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Old 03-21-2005, 06:00 PM
John Walkosak
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 33
Default Got Kids? DataViz PDA Playground Reviewed

Product Category: Games
Manufacturer: DataViz
Where to Buy: Available from the DataViz Website.
Price: $9.99 USD
System Requirements: Runs on all Pocket PCs.

  • Protects my Pocket PC from intrusion by little hands;
  • Sounds are user controllable and password protected (believe me, on a three hour trip, this is a godsend);
  • Locks out the rest of the Pocket PC to protect against prying little hands;
  • Entertaining;
  • Outstanding price.

  • Cannot save any of the little masterpieces;
  • Button lockout not so good on a Pocket PC Phone Edition
Since I write for Pocket PC Thoughts it’s a pretty safe bet that I am a Pocket PC enthusiast. I strive to use the Pocket PC to streamline all of my daily activities. But I am also a parent, and I am not ashamed to say that I have used the Pocket PC as a mini babysitter.

Read on for the full review!

What Does It Do?

Figure 1: The main interface for the kids.

I have a four year old daughter who is more than familiar with watching me use my iPAQ and she is naturally curious as to what it does. In an effort to forge the next generation of geeks, I will often let her experiment with it using things like Conduits Pocket Artist, or the like. However, since I have a large amount of critical information on my iPAQ, letting a four year old tinker with it is living a little more dangerously than I am used to.

About a year ago I ran across a product called PDA Playground by a company called DataViz. That’s right, they’re one of the larger Palm OS software publishers with the flagship product “Documents to Go,” and PDA Playground may be the only product for Pocket PCs. PDA Playground is a set of six activities, contained within one application, which locks out the rest of the machine.

When activated, the Playground requires that the user enter a password to exit the program, or change program parameters. This means that when PDA Playground is running, my daughter cannot leave the program, or open any other application or data file on my Pocket PC. She is also prevented from changing the application sound volume. Now, I can start the program, and hand my Pocket PC right to my daughter, and I don't have to worry about her accidentally getting into my spread sheets and changing my quotes, or worse yet, deleting files inadvertently. So when my daughter feels the urge to “work" on my Pocket PC, I can start up the playground and hand her the unit without worry.

An important observation to note; on my iPAQ95 6315 Pocket PC Phone edition device, the send and receive buttons are still active even when the program is running. Hitting the “Talk” button twice will redial the last dialed number. This is a bit of a problem, and hopefully will get fixed at some point. The program really is aimed at older units.

Figure 2: The “Parents Zone” interface.

Figure 3: The Password Interface; lock it up tight.

The interface for the rest of the program is so clean that my daughter has no problems finding her way around, and she can be really self sufficient.

Figure 4: The main interface for the kids.

Yeah, But Is It Going to Get Any Use?
None of this means a thing if your child doesn’t like the program. Luckily, that isn’t really a problem.

As I said earlier, PDA Playground contains six games;

Match is your standard memory game in which you are shown some symbols on “cards” and then the cards flip over and you have to remember where the matches are. My daughter is really good at this, but I think I may need to have my short term memory checked.

Figure 5: The Match Activity.

Paint is a digital coloring book. There are several pre-made pages, and there are fill and drawing tools and lots of stock colors. The nice thing is that these coloring book pages are simple PNG files, so it should be easy to add your own custom pages. One give away to potential expansion possibilities is the fact that these PNGs are stored in a subdirectory called “basic collection.”

Figure 6: The Paint Activity.

Draw is a freeform sketchbook, using the tools from the paint collection with and without backgrounds.

Figure 7: The Draw Activity.

FollowMe is another memory game similar to the old Simon game, in which ever-increasingly complex patterns of four symbols flash, and you are supposed to repeat them. Apparently my short term memory is not very good.

Figure 8: The FollowMe Activity.

ScratchOff is a unique “activity,” strangely like those scratch-off instant lottery games some people play. Instead of seeing “you lose,” you reveal the coloring book pages. My daughter really likes this one, but I just don’t get it....

Figure 9: The ScratchOff Activity.

PuzzlePath is like those old sliding tile games where you are to put the tiles into a specific order. In this case there is a little person walking on the path as the tiles move, and you have to get them to a goal.

Figure 10: The PuzzlePath Activity.

For parents of technology loving little ones, this program will let you indulge them, without the worry of little hands deleting all of your information or applications. Plus, it’s fun!

John Walkosak is an Architect specializing in the design of hospitals and health care facilities throughout the northeast (
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Old 03-21-2005, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9
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I have a 5yr old niece who visits once in a while. I would love to give her this program to play with. But I'm extremely protective of my pda and as a result reluctant to run the program for her to play with it. A recent incident I remembered occurred last year. I gave my sony clie pda to her to play astraware's bejewled game and when I got the pda back the screen had scratches (THANK GOD FOR SCREEN PROTECTORS). So although the game thought was good and some of it looks entertaining enough for a little kid (i.e. the coloring), I would not be letting her play with this unless I had an extremely old unwanted pda to put the program on.
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,734

I concur with the above statement. Maybe wipe off would be a better name than ''scratch off"

The software looks quite nice though and I hope they go on to make a nice Childs interface to pocketpc's for slightly older children.

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Old 03-21-2005, 07:42 PM
Jonathon Watkins
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,303

So who here among us would let a young kid play with our PPCs? :worried:

Very brave of them! :lol:
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Old 03-21-2005, 09:06 PM
Raphael Salgado
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 349
Send a message via ICQ to Raphael Salgado Send a message via AIM to Raphael Salgado Send a message via MSN to Raphael Salgado Send a message via Yahoo to Raphael Salgado

I let my 2-year-old play with my imported Sony U70 Ultraportable PC because she loved the painting programs I put on it, so I must be considered either very brave, very rich (definitely not!), or very stupid, or a combination to some.

Anyhoo, I saw this program a while back but am still miffed that there's no downloadable demo to try out. :roll: While reviews are nice, I want to see how my daughter would interact with it during its trial run to see whether or not its worth plunking down $10 for it. And considering I have a PDA2K Phone Edition now, I want to see if she'll go and hit the Send/End buttons while using their program.
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Old 03-21-2005, 09:09 PM
karinatwork's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 489

My (soon to be) 3 year old has been playing with my h4150 for almost a year now. I do not allow him to play with it unless I'm close by. We like sitting together and draw pictures, and he pretty much already knows what he's allowed to do with it, and what not.
I think I'm going to get those games for him. He'll be thrilled!

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Old 03-21-2005, 11:17 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 430

I've been wanting something like this for ages.... I've got a spare iPAQ 1940 that my girls can play on, but there is not much there that is age appropriate. This is perfect.
Darryl BurlingReporting from the inside :-)blog:
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Old 03-22-2005, 12:12 PM
Bajan Cherry
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 76

My (now 7 years old) son has been playing with my iPaq 2215. When he was younger, (and I had Pocket PC 2000), I'd record his voice and play it back to him.
Now whenever I get stuck on any level of Traffic Jam, he clears it for me
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:04 AM
John Walkosak
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 33
Default Kids and Pocket PC's

I know, it sounds like a daredevil move to give my iPAQ to a 4 year old, but as karinatwork stated above, I am always with her when she is using it and it is amazing how quickly she picked it up and understands how to use it. Datavis also acknowledges that kids and really expensive, really breakable electronics don't mix, and the software will run on almost any old Pocket PC. I currently have it set up on an old Casio EM-500, which works great.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2
Default Drawing / spelling program

You can save their masterpieces with this app:

I found this quite a good for keeping my 4 year old daughter occupied while waiting in doctor's lounges.

She was more interested in doodling than actually spelling anything though.
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