Review of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router

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Summary…

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

recommended-by-the-imums

NetGear Ambassaodor

Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.

The Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router is the newest Tri-band router from NETGEAR. It uses 802.11ac WiFi technology with one 2.4GHz and two 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It has combined wireless speeds up to 5.3Gbps. It has a dual core 1.4GHz processor, 128 MB Flash and 512 MB RAM memory. It has Quad Stream and Implicit & Explicit Beamforming for  both 2.4 & 5GHz bands.

We reviewed the Nighthawk X6 last year, which was NETGEAR’s first Tri-Band router and were impressed with its performance, so I was interested to see how the X8 compares.

Set Up

The Nighthawk X8 is very quick and easy to set up. With the included quick start guide it was up and running in no time. You basically connect the modem, power on the router, connect a computer or device and complete the setup using the free NETGEAR Genie app. The external antennae come already attached, no assembly required.

The X8 comes with a pre-assigned Wi-Fi network name, typically NETGEAR plus a number, and password, which are on a peelable label on the X8. There is an option to change the name and/or password if you wish. The X8 has a WPS button so it is very quick and easy to connect any device with a WPS button, for other devices you just enter the Wi-Fi name and password as usual.

Size and Form Factor

You do need to make sure you have a large space available for it as the X8 is huge! It measures 12.44″ x 10.39″ x 2.40″  (316 x 264 x 61 mm), which is even bigger than the X6. It has 4 external antennae, so it also needs a lot of headroom- with the antennae extended upright it is approximately 19cm/ 7 1/2″ tall. The top surface has a wavy black plastic grille which looks futuristic, but also has the practical effect of preventing you stacking anything on top of it, important to prevent overheating.

Antennae

The X8 has a total of 8 antennae- 4 internal plus 4 external. The external antennae are movable in many directions. NETGEAR recommends setting them up with the 2 central ones upright and the side ones at 45°, but you can change this if you wish. The external antennas are active antennae, which is a new feature. This means that instead of the WiFi amplifiers being on the router’s motherboard (the standard location) they are on top of the antennae so they can amplify the signal in the antenna itself. This is designed to improve connection to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The external antennae have blue LEDs to show when they are active, but you can switch the LEDs off if you find them distracting.

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USB Ports and Secure Storage

The X8 has 2 USB ports- one is USB 2.0, the other 3.0. I like having two USB ports available, but I’m not sure why they didn’t make them both 3.0.

If you attach an external hard drive to a USB port you can use the free NETGEAR ReadyCLOUD mobile app or web portal to access the drive’s content from anywhere. This is a very simple way to create your own personal cloud.

Wired Connections

The X8 has six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and one WAN. This means you can connect up to six wired devices for maximum performance. There is also the option to combine two of the six to double the connection speed for a Network Attached Storage device to allow 4K HD streaming or multiple fast WiFi backups.

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Wireless Speeds

The X8 has a number of features designed to maximize Wifi speeds and performance for gaming and video streaming.

Like the X6 this is a Tri-band router, it has one 2.4 GHz and two 5GHz Bands. 2.4GHz is an old Wi-Fi standard, it is slow and prone to interference, but is necessary to allow older devices to connect to your network. 5.0 GHz is the newer standard, and gives faster performance with less interference, but if you have a lot of devices on the 5.0 GHz it can slow down the connection and affect performance. Having two 5.0 GHz bands helps to prevent slowdowns from lots of devices using it at once.

The X8 delivers a combined wireless speed of up to 5.3Gbp- 1000Mbps for the 2.4GHz  band, plus 2166 Mbps for each of the two 5.0 GHz bands.

It has Quad Streaming to deliver up to four data streams per WiFi band, making 12 in total. Smart Connect selects the fastest WiFi band for each device and Dynamic QoS prioritizes traffic by application and device.

Performance

When we installed the X6 we saw a big leap in performance compared to our previous router, an Apple Airport Express, and we have seen a further improvement with the X8 vs the X6. We have a challenging home for WiFi – it has an unusual layout over 3 staggered floors and poor incoming signal because we live a long way from the DSL hub. With the X6 we found it optimized our signal near the router but for the far flung parts of the house we still needed to use a booster such as the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi Range Extender Model EX7000 to get a useable signal.

