Best gadgets for kids
While children growing up 50 years ago might have been happy with a set of Bayko, a spinning top or a hobby horse; the kids of today are almost as savvy as adults when it comes to gadgets which is only too evident the moment they get hold of an iPad or smartphone.
One thing's for sure, wrangling over-excitable kids is a hell of a lot easier when they've got their own gadgets to play with rather than making a grab for your fancy (and expensive) tablet. That's why we've rounded up some of the best gadgets for kids around, to keep the little'uns happy as well as ensuring that your kit stays out of harm's way.
LeapFrog LeapPad tablet
Kids seem to gravitate towards tablet like wasps around a jam sandwich on a hot summer's day, but if you want to keep the nippers and their grubby mitts away from your iPad or Galaxy Tab then it might be worth getting them a LeapFrog LeapPad to play with. At just £80, it's a fair bit cheaper than a proper tablet, and sports a robust, child-friendly casing along with a 5-inch TFT resistive touchscreen with a 480 x 272 resolution, a tethered stylus, 2GB of storage and a webcam for stills and video. There's also an accelorometer for games along with a cartridge slot for playing any LeapFrog Leapster Explorer games that you may have.
The LeapPad sports an iPad-esque UI, based on a grid of apps and additional apps can be loaded onto the tablet using dedicated PC or Mac software from LeapFrog. Aimed at four to nine year-olds, the tablet doesn't have Wi-Fi or any other connectivity on board so you won't have to worry about the kids straying onto any dark corners of the web. The LeapPad (with green detailing) will cost £79.99 when it launches on 15 August, while the pink-trimmed version will land on 15 September.
Griffin MyPhones headphones
The range of headphones on offer nowaways is huge, and there are even a few models around to protect the hearing of your little angels and make sure they don't go deaf by the time they're in their teens. The Griffin MyPhones sport a volume limiter so that the kids can't turn the volume up beyond 85db. To put that into perspective - normal speech is around 60dB, while an MP3 player will typically play at around 120dB.
The big, comfy cans are available in pink or blue and there are even two blank sets of inserts included that be coloured in, giving your kids some extra scope for putting their own stamp on things as well as avoiding the usual colour-based gender stereotyping. Yours for £15.99.
VTech Kidizoom Twist digital camera
This 2-megapixel snapper offers kids the chance to take their own digital snaps and it even twists round so that they can take self-portraits. It's got a 4x digital zoom, built-in flash, a small colour display and dual view finders. It's also loaded with five different games and enables the nippers to spruce up their snaps with a selection of frames, stamps and fancy effects. It's also got a voice recording function with different voice-changing effects, including 'robot'.
Aimed at age three upwards, the camera is available in the usual pink or blue options and will set you back £49.99. Money well spent if it means keeping your DSLR safe from tiny hands.
Alba 16-inch LED DVD combi TV
Most kids know how to work the TV and DVD player by the time they can walk and some of them are even more at home with the technology that their parents. If you can't cope with watching the latest Disney movie for the millionth time then it might be time to reclaim your home cinema system and invest a TV for the kids' bedroom. This 16-inch panel from Alba incorporates a a DVD player and is availble in pink or black.
The £119.99 price tag gets you an HD-ready LED panel with an integrated Freeview tuner along with a basic range of connection including an HDMI, a Scart, Composite and S-Video. There's also a PC input so that the screen can double up as a PC monitor and there's also a child lock so to ensure that the sproglets don't take up all night watching cartoons.
Sony children's TV remote control
Along with the bright green, friendly design, the Sony children's TV remote, which first launched in the US in 2010, has large, colour-coded buttons in child-friendly shapes such as a star, a heart and a diamond. A hidden panel reveals more buttons that you can use to programme in up to seven 'parent-approved' channels so that the kids' young, innocent eyes aren't exposed to any channels that they shouldn't be. The remote is universal, so it should work with any TV.
