15 Hot Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

Circuit Scribe Ultimate Kit

For the budding engineer Circuit Scribe Kits provide a great introduction to electronics. A really neat feature of the Circuit Scribe sets is you can complete the projects and make connections without needing to solder- you just draw the wires with the included conductive silver ink pen. The Ultimate Kit contains over 30 electronic components and instructions for lots of projects. Not only does the kit provide a lot of projects but it also teaches kids about electrical components – so they really understand what components like resistors are and learn to draw circuit diagrams as well as build projects. As the students learn about the components they are encourage to be creative and design their own circuits, the Ultimate kit is even compatible with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Available from CircuitScribe.com,Amazon and other retailers for US$99.99, other kits are available for a variety of prices including a mini kit at $9.99, Basic Kit at $44.99. A great #STEM gift for ages 8-adult. Read our review and enter to win a Maker Kit

Design Your Own Maze Plus VR Viewer

Design Your Own Maze Plus VR Viewer

maze Design Your Own Maze by Seedling not only lets you create your own wooden marble maze but it lets you use Virtual Reality to step inside it too! The kit also includes a cardboard VR viewer which you can use with your smartphone. Maze is a classic labyrinth game where you use the knobs to tilt the playing field to guide a metal marble from start to finish without falling down any holes. Instead of coming with a pre-made maze it contains bases and 42 wooden wall pieces that you use to create and re-create your own mazes that you can make as simple or as challenging as you like. Once you have created a physical maze you can turn it into a virtual maze by scanning it into the free Maze app. You can customize the maze by adding music, photos, traps, themes and more. If you put your smartphone into the included cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer you can even step inside your maze, turning your head to turn as you weave through its labyrinth. A very cool and creative #STEAM gift that combines both hands on creativity and Virtual Reality. Ages 6+ Available from Seedling.com, Amazonand other retailers for US$59.99

Puzzlets Starter Kit- learn to code

kidsPuzzlets from Digital Dream Labs is a hands-on physical toy that allows children from Kindergarten age upwards to learn coding principles whilst playing. The starter pack includes  a Bluetooth enabled play tray and 22 programming puzzlets plus a Cork the Volcano video game which can be played on an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Android smartphone/ tablet.  The kids place the puzzlet tiles in the play tray to control the characters on screen and thus use them to solve a variety of challenges. Puzzlets combines hands on play with interactive gaming and encourages kids to be creative, as many of the levels can be solved in more than one way. It can be enjoyed by 1 or 2 kids at a time and is suitable for ages 5 and above (under 6’s may need some help from an older child or adult).  #STEAM. Available from Amazon and other retailers  for US$99. More games due to be released in 2017. Read our review and enter to win

Square Panda Phonics Set

Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda which features a bluetooth enabled playset to engage kids in learning a variety of activities from learning letters, spelling, letter sounds, rhymes, learning new vocabulary words and more.  The set consists of 45 Smart Letters, a Playset box which you pair to your iPad and holds your device while in use, access to the Square Panda Playground where you can manage a parent account, see information about your child’s progress and additional learning opportunities as well as 4 AA Batteries.  The Square Panda Playset requires either iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro in order to run and you must be running iOS 8.x and above.  Read our full review to learn more and enter to win. Available from Square Panda for US$119 USD

Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App Controlled Robot

We are Star Wars Junkies at our house.  Check out this BB-8 app-enabled Droid that includes an adaptive personality as you play including emotions and lets you give voice commands. Connect BB-8™ to the app and watch your Droid™ come to life. Drive BB-8 by sliding your finger on the driving pad, send him on patrol to investigate your surroundings, record and view holographic messages, and more. BB-8 droid is more than a toy – it’s your companion. You can even watch the force awakens with him and see his reactions! This is a “hot” must have toy that we can’t wait to get our hands on!Available from Sphero, Amazon and Target for US$149

Pokemon Go Plus

pokemon-go-plusPokemon Go has been the big mobile app hit of the year with millions of kids (and adults!) up and walking around searching for Pokemon, Poke Balls, Berries, and Pokemon Eggs. I love how it gets my kids out and active but don’t always love how they hog my phone when playing. The much anticipated Pokemon Go Plus is a wearable device that links to your smartphone through Bluetooth. It lets you know when a Pokemon is nearby by the LED flashing and the device mildly vibrates. With it they can collect Poke Balls, Berries, and Pokemon Eggs without having to look at your smart phone and receive notifications when they are near a Pokestop. They still need to have your phone nearby but it can spend most of its time in your pocket and they can look at their surroundings instead of at a screen. This is such a hot item that it is really hard to find but we’d recommend you keep checking Amazon in case more come into stock. Available fromAmazon and other retailers RRP US$39.99

