Welcome to the PDA Playground - It's Not Just for Parents Anymore
by the Gadget Gals
I love it when a gadget comes together! Two or three years ago I wrote a column about how my PDA (a.k.a. Personal Digital Assistant) was a big hit in the bleachers at my son's baseball games with the younger (and older) siblings of his teammates who were often shanghaied to watch the game. They loved some of the freebie games I had downloaded to my Palm and it helped pass the time.
At that time I envisioned a whole line of games and educational applications that parents could download to their PDAs. Some games and applications have emerged, but until now I have never seen anything for the very youngest of the impatient who often speak out most adamantly about being bored - the notorious three-to-seven-year-old crowd.
That's all changed now with the introduction of the PDA Playground, brought to you by DataViz. This program can easily be downloaded off the Internet to a PDA running Palm OS. It offers six video games/applications and includes controls that lock kids out of the rest of the files on your organizer. What that last bit translates to is that youngest users can't accidentally delete Mom's schedule and address book when they get tired of Playground. A neat trick -- just don't forget YOUR password, though, Mom or Dad.
One of the best offerings of the Playground is an onscreen drawing program that works with the Palm's stylus and is a great way to play tic-tac-toe and other pencil sans paper games as well. A coloring book program that lets kids color and use special effects (like a spray can) to fill in pictures on the screen or even color/paint right over them to create their own masterpieces is also a creative inclusion. Scratch Off reveals a picture when the stylus "erases" the top layer covering an outline drawing. Follow Me is a take off on the old Simon game of duplicating a sequence using the stylus to touch a set of drawings in the order the PDA dictates. There is a matching game that gets increasingly complicated and a game called Puzzle Path which even Mom, Dad, or an older sibling might find themselves drawn to on occasion. It requires logic and a little thinking ahead to change the puzzle pieces around to let the little man inside the game walk the path with without reaching a dead end.
The download costs $19.95 but it's is sure to pay for itself after just a few trips to the doctor, traffic jams, or interminable waits for service at a restaurant. The PDA - it's not just for parents anymore.
Available for Macintosh and Windows and Palm organizers running Palm OS 3.3 or later
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