posted on Jun 22, 2009 at 5:56AM
Head-2-Head Review: Kids Cameras Compared
Spotlight: Fisher-Price Kid-ToughBy Emily Raymond
Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera
The best part about this chunky digital camera is that it is incredibly sturdy. The packaging comes with a picture of the camera bouncing down a set of stairs and a slogan that says, “Built to survive drop, after drop, after drop!” The Kid-Tough can even survive a drop into some water, as it is waterproof to depths of 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes; however, the user manual points out that the camera is “not for underwater use.” A little dip in the toilet? No problem. A drop from the rocking chair? There might be a dent in your floor from the hefty camera, but the Kid-Tough will keep taking pictures.
That is, if the batteries are still working. The Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Camera burned through batteries at an alarming rate. The unit we tested survived about four hours of on and off picture-taking before crashing the same day we unboxed it. There are dozens of reviews on the Fisher-Price product web site that confirm that the Kid-Tough is excessive in its battery usage. Indeed, the manufacturer almost admits to a problem with the following note on its web site:
“Some consumers are experiencing issues with the newest waterproof Fisher-Price® Kid-Tough® Digital Camera. As sometimes happens in the development of new electronic products, we encountered early production challenges on a limited quantity of products. We worked to resolve the issues and want to make sure you’re satisfied with your purchase. Please call our customer service representatives at 1-888-892-6123 to talk about how we can assist you with your Fisher-Price® digital camera.”
That customer service message alone looks like a red flag about the quality of the camera. Out of nearly a hundred reviews on the Fisher-Price site, less than half would recommend the product to a friend. The average rating was 2.5 stars out of 5. The most common complaint was about the abundance of batteries needed with another major complaint being a phenomenon where the camera would turn on and then immediately turn off. This phenomenon happened to me, but a fresh set of batteries set the Kid-Tough camera straight. If you are thinking about buying this camera, invest in rechargeable batteries and keep your flathead screwdriver handy; it is required to open the battery compartment.
Some consumers complained that pictures were lost when the batteries died, but this did not happen to me. Of course, I always replaced the batteries within a day of them crashing. Because there isn’t a slot for a memory card, I would certainly hope that Fisher-Price would include some way to save photos even with dying batteries. Like I said, mine saved just fine.
The Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Camera comes in pink and blue. The sturdy body has only a few buttons that are unfortunately a bit hard to push for younger kids. The most important button – the one that takes the pictures - is very small and on the front of the camera, which seems like very poor placement to me. Why not on the top like every other camera? The other four buttons are on the back: two for scrolling through pictures, one for turning the camera on and off, and one for deleting pictures. They have large icons on them, but my 4-year-old didn’t understand what they meant. He ended up deleting about a hundred pictures just because he liked the electronic beep the camera made when he pushed the delete button.
A 1.6-inch LCD screen is on the back of the camera. The resolution isn’t great - it’s grainier and smaller than the screen on the Kidizoom – but it’s big enough for a toddler to see the image. And toddlers prefer the choppy LCD screen view over the two-eyed viewfinder any day.
As for the pictures themselves, they are far from printable. The resolution is much too small for a standard 4 x 6-inch print, and the interpolated “high” resolution option just digitally zooms to increase the number of pixels but sacrifices sharpness in the process – and there’s not much of that to begin with. My son took lots of pictures, most of stationary objects like action figures, toy cars, and plastic animals. These pictures came out either blurry or completely washed out because he would stand too close and the bright flash would make subjects disappear into a white haze. He took a few pictures of his preschooler friends too, but those were often blurry because either he or his subject was moving.
In the end, the Kid-Tough Camera is easy enough for young kids to use, but produces lousy images and burns through batteries faster than a dollar-store toy on Christmas Day.