With the X8 we have a slightly stronger signal near the router- but the improvement is marginal. Where we have seen most gains is further from the router – we now get a useable signal throughout the entire house without having to use a WiFi booster- which is a huge improvement! In the master bedroom (unless I used a signal booster) we barely had a signal at all and couldn’t even read email reliably, with the X8 I can surf the web, download apps, do email and even watch Youtube videos. The X8 has done a great job of #eliminating deadspots.

We cut the cable almost two years ago and only have TV via DVD and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, so good quality video streaming is very important to us. Unfortunately we have a weak incoming internet connection  which can cause hangups in our streaming. The performance with the X6 was much better than with the Airport Express and has improved again with the X8. Our family has a lot of connected devices including multiple iPads, Smartphones, tablets, Smart TV and Xbox. In the past when the Smart TV is streaming video and multiple family members are streaming to different devices at the same time we have had some connectivity issues, but I have not seen this happen with X8.

Security.

Both the X6 and X8 have the option to set up a guest network to allow visiting family and friends to access Wi-Fi  without sharing your main network password.

Like the X6, the X8 has the option to enable parental controls. This lets you choose from different levels of protection against things such as phishing scams, pornography, illegal activity, adult-related sites and even video sharing sites and social media. You can customize different setting for different times of the day.

The X8 has WiFi Protected Access® (WPA/WPA2—PSK), Double firewall protection (SPI and NAT) and Denial-of-service (DoS) attack prevention.

 

Summary

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

The X6 and X8 are both great routers, for many homes the X6 is a great choice. However if you have a large or challenging home, heavy demand for high speed internet for gaming or video streaming or large numbers of connected devices the X8 may be a better choice.

Price and Availability

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router has an RRP of $399.99 and is available from Amazon and other retailers.

Peppa Pig: Golden Boots by Entertainment One – Review and Giveaway



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Grab this app if you have Peppa Pig fans at home! Not fans yet? Get it all the same if you have preschoolers! Peppa Pig : Golden Boots the app is just too fun (and educational) for your kids to miss out on! My youngest was very excited to play the app, peeping over my shoulder when I was checking it out and eventually taking over the iPad from me!

What we love…

Being able to play with Peppa Pig and her friends in their favorite games!

What we’d love to see…

More activities, the more the better.

Summary

This is a fun preschool educational game app featuring Peppa Pig characters that all kids will enjoy playing over and over again.

Our Rating

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Since this app has been created in celebration of Peppa Pig’s first extended episode “The Golden Boots”, you naturally get to watch parts of the episode in the app. It opens with the familiar introduction to Peppa’s family that you see in all of their episodes. Then your child is invited to enter the play area and choose a favorite balloon as his/her profile icon. Up to 4 kids can create their own profiles and there is no need to key in names. Everything is easy for kids to manage by themselves.

As all fans know, the first rule of muddy puddle jumping is that you must wear your boots. In this episode, Peppa proudly shows off her special yellow boots that is made of ‘real plastic gold’, much to Suzy Sheep’s displeasure. While Peppa and her friends are indoors for orange juice, Mrs Duck comes along and walks off with Peppa’s golden boots. And so the quest to find Peppa’s golden boots begins.

First, kids are asked to make Peppa a new pair of boots for her day of adventures, using different color paints, patterns and stickers. Then they get to complete Peppa’s look with various outfits, head gears and a toy to hold. When Peppa is all set, kids can choose to play in one of the following 6 adventures:-

Dressing up Peppa! Kids will love to dress Peppa and see her appearing throughout the app in the look that they have created for her.

Find what’s hiding in the mud! Kids can wipe or tap around the muddy puddle to explore and find something hiding in the mud. But the highlight here is definitely making a Peppa Pig character jump in the mud.

Fly a rocket through space! This activity is the most challenging of the 6 games. Great eye tracking skills and hand eye coordination are needed to control the rocket through space following the path of stars while avoiding planets and collecting stars. There are 3 levels of play to cater to different abilities.

Shop at Miss Rabbit’s gift shop on the moon! Kids have to use their observation skills to help Peppa, George and Suzy search for the items requested and count them when the job is done.