BlueBee Pals Pro

Hudson the Puppy from Bluebee Pals is a talking toy that works with your smartphone or tablet. It is designed for toddler through early elementary school age children, and by pairing it with apps can be educational as well as fun. You don’t need to buy proprietary apps for Hudson to work- he works with the educational apps you already own.  The Bluebee Pal connects to your iOS, Android or Bluetooth enabled device and the mouth of the toy moves while connected to a huge variety of apps including the ability to read a story including from an app on your smartphone, play music, interact with AAC apps, and speech related apps. My two year old loves to hear stories and will sit and have the “read to me mode” activated while he listens to his favorite stories and looks at the pictures on my iPad Mini.  Available from BlueBee Pals and Amazon for US$64.99. Read our review and enter to win

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders , the original and immensely popular, toys-to -life action figure and video game is back with a new adventure- Skylanders Imaginators. Kaos is back and with the ancient power of Mind Magic creating an unstoppable army of Doomlanders! But Eon is undeterred and is fighting back with the help of a new series of characters: Skylands’ greatest mystic warriors, the Senseis. As well as the Senseis you can use all your old characters from previous Skylanders games and  use the power of your imagination to create your own Skylanders help to save Skylands. It is available for Wii U, XBox 1, XBox 360, PS3 and PS4. Available from Amazon , Target and many retailers for US$74.99 

Malia’s House

beach_house_2_web_large-800x546Malia’s House from Build & Imagine combines dress up dolls, a building toy and a dolls house all-in-one. The award winning Build & Imagine toys were designed to get girls interested in building by providing them with a more creative, imaginative experience than standard building blocks. The kit has 10 square, 4 triangular and 2 rectangular panels. These are illustrated on both sides and snap together magnetically. The child can use their imagination to decide which scenes to include and what shape to build, every time they play they can rebuild it in a slightly different way. There is a working door and lots of different rooms and scenes illustrated on the panels, including furniture and indoor and outdoor scenes such as a kitchen, bedrooms, beach, garden and pool. The kit also includes 2 magnetic dolls- Malia and her friend Skyler plus lots of magnetic clothes, pets and accessories than can be used with the set. I love how my daughter not only creates different scenes and dollhouses with it, but that she also loves to tell stories about what is happening as she plays. A great #STEAM gift and it can be combined with other Build & Imagine play sets for even more creative possibilities. Read our review and enter to win
 Available from Amazon and toyshops for US$59.99

Zumo Learning System with Android Tablet

Zumo Learning System with Tablet from Zyrobotics is a learning system that makes apps switch accessible so everyone can use them.  In the box is Zumo the Turtle, an Android Tablet in a kid proof case which comes pre-loaded with Zyrobotics apps. You can either buy the turtle switch and use it with your own tablet or buy the entire Zumo Learning System.  Read our full review to learn more about the great apps and how the turtle makes items accessible
Available from Amazon for US$159

RCA PRO12 Android 2-in-1 RCA PRO 12 inch HD 32GB 2-in-1 Android Tablet Hybrid

rct6223w87sk_black_2Many kids and college students are doing a lot of schoolwork now on Chromebooks or tablets. For many Google docs seem to be replacing using Word. A great gift for older kids, teen and college student is a 2-in-1  such as the new RCA Pro12. This allows them to use it like a Chromebook or laptop to work in Google documents and search the web, but also acts as a touchscreen tablet for educational apps. The new RCA Pro12 has a 12.2″ HD screen and 32GB built in storage which you can affordably expand by up to an additional 128GB by adding a Micro-SD card such as the SanDisk Ultra 128GB . It comes with a removable folio keyboard case that attaches easily and securely via a magnetic connector. The PRO12 has a 13.GHZ quad core processor and uses native Android Marshmallow 6.o as it’s operating system. Users can choose from the huge range of apps available from the Google Play Appstore. It can be powered by the included AC adapter or via micro-USB, it has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 8hrs. This is a great gift for students of all ages that they can use to do homework, listen to music, watch videos, search the web, answer emails and play fun and educational apps. Available from Amazon and other suppliers RRP  US$279.99. Look at for it on Home Shopping Network on December 2nd too!

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic


If your kid loves playing games, doing schoolwork, or watching videos on a tablet or computer a must-have to save your sanity is a good pair of headphones. Kensington’s Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great option and good value for money too. They are designed especially for kids head, yet look grown up enough that a teen or tween won’t be embarrassed to use them. They are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. They even have a microphone which folds away when not in use. Available Kensington.com, Amazon and other retailers.from  for US$24.99. (Currently only $19.99) Read our review.

