The Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 is hardly a smart watch, but it makes me happy. Why?
It reminded me of the ’90s when things were simpler. There weren’t smartwatches, just digital watches and analog watches.
However, the ’90s also had a pretty groundbreaking device: the Gameboy. There’s just something alluring about the Gameboy being a multi-game device rather than just a handheld with Tetris or Snake.
The packaging of the Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 is also highly nostalgic of the stuff you’d get at a toys store such as Toys R Us. It’s large, eye-catching and it’s in a clear plastic case which makes it look like it’s behind a glass display.
Do you remember BonziBuddy, the friendly purple gorilla that could help you with random tasks? It was the Siri or Google Assistant of the ’90s and into the early new millennium. The Kidizoom has features that are as friendly and cute as BonziBuddy.
Your kids won’t have any clue about these good old times. Their standards are higher. They only know flat screens with 1080p resolution built in, and your kids probably haven’t been to a toy store with the same frequency as your generation. So, will the Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 be up to standard in their eyes?
For young kids with no standards
I think this smartwatch is really meant for very young children who have no standards yet. As we get older, our standards rise and I believe kids are the same.
The features of the Kidizoom really favour children who are still learning the time and are more easily amused with simple games as well as kids who haven’t experienced a smartphone yet. A smartphone just triumphs everything the Kidizoom can offer, except for portability.
I am well aware that the average age of kids getting their first cellphone is much earlier than 20 years ago, so I know there’s going to be a very brief period in which the Kidizoom has its niche.
I am not sure when you got your first digital camera, but it was quite a remarkable event in my life.
Even though the photo quality was horrible, I was just glad that I could take unlimited photos and never have to wait for the film developers to get the prints back.
If your child doesn’t have a smartphone already, then the Kidizoom could offer them a camera with which they can take photos and videos.
It’s quite a crappy camera by today’s standards. The maximum resolution for photos is 640×480 pixels, which makes it a 0.3 megapixel camera. That was exactly the resolution of my first digital camera over 20 years ago.
You can also take videos for a maximum of 60 seconds at a resolution of 320×240 pixels maximum. The frame rate is really low, though, perhaps 15 frames per second or less.
It’s just not very good if your child has a smartphone because even the cheapest smartphone will defeat the Kidizoom with ease. Photo quality really feels like a throwback to the early 2000s when digital cameras were new.
Remember the photo booths from a long time ago where you’d go in and take a picture with your friends and have it printed immediately? Well, this smartwatch also has a photo booth-like camera effects where you can add stickers to your images such as unicorns, crowns, rabbit ears and frames.
Nonetheless, it’s convenient to have a wrist-mounted camera that can be used at any moment. There’s even a dedicated shutter button on the smartwatch for you to take photos. This is great and was really helpful when I was doing sports where my smartphone was inaccessible.
Kids don’t take care of stuff. I know because I destroyed my room’s hardwood floor and only came to regret the lack of care in my late teens.
That’s a bit of a problem when it comes to the Smartwatch DX. The Kidizoom is splash proof, but not suitable for showering, bathing nor swimming.
I read this warning in the manual and promptly went to take it paddling. I got a few splashes here and there, but everything seemed fine.
The lack of waterproofing is a bit unfortunate because you’d have to tell your child to keep this watch away from water. Although, to be fair, I wouldn’t take my Gameboy into water either.
I have never seen a smartwatch with this level of creativity in their watch faces.
No other smartwatch, even the premium, adult ones has these many watch faces with so many different graphics and representations of an analog/digital clock. It’s amazing.
There are watch faces with bears hanging stars in the sky, princes and princesses, race cars, superheroes, laundry hung out to dry, balloons, sports equipment, kiwis (the fruit, not New Zealanders).
When I look at this watch’s competitors like the Garmin vivofit jr. 3 (with its many watch faces with Disney characters or Marvel superheroes) or the much more plain Fitbit Ace, I feel that Vtech has really put in some effort to creating colourful, attractive and appealing watch faces for children of all tastes.
The Kidizoom has a voice recorder which you can use to record a voice clip. The voice recorder also has the ability to apply sound effects to modify your recording. You can increase its pitch, decrease its pitch, robotize your voice, among other effects.
Games for fun
I remember the Nokia 3310. It had a game — Snake.
At that time, people were playing Quake and The Sims on their computers. So why is a simple game like Snake so addictive?