Help Peppa make food and feed the ducks! This activity provides lots of opportunities for kids to exercise their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination – dragging, pouring and stirring ingredients, cutting the duck feed to smaller portions and dragging or flicking the food to the moving ducks. Kids will enjoy experimenting with different combinations of ingredients and see what happens to the food.

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Sing along to the Muddy Puddles Song! The video is short but fun nonetheless.

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Throughout the app, Peppa’s golden boots will appear and kids will have to quickly catch them in order to earn presents. They can play with their unwrapped presents anytime from their toy basket on the games menu.

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Peppa Pig: Golden Boots is a lot of fun and giggles with games, animations and videos to educate and entertain. The activities are age appropriate and beneficial for kids’ cognitive development. There are also many opportunities for them to make decisions. This is an app that is easy and safe for preschoolers to navigate by themselves.

To all my fellow parents with young Peppa Pig fans, I say this app is a much better (and cheaper) buy than all the expensive Peppa Pig merchandise that we have been buying, so just get it already!

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Peppa Pig: Golden Boots

Peppa Pig: Golden Boots Peppa Pig: Golden Boots by Entertainment One
Category: Education, Entertainment
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 940.59 MB

$2.99USD

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic – Review

KensingtonHeadphoneswith mic

Summary

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great kids headphone, they are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. Their grown-up styling will be popular with kids who have outgrown cute character headphones.

Our Rating

recommended-by-the-imums

If you are looking for headphones for your children for school or home use Kensington’s new Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great option and good value for money too.

Over the last few years my childrens’ schools have been incorporating more technology into the curriculum and even their State testing is transitioning to being done on the computer instead of with pencil and paper. Because of this parents need to provide their kids with headphones for use during computer or tablet time at school. My kids also use headphones when using the computer or tablet at home so they can work simultaneously without disturbing each other. With 3 kids needing them for both home and school we get through a lot of headphones !

When looking for headphones for my kids there are a number of features that are important to me: clear sound, comfortable, fit a range of head sizes, sound limited to a safe level and they must be tough and durable.

I recently had the opportunity to test out Kensington’s new Headphones With Mic that they have designed specifically for students in K-12. The first thing I noticed as they don’t look like kids headphones, although they are designed for kids they look very much like an adult headphone. My kids are 8, 8 and 12 and will shun anything they consider “too babyish” and all 3 approved of this design.

They have a wide black headband that is padded at the top and when you expand it shows a silver metal band at the sides. My 8 year-old daughter has a small head for her age and my 12 year-old son’s head is on the large side and the headphones fit both of them comfortably.

The headphones have 40mm drivers and I found the sound quality very good for a sub- $30 headphone – the sound was clear and crisp with a good dynamic range. The maximum sound level is 94db, which gives me peace of mind as they can’t turn the sound to unsafe levels.

The microphone is a nice bonus feature and very useful for using apps with dictation and voice recognition. This is especially important for kids who have difficulty typing. I like the flexible microphone stalk and how it rotates out of the way when not in use.

My kids (especially the younger boy) are tough on headphones but these feel well-made and durable so I am confident they will last him a good while. The cord is 9 foot long, rubberized and flexible and it has a gold-plated jack. The cord comes coiled up and we keep it that way most of the time, but it is nice to have the extra length for times we need it. The one thing I would like to see added is an attached velcro cord tidy for keeping the cord neat instead of the current wire tie.

Overall, I think these are a great kids headphone, they are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. Their grown-up styling will be popular with kids who have outgrown cute character headphones. They are popular with my kids and are my 8 year old son’s favorite headphones.

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic (SRP $24.99) are available from Kensington.com, Amazon and other retailers.

You may also wish to read Kensington iPad Accessories for the Classroom
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Bamba Books by Bamba – Review & Giveaway



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What we love…

bright colorful graphics, good problem solving for the characters, use of parental gate

What we’d love to see…

Tweaks to the bookshelf area allowing you to directly access apps you already own and have downloaded as well as the use of “safe” YouTube video previews like after you read the book.  Would also like more interactivity in the books

Summary

Fun app that allows you to read a variety of books about characters and then see a video performance after it is completed.

