Disney Taps Kiddie Laptop Market

Not long ago I read the results of a study about litte girls and Disney Princess dolls, which pointed out the massive amount of branding involved – i.e., you can wake up in your Disney Princess sheets, brush your teeth with a Disney Princess toothbrush, eat breakfast out of your Disney Princess cereal bowl… and on and on until you slip into your Disney Princess PJs to go to bed. One of the reasons that branding is particularly powerful for kids is that they probably don’t care what thread count their sheets are, whether their toothbrush has angled bristled for maximum cavity-fighting, or whether the bowl is microwaveable. And odds are, a six-year-old doesn’t care one bit about the specs on her laptop – but given the choice between one that has a Dell logo or a Disney logo, then it’s very likely that the Disney branding team has done their job. Cue that up right after breakfast – check your email on your Disney Princess laptop.

The new Disney Netpal by Asus (the Taiwanese manufacturer known for their Eee PC netbooks, of which this is basically a Disney-fied version) will go on sale July 21 and come in “magic blue” and “princess pink.” However, they are thankfully considerably more subtle than the Disney Dream Desk PC. The price is $349.

Though the beauty of the product is that it’s not just marketed at kids with branding, but with parents, too – with control. Since this laptop is intended for kids, all of the parental control security features are built right in, and robustly. Rather than a “blacklist” of websites, parents can limit web use to an accepted “whitelist.” And also inside the laptop, Windows seems to be even more Disney-fied than the outside, with a special Disney “gadget tray” with a special Disney browser and lots of pre-loaded Disney software like “Disney Pix” (photos) and “Disney Mix” (media management).

I can’t even imagine the nightmare of trying to get other stuff to run on this machine – but I guess that’s not really the point. It’s about simplicity for ease of use, control, and branding, and just from what I’ve read about it so far, I think Disney might have this one in the bag on these counts. And here are the specs on the machine, according to PC Magazine:

  • Intel Atom N270 processor with 1 Gbyte of DDR2 RAM
  • 8.9-inch LED-backlit screen with a 1,024-by-600 resolution
  • 160-GB spinning drive
  • a VGA port, 3 USB ports, an Ethernet jack, audio-out and Mic-in, a multi-card reader, and a 0.3-megapixel webcam
  • 5 hours of battery life
  • weighs 2.6 pounds
  • runs Windows XP Home

There is also a version of the netpal exclusive to Toys ‘R’ Us, the only differences being that it features a 16-GB solid-state drive and weighs only 2.2 pounds.

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