The brightly coloured computer can be built in about ten minutes
The Kano self build computer to help teach kids computer coding won £10 million in Series A funding this spring to help drive further sales. ChannelBiz.co.uk tested out the kit last weekend and observed how one kid interacted with the device after building it.
With all kids now expected to learn code from the age of 11 in school, the channel can no doubt expect many other devices similar to this one to come onto the market.
The brightly coloured Kano package comes in at £119.99 and is equipped with the next generation Raspberry Pi 2 computer, which is said to be six times faster than the original. There is also an 8GB SD card, a speaker, USB cables, a smart power plug, a wifi dongle, and a very slick bright orange wireless keyboard with a built in trackpad.
The instructions, which also come with sheets of stickers to brighten up the device further if required, are informative and easy to understand for kids and parents who are building their first computer.
The computer can be built in about ten minutes after carefully reading all the instructions to make sure the educational side of the messages are understood, and no doubt a lot quicker by those a little more impatient.
The three minor problems encountered by ChannelBiz.co.uk and its ten-year old helper were snapping together the two piece transparent cover, which was only very slighly non-flush, and finding a reliable HDMI slot on the downstairs TV – obviously not Kano’s fault on that one.
Also, two inter-changeable decorative Orange base plates that came with the kit, kept falling off after not tightly fitting around the short pegs on the base.
The HDMI problem, which led to a black screen after Kano’s initial boot up instructions, was a useful experience though. Because when we plugged the computer into an upstairs TV, the Kano immediately delivered the next screen instructions without any hitch. Other devices may have made you start the whole process again.
Connecting to wifi and the internet with the device was effortless, and the download process for system upgrades was straightforward. After going into specific programs like Minecraft though, ChannelBiz found it difficult to get back to the home screen, despite selecting the right command button on the menu. On those occasions we had to reboot the machine to get to the home screen, but at least it was a relatively quick process.
The ten-year old boy was excited at seeing the availability of Minecraft Pi on the Kano and spent a couple of hours on it, despite being somewhat disappointed at the clunkiness of the controls at the beginning. However, this should not be any surprise when considering he has the full game for the PS3 and is an avid player, and hadn’t had any previous experience with Linux-driven gadgets like this.
Maybe the really important thing was the fact he made a YouTube video clip of his first experience with the Kano, and recommended others to buy it.
Kano also has the Pong and Snake games. And among other features, it includes Make Art, a digital easel to learn code by painting characters and fractals; and Terminal Quest, a narrative adventure controlled with command-line Linux “magic spells”.