I have a daughter whose sixth birthday is rapidly approaching and who is something of a technophile. She currently has an old iPhone which she is using as an iPod Touch (no phone call ability) and she jumps at every chance she gets to grab my wife's iPad and load up Where's my Water. She would if not kill, almost certainly maim for a tablet of her own. iPads, as we all know however, are rather expensive.
Consequently, when I was recently pitched a story about the PlayBase tablet (made by Karuma), the base model of which—the PlayBase Go—retails for $189, I jumped at the chance to see whether it is the sort of thing that would work for a younger audience. In point of fact, the device is specifically geared towards young people and the higher model, the PlayBase Plus, which retails for $229 boasts a "medical grade cover" and an anti-bacterial touchscreen. The Plus also comes preloaded with NetNanny and a bunch of apps designed for young users. It sounds completely brilliant.
Truth, as we all know, doesn't always match up with reality.
With a resolution of only 800x480, the 7" touchscreen display doesn't match the Kindle Fire's 1024 x 600 resolution on the same size screen. It also doesn't match the Fire's battery life (eight hours vs. six), but does manage to weigh somewhat less (14.6 ounces vs. 11.5) and costs $10 less (but includes a cover). As for that battery life, it takes far longer to charge the PlayBase than the amount of use time one gets on a full battery. Both devices have 8GB of memory, and the Go can take up to a 32GB micro SD card.
Do those differences really matter? The PlayBase costs somewhat less (because one would certainly want to buy a cover so their child doesn't drop the tablet and break it), but has to be charged more and the visuals aren't quite as good. To me, that makes it roughly a wash – there are advantages and disadvantages to both devices.