Samsung may have developed an unhealthy habit of announcing devices catered for pretty much every target market in the consumer space, but with its latest device, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet, the Korean giants may have found an untapped market with immense potential. Back at its original announcement of the tablet earlier this year, many, including myself, wrote it off as yet another device filled with a gimmicky proposition. After all, who would consider buying an expensive electronic device for children that they will eventually grow out of?
But at the Malaysian launch of the child-oriented tablet, and speaking to several people after the event from distributors to urban mothers, I soon saw the tablet from a totally different angle:
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One of the biggest things that caught my attention at the launch event was the price: the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet would retail in Malaysia for RM799, and includes the C Pen stylus as well as the protective and versatile Kids Case. In other countries, these accessories are sold separately, making this tablet bundle a pretty good deal.
On top of that, there’s the fact that this is, on almost every account, the same tablet as the standard variant of the Galaxy Tab 3, which retails for RM999 at time of writing. You can easily switch the Tab 3 Kids to Standard Mode, which is the usual TouchWiz Android UI on Galaxy devices, and not ever have to open Kids Mode if you choose to. The only difference between the two is that the storage space is halved (to 8GB) in the kids tablet – but it doesn’t really matter since there is a microSD card slot anyway. Hence, for bargain hunters, this is a yellow Galaxy Tab 3 tablet for RM200 less than the standard variant – and that’s not even considering the street prices, which may be even lower. And, the best part is if you don’t use the case, you’d even end up looking like the owner of a limited edition yellow Galaxy Tab 3.
I wasn’t particularly sold on the Kids Mode when I first heard about it, but after a quick demo of the features, it is clear that Samsung had put a lot of thought into the UI. Children can customize their own avatar from four cute-looking animals (no macho-looking hawk or eagle avatars here, unfortunately). The interface is simple, intuitive and interactive – perfect for children. Also, the animations and colours (and happy looping music) will appeal to young users; it sure did to us when we got the device in for review recently!
Beyond the aesthetics though, the Kids Mode also feature a comprehensive set of parental controls, which are automatically locked via a four-digit PIN. You can limit which apps appear in Kids Mode (but can be installed and used in Standard Mode), and the Time Manager allows parents to limit how long their children can use the tablet.
Then, there are the accessories. The Kids Case may not prevent the tablet from getting dusty when children get bored of the various preloaded kids apps, but it is sturdy and thick enough to withstand the various knocks and accidental drops the tablet will inevitably experience throughout its lifespan.
In addition, the Kids Case also adds some pretty practical tricks up its sleeve. For instance, the Kids Case not only provides a handle for kids to carry their tablets around, it also doubles up as a tablet stand that can be propped up in two ways. The Case also contains a slot for the C Pen stylus, too.
The Convenience Factor
One of the more logical arguments against the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is the fact that there actually are custom Android launchers that are parent-friendly. In fact, the Kids Place – Parental Control app launcher has almost every feature found on the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, and is free for download. Besides that, there’s Restrictions in iOS settings that enable parental controls on an Apple mobile device. Apple’s App Store also feature age-specific categories for apps tailored for children, too.
But no company has gone as far as to merge the two as Samsung did with the Tab 3 Kids. The UI is a lot more “kiddy” compared to the dull Kids Place – Parental Control launcher’s is, and parental controls are enabled automatically after the initial setup of the tablet.
What Samsung is offering with the Tab 3 Kids is simple: the convenience of purchasing a kid-friendly device with edutainment apps preloaded and easily-accessible parental controls. And that’s a powerful proposition, because not many consumers would know of the existence of an Android launcher for kids, nor is there a company that has an app store dedicated just for kids apps.
Yup, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet also comes with its own Kids App Store. At launch, there are over 600 apps tailored for children available for download. Hence, while the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is not equipped with premium hardware such as a powerful processor or even a pedo-meter to track how much your child has walked for the day, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids does what it sets out to be: a simple child-friendly tablet that offers value for money.
A Gamble Done Right
This is a social experiment just as much as every other focused-market products Samsung has released in the past. Sometimes they yield disappointing results, such as the Galaxy Young or the Galaxy Gear, but this time round, Samsung may have gotten more than it thought it would for a tablet made for kids.
The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is not only offers a compelling product for parents with young children, and packaged at a price that will also appeal to bargain hunters seeking for a good mid-range tablet. Very rarely does a company get it right, but from marketing to the product itself, Samsung has ticked all the right boxes with its Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet.
This article is the opinion of the author.