||The staff at Toys Bulletin was very impressed with the innovation and features that Vtech put into its "Kidizoom Camera." This was far from a toy, instead we discovered a fully functional digital camera made for youngsters ages 3-8.
The camera includes 129 MB of built-in memory capable of taking 300 (1.3 MP) photos or 10 full-color videos. It also features a 4X digital zoom, color screen, special photo effects and three built in games, all packaged in a brightly colored, durable and safe outer case.
The buttons on the camera are clearly marked and easy to identify. They include an On/Off Button, Mode Button, a Four Directional Select Button, Shutter and OK Button, Delete Button and Zoom Controls, all powered by four AA batteries.
The camera also had a dual viewfinder that fit over both eyes, making it easier to see the image before snapping pictures or videos. Basically, taking photos was as easy as turning the camera on, looking through the viewfinder, toggling the zoom controls, and pushing the shutter button. Everything else was automatic. If you wish to view your photos or videos, push the mode button and select the "playback" mode. If you wish to delete a photo/video, push the delete button.
There are three interactive games available, one of which uses actual photos stored in the camera. Each of the games was fun and simple to play. The built-in editor allowed the addition of photo frames, stamps and funny faces to a photo. Pictures and videos can easily be loaded to a computer using a mini B USB cable, although unfortunately it is not included.
But, the real challenge for any product such as this is to test it with some kids. We assembled a group of six youngsters, ranging in age from 3 to 9 years old. They each took turns with the camera, after receiving minimal instructions. Both photos and videos were taken, limited only by the available space on the internal memory. We played the included games and added special effects to many of the photos as well.
The kids loved the camera. The older children quickly understood all of the activities available and put the "Kidizoom" through its paces. The photos were as expected from a camera offering just 1.3 MP, and the videos included sound. Outdoor shots were much sharper than those taken indoors. There was lots of laughter when using the editor and adding the photo frames and faces.
The youngest in the group could take the photos without any problems, but had trouble using some of the more creative features (effects for example) without some adult assistance. Not surprisingly, the camera was accidentally dropped on a tile floor, but without incident, due to the solid rubber protective ends on the camera.
The "Kidizoom" is without a doubt, a quality kid camera. It is functional, cute, and easy to use, and priced at $39.99, it is a bargain. Go to Amazon.com to see a close up view of this product from Vtech. There is also a nifty carrying case available for the "Kidizoom" camera for $19.99, and for those wanting the ultimate from Vtech, check out the "Kidizoom Plus" model, with more memory, more games and a higher picture resolution.
-- RJ Cullen