The Kano Computer Kit is a kid-friendly computer that is not only designed to teach children about coding but also functions as a physical tool for them to understand hardware components. It really is a compact little package. Everything is included to get started with building a computer from the ground up before embarking on a coding voyage with the versatile Raspberry Pi – a piece of hardware used to power anything from cameras to motion sensors.
Looking at the design it’s obvious that the main target market here is children. If you are an advocate of the current “Maker Movement’ trend it a great starting point to introduce your kids into coding and technology. This review of the Kano Computer Kit will focus on two areas: (1) hardware and (2) software.
1. Kano Computer Kit Hardware
Firstly let’s take stock of the components contained within the Kano Computer Kit. Hopefully this will give you a good understanding of what to expect from it. On first impressions the packaging looks fantastic! The bright orange colours really make it stand out appear inviting. The keyboard, which is about the length of a Subway sandwich, is a wireless device with a built-in track-pad. Judging from the aforementioned size, an adult would most likely struggle using this keyboard as it is quite small. Although it is wireless, it includes a short USB charging cable on the rear. This doesn’t act as a data cord however. Similarly, as there are no batteries, you will need to rely on charging it up using USB.
Let’s continue. The HDMI cable is of much higher quality that what I’d normally be used to working with. I like this; durability is always a positive thing. Kano’s speaker is quite small but that is to be expected for the price, and there’s nothing to stop you from hooking up a better set of audio features should you wish. Also included is WiFi dongle for connecting to the closest network. Finally, the instruction manuals are well written and again focused at the younger computer enthusiast.
All in all, from a hardware point of view the Kano is very well presented for it’s target audience – children. One could claim that connecting all of the hardware together is not exactly intuitive, but the detailed instructions are very good at explaining the steps.
2. Kano Computer Kit Software
The Kano Computer Kit is a nice product. Like a regular laptop, it can serve many functions. But the main appeal lies in teaching non-experts how computers work ‘under the hood'”. I’ve given it a 4.5 out of 5 rating as the lagging issue can cause frustration at when you’re in the middle of your coding exercises.
I have seen some complaints about the price tag but personally I don’t think that this was too bad when you factor in all of the components. A case, keyboard, Raspberry Pi, power-cord, speaker, SD card and WiFi Dongle easily adds up. I could go on but I think you can see that it’s not extremely expensive at all.
Finally, bear in mind that the Kano doesn’t include a screen. You will need to buy one or use an existing monitor with the Kano. Again, this may be a factor that impacts your decision more. A dedicated HD screen is also available for the Kano should you find that useful, but any monitor with HDMI connectivity will work. The best advice I could give you here is to check out the reviews on Amazon before making your final decision.