A prominent company jumped in to the 7-inch tablet competition Monday, but it wasn’t Apple, Microsoft, or HP — it was Toys “R” Us.
The toy retailer announced the introduction of the Tabeo, a seven-inch, Android-powered tablet for kids that will cost $149.99. The device is aimed solely at younger users, complete with specialized browser controls, pre-loaded educational apps and a curated app store to give kids access to a limited number of programs.
Not that it's all about hitting the books. Rovio’s “Angry Birds,” Imangi Studio’s “Temple Run” and Halfbrick’s “Fruit Ninja” are also included on the tablet, in addition to games such as “Cut the Rope,” “Collapse!” and “100 Floors.”
The tablet will run a version of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and will have the ability to connect to the Internet over WiFi. The tablet will only be available from Toys “R” Us stores or the company’s Web site. It will go on sale Oct. 21. To keep it kid-proof, the tablet also has a lime-green bumper to go around the outside, which should protect it when “dropped from low heights or bumped into other objects.”
The curated app store, the release said, has 7,000 free apps and “thousands” available for purchase. The tablet has 4GB of RAM and an expandable microSDHC memory slot.
Parents can limit the amount of time their kids can spend online, set access for specific days of the week or hours of the day, and can get e-mail alerts if their kids find some way around the limitations.
The news release lists “nearly 10” (in other words, nine) educational apps meant to teach kids about the alphabet, science and math, plus additional apps focused on subjects such as photography and cooking.
Toys “R” Us is not the only company that has put measures in place to monitor how children use tablets. At its recent Kindle Fire announcement, Amazon said that it would put stricter parental controls into place on its tablets, allowing parents to set up profiles that limit how long their children can use the device.
After the Toys “R” Us announcement Monday, shares of the LeapFrog Enterprises — which makes smart tablet-like toys for kids to help them with reading, math and other subjects — fell dramatically as investors worried about how the company would keep pace with a toy store behemoth such as Toys “R” Us. As of 1:30 p.m., LeapFrog shares were down more than 7 percent to about $8.50 per share.