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Children's Software Review of:
Kid Pix Deluxe 3

 

Bart Simpson spent 15 years Appraising Real Estate in the Washington D.C. area before the Air Force moved his wife to San Antonio three years ago. He is now a full time Dad and the USAF will be moving the family to Illinois this summer. Three years of membership dues are already paid in advance so that he can keep in touch with fellow members of Alamo PC (the best deal in town).

From the May, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

The Learning Company’s Kid Pix Deluxe 3 is a drawing program for kids ages four and up. It is distributed by Brøderbund , which has a wide variety of children software that my daughter Malia has played with in the past. She has just turned four years old, and is now a legal driver of Kid Pix. I did let her test drive the program as a minor about a week before she turned four (for the purposes of this review, and with an adult in the passenger seat).

This is a basic drawing program like many other programs that anyone with a minimal time in computer graphics has seen. The real difference is that there are no words on the screen. All of the selections are pictures, which means that you don’t have to be able to read in order to use the program. The pictures are not always intuitive (at least to me), but they are a reasonable representation of what they will do. For example, there is an undo button (Undo Guy) which looks like a guy with his mouth opened and saying “Oh No!”. If you have the sound turned on, he will say “Oh No!” or some similar phrase as he deletes your last action. Unfortunately, he can only go back one step, which can make me say “Oh No!”. Paint Zone tools The tools include kid friendly options such as picking backgrounds, stickers, rubber stamps, animations, sounds, and paper textures. There are reportedly 2500 stamps and 1200 graphics (I did not count them), so it will take a while to run out of ideas. These made it easy for Malia to create something on her own, in a very short time.

There are also the typical drawing program features like picking colors and the drawing or painting tools. You can import your pictures and modify them in the program. You can also draw with sound art, using your microphone to paint. We were not able to do anything impressive with this feature, but we may get the hang of it as time goes on. The paint bucket will fill in a large area with a click. You can choose a full page mega-mixer or a paint-on mini-mixer to blend the colors. You can also add text if you want to get into the highly overrated use of the alphabet. Paintbrushes

There is a hidden menu bar at the top to help do some of the more advanced procedures like calling up an old file or sending e-mail. If you hold the mouse at the top of the screen, the menu bar will appear for that task, but then it goes back into hiding. I have read other reviews for this software, and I get the impression that this version is not as intuitive as the previous version. It does offer plenty of features for kids (and adults) to play with. There is even a small kids mode, accessed by the hidden menu bar. This option reduces the color choices and offers simplified stamps and text choices. The program comes with a 14-page easy start manual, and there is a 121-page manual on the disk as an Acrobat PDF file to help people like me who want to read directions after they have messed things up.

If you have something good on the screen, you can save it as a kpx (kid pix) file, and then add it Slide Show to a kid pix slide show. You can also print the creations, but I really like the idea of saving them as digital files. Most kids are prolific artists, and it does not take long to accumulate a large pile of paper artwork. We are preparing for a PCS move to Illinois, and it is hard to figure out what to take and what to leave behind. Digital files are pretty easy to pack.

It is also possible to e-mail our creations to Granny Ruth, who loves to see all of the artistic creations of her grandkids. I am not very good about getting things to the post office, but I can usually find a few minutes to send an e-mail. I have not been successful yet, and I keep getting FTP errors, but I will continue to pursue this task.

I installed this program on an older HP desktop as well as a new Compaq laptop. The laptop has a touchpad mouse, which makes it more difficult to draw and paint since you have to use both hands to click and drag with any precision. This is an unusual concept for a four-year-old, and it is a good reason to get a spare mouse for the laptop. The system requirements are a Pentium 233 with 32 MB RAM, 800x600 display, a 4x CD-ROM drive and 100 MB of hard disk space. A microphone is recommended but not required. It runs on Windows 95 through XP. It will also run on a MAC with OS 8.1 or higher. The Mac requirements are a 233 MHz Power PC, 32 MB RAM and 145 MB hard disk space. I had no way of testing the Mac system, but it ran fine on both of our PC systems. I also noticed that it was installed on at least two computer exhibits in the Houston Children’s Museum.

The program lists for $29.99 and can be found for about $20 at numerous sites on the net. Brøderbund's KidPix site has a short Flash demo of the product that might help you get an idea of what can be created with this program. The site also has lots of information about the program.


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