Review by VIP Club Member Becki Abrams
We were so thrilled that we had been chosen to review the Genio – My First Laptop for Toddle About Magazine! Since the good old lockdown back in 2020, my little one has become accustomed to seeing mummy or daddy plonked in front of a laptop home working and therefore always wants to help ‘work’; so having been picked for this fab review, it would give my little one the perfect opportunity to feel like a grown up and have some work to do of her own!
When it arrived, I wanted to make sure it was all set up ready for her the following day. I did notice on the box the age range was for 5-10 years, something I didn’t realise when applying to review the item. My little one is only 3, so I did worry a little that she was going to be too young for it. Out of the box, it looks quite stylish for a ‘toy laptop’. As you open it, however, it does have quite a cheap feel to it. The screen is a flimsy plastic and very small – the screen is only 5 inches where it has the capacity to be 10 inches! However, the screen is nice and bright, so it redeems itself a bit there.
When setting up the laptop, you have the facility to set up a user profile, which is great if you have more than one child and also if you want to set parental controls, time limits etc. You also have a few little funky zoo animals to choose from for your child’s profile picture.
On turning on the laptop, it is very noticeable that the sound quality is not the best and it is very slow to start up… so if you have an impatient child who wants to get cracking, it might be worth turning it on a few minutes before they want to use it!
Once you’re logged into your little one’s profile, there are pre-set icons for them to use that are similar to what would be on a normal laptop, such as: my documents, my gallery, my music etc. There is even a word processor on there which we thought was fab given my little one likes to do some ‘work’ like mummy and daddy – she really liked that! She also really liked the ‘Art Studio’, which is a glorified version of the old ‘Paint’, but little ones can save their artwork and view it in their gallery.
There is also a ‘learning apps’ icon on the laptop which takes you to all the free pre-installed learning material. All the main areas of the curriculum are covered: Literacy, Maths, Science and also creativity and problem solving. There’s plenty of games on these topics, as well as some e-books too. Some firm favourites for my little one were:
- The Ugly Duckling e-book – she can listen to the story and follow the words as the book is being read out.
- Super Kid Chef game - she enjoys matching the food up to the words and then making the item of food with her ingredients.
- School App, Knight’s Quest game – she loves that she can change her character each time she plays and likes being able to pick up tickets and hearts (these give you extra bonuses and lives in the game) and loves answer to literacy-related questions – like what word ends in ‘D’, for example.
There is also the facility to download more games through the ‘Learning Lodge’ which is pre-installed and you set an account up for, but we haven’t explored that aspect of the laptop yet.
You can also connect the device to the internet, which we thought was fab! For an older child, this could be really beneficial for their homework perhaps. We set this up to test it out only allowing approved websites (which you can completely control in the parental settings) and I have to say, it was painfully slow… so we quickly gave up with that.
There were a few things which we felt let the laptop down. Firstly, that it is not a touchscreen. Given that so many children these days are used to using a touchscreen one way or another, my little one instantly went to touch the screen to use the device and obviously found that nothing happened. So for a young’un that is currently not familiar with using a mouse to navigate her way around, it was a bit hard to get used to. However, after a few days she had managed to pick it up and was giving it a good go!
Another thing that we noticed was that many of the games seem to be timed. This then doesn’t give a child a lot of time if they are slow to pick something up, or in our case, trying to get used to using a mouse! It would be a really nice facility if the timer was able to be turned off as it adds unnecessary pressure to little ones just starting out on their laptop journey!
Also, we have come across a few technical glitches. Only on day 2 of using the laptop, the sound on initial start-up just stopped working; the voiceover just spluttered and gave up! Also, we were using it only this afternoon and within about 20 minutes of using it, it just cut out and went dead – it had lasted a good hour on the previous full charge! So I have no idea if it ran out of battery or it had called it a day itself for the evening!
Given that the age range set for this laptop is 5-10 years, I would say it is more likely from 4-8 years. I have been helping my 3 year old with the overall use of the laptop, mainly due to the mouse – however, I nipped to check on the dinner and I could hear that she had managed to log on to her profile and find her favourite game all by herself! She is also able to answer a fair few questions herself on the literacy games (maths not so much without the aid of counting on our fingers!) which makes her feel very pleased with herself. Due to this, I couldn’t imagine a 10 year old wanting to play these same games. The internet, word processor, calculator etc may be beneficial to that age range, but would you then be onto a proper laptop for school work?
Overall I think the concept of a children’s toy laptop is a good one, especially as so many children can now relate to parents working from home on ones, but I feel that this does have some room for improvement, especially when this is retailing for over £100 and you can buy a regular laptop and put games and parental controls on it for around the same price! However, my little one loves the fact that she has her own laptop and she can be like mummy and daddy. So if she’s happy … I’m happy!
Available to by from Smyths