We were excited to have a chance to put together a MiiPC review, considering there’s pretty much nothing that causes a modern parent more angst than monitoring your kids’ online life. Keeping them safe, limiting their screen time, making sure they don’t develop a hunchback from constantly craning their neck over a tablet…that. Well MiiPC is an idea for its time: A new computer and monitoring system made just for kids, and parents who want to limit and monitor their screen time.
Pronounced “Mee-PC”, the MiiPC is a small, smart Android-powered unit that manages to be a desktop computer, media center and gaming hub with different accounts for every user in your house. You supply a keyboard, mouse and your own monitor (or HDTV using an HDMI cable) and MiiPC supplies the juice–desktop tools, web and Android apps.
Kids will have the ability to surf the web, play games, and everything you’d expect from a decent PC but with a twist–cloud-based parental controls that allow you to keep tabs on all of it.
First (and my favorite), the main user or admin (me!) sets up the accounts for the rest of the family, including how much time per day or week a particular user can be on a particular app, game or page. My son is beyond obsessed with Minecraft and being able to set his time limit–and watch his shocked face as the game shut down on its own–brought tears of joy to my eyes. (Sorry, kid).
Secondly, the free mobile app for iOS or Android allows you to not only know exactly what your child is up to, but limit the time or even just shut it down completely. You’ll also get you a history of their online activity including everything they’ve seen, tried or accidentally happened upon which can be a little scary.
This is definitely a level of control that just might make a parent breathe a bit easier.
Since the MiiPC is quite new, there are a few hiccups and aspects that could be improved–the interface is pretty rudimentary and it takes a bit of finagling to adjust the screen borders visibility on different monitors, but judging from their support page, the team behind MiiPC is working very hard to address any and all concerns.
For the crazy-low price starting at $129 for 1 GB RAM/4 GB Flash Memory in the Basic model, $149 for 2 GB RAM/8 GB Flash Memory for the Premium, this is certainly a great choice for a family computer, be it the primary one, or just a back-up.
Obviously parent still want to talk to kids about gaming and privacy and safety and time limits so they can grow to be more responsible with their screen time all on their own. But as a set of training wheels, MiiPC is a compelling option. And did I mention the look on my son’s face when his game shut down after he didn’t turn it off on his own? Priceless. –Shari
You can find the MiiPC on their website. Thanks to them for providing Cool Mom Tech a review unit.
Keep an eye on our site all week for more cool tech finds for parents from the International CES Show.