The kano computer kit

KANO

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.





  • Recommended Age: 8 to 14
  • Global Shipping?: Yes
  • Best Place to Buy: Amazon (UK) & Amazon (USA)
  • My rating: 4.5 out of 5

 


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.

Kano Computer Kit Contents

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

In terms of software and coding, the Kano runs on an operating system with the same name: “Kano OS”, as well as Kano Blocks, which is an open-source visual programming language. Blocks can output code in JavaScript and Python among others. Once you’re up and running with Kano OS, you can explore all of the pre-installed apps. These include creating music and art by coding, playing games, crawling the web or … well, watching YouTube. On initial “fire-up” there will more than likely be some configurations and updates required. This is the case with most technology these days, especially if it’s been sitting in a warehouse for a month while updates are being released. In the interests of full disclosure I will say that I did run into a few lag issues at times where it took the software a bit longer to load.

Kano Computer Kit Operating System

My Thoughts

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.

6 comments

  1. This is an extensive review on the Kano computer kit. It would also be a good educational instrument to teach kids about the computer from home. It could help them to develop certain skills from early, lime typing and so forth. It is a good instrument and a good review. Can it be used to surf the internet?

    1. Hi Michael,
      Yep it can be used to surf the web using the Chromium browser. Another benefit is that it is ‘closed’ in nature, offering a filtered environment for children.

  2. Hi there,

    I think this is a pretty good computer kit and a great idea to get our kids started on the knowledge curve. Shame about the lag issue but 4.5/5 is still a decent rating. I think the apps and software make it a worthwhile buy. Actually let’s call it an investment, since we are investing in our kids learning and development. This would make a great Christmas gift. I wish they would do a bit more with the casing though, don’t you think it would look better if it didn’t have a transparent case?

    1. Hi Craig,
      I’m not sure, I think the Pi looks great when you can see all the connections and circuitry. I would suppose that’s one of the intentions of the inventors – to encourage kids to literally ‘see’ what’s going on and where all the pieces fit together.

  3. This is a great, easy to read review on the Kano Computer Kit. I like that it will teach children both how to code and understand the hardware components. With its easy instructions I think it would be helpful for anyone, not just children, to begin to learn those concepts. Thanks for the review!

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