Saturday, April 14, 2018

PBS Plug & Play: A great idea poorly executed

It sounds like a great idea: a streaming stick designed for children that focuses on PBS content, adds some games and activities, and allows you to play your own MP4 videos.

Yes, it sounds like a great idea. And it is a great idea. But it's poorly executed.

The device, which comes in a colorful package and form factor, looks great. The device, though, is slow. I'm a lot more patient than the pre-schoolers in my family, and I'm extremely frustrated by how sluggish, and at times, completely unusable, the device is.

The device itself looks like a little green race car toy. Of course, I wouldn't let a pre-schooler play with a $50 race car toy.

The wheels even roll! But, to use it, you plug it in to the back of your TV. They were thoughtful enough to include an HDMI extension cable, because it'll be nearly impossible to plug it in without one. It plugs in just like any other stick, whether Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku Stick, or any other such device.

Connect the power cord -- USB to USB mini -- to the device and the "wall wart" style power supply, and wait for the device to boot up.

And wait.

And wait.

And then wait for the inevitable updates.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Then, you're ready to go. And then when you press a button, it's slow to respond.

I thought perhaps it was just my device. And maybe it is. But a search of the Internet shows that many reviews and user reports mention how sluggish it is.

The remote is cute, and simple, and perfect for a small child.

But, like I mentioned earlier, it's a great idea, poorly executed. The device itself is way underpowered, and the software appears to be buggy. "Half-baked" comes to mind. Or, rushed to market without proper testing.

I still like the idea of this device. I just don't like the device.

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