Buying a laptop for a 3 1/2 year old is harder than you think

First off, there are the requirements:

  1. Must be able to view videos on YouTube (cute movies, funny movies, music, and more), Hulu and Fancast (kids movies, Sesame Street clips) smoothly.
  2. Must be able to run MIT’s Scratch with a resolution that the interface actually makes sense (1280+).
  3. Must be able to play Flash-based games on websites such as PBS-Kids

Then there is the buying experience.

Last week with Emma to try out various machines:

  1. Went to Kids R’ Us to try out a Disney Netbook. No dice, none on display to try out.
  2. Went to Best Buy and took a look at a Asus EE, which the Disney machine is based on. Downloaded Scratch and took note that 1024 resolution won’t do (noted above). Tried YouTube and was appalled at the performance (could be network based issues here though). Tried PBS-Kids – and while the site seemed snappy, the game experience resembled that on my wife’s old G4 based iBook – which is really, really bad.
  3. So went to try out some true lower end laptops since netbooks resemble one another on the hardware side closely. All stop – no network. Asked for help and was told that they could only have so many machines on the network at one time and they were maxed out.
  4. So went to another local Best Buy and ran into the same problem.

This week, again with Emma, to try out various machines:

  1. MicroCenter. I was really interested in trying out a Aspire AS1410-8414 or a Dell Inspiron 1545. Both these machines *should* do the the trick. But I wanted to take a look at Hulu, Fancast, PBS-Kids to be sure. And no dice. The network is locked down to prevent troublemakers from surfing ‘bad’ web sites. Like Best Buy there is a restocking fee of 15% if you purchase something and want to take it back if you’ve made a bad decision. So reconsidering a purchase is very expense and wasteful.
  2. Staples. Nothing applicable here.

And the adventure continues.

5 thoughts on “Buying a laptop for a 3 1/2 year old is harder than you think

  1. Hi freaky,

    We have on demand and a good DVD library.

    As I’ve mentioned to others, the laptop is more for like another creative toy like Legos, blocks, crayons, and her musical instruments.

    Being able to watch clips is great as well. Especially if trying to put together an educational theme.

  2. Karl, I think Emma has a 15 year head start on me. I never really shopped for computers at age 3 1/2.

  3. My daughter is just a bit older Emma, turning four next month. She uses my wife’s 3 year old Mac Book for PBS Kids, YouTube and Scratch with pretty good results.

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