My hubby loves his gadgets, and my daughter seems to have naturally inherited his “gadget gene.” Even at only 3, she loves using the iPad as much, if not more, than my husband and I. A couple weeks ago, while flipping through the newspaper circulars, my husband noticed that Best Buy is now carrying the Crayola ColorStudio HD. The ColorStudio HD consists of two items, the ColorStudio HD App, which you can download for free from iTunes, and the Crayola iMarker, which sells for $29.99. He had seen it announced earlier in the year, and had been waiting for it to be released. Of course, we had to have it. Crayola + iPad sounded like a great combo.
So, he headed out to pick up
his her new toy. Unfortunately after bringing it home, it was only disappointment to follow. The concept is great, but the execution is clearly not there. I’m honestly not sure how this made it out of the product testing phase (or how it won awards). The app itself is well thought out, featuring a selection of interactive coloring pages as well as blank pages you can choose from. You can even print out your kiddos works of art or un-colored pages for them to color the old-fashion way. Even if you don’t have an iMarker, you can you can download the app for free to use in a limited-mode, which the kids can use their fingers to color.
If you purchase an iMarker, you use it to unlock the full app by tracing a Z pattern on a page in the app. I had a bad feeling from the get-go when it took me several attempts to even unlock the app with the iMarker. Once the app is unlocked, you can no longer use your fingers to color (option can be turned back on), but rather use the iMarker for all of your coloring. We found it took so much downward pressure to get the iMarker to color that I wondered if I might damage the iPad (it even left marks on my screen protector). The iMarker itself also makes an odd “buzzing” sound when on as well. We gave it to K to play with, but after a few minutes could see her frustration, and she announced that she was “done” with it.
I attempted to email Griffin, the manufacturer of the iMarker, explaining the problems we were having and inquiring if there was any way to adjust the pressure sensitivity of the item. After three days, I finally received a reply stating “Sorry, but there is no way to adjust the pressure sensitivity.” To further validate that it was not simply our iMarker that was possibly faulty, if you check out the iTunes reviews for the app you’ll find plenty of people complaining about the same issue. Our iMaker has since been returned to Best Buy.
While I think this is a great product concept, I’d do not product in it is current form. Hopefully Griffin and Crayola can get the bugs worked out, as it really could be an awesome product, but it’s not there yet. Sorry Crayola, this one is a fail in our book.
Update 6/7/11: Griffin has added a new support page for the iMarker. For best performance, they recommend not using a screen protector or case on your iPad (mine has both). Since I already returned my iMarker, I can’t test to see if this results in better performance, but would still not purchase the product if I needed to remove my iPad’s case every time to use it. Cases and screen protectors are used to protect the device (especially from children), so clearly the product was not tested with actual children, nor thought out by people that have children :).