You may be familiar with the original Kidizoom camera, which has been around for a while and is available in pink and blue versions. The Kidizoom Pro takes things up a notch, with many additional features, making this not so much a camera as a mini-entertainment system.
Toy company VTech asked us to try out the latest addition to their range of digital cameras for children. Here's how we got on:
As you can see, the styling of the Kidizoom Pro is much more grown up than other models, but it retains the same substantial rubber padding. It comes with an alternative fascia for the front, and the red and black design makes it cool enough for a wide age range of children.
The camera is recommended for age 5+, and my six-year-old son was able to use it straight away. The controls were very intuitive, to the extent that my child was soon explaining to me how it all works.
Additional features include an MP3 player (though we used up so much of the memory making films that we only had room to upload one song). It comes with over the ear headphones which seemed to be of good quality and didn't leak any noise, making it good for listening to whilst travelling.
There are a number of games included which can be played via the screen at the back. Whilst these are quite simplistic in themselves (batting a ball off a wall etc), the screen is nice and colourful and the games proved to be quite engaging.
There's a built in flash for indoor shots, digital zoom, and in-camera editing means you can make your subjects look like a cartoon. Children can enhance their photos by adding stamps, frames and special effects, either in the camera or using the photo editor software on a computer (CD-ROM program included). The camera can be linked to your TV set, so kids can set up a slide show, play the movies they've shot or play the games on a big screen.
The pictures my son took did tend to be shaky – the it's a 2-megapixel camera (similar to the camera on an iPhone). But I don't think kids care too much about the quality of their shots – it's more the process of taking them that they enjoy. It's a bit like when your child does a painting – it might not be art gallery standard, but they still loved making it. I could see this type of camera sewing the seeds for a lifelong love of photography. The Kidizoom Pro has really captured my son's imagination, and he now says "it's the most awesome thing ever".
Criticism has been levelled at children's cameras that the picture quality isn't great, and that for the money you could get a basic adult camera.
Well, yes you could, but would your average camera last being played with by a child? When my son was racing through the park clutching this model, I was glad that it was substantially padded enough to withstand being dropped. If you drop this camera (and we did), it won't break, which is more than can be said for ordinary cameras.
With an RRP of £74.99, this is not a cheap toy, but given the number of additional features, I'd say it's worth the money. Just one word of caution – batteries are not included, so stock up on AAs. It uses four, though we've been using the camera every day for about two weeks and haven't had to change batteries yet.
The Kidizoom Pro Digital Camera is widely available, including from Amazon which is currently offering 10% off.