Motion Pen Kids

motionpen_kids_product-640x640

The MotionPen Kids Stylus by Widevantage is a rounded thick stylus designed especially for kids, even younger ones that may not yet have a mature grasp pattern.  The stylus is rounded and has a rubberized tip on each end.  There are native apps made by Widevantage that you can use, which include erasing simply by flipping over the stylus, hovering your stylus over your device and more.  No batteries to replace, no Bluetooth to connect, simply pull out of the box, enter the number of your stylus and you are on your way to drawing fun.  My 8 year old had so much fun with the Motion Crayon app and we even played Pictionary using our iPad Mini. Read our full review and enter to win. Available from Widevantage and Amazon for US$22.25

Galaxy ZEGA Tank Battle Game

In Galaxy ZEGA, the real and virtual worlds collide. The kit comes with 2 remote control tanks (others can be purchased separately) and a magnetic snap together battlefield. Galaxy ZEGA is a tank battle toy,  played with individuals and teams on a real-world battlefield using palm-sized tanks (called ZEGAs). Players shoot their opponents with lights to gain points and eventually earn up to 30 more skills so they can disable other ZEGAs with virtual ‘oil spills,’ freeze opponent’s speed and more to win battles.  I got to play this hands-on recently and it was really fun, the ZEGAS are very fast, responsive and easy to control via your tablet or smartphone. If you want to play quickly they can be used as remote control vehicles without the battlefield, but using it gives places for the tanks to hide and using it adds anther dimension to the play.  Starter Set available from GalaxyZEGA.comand other retailers for US$149.99

Know Yourself Adventure Series

The Know Yourself Adventure Series is a monthly subscription kit which explores a new system of the human body each month.  I tested a kit that included the five senses which included an interactive comic book,  time travel, hands on experiments including the cylinders to capture items related to our senses, historical figures and stories which explained the body or a mystery of the mind.  This is a great monthly gift that keeps on giving.  Be sure to read our full review for a chance to win a 3 month subscription. Available from Know Yourself for US$29/month or $359/year.  As a subscription box this is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Read our review and enter to win a 3 month subscription

These are The iMums Top Picks for gifts for kids this holiday season. We have gifts in a variety of price ranges to suit children from tots to teens. #STEM and #STEAM gifts are hot this year and we have plenty of gifts that are educational and help kids to nurture their love of science, technology and creativity. Let us know which of these gift choices are top of your kid’s wish list.

 

Circuit Scribe Ultimate Kit

circuit-scribe_electroninks_wallpaper-logo-3-1_lrFor the budding engineer Circuit Scribe Kits provide a great introduction to electronics. A really neat feature of the Circuit Scribe sets is you can complete the projects and make connections without needing to solder- you just draw the wires with the included conductive silver ink pen. The Ultimate Kit contains over 30 electronic components and instructions for lots of projects. Not only does the kit provide a lot of projects but it also teaches kids about electrical components – so they really understand what components like resistors are and learn to draw circuit diagrams as well as build projects. As the students learn about the components they are encourage to be creative and design their own circuits, the Ultimate kit is even compatible with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Available from CircuitScribe.com,Amazon and other retailers for US$99.99, other kits are available for a variety of prices including a mini kit at $9.99, Basic Kit at $44.99. A great #STEM gift for ages 8-adult. Read our review and enter to win a Maker Kit

 

Design Your Own Maze Plus VR Viewer

maze Design Your Own Maze by Seedling not only lets you create your own wooden marble maze but it lets you use Virtual Reality to step inside it too! The kit also includes a cardboard VR viewer which you can use with your smartphone. Maze is a classic labyrinth game where you use the knobs to tilt the playing field to guide a metal marble from start to finish without falling down any holes. Instead of coming with a pre-made maze it contains bases and 42 wooden wall pieces that you use to create and re-create your own mazes that you can make as simple or as challenging as you like. Once you have created a physical maze you can turn it into a virtual maze by scanning it into the free Maze app. You can customize the maze by adding music, photos, traps, themes and more. If you put your smartphone into the included cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer you can even step inside your maze, turning your head to turn as you weave through its labyrinth. A very cool and creative #STEAM gift that combines both hands on creativity and Virtual Reality. Ages 6+ Available from Seedling.com, Amazonand other retailers for US$59.99

 