Our Rating

Bamba Books Bamba Books by Bamba is an app for iOS featuring a variety of storybooks with characters from other Bamba apps. The app has three modes, you can either “read the story yourself”, have the story read to you with a narrator or watch a video about the story.  The video tab requires the solving a simple math problem and after solving it, pulls you through to YouTube to watch the video.  The app narration is available in English, Spanish, German, and Russian.  The free portion of the app contains three books and with a IAP you can purchase an additional three books.  In addition, you can click on the video tab to see YouTube previews of various Bamba apps (and later other videos since you are pulled directly to YouTube); and finally a bookshelf of Bamba apps, you are required to solve another math problem before being pulled into the iTunes store even if you already own the app and have it installed on your device.

Overall, I like the concept of “one stop shopping” for the books.  The narration and graphics are well done.  It is easy to turn on and off the narration via  tap of the “lips” at the top of the screen allowing an independent reader more control.  I love the creativity within the app during the reading of the books, especially making the cake with candy, books, flowers and ice cream!  For the farm story, I also really liked how sequential the app was and followed along nicely especially for new readers.    Each of the stories also has the characters that practice problem solving such as how to decorate the cake, how to get the animals back in the pen and how to navigate the airport.

I would like to see word highlighting within the stories as they are read aloud.  For the stories, such as the birthday cake, I’d like to see more interactivity.  Right now it is really a story being read to you and the only element of the story you can interact with is the tapping of an arrow rather than mixing the cake, putting it in the oven, frosting the cake.  I’d also like to see more stories added to the IAP version of the app to give you more value for the dollar.

Oddly, after you finish reading the story,the app does have the video play without pulling you through to the YouTube version so I’d like to see consistency on this throughout the app.  For the YouTube video portion, I’d like to see the video’s play within the app rather than requiring you to solve a math problem and pulling you through to YouTube.  Although when you go through the first time, you are taken directly to the video you selected, if you tap on the video’s to the left you will see advertising as well as other choices for video’s.  In terms of other improvements, it would be nice if you clicked on a Bamba app that you owned and was installed on your device if it would open up skipping the iTunes store directly.  Right now, this section is really an advertising area which shows the preview of the app and if you click “download now” it requires the solving of a math problem in order to access iTunes.

The first three books in the app are free, and the other three books require an IAP of $3.99.
Bamba Books – Mezmedia

Bamba Books - Read and sing-along to interactive stories
Bamba Books - Read and sing-along to interactive stories
by Mezmedia

Category: Education, Games, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 513.02 MB

$FREE

Screenshots
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Screenshots for iPad
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Giveaway

If you would like to win a $50 iTunes card , please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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YouTube Kids by Google – a Must Have Free App for Families



iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

Timer feature, how easy it is for kids to use, filled with child safe videos, gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch

What we’d love to see…

Stronger parental gate, ability to add your own favorites, saved searches, offline viewing, ability to create your own playlists

Summary

I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect but it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. Download this free app today!

Our Rating

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YouTube KidsMany kids love watching videos on YouTube but for parents it can be a scary place, as there are many videos you would not want your child watching. Even ones that have their favorite subjects matter such as Minecraft can surprise you by including swearing and inappropriate content. The new YouTube Kids app from Google is an attempt to provide a safer more child-friendly environment for kids to watch YouTube videos.

I introduced my 7 year-old son to the app when it first came out and he loves it. It is very easy for a child to navigate and includes features that parents will appreciate. The videos within the app are screened to be child friendly, and if you find any that are not you can report them directly from the app. There are still adverts, but at least they are for child-friendly products such as kids TV shows.

One feature I love (and my son hates!) is that there is a built-in timer feature so the parent can set how long the child is allowed to watch for. If you combine this with guided access then the iPad is effectively disabled at the end of the timed period. The one fault with this is the parental gate that lets you access the timer is too easy. The app says e.g. four, seven, six, three and you have to enter 4763, I would like to see this replaced with a password or passcode that the parent sets.

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The app has 6 sections: recommended (based on your previous watching history), shows, music, learning, explore and search.

Shows

The shows sections displays popular kids channels such as Thomas & Friends,  Sesame Street, Peppa Pig, Babar, Reading Rainbow and Disney Shorts. Tapping on any of these channels allows you to browse and select videos from them.

