In this Kano kit review I take a look at Raspberry Pi kit that has been designed as a education tool for coding for kids. This kit has been out for a while and was launched by successful Kickstarter, in this review I will go over the contents of the kit and any pros and cons I find whilst using this kit.
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What’s inside the Kano Kit
Wondering what’s actually inside the Kano computer kit? Below I go through each of the items and what you can expect from each of the items.
Before I go into details on each of the items in the kit I have to mention the packaging. The packaging of the Kano kit is very well done not only does it look great but it holds all the parts very nicely.
This is the brain and heart of the kit, you will get the latest Raspberry Pi in this kit with the Pi 2 currently being the latest version. In the Kano kit I bought I got the previous model which is the Raspberry Pi B+.
The manuals are actually pretty cool in this kit. Rather than being just large amounts of complicated text they are instead illustrated simple steps. This is great for kids as it makes it much easier to understand the basic principles of the kit, parts, coding and much more.
The SD that comes with the kano kit is a preloaded version of the kano OS (operating system). All you need to do is remove the micro sd card from the larger SD card and place it into the Raspberry Pi. I will go on more about Kano OS and whether it is a great platform for coding for kids below.
The case whilst not the coolest looking Raspberry Pi case around it certainly is very sturdy and very easy to put together. It also works well with a speaker that I will talk about below. You can customize the case with the stickers that is included in the kit. There are also some extra parts for the case in the kit that you can use as well.
The kit comes with a cool speaker that is powered by the Pi itself. This will need to be connected to the correct GPIO pins in order to work (This is where it will draw power from). You then simply connect it to the audio jack on the outside of the case.
The sound quality from the speaker is very average and you can get much better sound from pretty much any other speaker you can buy. I think probably the best speaker to compare this to is likely a pair of budget laptop speakers. The cool thing though about this speaker is that it is built into the case. It is just a pity the sound quality is just quite not up to par.
Raspberry Pi Keyboard
The keyboard that is bundled in the Kano kit is a mini orange keyboard that also includes a trackpad. Now this keyboard because of its smaller size may not be the best for adults sized hands. If you’re a kid though it might be much easier to use than a full sized keyboard.
The keyboard is wireless meaning you will need to keep it charged for it to work. There is a USB cable connected to the board that will charge it. It has no removable batteries so you can’t simply exchange batteries in and out.
You also get cool looking stickers in the case that kids can use to decorate their room, parents, the kano computer kit itself or anything else they want to stick something to.
WiFi dongle & Cables
The WiFi dongle allows you to connect to a WiFi network. It does exactly what it is designed for and gives off a green glow when powered up.
The cables that come with the kit includes an HDMI cable and a mini USB power cable. These cables are colorful and do the job they were designed for.
The Kano OS
It wouldn’t be a full kano kit review without looking into the operating system of this device. Whilst you can just install ordinary Raspbian I would highly recommend keeping the kano OS as it has plenty of tools for kids to learn.
The Kano OS (operating system) is the OS that is bundled with the kano kit. It can also be downloaded and installed on any other Raspberry Pi (I would recommend you do this if you already have a Pi or simply don’t need another Raspberry Pi and looking for a great OS for coding for kids).
You can download the full version of the operating system at the kano website here.
The overall interface is very bright and clean, everything is pretty easy to access. There are nice attractive icons that allow you identify each application very fast.
The Raspberry Pi B+ I got with the kit was a bit slow when it came to loading most applications. However the latest kit now has the Raspberry Pi 2 so I would expect the OS and applications to run a lot faster.
There is no doubt that the applications included in the operating system are great coding for kids applications. If you want some more advanced programing courses there is an application for codecademy and you have access to the web thus access to plenty of other great programing tutorials out there.You will still have full access to the terminal so you can complete any kind of programing task you would like and even some beginner Raspberry Pi projects.
The applications pre-installed on the latest OS include make Minecraft, Make Music, Make Pong, Make Snake, Make Art, Terminal Quest, Youtube and the Scratch programing application. All these applications have been designed to slowly introduce a child to programing through clever illustrations and explanations.
The Not So Good
I also ran into a few bugs whilst doing some of the applications. All of them very minor but I guess the best example was in the terminal quest application. It came up with a python error hitting enter however allowed me to continue on with the application without any interruption. Another example was the YouTube application was throwing a device error and not allowing you to search or view any videos. Now as these are all programing issues I reckon the Kano team will have these all fixed up soon.
There was a weird hissing noise coming from the speaker whenever I clicked on something or if it played any kind of sound. I am not sure if this is an issue with the current version of the Kano OS or the speaker that came in my kit. That said I didn’t think the sound quality of the speaker being very good so any other speaker would probably do just as well.
The Kano Kit Review Verdict
Overall I think the kit and its contents are pretty good, it contains everything you need (except a monitor) to get a micro computer up and running for a kid. The colorful instruction booklets allows the learning of basics to be much more interesting rather than just sheets of text.
The price is a bit higher sitting at around $150 which is a bit higher than other kits you find on the market such as the canakit but with the kano kit you get fantastic manuals, a mini keyboard that you won’t find in the cannakit. Also the canakit’s are more aimed at older people and might not be very good for children like the kano computer kit is.
If you’re looking at introducing your kids to technology then this is a fantastic kit and is a great tool for coding for kids.
If you don’t have a spare monitor with a HDMI port then you you will need to look at getting one. You can find great prices on monitors through the link below.
Want to have your say on the Kano computer kit then please leave us a comment below.
Final review details:
Author Rating: 4/5 stars
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