‘Tis the season for back to school, and thus, ’tis the season for gadget reviews! Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out some brand new electronic toys; specifically, a phone, an ultrabook and a brand new Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC. (Yes, I’m feeling très geek chic.) The truth is, even though I’m not a tech writer, I have a pretty good handle on what works well for my family, and hence, am enthused to share some of our favourite gadgets for the new school year. Let’s begin with the All-in-One.
Courtesy of HP, we received the new HP ENVY Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC. Touted as “the desktop with a built-in battery that leaves the desk behind”, your family can enjoy an all-in-one that moves with you. Stand the touchscreen upright to watch movies, then move it to the living room and lay it flat for group games and creative projects. Think of it as the king of tablets. And when I say king, I mean King Kong, because the 20-inch HD display is downright massive.
So, Ryder has been at school for just over 3 weeks now. And even though I feared he may have an awkward, fearful transition – he had been just fine. More than fine, actually; while he still shows signs of anxiety, he also shows excitement for going to class because he loves to learn. Reading, writing, math and art – you name it – he is utterly obsessed with gaining knowledge. And so we try to tailor the activities at home to keep the Brain Training alive; you’ll often find Ryder’s head buried in a primary reader, assembling 100-piece puzzles on the floor and always, always colouring. (And shouting at little Reid to colour between the lines.)
Last month, HP issued a Brain Training Challenge aimed at helping parents and teachers give young learners the creative edge in a competitive world. I was asked to perform a series of challenges with my boys in the first few weeks of school – a “kick start” of sorts to get their creative and analytic juices flowing from the beginning. Of course, I had the perfect tester!
Before I chat about the visually-striking, family friendly educational apps we tried, I really should point something out. See the HP ENVY Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC on my coffee table? Did you notice anything that’s missing? Oh, just the EXTENSION CORD – that’s right, with a built-in battery, my entire “home office” is now completely mobile! So when I’m not pounding away on the keyboard drumming up blog posts, the kiddos are watching movies online, playing games and
fighting over taking turns with the apps I’ve downloaded from the Windows store.
Our family favourite is the Fresh Paint app. With two young boys who adore colouring, it’s easy to see why they’d be drawn (no pun intended) to an app that allows them to express themselves creatively! The app is free to download but there are a few inexpensive add-ons that you may want to purchase – like this Finding Nemo colouring book with 22 sheets. For just $2.99, I bought myself hours and hours of freedom. The whine-free kind of freedom.
The touchscreen is completely intuitive, very responsive and perfectly suited for tiny little fingertips. But here’s why it receives an A+ chez Lena… see below. The boys are playing their favourite puzzle game, JIG WARS. (It’s also MY favourite puzzle game, because we don’t have to deal with stray pieces under our couch.) You’ll notice that we’ve flattened the hinged stand (very awesome feature, BTW) so that the boys can play together. That’s right – together.
The 10-point touchscreen responds to multiple gestures at once! So the boys can tap, swipe, and type away at the same time, allowing them to play games, draw pictures or make beautiful music – in harmony. No more arguing over who gets the to play with the tablet! With the HP ENVY Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC, they’re sharing the screen time. And that translates to 50% less scream time for me!
Of course, every successful puzzle collaboration deserves a celebration. GO BOYS!
App-tually speaking, we’re also huge fans of Puzzle Touch, Animal Sound Box, Zoo Train and Star Chart, all available for download at the Windows Store.
Ryder has been getting his learn-on at home thanks to the wonderful myriad of creative apps available to Windows 8 users. At any given time, I can see him participate in art, biology, science or math-related activities which truly do help stimulate his learning and creativity. I’m ecstatic to take on the other Brain Training Challenges, and will be back later this week with an update. In the meantime, check out the HP ENVY Rove 20 Mobile All-in-One Desktop PC; it’s perfectly suited to families and is one of my favourite new gadgets for back-to-school 2013.
The HP products mentioned in this blog post were supplied by HP Canada.