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Pantech Vybe Review: First Phone For Kids

Pantech vybe first phone kidsBack to school is a busy time for parents, preparing their kids for the classroom, fall sports and other activities. Choosing a new phone and managing cell phone use is also at the top of many parents’ list. Kids nowadays use phones as one of their main forms of communication with other kids as well as pesky parents who pick them up and drop them off places. I covered the topic of deciding on the right age to buy a phone and tips on setting up your kid’s first phone in a recent back to school post.  I drove to the AT&T store myself to try to figure out which phone I was going to buy for my twin boys who are starting middle school. After receiving an email about the Pantech Vybe, I decided to do a review of the phone with my twins.

 

As I mentioned in my “tips for buying your kids a phone” post, I believe phones should be given to kids on an as-needed basis. My kids are taking the bus, riding their bike or walking to school and activities on their own now we decided it was time for them to have their own phones. Because they are just starting middle school, I just wanted to have the ability to call, text and use phone tools while not using any social network or the mobile web. The Pantech Vybe is a great first phone because in addition to making calls it has a slide out keyboard that’s perfect for texting and has its own operating system so kids can’t use app stores to load up on apps and games. We also found it helpful to have the option to disable data on the phones if necessary.

 

Of course at first we the kids pushed back. They wanted an iPhone or another fancy smartphone like some of their other 11-year old friends. Beyond being RIDICULOUS that 11 year olds have full featured smartphones in the first place, tweens especially may not understand the consequences of all of their actions – so why give them mobile tools to do so?  We do believe as a family that all kids should be educated and make informed decisions about Internet safety but temptations and peer pressure can be hard for tweens/teens to resist. Already one of their peers is posting things on Instagram that are pretty alarming for their age group.  While many kids have full access to browsers and apps on tablets, desktops and laptops at home – at least those devices are being used at home and not being taken with them every day and used without supervision.

 

PANTECH VYBE SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
FEATURES:
Here are the features of the Pantech Vybe:

  • Slide-out QWERTY Keyboard
  • 3.2” Touchscreen Display and 3 Customizable Homescreens
  • Hands free one-touch “Say-A-Command button”

 

The user manual has information on setting up and also found the Pantech support section of the AT&T website useful because of the setup videos.
pantech vybe home screen

 

Touchscreen Display, Navigation and Customizable Home screens:

The touchscreen display is 3.2 inches and can be customized with favorite apps such as notepad, calculator, contacts and more.  There is even a hands free one-touch “Say-A-Command” button. Pantech included a proprietary dual-user mode: “Easy Mode has one home screen and a simplified menu for a truly intuitive user experience. Advanced Mode is customizable and offers more options and flexibility. You can safely switch back and forth between modes without losing your contacts or favorites. ”

 

What I found useful to understand is that there are two types of “menus” in advanced mode. The main menu is called the home screen (starting point for using applications on your phone) . The home screen can be customized with a picture or standard backgrounds (customizable from “display” section of tools). One of the home screens can be customized to display shortcuts for favorite apps (Max 9 icons can be added) and another for web addresses. Once the main screen is set up it is simple to use the phone (unlock, tap and go).
The second menu is listed on the home screen in the navigation at the bottom as “Menu”. This has access to load lots of different tools (more than the 9 max on the home screen). In the tools area we loaded shortcuts for pre-loaded apps such as sketch pad, notepad, calculator, alarm clock voice memo, pictures, address book, video player, and camera.

 

Entertainment:
The “My stuff” folder has applications, games, audio (alert tones and ring tones), music, pictures, video, other files and info on memory. Available games include brain challenge and UNO (we bought the full version of Uno). You can insert a memory card if you wanted. For kids who do have data plans there is a video player and for those who want to load music there is a music player. The help section of the website has instructions on how to transfer music to the Pantech Vybe.

 

What I like about the Pantech Vybe is that it does not have access to an app store so kids are limited to what is loaded on the phone. As I said in my “getting your kid their first phone tip post”, having access to app stores can be expensive and give access to inappropriate apps for kids.  While the Pantech Vybe does have Facebook, Twitter and mobile web apps – I explained to my kids that we blocked the data plan so they can’t use those apps anyway.

 

AT&T Services:
Along with the other apps, the Pantech Vybe has AT&T services apps preloaded such as like AT&T Navigator, AT&T Address Book, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Drive Mode and myAT&T so I can help them see their account information.

 

Specifications:

The specifications have the phone at just 4.94 ounces so it is light for the kids to either carry in their pocket, bags or backpack pockets. It is also slim at just 2.32 inches width and 4.49 inches height (depth is only .51). The 3.2″ TFT Touchscreen Display has nice resolution (240 x 400) for a first phone and the touchscreen makes it more intuitive to use. Calls made to my sons on the phone sound great. I am able to hear them clearly and they have been able to hear me (even if they don’t want to!).

 

The proprietary operating system (Pantech Proprietary J2ME)  gives me comfort that they can only use the apps pre-loaded on the phone.  The Pantech Vybe has cellular technology to meet my kids need (2G – Quad Band (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) – (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) 3G – Tri Band (UMTS/HSDPA) – (850/1900/ 2100 MHz) and Bluetooth if they want to use it with wireless accessories.

