June 2nd, 2009

VTech Kidizoom Digital Camera

We got a VTech Kidizoom Digital Camera  as a holiday gift for Elise last year. From the get-go, I had very low expectations for a digital camera designed for the preschool set. Something that could withstand falls from great heights, drool, juice, and snot? And still function? I imagined images that look like grainy shadows and abstract art.

The camera did not disappoint.

First of all, it’s made rugged. It feels weighty in the hand, with big, rubber grips on each side for some serious man-handling. (My ultimate test of ruggedness is if I flinch when Elise picks something up:  this camera passes.)

She can turn on the camera and start taking pictures all by herself. I get a kick out of browsing through her photos: many artistic close-ups of her own shirt, feet, black space, and the cat. The camera also has this nifty feature of being able to choose a fun frame or photo props. For instance, you can choose the pirate hat and eye patch prop and suddenly you don’t just have a photo of an annoyed cat, but of an annoyed cat, Matey, Arrr! I’m also especially fond of the pig snout prop which I have shot many a picture of the Husband wearing. (Okay, so I enjoy this feature more than the child.)

When I do let Elise play with the camera, I appreciate the auto-off feature to save our AA battery stores from rapid depletion (it takes four). This is a critical feature. Just as nothing gets put away in our house, nothing gets turned off either.

Back to the resolution: as I expected. Cell phone camera bad. I don’t know, 0.3 megapixels sounds like a lot but apparently it’s grainy shadows and abstract art. Not helped by a preschooler’s sense of distance (thisclose) or ambient light (nonexistent). The automatic flash seems to fire a lot, creating Really! Spectacular! Whiteness! There’s also no zooming capacity, despite what its name might imply. A fatal naming flaw, if you ask me.

But, then again, my low expectations really come in handy because I’m perfectly fine with this resolution, as is Elise.

The camera has 16 MB of internal memory and there’s a SD card slot for extra memory. For us, the internal memory capacity has been fine although we haven’t yet tapped into the camera’s video-taking ability or the three games included. (Hmmm. Maybe that’s why there’s those extra buttons back there…) It also comes with connector cables to hook up with a computer or a TV and a disc with its basic photo editing software.

Overall, I’m really happy with this camera. Not only to put pig snouts on the Husband, but to give Elise her own little creative outlet. Some of the photos are quite lovely and sweet. Best, I get to see things from her perspective, as divergent from horizontal as they may be.

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This Weeks Tip

Got an ant problem? Believe it or not, you don’t have to rely on toxic chemicals to get rid of the little pests. There’s a great natural repellant: cinnamon. Turns out ants hate it. Generously sprinkle the spice in the spot where the ants are getting into the house. And if you see the little vermin crawling around, sprinkle some cinnamon on them too. If they return to the nest smelling cinnalicious, it will deter other ants from trying the same path.