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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6 Responses to Disney Taps Kiddie Laptop Market

  1. I bought my laptop in 2005. There's something quite depressing about the idea of six-year-old girls clad in Princess Pink having a machine with better specs…

  2. It isn't really a nice thought thinking of kids with their own laptops, if you had your own first computer when you were older.

    I'm 21 now. My family had a computer since I was about 7. We went online when I was about 10. We had a couple of computers since hten. I got my first computer, an over-powered laptop paid for by my granddad's will, when I was 17. I got a Mac mini when I was 18 and an MSI Wind at 21.

    So while it's kinda weird to think of little kids having their own computers, all the power to them. If I had been tinkering away earlier, chances are I'd be way better at web design and development now. These kids won't stay obsessed with Disney forever and soon they'll be the new breed of geeks.

    The only real problem – beyond getting your head around kids learning to read on screens instead of books and playing games not on the little kiddy TV controller console, but online instead – is the parental controls.

    I like the idea of a whitelist, because a blacklist for the internet, as it expands so much daily, is totally pointless for hoping to block out all porn/violence/etc. Then they can just hook them up to the kids' TV channel websites, a couple of educational sites and any more specific sites their kid will want to visit. I'm surprised there aren't far more parental controls with a whitelist. The only problem is if these whitelisted sites still allow external links to work, because some external links are useful and others are just ads which could lead onto sites with ads that lead to other sites (with the cycle continuing) that kids shouldn't be on.

    Good on Disney, though. Let's just hope the branding doesn't go over the top and it's still just a nice way to get kids into geekery.

  3. It isn’t really a nice thought thinking of kids with their own laptops, if you had your own first computer when you were older.

    I’m 21 now. My family had a computer since I was about 7. We went online when I was about 10. We had a couple of computers since hten. I got my first computer, an over-powered laptop paid for by my granddad’s will, when I was 17. I got a Mac mini when I was 18 and an MSI Wind at 21.

    So while it’s kinda weird to think of little kids having their own computers, all the power to them. If I had been tinkering away earlier, chances are I’d be way better at web design and development now. These kids won’t stay obsessed with Disney forever and soon they’ll be the new breed of geeks.

    The only real problem – beyond getting your head around kids learning to read on screens instead of books and playing games not on the little kiddy TV controller console, but online instead – is the parental controls.

    I like the idea of a whitelist, because a blacklist for the internet, as it expands so much daily, is totally pointless for hoping to block out all porn/violence/etc. Then they can just hook them up to the kids’ TV channel websites, a couple of educational sites and any more specific sites their kid will want to visit. I’m surprised there aren’t far more parental controls with a whitelist. The only problem is if these whitelisted sites still allow external links to work, because some external links are useful and others are just ads which could lead onto sites with ads that lead to other sites (with the cycle continuing) that kids shouldn’t be on.

    Good on Disney, though. Let’s just hope the branding doesn’t go over the top and it’s still just a nice way to get kids into geekery.

  4. I bought my laptop in 2005. There’s something quite depressing about the idea of six-year-old girls clad in Princess Pink having a machine with better specs…