Puzzlets Starter Kit- learn to code

kidsPuzzlets from Digital Dream Labs is a hands-on physical toy that allows children from Kindergarten age upwards to learn coding principles whilst playing. The starter pack includes  a Bluetooth enabled play tray and 22 programming puzzlets plus a Cork the Volcano video game which can be played on an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Android smartphone/ tablet.  The kids place the puzzlet tiles in the play tray to control the characters on screen and thus use them to solve a variety of challenges. Puzzlets combines hands on play with interactive gaming and encourages kids to be creative, as many of the levels can be solved in more than one way. It can be enjoyed by 1 or 2 kids at a time and is suitable for ages 5 and above (under 6’s may need some help from an older child or adult).  #STEAM. Available from Amazon and other retailers  for US$99. More games due to be released in 2017. Read our review and enter to win

Square Panda Phonics Set

squarepanda-638-edit1080_grandeSquare Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda which features a bluetooth enabled playset to engage kids in learning a variety of activities from learning letters, spelling, letter sounds, rhymes, learning new vocabulary words and more.  The set consists of 45 Smart Letters, a Playset box which you pair to your iPad and holds your device while in use, access to the Square Panda Playground where you can manage a parent account, see information about your child’s progress and additional learning opportunities as well as 4 AA Batteries.  The Square Panda Playset requires either iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro in order to run and you must be running iOS 8.x and above.  Read our full review to learn more and enter to win. Available from Square Panda for US$119 USD

Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App Controlled Robot

bb8
We are Star Wars Junkies at our house.  Check out this BB-8 app-enabled Droid that includes an adaptive personality as you play including emotions and lets you give voice commands. Connect BB-8™ to the app and watch your Droid™ come to life. Drive BB-8 by sliding your finger on the driving pad, send him on patrol to investigate your surroundings, record and view holographic messages, and more. BB-8 droid is more than a toy – it’s your companion. You can even watch the force awakens with him and see his reactions! This is a “hot” must have toy that we can’t wait to get our hands on!Available from Sphero, Amazon and Target for US$149

 

Pokemon Go Plus

pokemon-go-plusPokemon Go has been the big mobile app hit of the year with millions of kids (and adults!) up and walking around searching for Pokemon, Poke Balls, Berries, and Pokemon Eggs. I love how it gets my kids out and active but don’t always love how they hog my phone when playing. The much anticipated Pokemon Go Plus is a wearable device that links to your smartphone through Bluetooth. It lets you know when a Pokemon is nearby by the LED flashing and the device mildly vibrates. With it they can collect Poke Balls, Berries, and Pokemon Eggs without having to look at your smart phone and receive notifications when they are near a Pokestop. They still need to have your phone nearby but it can spend most of its time in your pocket and they can look at their surroundings instead of at a screen. This is such a hot item that it is really hard to find but we’d recommend you keep checking Amazon in case more come into stock. Available fromAmazon and other retailers RRP US$39.99

 

BlueBee Pals Pro

Huhudson-the-puppy-pro-510x510dson the Puppy from Bluebee Pals is a talking toy that works with your smartphone or tablet. It is designed for toddler through early elementary school age children, and by pairing it with apps can be educational as well as fun. You don’t need to buy proprietary apps for Hudson to work- he works with the educational apps you already own.  The Bluebee Pal connects to your iOS, Android or Bluetooth enabled device and the mouth of the toy moves while connected to a huge variety of apps including the ability to read a story including from an app on your smartphone, play music, interact with AAC apps, and speech related apps. My two year old loves to hear stories and will sit and have the “read to me mode” activated while he listens to his favorite stories and looks at the pictures on my iPad Mini.  Available from BlueBee Pals and Amazon for US$64.99. Read our review and enter to win

Skylanders Imaginators

skylandersimaginatorsSkylanders , the original and immensely popular, toys-to -life action figure and video game is back with a new adventure- Skylanders Imaginators. Kaos is back and with the ancient power of Mind Magic creating an unstoppable army of Doomlanders! But Eon is undeterred and is fighting back with the help of a new series of characters: Skylands’ greatest mystic warriors, the Senseis. As well as the Senseis you can use all your old characters from previous Skylanders games and  use the power of your imagination to create your own Skylanders help to save Skylands. It is available for Wii U, XBox 1, XBox 360, PS3 and PS4. Available from Amazon , Target and many retailers for US$74.99 

 

