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Npower Electronics Products for Kids from Imation and Nickelodeon

Portable MP3 players are wonderful for entertaining kids on long trips, and digital cameras are great for kids to get creative and have fun, but what parent wants to risk their digital devices for the kids to run around and play with? Especially for younger kids, Imation/Memorex has partnered with Nickelodeon to offer a better solution -- the new Npower line of consumer electronics products, featuring familiar Nick personalities including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, and The Naked Brothers Band.

Released starting in October, the full Npower line has more than 20 products, including digital cameras and photo frames, MP3 and video players, an alarm clock, and even a LCD TV and DVD player. The products are designed to "combine ruggedness, affordability, and functionality with both the irreverent Nickelodeon personality and the specific attributes of the brand's most iconic characters and personalities."

They're fun, simple to use, and useful for kids.

- The simple Fission Digital Music Player for $49 has an easy-to hold design with a slight curve, at 3.6 x 0.7 x 1.7 inches. It plays MP3 and WMA formats, including protected WMA files.

The 1 GB flash memory holds up to 500 songs, plus there's a slot to expand the memory with a SD/MMC card. (The design has a nice window in the back so you can see which memory card is inserted.)

The Fission also has a microphone for voice recording. And for fun, with the Music Mixer feature you can shake the player to the beat to add silly instrument sound overlays (Boing, Foghorn, Marimba, Ukulele).

When I tried out the Fission, it interfaced well with Windows and Windows Media Player to synch songs onto the player and re-build the artist tag information for easy playback. I did find the interface a bit clunky -- you have to hold down the Menu button hard to access the menu, use the Left/Right control pad to navigate (but not Up/Down, even for vertical menus), then press Menu (and not Center on the control pad) to select while navigating, and then press Menu hard again to exit the menus.

- The compact SpongeBob SquarePants Flash Micro Digital Camera for $19 features a striking yellow SpongeBob eyeball design, has a small LCD used for a few digits of status information, plus a built-in USB connector on the bottom.

It shoots medium-res JPEG photos good for sharing by e-mail or on the Web. The 8 MB internal memory can hold 24 fine-quality or 84 normal photos at 640 x 480, 93 fine or 179 normal at 320 x 240. It's 3.2 x 0.8 x 2.2 inches.

The Personal CD Player is designed for preschoolers (3 to 5 year olds), in Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! models, for $24. It has a clever canteen-style design with carrying case, shoulder strap, a twist-cap control knob. For kids on the move, it includes 60-second anti-skip protection.

See my Portable Media Players Gallery for details and comparisons with other players.

    Find the Micro Digital Camera and Personal CD Player on Amazon.com

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