Toys 'R' Us Releasing Tablet For Kids So Yours Won't Get As Smudgy During Epic Angry Birds Sessions


(Toys R Us)

My six-year-old nephew, who is of course perfect, is forever taking control of his mother’s iPod Touch in order to show me his latest conquest in Angry Birds or some game involving vegetables and zombies (which clearly go together). Because his mom is a saint of a woman, she doesn’t seem to mind when he smudges up the screen with his eager, ketchup-covered fingers. But in case you’re not a saint, Toys ‘R’ Us is hoping you might want to shell out some dough just to get your tablet kid-free with its new offering.

The Wall Street Journal says the retailer launching a proprietary tablet designed just for kids on Oct. 21 called the Tabeo. It goes for $149.99 and is run on Google’s Android system, with 50 free pre-loaded game applications. The key to grabbing your dollars here — the device can only be purchased at Toys ‘R’ Us stores, meaning customers can’t go hunting for lower prices elsewhere.

But is successfully sequestering your electronic devices from your kids worth the money? Toys ‘R’ Us certainly thinks so.

“It is our strategic position to offer products that you can’t find anywhere [else] or be compared on price,” said Troy Peterson, a vice president at Toys “R” Us told the WSJ.

In the end it won’t matter if parents think the tablet is a good buy — it’ll be the kids who decide to give up their parents’ iPads and Kindle Fires for something they’re actually allowed to get all smudgy on.

There are other tablets to compete with the Tabeo, and all three have already matched the $149.99 price in preparation for its debut. Then there’s the desire on the behalf of grownups to constantly upgrade their electronics, which could mean handing over an old version of a device might be more attractive than paying out of pocket for a new kid-friendly one.

Toys ‘R’ Us’ big hope here is that customers won’t use the store as just a trial area and then turn to online means or other retailers in order to get the lowest possible price. You want this Tabeo and your kids away from your stuff? Buy it here, buy it now, or forever hold on to your prized electronic pieces.

New Entry in Tablet Wars: Toys ‘R’ Us [Wall Street Journal]



Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t see the point of buying a gadget just for kids so they stop using yours…maybe say no? Or cleaning your kids’ hands before letting them play with the tablet? Or putting a screen protector and case on the tablet?

  2. raydeebug says:

    I want to say something snarky about being happy with a cardboard box when I was a kid, but damnit, if there were toys like this when I was a kid, I’d have begged every adult I knew, done any job I could manage, and probably not eaten school lunch to save up $6.25 every week to get my sticky little hands on it!

    • mauispiderweb says:

      I know what you mean, but I can’t even IMAGINE that I would ask my parents for something with a price tag like that, or its 1970s price equivalent. They’d look at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears!

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        When I was in Jr High, one of my favorite Christmas presents was the two player, Sears handheld football video game. I got it sometime around 1980 and would be surprised if it wasn’t on par, price wise, with the tablet mentioned in the article.

        When I was really little, my older brother got the football game where the field vibrated and moved the players around. High tech toys really aren’t anything new.

      • NotEd says:

        If you had lobsters crawling out of your ears you might be able to sell them and buy an expensive toy yourself.
        Of course that would depend on the current market price of lobsters and your ability to get them effectively to market within and reasonable amount of time to take advantage of the the worth of these unique and precious “ear lobsters” and the demand that might exist for crustaceans that have emerged from one of your bodily orifices.

  3. daemonaquila says:

    What ever happened to not letting your kids watch TV and play video games on a parent’s pricey phone or tablet all day? I’m hoping this fails badly.

    • Captain Spock says:

      I am only 33 years old, but when I was growing up, we had ONE television in the house (that I was not allowed to watch unsupervised). If I wanted entertainment I had either a Radio, or a Book.

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        I’m a little bit older and we also had a single, black and white TV. Though, I had a few video games and spent most afternoons at the arcade. I grew up in the city (Pittsburgh), so we also had abandoned factories and houses to play/explore in, as well as shooting rats by the river.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      I find this whole “kids tablet” thing kind of amusing since some of us have been just letting kids use normal tablets and PMP’s since pretty much forever. Game console? Video player? You’re not going to keep the kids away even if it doesn’t have a flourescent bumper.

    • Kuri says:

      So, basically you hope the market does the job for the parents.

