MiiPC: Android-powered PC lets parents monitor kids' online activity
By Simon Crisp
April 1, 2013
It's a fact of the digital age that parents will worry about what their children get up to online. While some try to address this by teaching their kids how to behave safely online, others will simply place a family computer in a shared room and lurk behind young users watching what they do. The MiiPC is an Android-powered PC for children which allows parents to monitor and control what they are doing via a parental control mobile app.
Launching on Kickstarter, the MiiPC is a compact Android-powered computer which can connect to a monitor or TV and gives your children the big computer experience, without letting them loose on yours. With the ability to use a keyboard and mouse and being designed for large screen connectivity (up to 1080p), it means they can surf the web, run apps, play games and watch videos in the same way they could on most PCs. It works with Flash and runs standard Android apps.
But, what's sure to make the MiiPC even more attractive to online-safety-conscious/paranoid moms and dads, is the parental controls and snooping powers it gives them. In addition to being able to set up different user accounts for members of the family – with access to age-appropriate apps and websites – parents can monitor exactly what their kids are doing.
A companion mobile app (available for iOS or Android) gives parents access to real-time information about what is being done on the MiiPC, and by who. It can show whether the computer is in use, what's currently running, which apps or websites have been accessed most recently, and cumulative usage totals … handy if you discover little Tommy is running up hours of Angry Birds when he claims he's doing his homework.
The app also allows parents to control what can be used by different members of the family – in a bid to help create a safe online environment for users who might not be equipped/inclined to do this themselves. Options include turning on/off access to particular apps or websites, setting time limits for usage of apps and sites, including which days certain things can be used and how long per day.
On a technical side, the MiiPC uses a Marvell dual core 1.2GHz processor running Android Jelly Bean 4.2. It will be available with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM and has 4GB of internal flash memory (expandable via SD Slot and USB port). There's WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), 10/100Mb Ethernet, and Bluetooth (4.0) along with two USB 2.0 ports, speaker and microphone jacks. The HDMI port can output at 1080p/720p.
While the MiiPC will ship with a number of apps pre-installed – including productivity software such as KingSoft Office suite – parents will have access to Google Play and other Android Markets such as Amazon AppStore to add more.
Having already exceeded its Kickstarter target of US$50,000, the MiiPC is expected to start shipping to early bird backers in July. However, a pledge of $99 will still snag you one of the family-friendly computers, though you will probably have to wait until August or September to get your hands on it.
Here's the MiiPC Kickstarter video.