 

Overall my kids are very happy with the phone and were able to start using it without any instruction from me. But we did of course spend the time to go over the family phone use rules, multiple times to make sure they understand (even though I had to hear “I KNOW Mom!!” multiple times).   With the Pantech Vybe I have the comfort of knowing they can call and text with a phone that has all the features they need right now (as a middle schooler) without having too much access to the wide range of apps available on other smartphones and in other app stores. When my twin boys turn 13, maybe we will allow them to use the Pantech Facebook app

 

Pantech Vybe Overview from press release:

Purchasing your child’s first mobile phone has become a rite of passage for tweens and young teens, and parents too. The big question looms: Is your tween ready for a cell phone?  The Pantech Vybe is a great compromise, offering your child plenty of must-have features like messaging, easy camera access and social media without unrestricted access to apps and a high data plan. The Pantech Vybe is your solution.

The Pantech Vybe is an affordable, easy to use quick messaging phone, with access to the features and apps kids want at a price parents love. With a low-cost monthly plan for talk and text, the Pantech Vybe is an attractive option to add to a family plan at an affordable price.

In addition to being budget-friendly, the Pantech Vybe is tween and teen-approved with a slide-out keyboard for quick and easy texting, social media shortcuts, quick camera button, multiple customizable home screens and music and video players.

 

The Pantech Vybe is $29.99 with a two-year contract and can be purchased exclusively at AT&T. For more information on the Pantech Vybe, visit MyFirstPhone.com”.

 

 

Here is a video I received with the press release:

 

 

 

Disclosure: I have received products for review purposes.

 

 

 

Hands On: The Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z For Work At Home Moms & As Family PC

When I first received the package for my review of the Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z  All-in-One (see disclosures below), I was excited but also worried about having the time to set up a new computer. I wondered how a desktop would fit into our full house and be shared by my three boys and me, a mom working from home. I was also curious what it would be like to have a 19″ screen computer in our house versus the smaller laptop screens. After unwrapping and using the Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z, my concerns were quickly put to rest as the computer is now a welcomed (and much needed) addition to our home.

TECHIE DETAILS: The Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z I am reviewing has an integrated 19” Widescreen Flat Panel Display (16:10), Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 processor, 320GB hard drive, 2 GB Ram, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, web cam, USB mouse,
optional built-in microphone, DVD slot,  1.3MP webcam,  integrated speakers,DirectX® 10 integrated graphics card and 6 USB ports (3 rear and 3 side). It comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional 32 bit and is Energy Star 5.0 compliant.

Best yet – there is a 1 year on-site warranty which means someone will come the customer’s location to fix the computer should there be a problem. Access to the hard drive and memory is well designed. The starting price is same as a netbook: $499, with the configuration above costing $729. The hard drive options are 160GB, 250GB, 320GB and 500GB. The RAM options are 1GB or 2GB with 2 slots allowing an upgrade to 4GB.  The form factor is only 2.44″ thick and it is a “all in one” so the desktop and monitor are a single unit. The A70z can be wall-mounted using additional hardware if the use prefers a fixed location for the computer.

There are  three mounting options: stand, desk arm and wall (all
optional and sold separately) and Simple cable management for crowded work spaces
.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z  PRODUCT FEATURE PAGE

TRANSLATION: This is a budget friendly family desktop PC, yet it can also be a solution for work at home parents. We don’t have a separate work space for a desktop so we use our dining room table (the one in our living/dining room that get’s used twice a year for holidays and used daily for homework). The Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z was light and compact enough to be moved when we needed the space for entertaining. The 19″ screen is a welcome change  (along with crisp graphics) from a smaller laptop screen. The wired keyboard and mouse shipped with the A70z was comfortable for both my kids and me. The boot up time was quick, and the Intel Core 2 Duo processor fast enough to perform all the family computing tasks.

The picture above is an press kit image. I wish I had a home office that looks like this… If this was a picture of me it would include baskets of unfolded clean laundry around the desk and assorted Lego structures on the floor from my sons…But the picture does show the clean looking – slim form factor of the Lenovo ThinkCentre A70z.

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Goodbye Kinko’s, Hello Epson Artisan 800

Click HERE to visit the GIVEAWAY CONTEST at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog  (the Giveaway is an Epson Artisan 800).

With all the home technology choices available, one of my most
difficult decisions was selecting a printer to buy. So I used the "home
away from home-office" (Kinko's) for printing, scanning and faxing
while looking around for the right printer. I was considering going to
Kinko's to print name tags and stickers for the recent LA Moms Blog launch party. But this time I decided it was time to find a printer so that my office could come back home.

My
required features included built in Wi-Fi available to the multiple
laptops in our house (via our wireless router), plus high-quality fax
and scanner capabilities. I needed the printer to have multiple printer
settings and a variety of trays so I could print everything from
photos, paper documents and nametags/stickers. I also wanted the ability to print
photos without the requirement to wire a computer directly into the printer (I download from my digital camera).
Along with that, I wanted a printer that has separate printer
cartridges for colors so I only need to replace the actual colors that
are out – instead of the whole cartridge.
Most of all, I am not only a techie but also a busy mom  – so the printer needed to be intuitive and easy to use.

As timing would have it (seriously), the One2One Network contacted me to to see if I wanted to review the Epson Artisan 800 Series All-in-One Printer. When I checked the fact sheet, I was happy to see that the printer had ALL my desired features and more.

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It also looked so sleek….

The Artisan 800 has a
touch panel/LCD for easy instructions along with Wi-Fi networking,
multiple print settings and paper trays. The printer is an
All-in-One with the ability to print, copy, scan, and fax.  I was starting to think that my home office would get some "real" office functionality.

But the real test for any parent using a computer is the overall ease of installation and use.

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