  4. alana0j says:

    I feel like this article should be paired with yesterday’s talking about the parents getting upset about children’s clothes being labeled “plus size”

  5. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Or you could be a parent and put the damned tablet away yourself, and sit down with your child and play a board game, read a book, or take them for a walk or bike ride outside, go fishing, go to the park – I think you get my drift.

  6. MarcelineTheVampireQueen says:

    I never let my kid touch my iPhone. Other people do, and I don’t get why they would let a 7 year old handle their phone. I would never buy this tablet for him, my kid spends enough time in front of screen devices as it is.

    • missminimonster says:

      My boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law do this and as a result my boyfriend gets calls at the wee hours of the morning (they’re in a very different time zone than we are). It gets annoying and it’s happened several times now.

      When they asked me for my number I changed the subject.

  7. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    As long as the game makers make their games compatible with the device, there shouldn’t be a problem.

  8. parliboy says:

    I’m of two minds on this. I get that people say “Go out side and play” and “Electronics are bad”. I also know that my two-year-old godson, thanks letting him use my iPad when I visit, is likely the most computer literate toddler on the block, is counting in multiple languages, and is choosing activities himself to learn the alphabet. On the whole, the interactivity that it has provided is a positive in a way that plopping down on the couch and watching a kid’s show just can’t.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      When I was a kid, I distinctly remember my grandfather constantly making snide comments about how “back in my day, we didn’t have store-bought toys…”

      Criticizing parents for being too soft and kids for being lazy isn’t anything new.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      As the parent of a two-year old, I agree with this in moderation. I occasionally let my son play with my iPad if the game is educational and the time is limited. We don’t let him watch much TV either – maybe 30 minutes/day max while my wife needs to do something else like cook dinner, etc. However, I see far too many friends use TV, iPads and iPhone as ways to constantly keep their kids entertained rather than either playing with them or encouraging them to do something else.

      When I do let my son play on the iPad or watch a little TV, its for a short period of time. Once those 10, maybe 15 minutes are up, he is done. Sure he cries and stomps around but within a minute or two he is flipping through a book, coloring or playing with his toy trains.

      It takes discipline for the parents – and so many have no discipline these days and just let their kids do whatever is easiest for the parents.

      • fjordianslip says:

        My toddler has a couple of “read to me” books on the iPad and he also plays… Angry Birds. He calls it “Angry chickens” and I still let him play it because I believe there is inherent value, even if it isn’t that you can use the chickens to smash the piggies. It improves apperception by reinforcing that adjustments can be made to improve the outcome and maybe gives you a little insight into physics.

        It is not the end of the world, just like television did not end the world or any other invention. Moderation is always the key.

  9. PunditGuy says:

    A lot of non-parents commenting.

    I do not let my six-year-old play on a tablet all day long. It can, however, make car trips a lot more enjoyable. The reading and math games are more educational than watching what passes for kids’ programming on cable. She’s also getting acclimated to tools she’s going to use in education (each student is assigned an iPad at her school) and I’ve been steering her into appreciating science through interacting with technologies that science has made possible.

    I’d rather do all this on a device that isn’t my wife’s Nook Color, because kids drop stuff and because my wife likes to use her tablet.

    • chefboyardee says:

      As a parent I’m on board with everything you said, except “The reading and math games are more educational than watching what passes for kids’ programming on cable.”

      You’re making an assumption that it’s tablet or television. There’s a third option: neither. Books and/or direct one-on-one parent interaction are usually much more educational than either.

      Oh, and the car thing…meh. I’m a little tired of people saying “tv/dvd/tablet/etc makes car rides easier”. Our parents survived with us in the car and you will too. You can, and should, teach your kids to entertain themselves *without devices*, in most cases. A road trip to vacation, sure, throw a tablet their way. 15 minutes around the corner to the grocery store? Entertain yourself, munchkin.

      So I guess I only really agree with the appreciating science part, as long as it’s being supplemented with trips to museums and science centers and the purchase of a telescope (for example). A tablet certainly shouldn’t be their only exposure to this kind of knowledge.

      • PunditGuy says:

        My daughter started first grade this week, reading at mid-second-grade level. I don’t rely on just the tablet or television. But if you think books are the best way for kids to learn these days, then you’ve never met my kid and I’ll make sure she stays off your lawn.

