painting.
The two included games are also well done. In "Ice Escape," you touch the screen to slide blocks of ice so as to clear a path for a penguin to eat fish. In "Pinball Letters," you tilt the InnoTab to roll a ball through obstacles to get to the specific letter you need to spell a word. Both games come with two levels of difficulty.
After connecting the device to the computer and launching the app store, families have a choice of 10 ebooks, 10 learning games and an interactive globe app, with more apps coming by year end.
To assess the quality of the software cartridge games, we explored "InnoTab Software-Toy Story." This software game contains the Toy Story 3 ebook, three learning games and two creative activities. The graphics throughout were just OK, the three games were routine side-scrollers with educational content added and one of the creative activities required that you have an SD card to save.
As is the case with the LeapPad from Leapfrog, the InnoTab isn't nearly as high tech, big-screened or versatile as the iPad. But it is built for the tough love that kids will give it, all of its content is educational and at $79.00, it costs substantially less than the $499 iPad.
The InnoTab is good for families with young kids, looking for a less expensive alternative to the iPad. But is it better than the comparable LeapPad? Probably not.
While the InnoTab is $20 less expensive than the LeapPad, you have to buy an additional SD card for it and it doesn't come with a camera and video recorder. You have to attach the separate ($39.99) VTech Kidizoom camera to the InnoTab to get the digital camera results.
With the LeapPad's backward compatibility to last year's Leapster Explorer content, the LeadPad is favorable to families that already have that content. Additionally, while both the InnoTab and the LeapPad do an adequate job of being e-readers, the LeapPad's Ultra eBooks set it apart. Those books can be read at different reading levels; and they automatically adjust the reading level to the child's ability as they play along in the book, a feature that is quite nifty.
While the cartridge games for both the InnoTab and the LeapPad are the same price ($25), the add-on content for the InnoTab appears to be less expensive than those offered for the LeapPad. At launch, most of the apps are being offered on "sale" for $2.99, whereas most of the LeapPad apps cost between $5 and $10.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.