Malia’s House

beach_house_2_web_large-800x546Malia’s House from Build & Imagine combines dress up dolls, a building toy and a dolls house all-in-one. The award winning Build & Imagine toys were designed to get girls interested in building by providing them with a more creative, imaginative experience than standard building blocks. The kit has 10 square, 4 triangular and 2 rectangular panels. These are illustrated on both sides and snap together magnetically. The child can use their imagination to decide which scenes to include and what shape to build, every time they play they can rebuild it in a slightly different way. There is a working door and lots of different rooms and scenes illustrated on the panels, including furniture and indoor and outdoor scenes such as a kitchen, bedrooms, beach, garden and pool. The kit also includes 2 magnetic dolls- Malia and her friend Skyler plus lots of magnetic clothes, pets and accessories than can be used with the set. I love how my daughter not only creates different scenes and dollhouses with it, but that she also loves to tell stories about what is happening as she plays. A great #STEAM gift and it can be combined with other Build & Imagine play sets for even more creative possibilities. Read our review and enter to win
 Available from Amazon and toyshops for US$59.99

 

Zumo Learning System with Android Tablet

ZumoLearning_Image3Zumo Learning System with Tablet from Zyrobotics is a learning system that makes apps switch accessible so everyone can use them.  In the box is Zumo the Turtle, an Android Tablet in a kid proof case which comes pre-loaded with Zyrobotics apps. You can either buy the turtle switch and use it with your own tablet or buy the entire Zumo Learning System.  Read our full review to learn more about the great apps and how the turtle makes items accessible
Available from Amazon for US$159

 

RCA PRO12 Android 2-in-1 RCA PRO 12 inch HD 32GB 2-in-1 Android Tablet Hybrid

rct6223w87sk_black_2Many kids and college students are doing a lot of schoolwork now on Chromebooks or tablets. For many Google docs seem to be replacing using Word. A great gift for older kids, teen and college student is a 2-in-1  such as the new RCA Pro12. This allows them to use it like a Chromebook or laptop to work in Google documents and search the web, but also acts as a touchscreen tablet for educational apps. The new RCA Pro12 has a 12.2″ HD screen and 32GB built in storage which you can affordably expand by up to an additional 128GB by adding a Micro-SD card such as the SanDisk Ultra 128GB . It comes with a removable folio keyboard case that attaches easily and securely via a magnetic connector. The PRO12 has a 13.GHZ quad core processor and uses native Android Marshmallow 6.o as it’s operating system. Users can choose from the huge range of apps available from the Google Play Appstore. It can be powered by the included AC adapter or via micro-USB, it has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 8hrs. This is a great gift for students of all ages that they can use to do homework, listen to music, watch videos, search the web, answer emails and play fun and educational apps. Available from Amazon and other suppliers RRP  US$279.99. Look at for it on Home Shopping Network on December 2nd too!

 

Kensington Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic

KensingtonHeadphoneswith mic
If your kid loves playing games, doing schoolwork, or watching videos on a tablet or computer a must-have to save your sanity is a good pair of headphones. Kensington’s Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic are a great option and good value for money too. They are designed especially for kids head, yet look grown up enough that a teen or tween won’t be embarrassed to use them. They are well made, durable, have good sound quality, will fit a variety of head sizes and are a great choice both for home and school use. Priced at under $25 they are a great value. They even have a microphone which folds away when not in use. Available Kensington.com, Amazon and other retailers.from  for US$24.99. (Currently only $19.99) Read our review.

 Motion Pen Kids – Stylus for Children

motionpen_kids_product-640x640

The MotionPen Kids Stylus by Widevantage is a rounded thick stylus designed especially for kids, even younger ones that may not yet have a mature grasp pattern.  The stylus is rounded and has a rubberized tip on each end.  There are native apps made by Widevantage that you can use, which include erasing simply by flipping over the stylus, hovering your stylus over your device and more.  No batteries to replace, no Bluetooth to connect, simply pull out of the box, enter the number of your stylus and you are on your way to drawing fun.  My 8 year old had so much fun with the Motion Crayon app and we even played Pictionary using our iPad Mini. Read our full review and enter to win. Available from Widevantage and Amazon for US$22.25

Galaxy ZEGA Tank Battle Game

galaxyzega2In Galaxy ZEGA, the real and virtual worlds collide. The kit comes with 2 remote control tanks (others can be purchased separately) and a magnetic snap together battlefield. Galaxy ZEGA is a tank battle toy,  played with individuals and teams on a real-world battlefield using palm-sized tanks (called ZEGAs). Players shoot their opponents with lights to gain points and eventually earn up to 30 more skills so they can disable other ZEGAs with virtual ‘oil spills,’ freeze opponent’s speed and more to win battles.  I got to play this hands-on recently and it was really fun, the ZEGAS are very fast, responsive and easy to control via your tablet or smartphone. If you want to play quickly they can be used as remote control vehicles without the battlefield, but using it gives places for the tanks to hide and using it adds anther dimension to the play.  Starter Set available from GalaxyZEGA.com and other retailers for US$149.99

