The Amazon September gadget event introduced an entirely new product for kids on Tuesday - and no, it’s not just a new Fire tablet. Instead, the Amazon Glow is a device that focuses on video chatting and playing games with family.
With the Glow, Amazon appears to have reorganised the features of a Fire TV tablet in a new form factor, in order to ease frustration for younger kids while minimizing what else they can do on the device. The Glow stands up like a cordless phone, with an 8-inch LCD on the front for video chats, and even a built-in projector that beams a 19-inch screen on a flat surface directly in front of the Glow.
In practice, kids will start a video call and play games or interact with whoever they’re calling with. On the other end, parents or friends will use the paired Glow app (iOS, Android, and eventually Fire OS) on their tablet to interact with the shared digital playspace, which the Glow device projects in front of its user.
The Glow costs $249 (around £185 / $345) and comes with the device, a mat, mat case, a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids Plus, and the Tangram Kits challenge kit.
What can you do with Amazon Glow?
Kids can use the Glow's projection to read books from the Amazon Kids Plus service (the device comes with a one-year subscription), and use "rainbow pointers, spotlights, and word bubbles for added reading excitement," according to a press release about the new product. The shared app has a drawing space that kids and parents can use, as well as classic games like Chess, Checkers, Go Fish, and Memory Match.
The Glow's camera can also scan objects for interesting interactions, like creating a digitally breaking apart the scan to make a puzzle to reassemble, as well as scanning old art to remix and draw over.
There are bespoke Glow Bits learning kits coming, too, which have physical objects used with the glow device and pair them with digital counterparts used by parents or friends via the Glow app to collaborate on challenges. The first of these, Tangram Bits, is bundled with the Glow. Amazon will open an SDK for developers to make Glow software to a limited set of partners in 2022.
And yes, there are parental controls: kids can only call numbers and contacts that parents set up, while a big switch on the right side of the Glow lets parents or kids shut off the camera and microphone.
- Amazon event 2021 live blog: Echo Show 15, Smart Thermostat and Disney partnership
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.