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Archos ChildPad review

Games-loaded Android tablet keeps the big, bad internet at bay

Our Verdict

We can't help thinking that there's a huge gap in the market for a good tablet with a child-specific OS that's designed for kids yet easy for a parent to control. The Archos ChildPad, however, isn't that device.

For

  • Low price
  • Search engines banned
  • Digital file support
  • Pre-installed games

Against

  • Some bugs
  • Low-res screen
  • Poor battery life
  • No rear camera

This is a tablet that's been virtually ignored in the emerging genre of 'mini tablets' - a sector dominated by the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire - but there's definitely a place for a tablet that's child-centric, even if it's merely to enable parents to regain control of their own tablet. Step forward the Archos Arnova ChildPad.

The internet is a big and very bad place for kids to be let loose in, and the fear of offspring visiting inappropriate websites is certainly one of the reasons - the other major one being high prices - for tablets not being as prevalent as they could be among youngsters.

Archos ChildPad review

The Archos ChildPad is a seven-inch tablet that seeks to take on the likes of the Kindle Fire, Nexus 7 and even the iPad mini by providing some parental filtering software for parents' peace of mind.

The software in question - Mobile Parental Filter - doesn't come for free, but of more concern are the hardware limitations of the Archos ChildPad. This is a basic implementation of the Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 flavour (version 4.0.3 to be exact), but it runs behind a somewhat questionable screen; it's got just 800 x 480 pixels to play with.

Archos ChildPad review

Touch-play comes from within four folders on the home screen, namely Puzzle, Learning, Entertainment and Games. There are plenty of the latter preloaded, from Angry Birds and GlowHockey to Hamster: Attack! and the pleasingly-named PigRush.

The regular Google Play app shop is replaced - in what does seem like a wise move for parents keen to cut out inappropriate downloads and accidental app purchases and in-app payments - by an alternative hub called AppsLib, which has 10,000 games, books, comics and video that's filtered for suitability. That's the theory, anyhow.

Archos ChildPad review

The Archos ChildPad comes with 4GB of built-in storage, with a micro SDHC card slot for either pushing that up to as much as 32GB, or inserting music, photos and video from a smartphone or computer.

Unlike some Android gear, the Archos ChildPad links to Windows and Mac computers as a pop-up flash drive for simple file transfers.

Features and design

Measuring 223 x 142 x 12.2mm 8.78 x 5.59 x 0.48 inches) and weighing a generous 380g (13.4oz), the Archos ChildPad is small enough for an adult to pocket, but whether it's light enough for a child to carry easily is in doubt.

In terms of design it's really nothing special; its curved corners of white plastic are soft enough, though even softer is the blue silicon back that has four millimetre-deep feet to further prevent scratches.

Archos ChildPad review

Otherwise, the design is more phone than tablet; either side of a centimetre-thick blue screen surround are a camera (VGA 640 x 480-pixel quality - and there's no rear camera) and a mic at the top (if held in portrait orientation) and a speaker at the bottom.

Meanwhile, there's a huge blue Archos ChildPad logo on there too, just in case you've forgotten who this is aimed at or what it's called.

Archos ChildPad review

Elsewhere, the only slots and controls are along the top. This includes a small standby switch, a micro USB in and, underneath that, a micro SDHC card slot (which in theory increases its 4GB of flash memory, and a good thing too since almost half is taken up with pre-installed apps and software). There's also a headphones jack, and a find-something-sharp reset button.

There's also an empty slot that looks suspiciously like it could have housed an HDMI output; perhaps Archos changed its mind at the last minute. More likely, the Archos ChildPad is a mere mod of another model - something that puts into question its child-centric claims. There's no Bluetooth or GPS functionality, either.

Archos ChildPad review

Backed-up by a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and 1GB of RAM, the Wi-Fi-fuelled Archos ChildPad's 800 x 480-pixel capacitive touchscreen has a G-sensor to recognise its orientation.

In the box comes a micro USB cable and a USB wall charger. All this comes for a full retail price of just £99.99 (around US$150/AU$146).

Archos ChildPad review

Tech Specs

Product TypeKids Tablet
Brand NameArchos
ManufacturerArchos Technology
Product NameChildpad 80
Manufacturer Part Number502419
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.archos.com
Marketing InformationArchos introduces its new ChildPad tablet: The Archos ChildPad 80. Running the latest Android™ version "Jelly Bean" this 8'' Tablet is specially designed to entertain kids. Thanks to the Kids zone app, discover a selection of the best games, educational and funny apps.
  • Kids zone app: Selection of the best apps for children
  • Parental Control: Safe web browsing for child
  • A real Android™ tablet: FullHD 1080p video playback, MiniHDMI output, Micro-SD slot, Micro USB
  • A powerful hardware: 1 GHz CPU, dual-core GPU