Reviewed by Kelvin Tebbs
In this ever-evolving world of technology, even though it opens up a phenomenal dimension of education and new learning experiences for our children, it is vital that as parents and guardians, we try and keep ourselves up to date with devices and their operating systems etc. or at the very least, have the ability and ‘know-how’ to protect our children from the potential dangers that can lurk on such items. We want to avoid our children from being exposed to or exploited by the hazards which they may get subjected to via tablets, computers, and phones (which they will likely have access to) in this technological era!
As a person who directly works in the software industry, I am all too familiar with the corruption and scams that are ever present. However, sometimes, things can go wrong even when there is no malice intended, no matter your background or education. For example, if you have a credit card linked to a device and your child is busy playing on a game on your phone, all it takes is for a simple inviting advert offering an exciting ‘upgrade,’ to pop up on the screen, and for your child to quite innocently and unbeknown to you, click the link. You may only suddenly become aware of the child’s ’activities’ on that device, when your bank statement arrives, and you get a shock seeing a list of charges which have been made for games and in app purchases – something you may not have authorised or have known that your darling little angel was carrying out!
Our little one is still a toddler, but she is already scarily accustomed to and aware of tablets and phones because we use them so readily around her. She can’t say full sentences yet but is already able to open the camera on my phone and take a picture. Our children are full of eagerness to learn, but they do not possess any fear when it comes to playing with technology. Therefore, they often take to technology like ‘a duck to water’ and usually before the age of 10, skilfully operate devices without any assistance (and often better than their parents – putting us to shame!).
Pebble Gear (https://uk.pebble-gear.com) are a trademarked company that manufacture tablets aimed at toddlers and children to assist in introducing them (and sometime the parents too) to tablet technology. With over 25 years of experience, Pebble Gear intend to provide children with innovative, educational products that inspire and allow children’s imaginations to run wild, whilst simultaneously giving parents ‘peace of mind’ knowing that Pebble Gear is a brand that can be trusted because their products are safe for children to use and offer the opportunity for parental controls to be applied.
The Pebble Gear Kids Tablet runs on its own Pebble Gear operating system (Android 8.1 based) and provides over 500+ games and apps, e-books and, dependent upon the type of tablet purchased, you get exclusive games and apps specific to that particular model (such as wallpapers etc). One of the many benefits appears to be the fact that the Games and eBooks are selected for the target audience and age range, with the added bonus of Pebble Gear selecting ones that have no ‘in-app’ purchases. There are no hidden fees when selecting games from the 500+ available, so you will never get a nasty surprise when your bank statement arrives. Furthermore, there are no ads, so your little cherub can safely play and not get disrupted or be targeted by inconvenient advert breaks!
It claims that each tablet comes with 1 years’ worth of free access to the Junior Games Store. Although, since the device does not store or even request a bank card upon set-up, I am not sure if or how this is to be renewed, so like all parents, I will have to wait and find out when approaching the 1-year anniversary. For added peace of mind, the device also comes with a 2-year warranty.
We were very excited to receive the Disney Mickey and Friends version of the Pebble Gear tablet. A great deal of care was taken packaging the tablet, ensuring that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.
The current tablets available for purchase include:
• Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 Kids Tablet
• Disney Frozen 2 Kids Tablet
• Disney Pixar Cars Kids Tablet
• Disney Mickey & Friends Kids Tablet
One of the things that I like the most about these tablets as a parent, is the safety element. With the ability to put parental controls in place (locked by my own pin code), I can limit the screen time my child has and when she has it, as well as review the time she has spent playing, reading, watching, and learning (based on each of these categories as well as the individual apps themselves).
I am a strong believer believe that a child needs to experience and become accustomed to technology, but at the same time, I certainly would not want a 4-year-old playing on a tablet for 8 hours a day. Given half a chance, and what with the amazing entertainment opportunities these tablets provide, those 8 hours would be thoroughly enjoyed and fly by, but this isn’t something that personally I would condone or allow! Bearing this in mind, Pebble Gear have even tried to eliminate the damaging blue light emissions that LCD screens are known to emit by using an anti-blue light control to block them.
These tablets are also PEGI rated. I didn’t know what that meant, but basically all the content is ‘preloaded’ onto the device and tested (Wi-Fi still required to actually download these onto your device), but Pebble Gear has made sure each meets their standard, and they guarantee that there is nothing inappropriate for your child’s eyes and ears. This again gives me a great deal of confidence in the brand and their technology. Therefore, rest assured, Pebble Gear really do try to keep your child’s safety and health at the forefront of their innovations.
Another great idea is that you can make multiple user profiles for each device. This is perfect if it is being shared between siblings and/or friends, and with a built-in microphone, plus 2 built in cameras (rear facing 2 MP, front facing 0.3 MP), hours of fun can be had taking selfies or capturing memories with loved ones. These can get stored to the included 16GB internal memory (but this can also be expanded up to 128GB with the addition of a memory card).
No matter how careful your child may (or may not) be with their device, the tablet also comes with a robust ‘impact resistant’ case included in the price (unlike other well-known brands of tablets where these items are sold separately adding to the overall cost). However, I must add that you can buy extra accessories like screen protectors and carry cases for this device if you wish to do so.
Our 7” screen tablet version weighs approximately 280 grams, and even happened to include some very cute earphones following the same Disney theme. For the headphone design, one earpiece has a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, whereas the other is Daisy and Donald Duck. So not only does this mean your child can spare you the background noise of games etc, but they will look very sweet whilst they peacefully, sit engrossed on their tablet, as their imaginations are captured by the world of Disney! I must add, whilst a 7” screen might not sound very big, and when considering other tablets come in with a 10”-13” screen size, we must remember the target audience. Small, little people’s hands will be holding the device and the added weight of a bigger screen, could make this more cumbersome and a challenge to handle and operate. To add to this, it is also worth mentioning that the resolution is 1024 x 600p, which should be perfectly adequate for a smaller handheld device.
To make this tablet user friendly (especially when the operator is a child), WiFi is not always necessary for the tablet to work. Therefore, the tablet can be taken in a car, on days out and on holidays etc. without any worries that tantrums could erupt from poor signal/no reception or loss of connection! As a parent, this makes me sigh with relief! If you’re worried about the battery running out, fear not, they estimate that the lithium-ion battery can last up to 9 hours, but a micro-USB charge cable and adapter is provided with each set, so you can plug it in and charge almost anywhere!
There is a great range of educational games to play, and with the inclusion of eBooks on this tablet, it means no need for bulky hard/paperback books or having to carry a separate kindle etc. Some of the content is themed i.e. Christmas, but the majority of the entertainment can be enjoyed all year round (but some of us even enjoy a bit of festive frivolity in the middle of summer!). Finally, I must add that some of the games that are currently available for free on the device via the GameStore, can be found on other App stores for a hefty price. Plus, new games are available and added every month, meaning your child (like ours) should never get bored.
In summary, I would thoroughly recommend the Pebble Gear Disney Mickey & friends Kids Tablet and it will be a great edition for any family especially when travelling on holidays, visiting family or even just for use whilst sat at home on a rainy day!
Rating: I would rate this product: 5/5
RRP: £99.99 (all versions of the tablet are the same price)
The product can be purchased from here.