Adding WiFi to a kid’s tablet

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[Mick] has been playing around with the VTech Innotab – a $70 tablet computer aimed at kids – for a while now. He’s successfully turned this tablet soon to be found at yard sales the world over into a Linux tablet and can play everything from those magical LucasArts SCUMM adventure games to Angry Birds. What his tablet is missing, though, is any sort of Internet connection. He recently fixed this by soldering a USB WiFi adapter directly to the CPU of his InnoTab.

In all fairness, there’s not a terrible amount of software hackery going on here. VTech’s InnoTab 2s uses the same chipset as the cheaper InnoTab 2 but has an additional board soldered directly to the mainboard. This additional board provides a WiFi connection with an RT5370 chipset; soldering a WiFi dongle onto the InnoTab 2’s CPU D+ and D- USB lines effectively turns it into the WiFi enabled InnoTab 2s.

It’s an impressive piece of work for a low-power tablet that one can safely assume is both bullet and childproof. [Mick] was also able to mount a USB thumb drive on his upgraded kid’s tablet, so if you’re looking for a cheap tablet that doesn’t need much horsepower, you might want to check out your local Toys ‘R Us.

Comments

  1. fartface says:

    What is needed with these is the intended use, but real education. Like , “little johnny learns geometry” ” Physics of Jack and Jill”, and “Little Sally’s Astrophysics primmer” Honestly, why do we treat children as morons? their brains are sponges, let’s jam as much in there as possible.

    • XOIIO says:

      *alien guy meme*

      “America!”

    • asheets says:

      I have 3 (yes, 3 — thanks “GrandDad”) of these blasted things in my house, complete with the carts for “Thomas the Tank Engine”, “Dora the Explorer”, and crap like that. They’re ok for the 4 year old to entertain him for a few minutes (very few, as they eat batteries like Cookie Monster eats chocolate chips) but I prefer the older kids to use the house computer and do “educational” stuff.

      Recently I got the 10-and 7-year olds a copy of “Pinball Science” which combines a decent primer into Newtonian physics with a game. You don’t see titles like this for any VTech product very often, if at all. Of course, I only allow each kid 20 minutes a day on the PC to play games (most days they don’t even bother — old fashioned “Battleship” keeps them quite busy when they aren’t busy outside running around). The 10-year-old would probably get a kick out of hacking/tearing his Innotab apart if we could find a decent how-to for him to follow.

  2. XOIIO says:

    Man this thing is totally going to phase out the ipad

    Nice hack, I wonder what you can use with the internet connection though. I’m guessing it’s running some sort of Linux,

  3. That’s a pretty cool hack, re-purposing one of those into something more useful. But before anyone runs out and buys one new to hack it, might I suggest simply buying an Android tablet from DealExtreme? You can get some damn good ones for $60-80.

    I happened to catch an absurd 50% off sale on May 15th and I got four 7″ tablets and an ‘android stick’ for $160 shipped. Just arrived last week. (Slowboat is slow.) http://media.giantpachinkomachineofdoom.com/blog/2013/06/tabletgloat.jpg

    Needless to say, these things are pretty nice at the full ~$70 pricetags, but at ~$35 ($25 for the stick) I’m absolutely floored by the deal I got. :3

  4. nagy says:

    Man this thing is totally going to phase out the ipad

    Nice hack, I wonder what you can use with the internet connection though. I’m guessing it’s running some sort of Linux,

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