Netbook For Kids Puts Disney Back In PC Business - InformationWeek

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Netbook For Kids Puts Disney Back In PC Business

The Disney Netpal, built by mini-laptop specialist Asus, is scheduled to be available in late July through Toys "R" Us and Amazon.


Disney Netpal

Disney's Netpal, by Asus
(click for larger image)

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday introduced a netbook for kids, marking the entertainment company's return to the PC business after trying to sell a Disney-themed desktop five years ago.

The Disney Netpal, built by mini-laptop specialist Asus, is scheduled to be available in late July through Toys "R" Us and Amazon.com for a manufacturer-suggested retail price of $350. The system is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12.

The laptop has an 8.9-inch display, Wi-Fi capabilities, kid-friendly software, and lots of parental-control options. The system runs Windows XP Home, is powered by an Intel Atom N270 processor, and includes 1 GB of system memory and a 160-GB hard drive. There's also a built-in 0.3-megapixel camera.

The Netpal has more than 40 parental-control options. Parents can preselect e-mail correspondence options and set up filters to limit access to only certain Web sites. More sites can be added, but only if the parent submits the request through the PC's password-protected system. Parents also can pull up data to determine where children spend time, and for how long.

Besides introducing children to mobile computing, the Netpal is a marketing tool for Disney. The PC's software features Disney characters and icons and includes Disney-themed e-mail and browser.

The Netpal marks the second time Disney has taken a stab at the PC business. The Hollywood studio in 2004 launched a $900 desktop called the "Disney Dream Desk PC," built by Germany's Medion AG, a large private-label maker of PCs.

While Disney has yet to be successful in the PC business, the company has a large portfolio of consumer electronics for kids, including TVs, DVD players, alarm clock radios, and boom boxes. However, the company's consumer products unit has not done well in the economic downturn, posting a 9% decline in sales in the fiscal second quarter, according to Reuters news agency.

The Netpal initially will be released in the United States, but Disney plans to make it available in Europe and Asia by the end of the year.


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