Product Type: VTech Child Development
Newest Review: ... any little girl, most off the buttons are chunky which is perfect for little fingers. It's more than a camera you can play games and add de... more
Do the Twist!
Vtech Kidizoom Twist Digital Camera
Member Name: chrisandmark
Vtech Kidizoom Twist Digital Camera
Advantages: Looks great, takes nice photos, a good selection of games and effects to choose from
Disadvantages: The special features of the camera aren't really all that exciting, very cumbersome and bulky
Aesthetically it's fantastic, chunky and colourful with colour coordinated hand grips and a 1.8" full colour screen. I love the way the large buttons have been arranged around the screen as this gives the camera more of a games console appearance, which might not be particularly appealing for us adults but certainly makes it seem a more exciting gadget for young children. The buttons all 'do something' and are pictorially marked so that the user knows straightaway what each one does, I think it took Hollie less than an hour to suss out the basics of the camera and from that point on she could use it pretty much unaided - only coming to us when she needed help with adding backgrounds or effects, which can be fiddly to begin with when your little one is already trying to grasp the concept of simply taking decent photos.
The soft touch hand grips are comfortable to hold but in my opinion they'd benefit from being slightly smaller. Hollie is a dainty child with dainty hands to match, and while she could hold the grips from the day she received the Kidizoom I couldn't help thinking that they'd have been much too bulky if she had been using it from the minimum recommended age of three years (when she was absolutely dinky!). As it is now the camera covers most of her face when she's taking a photo and I do think it could have been shrunk down by an inch or so without compromising on its ease of use. I love the double viewfinder as it allows small children to look through and frame their shot without having to squint one eye closed (you'd be amazed at how hard little ones find closing one eye!) to peer through the single viewfinder on more adult cameras - the viewfinders on the Kidizoom are well spaced and wide enough that most, if not all, children will be able to easily see through them.
Using the camera is an absolute doddle. As I've already mentioned, utilising the full array of special effects takes a little getting used to but with experience (and maybe a bit of help from mum and dad) some fantastically fun pictures can be created. The buttons are all pretty self-explanatory and it didn't take Hollie long at all to work out what each one does, and more importantly at what point during her photography session to press each button - the 4x digital zoom is operated via a small responsive wheel on one of the hand grips, and while this works extremely well Hollie did struggle to remember to use it sometimes simply because it's located away from the other buttons. I can definitely see why VTech have placed it in this position as it's quite possible to adjust the zoom while you're actually framing your shot, although I suspect the average small child would have difficulty actually operating this zoom wheel without looking at it which to be renders its clever placement a bit useless. The flash is great and enables Hollie to take photos in any setting, indoors or out, I particularly like the fact that it's set to automatically come on when the camera is switched on and needs to be manually switched off - if it was the other way round I feel this would make using the flash just a little bit more tricky as no doubt she'd forget to press the 'flash' button and would end up with dark and dismal photographs.
The 'Twist' in the name of the camera relates to the fact that you can twist the lens round to take a photo of yourself, without resorting to the dreadful 'extended arm' shots seen every day on Facebook. This aspect of the camera is super; all children love to look at themselves and Hollie is no exception, the easily twisted lens has given her hours of fun as she snaps herself pulling the most bizarre faces! Of course, the business side of the camera is still facing her thanks to this clever lens rotation so she can see herself on the screen and push the button to take the photo at the optimum point in her 'silly faces' session - this has also been fantastic for her to take photos of herself with her siblings, although the weight of the camera does make it a bit awkward for her to hold it with one hand so she'll usually ask one of her big sisters to take the actual shot to enable them both to be centred properly in the photo.
The quality of photos is pretty good - not exceptionally so due to the fact that it's only a 2 megapixel camera, but they're perfectly acceptable considering they've been taken by such a young child. I wouldn't say they were exactly blurry, but are certainly not as sharp as photos taken using my 'proper' camera (and nor would I expect them to be!) - when viewed on the camera screen they're great, it's only after they've been transferred to the laptop or viewed on the television that this lack of sharpness is really apparent. I'm not impressed with the quality of video as this suffers streaking if the subject of the video moves too quickly or suddenly, and I think the overall quality of videos taken is rather poor - the fact that the Kidizoom features a video recorder at all is good I suppose, but Hollie hasn't used this feature much as she prefers to take quicker still shots which she can control more fully herself.
Other functions on the Kidizoom Twist include a selection of five games, an option where you can view your photos in a slideshow and a robotic voice changer. I must admit Hollie hasn't really spent much time using these extras but this is mainly because she has a DS and a Wii for games, plus is extremely computer literate for her age so prefers to transfer her photos to the laptop and watch the slideshow on there. Obviously she'll utilise the 'Wacky Effects' on the Kidizoom itself, but doesn't show the interest I thought she would in the (pretty clever in my opinion!) slideshow featured on the camera - I think this is due to the fact that the photos are displayed so slowly that she gets bored waiting for the picture on the screen to change, and really the effects aren't spectacular enough (although amusing) to hold her interest for long. She enjoys playing the Odd-One-Out game but again prefers other methods of playing it, usually using the very un-techie flash cards I bought her as a toddler. Having said that, her younger cousin (at three) loves the games on the Kidizoom so I suspect it all depends on the individual child as to whether they're going to be used fully or not. We've had some fun with the voice changer as who doesn't love altering their voice with this type of effect? It frightens the life out of my two year old however, so kindly Hollie tends not to use it unless he's in bed or otherwise engaged!
Transferring images to the laptop is a very simple job accomplished using the USB cable which comes bundled with the camera - the first couple of times Hollie's dad did the transfer, but now Hollie herself is more than capable of following the simple on-screen instructions and has only had a problem once when the software inexplicably froze mid-transfer. I'm happy with the small rubber cover for the USB connection on the camera itself as this not only prevents dust from gathering in the small hole, but also hides it from Hollie's little brother who I'm sure would otherwise try to stick a pencil or something in there! The Kidizoom will hold a reasonably impressive 300 photos or up to ten minutes of video, the memory can be expanded with an SD card which needs to be purchased separately - we have a glut of SD cards in this house but due to the pretty low level of use have never needed to insert one into the camera as the internal memory is plenty for Hollie, mainly I'd imagine because of her lack of interest in the video function. I seem to recall batteries were included when Hollie received the Kidizoom Twist, but when the time comes to replace them you'll need four AA batteries (which live in the hand grips) - four may sound a lot, but you need to remember that this isn't a simple camera and all the added features obviously require extra battery power than if it was being used simply to take photographs. I've found the batteries last pretty well, casting my mind back to when it was new I remember being impressed at the original batteries lasting for well over a week despite absolutely crazy excessive use by all the kids in the house - now the novelty has worn off they last even longer, mainly because Hollie still prefers using my camera to her very pink (and very cumbersome) Kidizoom.
Would I recommend the Kidizoom Twist? Well, yes I would but with the proviso that you have a really good think about whether it will be good for your child. Hollie hasn't been as impressed as I thought she'd be and in all honesty this £40 gift hasn't been utilised as much as it should have been. As a camera it works brilliantly, and the novelty element *is* fun (for how long will depend on the age and maturity of the individual child) but Hollie lost interest pretty quickly and by the time she'd added a few eye patches and pirate hats to photos of her dad she just didn't really want to do it anymore! The recommended age range is three to nine years; while I agree with the minimum age, I certainly wouldn't buy it for a nine year old due not only to the very childish design but also because I'm sure most modern nine year old children would want (or already have, more likely!) a proper digital camera rather than a Kidizoom!
Summary: A very easy to use camera for small people - it won't be a good buy for all kids however
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