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Mattel Juice Box kids' portable media player

How to keep the little mites' mitts off your iPod

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Review No matter what people say, gadgets are expensive, especially the latest ones. It's no surprise then that a face of horror would come over your face if you saw a small child toying with your newly acquired, £400 portable media centre. These things are supposed to be robust, but who are we kidding, we know kids mangle their own toys, let alone ours, writes Stuart Miles.

Mattel Juice BoxWhether it's because it has seen a gap in the market, or just sees kids as an easy target, Mattel has launched the Juice Box, a portable media centre aimed specifically at children.

The JB sports a 2.75in screen, offers video and MP3 playback and costs around £80, meaning that you won't be so terrified when you see a little one with their mitts all over it. The video playback quality is poor, but then the kids and parents we showed the unit to didn't seem to mind much. The sprogs were kept quiet, and as one parent put it: "Cartoons don't need to be hi-res to work." It's a good point and one that has obviously allowed Mattel to keep the price down.

Aside from the player, which sports the usual pause, play, fast-forward, and rewind controls, you get a cartridge with which to load up more content. The cartridges are small and will probably get lost very quickly. The player runs off three AAA batteries, enough for six hours' constant use, Mattel claims. It even offers an in-car adaptor to help keep the tykes happy on six-hour or longer journeys.

There's an MP3 starter kit in the box too, comprising software, a spare cartridge, a 32MB SD card and an SD Card reader. This bundle is a stroke of genius in our minds, and means that you can decide what content you want your kids to use. The software is straightforward and the fact that its SD makes it all easier to use. Of course, some might say it's just more bits waiting to be lost, but it certainly beats the Video Now system where you're tied into purchasing content on proprietary discs.

Verdict

This isn't a player you'll want to borrow for yourself, but then it isn't supposed to be. What we like most is the fact that this device doesn't insist you sign up to any particular format that only Mattel sells, at an inflated price. Think kids' videos, think audio books, think you having full control over what goes on the device. For all that, this device scores highly in our books.

Pocket-Lint.co.uk

Mattel Juice Box
 
Rating 80%
 
Pros — Easy to use; durable; the bundled MP3 expander pac.
 
Cons — The screen is not great quality; getting cartridges in and out is a pain.
 
Price £80
 
More info The Mattel site

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