I will never know but it’s proof that simple games can be very fun, and the Kidizoom offers three games on the smartwatch that are actually quite fun, despite how simple they are: Mousy Maze, Ancient Adventure and Puzzle Swap.
Puzzle Swap is the simplest to explain. Move pieces around until you unjumble your picture. Sometimes, the Kidizoom will use photos that you took on the watch.
Ancient Adventure is a game which the Kidizoom’s manual describes as “Life is hard when animals are trying to eat you!”
In reality, it’s a game where you have to choose between two paths to collect meat, while avoiding traps, all against a timer.
Mousy Maze is a game where you guide a mouse to cheese and find the exit.
They’re all pretty fun and a good distraction when you have nothing better to do.
There are two types of educational games on this device. The most innovating one is the Monster Catcher game which involves an augmented reality gaming experience.
In this game, you’re supposed to be on an adventure and as with all adventures, you’ll have to walk. As you walk, you’ll see some items you can pick up on your smartwatch. After a set number of steps, you will meet with the monster and you’re supposed to find it on the screen.
Actually, this kinda reminds me of Pokemon games where you explore and catch monsters for collection’s sake, except now it’s an augmented reality game. Kinda cool, and perhaps it’s a good motivation for your kids to take some steps (if they haven’t already found out that shaking the watch creates the same effect).
Another type of games available are logic games called Noodle Boosters which challenge your child to pop balloons with numbers of them. Your child is challenged to pop these balloons in ascending or descending order. There’s also an odd one out game and also a treasure hunt game.
Also, if your child is learning to tell the time, there’s an app in the Kidizoom that allows them to specify a time on an analog clock and an owl will read out a phrase describing the time. On the main screen, you can also swipe up and activate a function that makes the Kidizoom speak the time. Learning to describe time is something I forgot I had to learn how to describe time, and I think this tool is pretty useful.
There are some other features that are useful to encourage your child to be more active such as a running, dancing or jumping counter. Your child will have a limited amount of time to complete these challenges and set a record.
There’s also a pedometer on this smartwatch but unlike Garmin’s or Fitbit’s kids smartwatches where step counts are always on, the Kidizoom requires your child to open the app and it would only record your steps when that app is activated.
If your kid is motivated by steps and setting new personal records, this is a bit of a downer.
The battery life of the Kidizoom is really good, especially if you compare it against smartwatches that require daily charging.
I have worn this smartwatch for a week or so and haven’t needed to charge it. I have also been quite inconvenienced by it.
I am in the always-on screen camp of smartwatch users where I like to have the smartwatch screen always turned on (at a reduced brightness). I like being able to see the time without having to shake my wrist to activate the screen.
But that’s not possible with the Kidizoom. In fact, unlike most other smartwatches, you’d have to press a button in order to see the time. Quite inconvenient.
That said, your kid might not know any better. I am just spoiled.
Charging the Kidizoom is easy and no-frills. All you have to do is to use the included micro USB cable which is actually of decent length (about 30cm/1 feet) rather than the stubs some manufacturers offer such as the 5 cm/1 inch charging port that comes with the Fitbit Ace.
No smartphone needed
One of the things that some smartwatches require you to have is to have a smartphone, which you’d sometimes have to share with your child unless your child has their own smartphone.
The Garmin vivofit jr. 3 is especially bad in this regard. There is a game mode on that fitness tracker that will require you to lend your smartphone to your child so that they can play the games.
This can be rather inconvenient if you need your phone with you all the time. The Kidizoom is the complete opposite of the Garmin kids smartwatch. It’s completely not dependent on any secondary device for its features. Everything is contained on the 1.44 inch touch screen.
The Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 is a pretty good smartwatch.
I enjoyed using it and for its price, it offers a lot of fun features. It’s definitely more colourful and more fun than the Fitbit Ace (which feels like a snazzed-up digital watch).
The games and cameras are particularly interesting too. I enjoyed them because it brought my the nostalgia of a Gameboy and even though the photo quality of the camera is terrible by today’s standard, it still reminded me of the excitement I got when I received my first digital camera.
I am betting that if your child doesn’t have a smartphone, your child will enjoy the Kidizoom Smartwatch. However, if your child has a smartphone, then I am not sure if the features on the Kidizoom Smartwatch will go to waste.
Nonetheless, it does tell time, and with the number of watch faces to choose from, it’s actually very appealing as a watch too. Just remember to tell your child to take the watch off when going into water or to shower.