        I find the whole “and that was good enough for me” mentality to be needlessly restrictive and closed-minded. But it’s a free country — go ahead and teach your kids to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow, and like it.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I don’t get that, either, and I don’t see how people can really conform to it totally. When my parents were kids, they didn’t use computers and they didn’t have cell phones. Times change. Any kid who isn’t being exposed to computers as a form of communication and a learning tool is extremely behind the curve.

        • jeepguy57 says:

          The key, as experts will say as well, is balance. I want my son to be familiar with technology, but not addicted to it. Tablets and TV provide a great way to learn while being entertained at the same time.

          So long as time is limited and these devices aren’t being used a babysitters, I think a healthy mix can be good.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      I agree. It’s a toy and at best a supplemental learning tool, and isn’t a replacement for one-on-one time, reading, etc. I understand that some parents out there map out their kid’s life, so everything is a 24/7 learning experience. I’m just not one of them.

      • alana0j says:

        The problem happens when the electronic devices BECOME the replacement for one-on-one time. I’m sure you know at least one parent like that..I know I do. Then we have a generation of teenagers who are great with computers and maybe smarter than some of their peers, but who also are overweight and socially awkward due to so much alone time on mom’s tablet while mom was texting her friends in the kitchen.

        So let me be clear, I agree that in small doses there is nothing wrong with letting your child on the computer/tablet/whatever. My four year old loves playing games on my laptop, and I try and make sure it’s usually something educational. But we also play outside and play on the Kinect together. It’s all about balance.

    • daemonaquila says:

      This goes right back to the TV and tablet/game console as a babysitter issue. What the heck ever happened to teaching a child patience and self control? My whole generation felt pretty lucky if we did even a long road trip with a coloring book, Mad Libs, etc. We saw our community and beyond, rather than having our faces buried in a computer game or video. We talked with our parents in the car. We learned to navigate our town. I don’t have a lot of respect either for the kids who grew up expecting constant entertainment and stimulation, or the parents that brought them up that way.

      Appreciating science is wonderful. It can be done even better by taking the kid out into the field with a telescope at night, handing her some experiment kits to play with, giving her books with real substantive content versus the TV and game pap, and more. For all the “appreciation” she’s getting that way, she’s missing out on real fun and education that she can never have if she’s playing games which, like it or not, pander to the lowest common denominator and have very little educational content compared to the traditional teaching methods.

      • PunditGuy says:

        I’ve got an 8″ Dobsonian that we used to look at Saturn’s rings earlier this summer. But thanks for the parenting advice.

        Man, people are dicks about other people’s kids.

  10. cdoc says:

    I don’t have an iPad or any other pad. But I’m thinking this might be nice for the kids as a toy. I’d have to check it out a little more first though. Manufacturers usually put terrible displays on kids products. So I’ll take a look at it when it is in the store.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      That’s my gut feeling too — It seems like a Toys R Us branded electronic toy is going to be overpriced and outdated from the get-go.

  11. jessiburkham says:

    For that Price I would just go for the Kindle Fire. It’s only 10$ more and I can regulate it on my amazon account. Much more stuff for the same price.

  12. Abradax says:

    I’ll be buying 2 of them.
    My kids LOVE my wife’s tablet.
    Maybe this will keep them from running off with her’s secretly.

  13. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    A cheaper idea is to give your kid your old smartphone when you upgrade. That’s what I did. I loaded videos on the old phone, while deleting email and Facebook accounts. Problem solved. So when my son asks to play with “Daddy’s phone,” the answer is always a firm, “No. You play with your phone.”

    Anyway, the real danger with letting your kid play with your phone is not ketchup smudges, it’s having your icons rearranged. That’s annoying.

    • raydeebug says:

      And here I thought it was “getting online and running up outrageous credit card bills on smurfberries.”

      But I agree. I always get angry at myself when I go on an icon-cleaning/rearranging binge because for a few days, I can’t find anything.

  14. Kabusted says:

    7-inch capacitive touchscreen with 800 x 480 pixels resolution
    1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU
    1 GB of RAM
    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n radio
    micro USB
    Lithium Polymer battery supposedly capable of going for up to 10 hours of “normal use” between charges.
    4 GB of on-board storage
    microSD support for expanding the memory with an additional 32 GB
    1.7 lbs
    2 inches thick

    … and is supposedly nothing more than an Archos tablet in different colors, but $20 more. Still, capacative vs. resistive… might be worth the extra $20.