Know Yourself Adventure Series

adventure_kit
The Know Yourself Adventure Series is a monthly subscription kit which explores a new system of the human body each month.  I tested a kit that included the five senses which included an interactive comic book,  time travel, hands on experiments including the cylinders to capture items related to our senses, historical figures and stories which explained the body or a mystery of the mind.  This is a great monthly gift that keeps on giving.  Be sure to read our full review for a chance to win a 3 month subscription. Available from Know Yourself for US$29/month or $359/year.  As a subscription box this is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Read our review and enter to win a 3 month subscription

 

For additional gift ideas check out our other Holiday Gift Guides.
This post contains affiliate links, if you click on these The iMums may receive a small commission which helps to pay to run this site. Thank you for supporting us by using these links. Some items on this list have been received free of charge for review purposes.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

mCookie Electronics Kits from Microduino – Review #STEM


mcookie1

What we love…

Brings Lego Builds to life. Easy to use, no soldering. Users can create ready made projects but can also build their own and learn how to change the computer program to tweak the project. Extra modules and components can be purchased individually

What we’d love to see…

All components to be Lego Compatible- this has been done in the 2nd generation mCookie shipping next month.

Summary

mCookie is a series of magnetic, stackable modules that allow you to explore electronics and  create projects that include both working electronics and Legos

recommended-by-the-imums

What do you get if you combine electronics and Lego ?  – mCookie from Microduino ! mCookie is a series of magnetic, stackable modules that allow you to explore electronics and  create projects that include both working electronics and Legos. They are simple to use, require no soldering and are sold in a variety of starter kits as well as  by individual components.  I tested the mCookie 101 Basic kit which is the simplest of the  mCookie kits available. The basic kit includes 4 modules: 1 core USB module, 1 Bluetooth 4.0 module, 1 battery management module, 1 sensor hub module; 6 sensors: 2 LED color sensors, 2 crash/impact sensors, 1 buzzer sensor, 1 microphone sensor; plus instructions for a variety of simple projects.

mcookie3

To program the projects you first need to install Arduino IDE program plus the mCookie drivers on your computer, this is pretty straight forward and the directions can be found here. The kit includes a brochure with instructions for 3 projects, the mCookie website has instructions for 6 projects that can be done with the 101 kit. You can also buy additional modules and sensors individually to allow you to build more of the many mCookie projects that are listed on the website.

mcookie2

To test how user friendly the projects are I had my 12 year old son do the first 2 projects without any assistance from me. For his first project he built a Lego birthday cake. When he pressed a switch it sang Happy Birthday and the candle lit up . His second project was to build a Bluetooth controlled Lego lamp with a dixie cup lampshade. Then I completed one of the projects without any help from him 🙂 I chose the Grumpy Grandpa project, which I’ll describe below to give you an idea of how the projects are done.

Grumpy Grandpa

This project uses the Microphone sensor, buzzer, switch, core module, battery module and hub module. It is designed to respond to loud noises by setting off the buzzer, which can then be turned off with the switch.

Software: The first step with all the projects is to connect the core module to your computer via the USB cable and open the Arduino IDE program. From there you can choose the Grumpy Grandpa file and download it to the Core Module. The user can just download the program and use it. However, if they want to learn more about the program and how to tweak it  they are given the information to do so. The website explains the program step by step and explains changes they can make to the program.

Hardware: The hardware set up for the project is shown both by pictures and by text. For the Grumpy Grandpa project I did notice a mistake in the written directions for the first step, although the diagram is correct.

Step 1: Use the included wires to connect the buzzer to port 6/7 of the Hub, the switch (crash sensor) to port 4/5 and the microphone to port A0/A1. The pictures show which port is which. The wires are a little fiddly to instal, so I wouldn’t recommend this for under 12’s.

Step 2: Switch on the battery box and use the wires to connect it to the Battery Module

Step 3: Stack the Battery, Core and Hub Modules. the Hub has to be on top due to the wires but the others can be in any order. The modules are magnetic to very simple to stack.

Step 4: Build your Lego Grandpa and attach the electronics. There is a picture of a sample Grandpa, but you would need some specialized pieces e.g. a 90 degree connector to make this so I built mine very differently. Both my son and I had some difficulties with connecting the projects to the Lego. The Modules are easy to build legos on top of as their top surfaces are Lego compatible, the lower surfaces need to use connectors. There are 4 connectors included – you need 2 to connect the battery box and 2 to connect the stack of modules. You can purchase extras on the mCookie website, but would be nice if spares were included because if you lose one, as my son did, it becomes tricky to connect the project to your Lego Build. The sensors are also not Lego compatible so we found it tricky to get then to stay in place well without resorting to using tape. mCookie has addressed this problem with the sensors in the second generation of the mCookie kits by making the sensors also Lego compatible.