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Music

Here kids can explore channels specializing in kid-friendly music videos.

Learning

This is a really cool section that introduces child-friendly educational channels such as PBS KIDS, Incredible Science, the Khan Academy, It’s Okay to be Smart and TedEd. I love this section as it makes it easy for my kids to find videos they enjoy but they are also learning at the same time.

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Explore

This includes channels on subjects such as arts, crafts, Lego, kids yoga and cooking, as well as topical news and fun stuff such as cat and puppy videos.

Search

Parents can switch off search in the settings but when it is enabled the child can search for child friendly videos by typing the subject they are looking for or by saying it. My son loves to be able to search for his favorite characters just by saying their name. I’m also having fun with this section finding all the old videos I used to watch as a kid, even though I grew up on an entirely different continent I can easily my old favorites such as Roobarb and Custard, Noah and Nelly, The Clangers and Ivor the Engine – a real trip down memory lane!

I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect, there are some features I would love to see added in future updates- the ability to add your own favorites list of videos and channels, saved searches, a stronger parental gate, ability to download favorites for offline viewing and the ability to create playlists for your children, but that said it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. I love how easy it is for kids to use, the fact that it is filled with child safe videos, it gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch, the timer feature and how easy the search option is to use.

YouTube Kids – Google, Inc.


YouTube Kids YouTube Kids by Google, Inc.

Price: $FREE

The official YouTube Kids app is designed for curious little minds to dive into a world of discovery, learning and entertainment. This is a delightfully simple (and free!) app, where kids can discover.

Telestory by Launchpad Toys – Review




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What we love…

easy to use; great graphics, sound effects, and animation; makes use of both front and back cameras; bolsters creativity; gets kids to act and interact with each other, useful in speech therapy

What we’d love to see…

a way for children to draw costumes and props, make scripts viewable

Summary

A brilliant, fun, and educational video recording app that allows children to express their creativity by writing, directing, and starring on their own show.

Our Rating

TeleStoryMy children love to take selfie videos.  My 7 year old and 9 year old already have hundreds of them and they undoubtedly have hundreds more to come.  Thanks to the invention of the iPad and other similar devices, making videos have never been easier.  Not a day goes by without at least one of my kids making a recording, and I have been truly amazed at the creativity it unleashes in them.  So it didn’t come as a surprise to me when they asked me for Telestory, the newest app from Launchpad Toys, developers of the award winning Toontastic and Toontastic Jr.

TeleStory allows children to direct, write, and star on their very own movie or tv show. It currently comes with four themes: Eye Spy, The Band, the News and Space Adventure.  Each theme comes with four to five scenes with props, and an “empty shot” scene without props.  Four themes may not sound like a lot, but you would be surprised at just how many different videos children can come up with simply by mix matching scenes and by using their imagination.  Since downloading this, my kids have already created over a dozen videos, each one remarkably different from the others.

iPad Screenshot 3To make a movie, first pick a theme.  Then, pick a scene and choose a script to go with it.  You can either choose a pre-written script or write one of your own. After picking or writing a script,it is now time to record the scene. Every scene comes with two camera angles, two sound effects and/or animations, and a variety of costumes.  Set up your characters by choosing a costume. Depending on the scene, you may have one or two characters, one for each camera angle.  Once you have finished choosing costumes for your characters, press start to record the scene.  You have up to one minute to record and you can change camera angles/characters as often as you wish.  After the recording is finished, you can watch your newly created scene.  If you are not happy with your scene, you can redo it before moving on to the next one.

Your movie can have many scenes or just one scene.  It’s all up to you.  Once you have all the scenes you need, press the red button with a scene marker.  You will be asked to provide a movie title and the director’s name.  You will also have the option to save your movie on the camera roll and/or share it on Toontube, Launchpad Toys’ movie sharing site. If your movie isn’t quite finished yet, simply leave the sharing options unchecked.  Your movie will be saved in-app so that you can edit and finish it later on.

