MiiPC kids' Android PC lets parents clamp down on apps (hands-on)

The Kickstarter-funded Android computer has a wealth of parental control features.

Luke Westaway
Luke Westaway Senior editor

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

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BERLIN -- Are your pesky offspring constantly playing Angry Birds when they should be doing their homework or using Wikipedia to revise for a test? The MiiPC could put an end to those parents' woes.

This Kickstarter-funded box, shown off at the IFA trade show in Berlin, is an Android computer that lets parents see which apps are being used, as well as clamping down on how much time kids can spend using any particular software.

MiiPC lets parents see which apps kids are using (pictures)

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The MiiPC itself connects to a monitor, though my demo saw the tiny computer wirelessly hooked up to an Android tablet, which you'll be able to do yourself for a startup fee of about 10 euros (roughly $13 US). It has a basic desktop, which shows available apps.

The parental control features are summoned using a separate app that's currently only for iOS but will shortly be coming to Android, I was told.

Every user of the MiiPC has a profile, and this app lets you see in real-time which apps that user has fired up, and for how long. So if little Jimmy is supposed to be using his tablet for homework and you see that Bejeweled Blitz has been open for 20 minutes, you'll know it's time to administer some parental discipline.

App limits
You can introduce even more structure into your kids' computer time by blocking access to certain apps, or putting time limits on how long any particular app can be used.

You can tinker with these settings from anywhere, so if you're away with your significant other on a romantic mini-break, you can still fire up the app to see what the kids are up to at home. You can also specify which Web sites can be accessed using the MiiPC.

The idea is an interesting one, and could work well for parents with young kids who want their progeny to enjoy the advantages a PC offers, but want to put limits on the apps they have access to, and how long they can spend in each one.

If you like the idea, you can preorder the MiiPC from its site. There's a 4GB model in white with 1GB of RAM, which costs $129, or a metallic one with 8GB of storage and 2GB of RAM for $149. I also saw pink and black models in my hands-on time.

Would you buy this? Let me know, and make sure you check out more gadget news, video, and hands-on from IFA 2013.

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