The Vinci Tab II ($199.99 direct, 8GB) looks almost identical to the original Vinci Tab. And while Vinci addressed some of the original’s shortcomings, it’s not nearly enough to stave off the recent rise of kid-friendly Android tablet competitors. The price for the tablet itself and the additional content is still too high, especially considering its dated software and hardware. Unless you’re absolutely sold on the Vinci educational content, which is actually quite polished, you’d be better off with the Fuhu Nabi 2 or a Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD with Amazon’s FreeTime mode for kids. And if you are dead set on a Vinci, I’d recommend the smaller Vinci Tab III M.
Design and Features
The Vinci Tab II looks nearly identical to the original Vinci, with an angular slate tablet suspended within a rigid, red rubber ring. It’s a unique design that adds durability and acts as a handle for little hands to grip the tablet easily. Unfortunately, the tablet is pretty hefty—including the rubber bumper, the Vinci Tab II measures about 10 by 7.3 by 0.8 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.46 pounds. It’s bigger and heavier than the Nabi 2, which itself was on the large size for a 7-inch tablet. Along the bottom edge is a micro USB port and microSD card slot. There are two speaker ports on each side and a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera around back.
The 7-inch, 800-by-480-pixel display is passable, but well below average for a tablet this size and price. It’s the same resolution found on the smaller, 5-inch Vinci Tab III M. The screen gets bright enough, but text and image details lack sharpness and the viewing angle isn’t very wide. Touch response was a bit delayed during my tests, and, oddly, on a few occasions, the Vinci Tab II would register a scroll as a pinch-to-zoom gesture. Below the screen are the three typical Android Menu, Home, and Back buttons for navigation.
Unlike the original, the Vinci Tab II adds Wi-Fi connectivity, but only on the 2.4GHz frequency. The Tab II comes in a single 8GB model, and our 32 and 64GB SanDisk microSD cards worked fine for expanding storage.
Android and Content
The Vinci Tab II shares similar specs with the smaller Tab III M, with a single-core 1.2GHz Cortex A8 processor. It performed similarly to the Tab III M, but the M benefits from more smoothness and polish thanks to its more up-to-date version of Android.
The Tab II is running a very dated Android 2.3.5 “Gingerbread” with Vinci’s custom kid-friendly skin. In many ways it looks and works the same as the Tab III M. You still get the Parent and Kid modes, which are, on the surface, identical. The key difference between the two is that the Menu button opens extensive options for app and tablet management in Parent mode, while all options are disabled in Kid mode. Unfortunately, like the Tab III M, the Tab II has some glaring holes when it comes to the sandboxed kid-friendly experience. Holding the Home button in Kid mode opens up the recently opened apps list, and if parents forget to close out of items like the browser or Settings menu, kids will have free reign to surf the Web and change the tablet’s settings. Both Fuhu and Amazon have more comprehensive kid modes that lock out features more effectively, while Amazon’s FreeTime even lets you set time limits on usage.
As far as content goes, Vinci’s original apps are very polished compared with competitors. Vinci packages its content in curriculums and the Tab II is pre-loaded with preschool levels 1 through 3. Also included are three Vinci made story books and 20 music videos. The apps are almost all educational, teaching skills through voice prompts and touch interaction. My biggest complaint is that it’s not always completely obvious what you’re supposed to do. For example, in a number of apps, if you happen to miss the short voice prompt in the beginning, you get little additional guidance. Where other kid-friendly models preload a bunch of games and entertainment-focused content, the Vinci is decidedly focused on educating children, which many parents might prefer. Amazon doesn’t include any educational content, while Fuhu includes some good educational content, but it’s not quite as polished as Vinci’s. The Vinci curriculum targets kids as young as one-and-a-half years old, and introductory apps teach language skills. For example, the first level shows a typical child’s bedroom with various items and toys scattered about. Touching an item activates a voice prompt that identifies the item.
Another issue with the content is the price. The original Vinci Tab had a subscription style content distribution system, and since it lacked Wi-Fi, you had to purchase content through Vinci to get it on your tablet. The Tab II is not subscription based, but adding curriculums can cost anywhere from $89.99 on the low end to $179.99 at the top end.
You also get the Google Play app store and its selection of hundreds of thousands of apps on the Tab II. Vinci’s focus is on education, so if you want to add some entertaining games you can do so through Google Play. Keep in mind, however, most graphic-intensive games will trip the Tab II up.
The Vinci Tab II is bulkier, more expensive, and runs on older software than the Vinci Tab III M, which itself isn’t even that strong a contender in the kid-friendly tablet space. If you’re sold on Vinci’s educational content, I’d recomment the III M over the Tab II. But the best overall child-centric tablet experience can be found on the Nabi 2, which is the same price as the Tab II, but has specs that put it in the same league as full-fledged tablets like the Google Nexus 7. Alternatively, get the Amazon Kindle Fire or Fire HD and set up FreeTime mode, which offers great parental controls for restricting apps and setting usage limits.
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|Screen Resolution||800 x 480 pixels|
|Operating System||Google Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) or earlier|
|Dimensions||10 x 7.3 x 0.8 inches|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|Screen Size||7 inches|
|CPU||ARM Cortex A8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||8 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc