Crayola Color Studio HD
Color Studio HD makes colouring for kids an interactive experience thanks to Crayola’s iPad-friendly iMarker.
The packaging actually only contains Crayola’s soft-tipped iMarker – ColorStudio HD is in fact a 73MB free download from the app store, but you require the iMarker to unlock the advanced features. Be warned, you’ll need a tiny Phillips head screwdriver to install the iMarker’s AA battery, so don’t make the mistake of leaving home before opening the box.
Press the power button on the top and the iMarker comes to life, signified by the glowing Crayola icon and a soft ticking sound. The sound is due to the fact that the tip of the pen vibrates slightly, allowing the Crayola app to distinguish between the iMarker and your finger (or another iPad-friendly soft-tipped stylus).
Launch the ColorStudio HD app and you can colour a few drawings with your finger or use the iMarker to unlock the advanced drawings, which incorporate fun animations, music and sound effects.
Animals move and make noises, objects drift past and occasionally you discover Easter eggs such as treasure chests which pop open.
You’ve got around 30 colouring sheets to choose from, plus you can create new colouring pages or draw on a blank sheet. Once you’ve created your masterpiece you can save, print, email it or post it to Facebook.
The iMarker also works with Crayola’s Paint and Create app, which offers extra content via in-app purchases. Even so, it’s hard to say how long it will keep kids entertained if they’re already in the habit of drawing with their fingers. My kids had fun with the iMarker, Miss 5 was impressed but Mr 8 wondered aloud why you’d buy the pen when you can colour with your finger for free.
To be honest the battery-powered iMarker seems to be more for Crayola’s benefit than yours, to ensure you don’t use the advanced interactive features of the app without buying the fancy pen. It’s not like an active digitiser that you’d get with a tablet PC. The only
real advantage is that you can use the iMarker to draw and use your fingers to switch between drawing implements without accidentally drawing on the picture with your finger.
You can choose from pencils, crayons, textas, whiteboard markers and paint brushes, with various colours and line widths. There’s even a ‘stay inside the lines’ mode, but traditionalists can disable it.
You only need to unlock the app’s advanced features once. After this you’ve the option of ‘finger mode’, letting you colour with your finger if the pen’s battery runs flat.
What’s odd is that without power the iMarker doesn’t work in finger mode. The touchscreen will only acknowledge the pen when it’s switched on, even in other drawing apps. This is frustrating when you consider there are many passive iPad-friendly pens around.
It’s worth remembering that $39 would buy plenty of other great kid- friendly drawing iPad apps. It seems you’re really paying for the novelty of colouring on the iPad with a Crayola crayon. Of course, kids who’ve grown up with touchscreen iGadgets might not even care about physical pens (which is obviously what worries Crayola).
Australian Macworld’s buying advice:
If the iMarker was much more expensive we’d say don’t bother. It doesn’t actually add any advanced features compared to passive pens. But it’s got Crayola written on it. If that’s what it takes to keep your kids busy, it could be money well spent.