mobiles2go i-Kids SF Alert

Mobiles2go i-Kids is a mobile phone that is designed to make it easier for parents to keep an eye on their children. As well as providing voice and text message contact, the i-Kids has the capability to provide a child's current and previous locations on a map using GPS. Safety zones can also be set up and if your child wanders outside of these zones an SMS alert will be sent to a preset phone number.

Design

As you can probably already tell, this is no ordinary phone. Looking like something out of The Jetsons, the i-Kids has been designed for young children - with a targeted user age of between six and 11, according to mobiles2go. Measuring just 82.3mm x 49mm x 18mm, the unit comes in two different colours; our review unit was finished in blue and azure and another is available in pink and lime. The i-Kids is just 62g, so it's one of the lightest phones currently available. It also has two horn-shaped antennas and a rubber plug that acts as a child-proof battery and SIM card cover.

The i-Kids doesn't have a standard number dial pad, instead four programmable buttons are used for parents to store numbers. This means that the child can only dial up to four preset phone numbers, so the risk of an excessive phone bill thanks to childish exuberance is somewhat reduced. The i-Kids also has a timed keypad lock, dedicated volume controls on the left hand side and a 2.5mm headphone jack. Our experience navigating the menu was not positive due to the awkward button positioning and the rather miniscule two line backlit LCD screen. Keep in mind though that this is a children's phone, and thus the controls are designed to be operated by small hands.

How it works

The i-Kids handset can receive calls from any mobile or landline phone. It can also receive SMS messages but cannot compose or send them, nor can it dial a number not programmed into the unit. The service requires an activation fee of $36 which is charged to your credit card. Once this is completed, you can then program and put all of your required settings into the unit.

The i-Kids handset has a built-in SirF GPS receiver that communicates with the GPS satellite network. Its performance is a little below average, at times taking longer than the expected a minute or so to pick up a signal. It also dropped out on a number of occasions, especially near or around large office buildings. Once a clear signal is established, the location co-ordinates are then integrated into a mapping solution that displays your child's location once you log into the Web site via the Internet or a WAP-enabled phone. Unfortunately the WAP interface is poorly laid out and difficult to use, so we'd advise that you using a standard Web browser wherever you can.

Once configured via the i-Kids Web site, the i-Kids records the location of your child in ten minute intervals for up to eight hours a day. The i-Kids also allows you to set up to three safety zones for your child - if they are determined to be outside the safety zone, a message will be sent to your mobile phone notifying you. Three alerts can be sent each month before you are charged 50c per alert. Also, safety zones can only be outlined in circles, and the radius can't be less than 250m, so it is really restricted in its uses. For example, you can't select a particular street or house, as it needs to be in a circle to register.

The i-Kids service has a monthly subscription fee of $28 with no contract and this includes 30 minutes of voice calls, 10 real-time traces, up to 12 hours of tracking per day, five changes of settings and up to three safety zone SMS alerts. Standard call rates also apply, including a 26c connection fee for any calls made.

Battery life is average according to mobiles2go, rated at up to 150 minutes of talk time and between 65 and 100 hours of standby time. Its GPS functions will quickly diminish this battery life though, so you'll want to make sure you child charges the handset every two nights or so if it is being used regularly.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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