Pricing and availability:

The 101 kit is sold out and being replaced by the updated 102 kit. The second generation mCookie kits including mCookie 102 kit and the Itty Bitty City are currently available on Indiegogo for a substantial discount. The 102 Kit is 42% off at $52 and the Itty Bitty City is $79. The Itty Bitty City brings even more Lego builds to life including making remote controlled vehicles. After the Indiegogo is over the new kits will be available via the Microduino website.

Summary

mCookie is a series of magnetic, stackable modules that allow you to explore electronics and create projects that include both working electronics and Legos. In the first generation kits e.g. the 101 that we tested the modules are Lego Compatible but the sensor are not, this has been fixed in the second generation kits e.g. 102 which are due to ship next month. These kits are a great way to get Middle School and High School students engaged in building electronics projects without soldering. They allow them to bring Lego builds to life and to learn how to change the computer program that controls the project- fun and creative STEM education. I have been using the kit as part of our STEM projects for homeschooling my 7th grader.

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly. Reviews may include affiliate links.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Review of the iRULU WalknBook Hybrid Windows 10 Laptop /Tablet – an Affordable Alternative to the Microsoft Surface

61xS6FeqW8L._SL1000_

What we love…

Lightweight portable alternative to laptop, runs full Office Software, can use as tablet as well as PC, keyboard case included, very affordable

What we’d love to see…

Charging via USB cable rather than special charger, longer battery life

Summary

The WalknBook is a very useful product for the price. It is similar to the Microsoft Surface 3 base model with slightly lower specs, it includes the keyboard case  for around $400 less than the Surface 3 with keyboard. I see its primary use as a lightweight alternative to carrying a laptop, with the added bonus of also being able to play games and use apps.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

The WalknBook from iRULU is a 10.1″ hybrid Windows 10 laptop / tablet designed to be a more affordable alternative to the Microsoft Surface tablet PCs.

The WalknBook comes with a folding case, detachable keyboard, a micro USB cable and dedicated charger. The tablet has an unusual design- the back panel is black glass, and it has a bright colorful green or orange plastic bumper around the sides. The case is deep grey, and the bright green or orange provides a lively splash of color. It has Windows 10 software pre-installed and you can switch back and forth between PC and Windows tablet modes.

Software

The WalknBook comes with Windows 10 pre-installed and works just like a PC running Windows 10. It has Cortana, Microsoft’s voice activated assistant. I’d recommend spending a few minutes setting up Cortana, getting her trained to your voice and telling her things like where you live, so that she can be a very useful tool. The default web browser is Microsoft Edge. On your home screen windows show notifications from your calendar, linked social Media, email, local weather, news and more. You can also personalize the display by changing out the windows to include what is most important to you.  You can set the WalknBook up to work with your iPhone, Android or Windows smartphone. As well as the Microsoft music and videos app it will also run iTunes.

The WalknBook will run the full PC version of Microsoft office. It comes with an option to sign up for a free month of Office 365 (after the trial it costs $99 per annum), or you can purchase and install Office 2016 or just use the pre-installed free mobile Office apps.  I opted to buy and install Office 2016 to get the full PC Office experience without an annual fee.

I’m usually a Mac user rather than a PC user so for me the user interface was unfamiliar, but for PC users it will feel very familiar. As a Mac user I still find there are times when I want to use software than is only available for the PC and not Mac. I can use a virtual PC program but that doesn’t always work well, and this is a nice affordable way of being able to run PC based software.

Comparison to Microsoft Surface 3

Of all the Microsoft surface models the WalknBook is best compared to the Surface 3. It has a similar size and functionality. The WalknBook has a 10.1″ screen compared to the Surface 3’s 10.8″. The WalknBook does have slightly lower specs, but is less than half the price of the base model Surface 3, and comes with the keyboard included, which costs an extra $130 for the Surface.

Like the Surface 3 it will run the full PC version of Microsoft office, it has 2 GB RAM which is the same as the base model of the Surface 3. The Surface 3 comes with 64GB ($499) 0r 128GB ($599) of storage, the WalknBook only has 32GB but you can add a MicroUSB card to expand the storage- I added a SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSD cardfor under $45.

