Whether you believe in a kid-oriented laptop probably depends on whether you have kids, and whether you like the idea of them fiddling with your own computer when you're out of the room. Accordingly, your reaction to the Satellite L635 will probably vary.
Toshiba's Best Buy-exclusive Satellite L635 feels at first glance like a larger-scale version of the education-oriented Netbooks we've seen from Intel and others. A ruggedized look, bright colors, and a easy-to-clean keyboard create that impression most of all, but in reality this is a full 13.3-inch-screen laptop that isn't much different under the hood from the low-end doorbusters you might see in retail circulars. We got to check one out recently, and it seemed pretty much like many entry-level Toshiba Satellites we've used before, except for its rubberized keyboard.
Besides size and capability, another key difference lies in its target audience: this is meant for home use, whereas many of the educational Netbooks we've seen, such as the Intel Classmate and HP Mini 100e are institutionally targeted, many of them never even seeing the light of a retail store. The Satellite L635 will be at Best Buy starting September 26.
For $499, the Satellite L635 includes a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a DVD drive. In addition, it has a number of key kid-oriented software programs preinstalled, including NetNanny, a content-filtering kid-oriented Web browser called KidZui, and the full Lego Batman game. It's not a very compact laptop, but for a kids' room it could be an ample replacement for a desktop.
Toshiba reps claim the age range is intended for those between 7 and 15 years old, but we think this type of laptop is best suited for the lower end of the scale--any preteen or older will likely want a much fuller-featured machine.
Considering how computer-savvy most kids already are, kid-oriented laptops can't help but seem a little bit silly. The Satellite L635 offers no extra protection in its design apart from its easy-to-clean but not spill-proof keyboard. Plus, you can always select another laptop and install the software yourself. On the other hand, having a branded product ready to go off the shelf might be exactly what some parents need to avoid extra stress.
Are you a parent? What say you? We defer to your judgment on this one. Sound off in the comments below.