Here’s one sure way to know that netbooks have captured the hearts and minds of the consumer electronics industry: Disney Consumer Products and computer maker Asus have teamed up on the Disney Netpal, a version of Asus’ EEE Pc netbook computer that will be sold through retailers like Amazon.com and Toys’R’Us. Aimed at kids ages 6–12, the Disney Netpal is pretty much a run-of-the-mill EEE netbook in terms of specs, but Disney has spiffed it up with a widgetized “Disney Magic Desktop” that puts kids’ favorite activities just a click away, and—of course—rolls in parental controls.
“Parents are comfortable with their kids using the Internet, but they want to be assured that their kids are having a safe online experience,” said Disney’s Chris Heatherly in a statement—Heather;y is head of Disney’s Toymorrow team and VP of Toys and Consumer Electronics for Disney Consumer Products. “The Disney Netpal [..] is a no-compromise device. There are plenty of terrific features and fun applications designed just for kids, but parents have ultimate control over the experience, with the power to set limits on how their kids are using the PC.”
The Disney Magic Desktop offers an easy, kid-friendly visual interface that brings kids directly to various Disney Web sites and online properties, along with 15 widgets like a stopwatch, memo pad, a calculator, and more. Onboard apps include Disney Pix for photo organization, Disney Mix for music and media management, and a “Bobblehead” app that lest kids put their faces on bodies acting out wacky dance scenes. And, of course, kids can festoon their desktops with the latest Disney teen and tween fodder, including themes from Hanna Montana and the Jonas Brothers.
A version of the Disney Netpal available via Toys’R’S will feature a 16 GB SSD; other versions will sport a 160 GB hard drive. Otherwise the specs are the same: Windows XP, 1 GB of RAM, an Intel Atom N270 processor, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, an 8.9-inch 1,024 by 600 pixel LCD display, and MMC/CD card support. The units also offer VGA output, three USB 2.0 ports, onboard Ethernet, and a VGA Webcam.
The Disney Netpals should go on sale in July for a suggested price of $349.90; carrying cases will also be available.