They both have Intel Quad Core CPUs. The Surface 3 has an Intel Atom x7-z8700 (quad core, 1.66GHzI- 2.4GHz.), whilst the WalknBook has it’s predecessor the Intel Atom Bay Trail-T (quad core, 1.33GHz – 1.83 GHz). You can read more about the differences between these chips in this PC World article, but the main difference seems to be improved graphics performance. The WalknBook does also have a lower screen resolution at 1280 x 800 vs 1920 x 1280. However, I found that for how I was using it – as a PC, playing a few games and watching movies on Netflix, the resolution was fine.

They are a similar size and weight. Without the keyboard the Surface 3 weighs 1.37 lbs (622 g) and measures 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 in (267 x 187 x 8.7 mm.) The WalknBook is 260 mm x 174mm x 10 mm, with the keyboard it weighs 1660g, without approx. 750gm.

Case and Keyboard

The case has a soft micro-suede style surface and a magnetic closure. When you open it up the back panel folds, origami style, to form a stand. The stand only has 1 position, and is landscape mode only, but is on a flat surface it is surprisingly stable. The keyboard is built in to the case and is automatically switched on, when the WalknBook is in the case and in use.  The WalknBook attaches to the case and keyboard by strong magnets so is simple to insert and remove.

The case does need to be on a flat surface such as a table or tray, if you use it on an uneven surface, such as your lap, the tablet tends to come out of its groove and disconnect the keyboard.

The keyboard is black plastic and has a built-in trackpad, it is designed to be the same width as the tablet so is a little smaller than a standard laptop keyboard.  Although not as comfortable as my Macbook keyboard, it is similar in feel to many external keyboards that I have tested for the iPad and I had no problems typing with it. My one gripe is the trackpad surface is textured plastic which feels a little odd running your finger over it- a smoother surface would be nicer. Of course it has a touchscreen, so you can use that instead of the trackpad, or connect an external mouse.

Tablet Mode

The WalknBook can also be used as a Windows tablet – you can download apps from the Windows store and you can play XBox Live games.  The Windows appstore does have less selection than iTunes but there are still lots of apps to choose from. My kids were pleased to see you can get the Windows 10 Minecraft (Beta) as a free download if you already own the PC or Mac version (as we do) and are enjoying playing Minecraft on it. We had no problems using it to play games.

Removing it from the case disconnects the keyboard, then you can use it in either portrait or landscape mode. Putting it in Tablet Mode increases the sensitivity of the touchscreen. If you need to type you have the option to use an onscreen popup keypad instead of the keyboard case.

Battery and Power Supply

The WalknBook has a 7800 mAh battery and charges with an included charger, this connects to the tablet via a round pin it does not charge via USB. The iRULU website states the battery lasts up to 6hrs, this will of course vary depending on screen brightness setting and what you are using it for.  I did find that the battery life was noticeably less than my iPad. I do wish that it charged via USB so that you could easily use a back up battery when away from a power outlet such on on a plane or in a car.

Overall Impressions

I think that the WalknBook is a very useful product for the price. It is similar to the Microsoft Surface 3 base model. Although the specs are a little lower, it includes the keyboard case and comes in for around $400 less than the Surface 3 with keyboard. I see its primary use as a lightweight alternative to carrying a laptop, with the added bonus of also being able to play games and use apps. Although it isn’t going to be a powerful as a full high spec laptop it does have enough computing power to browse the web, work on Office documents, watch videos and play games. I like that you can run the full version of Office rather than just the pared down mobile version. I’d love to see an option to charge it from an external battery pack to extend the length of time you could use it without access to an electric outlet.

This is a product that the more I use the more I like it. I like how it looks- the design is unusual but fun. It is much lighter and easier to carry than my MacBook, but feels more like a miniature laptop than my iPad with a keyboard case does. If you are looking for a lightweight, affordable alternative to using your laptop on the go I would recommend checking out the WalknBook.

Price and Availability

The WalknBook is available from iRULU.com and Amazon, it’s current price is $212.99

Tech Specs (from iRULU website):

CPU Processor:Intel BayTrail-T Quad core, 1.33-1.83GHz

Operating System:Windows 10

LCD:10.1″   1280*800 IPS

RAM:2GB DDRIII

Memory:32GB NAND Flash

Touch Panel:10 points Capacitive touch screen

Wi-fi:802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth:4.0 Version

Camera:2.0 MP front-facing camera, 5.0 MP rear camera

Battery:7800 mAh

Weight:1660g (including the keyboard case)

Gravity:3D gravity sensor

Music Format:MP3,WMA,FLAC,AAC, WAV,APE

Video Format:VP8,MOV,MPG,MP4,AVI,3GP,FLV,MKV…etc.

Picture Format:JPEG, BMP, GIF,PNG

Ports: USB, Mini HDMI, micro USB, headphone jack, power supply, MicroSD card.

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Pin It on Pinterest