Digital Cameras Get Kid-Friendly

If your little one loves to take pictures, but the idea of those chubby fingers gripping and quite possibly dropping your digital camera makes your heart skip a beat, help has arrived in the form of a tough and fully functional kid camera designed to take great pictures as well as a tumble.

Nickelodeon has teamed up with Imation to create the Npower line of consumer electronics. Drawing on popular Nic characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, the pint-size portable electronics includes products like the VGA 300K Pixel Digital Camera ($59.99) that comes in purple, my favorite color as well as Dora's.

The first thing you'll notice is the rubberized grip, perfect for little fingers. Kids ages 3 and older can grab onto this with dirty, sticky hands and not worry about smudges. If it drops, don't worry — it's meant to take a bit of a beating.

The VGA 300K P model has a 1.4-inch LCD screen so kids can check out their shot after they take it, as well as 8 MB of internal memory, which means it can hold about 80 photos of the family dog. An optional SD card slot lets you buy a memory card that will hold even more.

The camera comes with software for PCs or Macs, as well as cables for easy transfers of those perfect images to your computer. Auto flash and photo editing software to customize your photos are also included.

If seeing your child play Georgia O'Keefe isn't enough to make you smile, the camera comes with pre-recorded laugh lines, or smile-making sounds, and bilingual phrases to get you going.

SpongeBob fans should consider the SpongeBob SquarePants Flash Digital Camera, which comes in a 1.3 MB ($41.99) and a 3 MB ($79.99) version. Kids can customize their cameras with the included skins. Other features include character-inspired shutter sound effects, auto flash, photo-editing software and a somewhat smaller color LCD screen.

VTech has veered off its educational line of toys just slightly to make a camera for preschoolers that is fun as well as functional. Aimed at the 3 and older set, the Kidizoom Camera ($59.99) is bright orange and yellow with big chunky buttons and controls and large rubberized grips. It comes with photo editing software so kids can create wacky pictures and effects when they plug the camera into the computer with the included cable. In addition to holding up to 120 photos, it can also shoot up to five minutes of video, thanks to its 16 MB of internal memory.

If your little one grows bored of snapping pix on a family trip, the Kidizoom can still keep them busy. It has pre-loaded games like Tic Tac Toe and a Memory matching game, plus a set of headphones so road-weary kids can entertain themselves while mom and dad continue to snap up the scenery.

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