Typically, we don’t review tablet products designed solely for children, such as the LeapPad 2 Learning Tablet or the Nabi 2 7″ Kids Tablet, because they look and behave more like toys than serious computing or communications devices. However, while checking out all the nifty gadgets at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we came across a device in the something-you-don’t-see-every-day category: a combined tablet/smartphone that also doubles as a child’s learning device. What’s different about Rullingnet’s $249.99 Vinci Tab MV 5″ Tablet & Phone Combo is that it is just as much a full-fledged Android smartphone/tablet as it is a children’s educational tablet. (The “MV” stands for “Mobile Voice.”)
A 5-inch slate running Android 4.04 (also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) on a 480×800-pixel display, the Vinci Tab MV 5″ has not just one, but two unlocked SIM-card slots for connecting to 3G cellular networks. Here, “unlocked” means that the device is not designed, and therefore not “locked,” to work with any specific cellular carrier. The reason the Vinci Tab MV 5″ has two slots: It supports two different sets of 3G protocols,’ allowing it to connect with a wider range of providers, both in the’ United States’ and abroad. (We’ll talk more about the types of networks and U.S. providers supported in the Design section, on the next page.)
That might seem unusual for a “kid’s tablet,” and it is. And that’s not all: In addition to 3G network support, the Vinci Tab MV 5″ comes with just about every other standard Android smartphone/tablet feature, including GPS, expandable storage (via a MicroSD-card slot), Wi-Fi connectivity, front- and rear-facing cameras, and support for the hundreds of thousands of Android apps available at Google’s Play Store. As Android tablets go, by today’s standards, it’s a little short on storage (4GB onboard) and system memory (512MB), and the 1GHz dual-core processor is a bit of an underachiever. (Nowadays, most Android tablets run on quad-core CPUs.)
But it’s a heck of a hybrid device for the price, nonetheless. In addition to being a smartphone and 5-inch tablet, the Vinci Tab MV 5″ doubles as a child-oriented slate,’ serving as a front end for’ Rullingnet’s Vinci learning-system apps and educational videos. An age-based, three-level learning system, intended for children ranging from toddlers up to age 9, the so-called “Vinci Curriculum” consists of several well-designed 3D games, puzzles, and other learn-through-fun apps in six subjects: General Knowledge, Thinking Skills, Language & Literacy, Math & Logical Thinking, Science, and Social & Emotional.
Rullingnet offers educational programs that parents can administer themselves, as well as more sophisticated systems (from a teaching point of view) designed for daycare centers and schools. (We’ll look at these programs in more detail in the Features & Content section a little later.) The tablet itself can be configured so that your child can access only the Vinci content, which is free of advertising and in-app marketing, as well as violence or any other adult-oriented content.
In addition to the Vinci Tab MV 5″, Rullingnet also makes a few other less-expensive slates that, like several of the other tablets designed for children, run only the educational content. But the idea behind this one is a two-birds-with-one-stone approach. You—the parent—can carry it around and use it as a smartphone, tablet, or both, as needed, and you can hand it off to your child at any time, such as, say, while riding in the car (or any other time you need some peace and quiet).
Were it not for the excellent learning system, apps, games, and videos, we wouldn’t consider the Vinci Tab MV 5″ particularly impressive as either a tablet or a smartphone. It’s too small and mildly equipped, in terms of the hardware and storage, for a tablet, and it’s a bit too big, thick, and heavy for a cellphone. In addition, it turned in some of the lowest scores on our suite of benchmark tests that we’ve seen from an Android device in some time.
That said, at $250, the Vinci Tab MV 5″ fills a whole bunch of needs at least competently. It’s the least-expensive 3G-enabled tablet we know of (without having to purchase a long-term contract, that is), and the inclusion of two different cellular network protocols means that you can use it in most parts of the world. Combine that with the exceptional learning content, and we think that the Vinci Tab MV 5″ is a good value for certain users—to be sure, parents, schools, and daycare centers—but also for families that can use a multitasking device that can serve as a phone, general-use tablet, and educational tool.
See full review at Computer Shopper.