It's got a range of up to 11m and there's also a volume limiter so you won't have to worry about the kids blasting the volume out and knackering their hearing. It's also splash-proof so it should be able to survive the inevitable soaking in Ribena/Coke/Sunny Delight. Not bad for £15.99.
Oregon Scientific Fun Movie Cam
Any gadgets intended for the under tens need to be pretty robust and they don't come much tougher than the Oregon Scientific Fun Movie Cam. This sturdy camcorder has been designed to withstand the sort of punishment that goes hand-in-hand with outdoor play, boasting waterpoofing (up to 3m) and shock resistance. It also comes with two handy attachments so that it can be fitted to a bike helmet or handlebars.
Aimed at the 5+ market, the Fun Movie Cam is priced at £49.99 and has a built-in 32MB memory that can be boosted up to GB via SD card, but you'll have to shell out for that separately. The gadget records at 640 x 480 VGA resolution at 30 frames per second and includes cables for for playback on PC or TV.
VTech InnoPad tablet
Along with the LeapFrog LeapPad that we've already mentioned, there's another kiddie-friendly tablet on the horizon in the form of the VTech InnoPad. This one has a 5-inch LCD touchscreen along with tilt-sensor controls for games and the tablet will also switch automatically from portrait to landscape view. The device sports a rear-mounted stand, a stylus, headphone socket and a built-in MP3 player, video player and various other basic apps such as calculator, calendar and notepad.
You'll be able to add new content such as interactive books and games from VTech's Leaning Lodge Navigator by rigging up the device to a PC. The first three apps will be be free after which they'll cost £2.99 each. What's more, a proprietary cartridge slot can be used for licensed games bundles bearing familiar names such as Cars 2 and Scooby Doo.
There's 128MB on on-board storage, while an SD card slot is included so that you can top up the memory. Like the LeapPad, there's no connectivity on board so there's no need to worry about the little ones accidentally accessing any dodgy websites. The InnoPad is due to hit the US on 15 September at $79.97 and will also come to the UK in the same month, priced at £80. A pink-trimmed version will be available exclusively through Argos.
Disney Pixar Cars 2 portable DVD player
Where better to watch Cars for the billionth time than on a portable DVD player that's emblazoned with images of Lightning McQueen? This portable DVD player is ideal for keeping the younglings quiet on a long journey and has a rotatable 7in LCD screen with a resolution of 480 x 234. As well as DVD, the player also supports DivX, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, JPEG, MP3 and MP4 playback.
It also includes headphones along with an AV output, a mains adaptor, car adaptor and a rechargable battery pack, along with a remote control. You can pick one up for £99.99 and if you're looking for something a little more girly, then check out this pink Hello Kitty model, also £99.99.
Zoostorm Fizzbook Spin
Building on the success of the original Zoostorm Fizzbook Bang - part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project - the Zoostorm Fizzbook Spin is the latest laptop designed specifically for children and sports a 10.1 rotating, resistive touchscreen. Built with the classroom in mind, this notebook is lightweight and durable and the screen can also be rotated to transform the Fizzbook Spin into an e-reader.
Packing an Intel Atom N450 Single Core 1.66GHz processor, the laptop sports Windows 7 Starter along with a built-in memory of 1GB, a web cam and Wi-Fi connectivity. At £479.80, it's the most expensive gadget in our round-up but probably the most educational.
Samsung TicToc YP-S1AL
Aimed squarely at the younger market, the Samsung TicToc is available in 2 or 4GB version with a choice of pink or blue, both of which come with a removable, clear plastic case that's decorated with a pattern. If you can't afford to splash out on a PlayStation Move or Xbox Kinect, you might just be able to distract the nippers with this tiny motion-controlled gadget. As the look suggests, this is a fairly basic player, but you should be able to cram around 10,000 tracks onto the 4GB version so it's certainly worth a look.
Spotted any other good gadgets for kids? Let us know in the comments box below.