I would like to point out that the costumes are designed to follow the actor around on camera.  This is a fantastic feature, but it works best if you stay as still as possible.  Children move around a lot when they film so you will find the costumes are off quite a bit as it has hard time catching up to them.  Even when making tiny movements you can still see a lag on the costumes.  Fortunately, my kids were focused on just being silly and having fun making their movies that this didn’t bother them at all.

iPad Screenshot 5TeleStory’s main purpose is to bolster children’s creativity.  Indeed, I have been amused at the different characters and movie scenarios my kids have created as well as at the funny dialogues they come up with.  To my delight, TeleStory has also been very beneficial for my son who has autism.  It provides him a fun way to practice his articulation.  It is also incredibly helpful in improving his conversation and communication skills.

For future updates, I think it would be great if children can draw and save their own costumes and props.  This way they can create more characters and perhaps be able to choose a prop to use on the empty shot scene.  TeleStory have just updated to include a new scene called “The News” and I would love to see even more scenes in the future.  I would also like a way to view the scripts the children write or choose for their movie.

TeleStory is brilliant, educational, and in my 7 year old’ swords, superfun! It gets kids acting and interacting with each other.  It is a great way to get them thinking out of the box, or in this case, out of the iPad. I highly recommend checking it out.

 

TeleStory – Launchpad Toys

TeleStory TeleStory by Launchpad Toys

Price: $FREE

*App Store - Best of 2014*

Write, direct, and star in your own TV show with TeleStory!

From the creators of Toontastic (iTunes Hall of Fame, NY Times "Top 10 iPad Apps"), TeleStory takes.

 

Kids? Panic! by DM Media Pty Ltd – Review



iPad Screenshot 5

What we love…

child friendly app that provides access to video’s that are appropriate for children with instant loading of the next video which makes it perfect for those moments when you need five minutes to yourself

What we’d love to see…

stronger parental gate, ability to choose your own video’s based on the pre-selected ones available within the app.  Also would like to see the ability to turn off access to the video’s unless on a wi-fi network since data charges could accrue quickly

Summary

Easy to use, child friendly although you do need to be aware of data charges if using a 3G network

Our Rating

Kids? Panic by DM Media Party Ltd is a universal app for iOS which links to child-appropriate YouTube video’s such as television shows, songs, nursery rhymes and more with each video being five minutes or less.  The app is simple to operate with a “panic” button on the main screen which when touched launches the video via YouTube.  Parents should be aware that the app does use data so if they do not want to use it with their data plans they will need to ensure that children do not have access to the app.

I liked that all of the video’s selected within the app were child friendly, although when I attempted to watch them to ensure they were appropriate it took quite a long time to make my way through all of them.    Once the video finishes, the next one begins immediately (although I would like to see a 30 gap to ensure that you can have a break in between) to ensure that your child continues to have access to the video’s.  This app was very helpful recently when I was on a quick but important telephone conversation and I was able to just hand the phone to my son to ensure that I had a few moments of peace.  Of note, parents can enable guided access on their device to ensure that children stay within the app which is helpful especially for younger children.

In terms of enhancements, I would like to see an option where parents can choose if they want to run the video’s via a 3G network or only via wifi.  If children got access to this app, data charges could add up very quickly since it uses YouTube video’s for the app.  I’d also like to see a more difficult parental lock as the 1-2-3-4 combination is fairly easy for older preschoolers and children to figure out especially if they see their parents do it.  Perhaps randomizing it to a random pattern of numbers (what is 1+3) help to ensure children did not accidentally gain access.  In addition, it would be helpful if the user could select the video’s they wished for their child to see.  Currently you can see a selection of which video’s are available, however, there is no way to create a “playlist” of favorites from the chosen video’s.  There were some video’s which I wished I could have excluded, but currently there is no way to do this.  I also think the title of the app is a bit misleading and may make it difficult for parents to find in the app store.

Overall, the app provides access to child friendly video’s in an easy to use interface.  I do recommend that a parental gate be installed to allow parents to create a playlist of video’s which they deem appropriate from the ones available within the app which would eliminate the need for the current 1-2-3-4 parental lock which children have been able to figure out after seeing their parents use it.  I also feel that there should be a setting which will not allow video’s to play over 3G unless the parent has specifically given permission for them to do so from within a parent protected area.

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Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.