It’s An Android World After All: Polaroid Launches $150 Kids Tablet, Expanding Its New Lease On Life As A Digital Media Company

Polaroid’s newish image as a digital media company got one more boost today, with the launch of a new, $150 Android tablet aimed specifically at children. Simply/obviously branded the “Polaroid kids tablet,” the 7-inch device has sidestepped the holiday shopping rush to try its luck instead launching among the throng at the CES show later this month in Las Vegas.

The news comes one day after Polaroid also announced a new retail strategy, the launch of at least 10 new stores this year dedicated to digital printing, which will also become a key place also to showcase its devices.

You might legitimately criticize Google’s Android for breeding a lot of fragmentation in the mobile market, but what the open-source OS has also done is help make wireless devices like tablets and smartphones truly mainstream, and, by way of being a ‘free’ OS, pave the way for some interesting devices that cater specifically to particular market segments. The Polaroid kids tablet is part of both of those trends.

The kids tablet, Polaroid says, will be made extra-durable — as you can see by the illustration here, that will include an extra-large bumper/bezel. Other hardware specifics for the Ice Cream Sandwich-loaded device, made in conjunction with Polaroid licensee Southern Telecom, include 8GB of internal storage with an additional external SD card slot; a 1.0 GHz CORTEX-A8 processor, a rear-only camera, and WiFi-only connectivity.

And, like other connected devices aimed at the youth market, it will come preloaded with parent-controlled security features and links to educational and kids-specific content.

This will include a “Kids Cam”, Music Studio and Draw features, as well as a couple of customized interfaces to deliver children-friendly content. These include a filtered video-streaming app called Kids Vids, as well as an interface called Free Play that presents all the free apps available from a child-filtered Android app store, the App Shop.

As a parent of two young kids myself, I have to admit that I’ve been pretty disappointed with a lot of the “kid friendly” devices on the market to date, which are usually too restricted and closed-source to be truly useful. And kids, after all, like to use tablets and smartphones pretty much like adults do, as evidenced by this Harris Poll study out today on smartphone and computer usage across the U.S.

I personally haven’t taken the time to “child proof” our own connected devices and so am constantly hovering over my children every time they use them, to keep them from lapsing into near-constant browsing of very, very random YouTube content (despite my very best efforts to restrict that browsing to Khans Academy ‘let’s learn math!’ videos). Something like this seems to take advantage of the huge amount of good content out there to keep them interested, while also giving a bit of peace of mind.

Other features include hotlinks to Nook children’s books, Dr. Seuss’ catalogue and interactive books from the Smithsonian.

Polaroid is selling the kids tablet along with its other devices online as well as through Kohl’s stores.