    Nonetheless, I bet it still doesn’t hold up to a direct hit on the display, so unless there is some sort of curtain-climbing, ankle-biting, crumb snatching, rug rat protection on it, I expect it to be just as broken as any other parents’ Nook/Color, Kindle or i-Device snatched up by their evil spawn. It’s just that $160 is easier to swallow than $500 for an iPad.

    My 2 year old, El Destructo, runs up to my wife’s CM Nook and and grabs it while still running, and its amazing how he sees an opportunity and believes that a “run-by” will net him what he wants. I see it fly across the room time and time again because his slime covered hands can’t grip the case. Luckily, we have a very good case on it, and my wife always remembers to close it when she’s not using it… until she doesn’t. I would suspect that if anyone makes a case for this that the tablet will look like a College Ed. Anatomy and Physiology book.

  15. phalvorson says:

    These seem to be the hot holiday gift item for kids.

    It should be noted that there are other products like this on the market. For instance, Amazon has the Tabeo for kids.

    The one being heavily advertised right now on the kids’ (cartoon) TV channels is the Meep by Oregon Scientific. Unless TRU and others get their ads on soon, and get into kids’ “I Want This for Christmas” psyche, the Meep will have early entry (advertising) advantage and be the one to beat. Oh, and you can download Angry Birds onto the Meep too, according to the commercials. My kids love that app.

    Not sure if I’m willing to spend that kind of money yet or not though for Christmas. Besides, my son “thinks” he wants a Nintendo 3DS XL right now. We’ll see.

  16. faea says:

    Meanwhile you can buy the leapfrog version for 99 which comes with games, math and reading programs. We’ve been eyeing one for our daughter because these are really good for kids with physical disabilities. My daughter is a master with our DS but that’s all we have for electronics. Besides 100 bucks for a big toy for a kid these days is not a high end. for a make-believe kitchen it would be 200 bucks.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      The Leapfrog Learning Tablet (and the VTech Innotab, for that matter) are complete garbage. If your kid is older than, say, 1, and has ever handled (or even seen) a “real” tablet (iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, etc.) they will rapidly (and correctly) deduce that the kid-oriented version is lame and useless, never play with it again, and go back to cribbing your “grown-up” tablet.

      Not that this precise scenario played out in my house last Christmas or anything…

      • EE2000 says:

        Not really I got my brother ( Who is 35 but is mentally and physically handicapped ) the Innotab last year for the holidays. So far he likes it though I am sure he doesn’t use it as much as he did because he gets bored with things easily enough.

        I do plan on getting him Tabeo though I am not sure how well he can use it with his fingers so I will also get him a stylus for it so he doesn’t jab the screen with his fingernails all the time.

  17. Chris Long says:

    Creating a market where previously only a annoyance existed…

  18. JonBoy470 says:

    I’m amused by all the comments from folks who clearly don’t have little kids. For better or worse, in this day and age, any kid who doesn’t get exposure to “technology” from an early age will be woefully behind the curve as they get older. Yeah you had Madlibs or License Plate Bingo but trust me, the main/only reason your parents didn’t shove iThings in your face on long trips to shut you up is that iThings didn’t exist yet X years ago when you were a kid. Besides, “Go outside and ride your bike” only gets you so far when it’s raining sideways outside and the wind’s blowing 45 MPH. “Use a telescope” riiight I live in DC metro, home of uber light pollution. I’ll just let them rock Skyview…

    There’s actually quite a lot of devlopmentally appropriate content and apps, at least on iPhone. Developers have definitely caught on that parents let their little kids play with them.

    I’ve got a 2 1/2 year old son. He’s not yet toilet-trained, but damn if I can’t hand him my iPhone, and without further assistancehe unlocks it, swipes around my half-dozen home screens, finds Angry Birds Space or Candy Town and goes buck-wild. My 6 and 8 year old sons discovered Minecraft on their own, and now go buck-wild building random structures in a fantasy world. I don’t bother PIN locking my iThings, because (like every other smartphone) the lock screen has a “Emergency Call” function that works even when the phone is locked. Letting a 2 year old call 911 is a great way to get the local police to show up at your front door within a few minutes. Especially fun when they do it Christmas Day. Not that I know from personal experience or anything…

  19. EE2000 says:

    This might actually be really good for my handicapped brother. I might have to get it for him for Christmas.