Group Test: In-car childrens entertainment
20th Aug 2010 | 00:00
This portable DVD player's nine-inch screen only has a 640x480-pixel resolution. Video quality can't compete with the iPad then, but 3D virtual surround sound provides decent audio, although you'll probably want to enforce the use of headphones. The dual headphone socket allows two people to listen in. There is an SD slot and, as well as DVDs the SDP94DT supports MP3s, JPEG's and DivX video files. Toshiba quotes a four-hour battery life, but attach the bundled car adaptor, which plugs into your cigarette lighter and you can avoid missing the end of the game
Internet browsing, gaming tablet, ebook reader, the iPad does it all with panache. The 9.7-inch, 1024x788-pixel screen is bright, with bags of detail. Real Racing HD looks fantastic and even apps that are optimsied to fit the iPad's screen look pretty good. The choice of apps of huge and, with the inclusion of 3G, you have the option to download movies, TV shows, games and music on the go. There's also a vast library of iBooks, with the Kindle app adding even more choice. The battery will last for a 10-hour journey too.
The next generation of gamers will start on the sturdy Leapfrog Explorer. With educational games, ebooks and videos featuring well-known cartoon characters like Ben10, starting at £10 and 512Mb storage for games downloaded from Leapfrog.com, its ideal for younger kids. Your first Leapster gaming card comes bundled with the console and includes around a dozen games. The 3.2-inch touchscreen is bold and colourful, with a 420x420 resolution. The sound effects car irritate, but a 3.5mm jack provides merciful release.
Storio is an animated ebook reader, with interactive story books featuring games that improve spelling, phonics and grammar, Ebook cartridges cost £17 each, which seems excessive. Designed for three to seven year olds the Storio has a sturdy keypad, oversized controls and rubberised rim to protect against abuse. The protector that covers the 4.3-inch screen is somewhat less robust, putting the bright and vibrant, if slightly low-res 480x272 display at risk. The eight-hour battery will survive most road trips.
The XL is the big daddy of the DSi range, with two 4.2-inch screens. The larger screens enhance the gaming experience, but text looks terrible and detail is soft on the 256x192-pixel screen. There's an SD slot for music playback and dual 0.3 megapixel cameras with a selection of 'fun' filters, but it's the games that matter; the DSi runs classics like Zelda Spirit Tracks and New Super Mario Bros. At £25 a pop, they're expensive, although you can download other games from the online DSi shop. The battery lasts for nine to 13 hours, making it a long-term boredom buster.