Kano has been offering DIY computer kits for kids for a few years. Each kit is designed to help young people learn how to assemble a computer and then learn to use and create software, and I was pretty impressed with the kit I tested a few years ago.
Now Kano has introduced a new $280 Computer Kit Touch that teaches kids to build and use a touchscreen PC.
The kit includes a Raspberry Pi 3 mini PC that works as the brains of the system, a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel touchscreen display, a DIY speaker, a wireless keyboard, case, battery, power board, SD card, and other components needed to build a portable touchscreen computer.
I’m resisting the urge to call this a tablet, because it’s a bit on the thick side for a tablet. But thanks to the 3,000 mAh battery pack you can unplug the computer and use it anywhere (for up to 3 hours at a time).
Other features include 7 USB ports, 802.11n WiFi, HDMI and 3.5mm audio jacks, and a 2 watt speaker.
The system comes with a 16GB microSD card that has Kano OS 4.0 pre-installed. It’s a Linux-based operating system that’s designed to be easy to use for beginners and which includes educational software that helps kids learn to code by completing more than a hundred different challenges.
Just want to load your own software? There’s nothing stopping you. Anything that runs on a Raspberry Pi should work on the Kano Computer Kit Touch… although you may need to do a little extra digging to find touch-friendly apps.
While I don’t have the Touch Kit handy (or a kid to try it with), my friend Avram Piltch wrote about his experience using the kit with his son at Tom’s Hardware, and it sounds like they’re both fans.
There are certainly cheaper options available if you just want to give your youngster a computer or tablet for watching videos and playing games. But Kano’s latest kit certainly seems like an interesting option for anyone interested in understanding the fundamentals of how hardware and software work… the kit may be designed for young people, but I could certainly see it appealing to some adults, whether they’re parents, teachers, or not.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option and don’t mind going for a version without the touchscreen and battery, the basic Kano Computer Kit is just $150 (assuming you already have a monitor or TV that you can use as a display).