Would your Disney princess like a laptop to match?
She's pretty and petite and, most important, portable.
Disney and Asustek Computer just unveiled the Netpal, a netbook designed for kids ages 6 to 12. When it comes out next month, the compact laptop will try to walk the delicate line between being a useful computer and a child-safe toy.
The $350 netbook looks like the relatively popular Asus Eee PC, but one that's been dipped in a Disney rainbow. Netpal comes in "Princess Pink" or a "Magic Blue" pattern of tiny Mickey Mouse logos. Its 8.9-inch screen lights up with Disney's regular pantheon of personalities. Kids can swap between desktop themes, such as "Toy Story," "Cars," or "WALL-E."
Underneath the cartoon charm is an actual copy of Windows XP. But like a BMW engine placed inside a Donald Duck bumper car, Disney has layered on so many changes that you might not recognize the Microsoft OS. Let's start off with the Mac-like "gadget tray" with "icons for a Disney browser, e-mail, and parental controls," reports USA Today. "Kids can only surf to sites or correspond via e-mail with people approved by parents."
Even with these software filters, the Netpal shows some design restraint on Disney's part. The Wall Street Journal remembers the 2004 Disney Dream Desk PC "that was bright blue with a monitor framed by a mouse-ears silhouette." Needless to say, "the Disney branding on the netbook is more subtle."