Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Digital camera gifts for kids

There's still time to pick up a great digital camera gift for the lucky kids on your holiday shopping list. Here are some great options that are sure to bring a smile to kids of all ages.
Written by Janice Chen, Inactive

Based on the spike in traffic going to my Back to School Guide on the best digital cameras for kids from back in August, I think it's safe to say that lots of you are looking for some good child friendly digital cameras to put under the tree this year.  Any of the options on that list would make fine holiday gifts, but here are a few more digital-camera gifts for kids to round out your shopping list.

Crayola 5.1 MP Digital Camera I took a look at an earlier, lower-resolution version of this camera a couple of years ago and wasn't all that impressed, but the new Crayola 5.1 MP Digital Camera addresses a few of the complaints I had with the 2.1-megapixel Crayola camera, making it a much better choice as a kid's camera. The body design has been improved, with an even more comfortable two-handled grip and though it's still nice and light, it seems more durable than the previous version. Both image quality and the LCD viewfinder have been improved significantly, but it's still not going to knock your socks off, though it should be plenty adequate for the preschool set. Though I still prefer other kids cameras that offer built-in games and dual-eye viewfinders, the Crayola 5.1 is a less-expensive option that will keep your child snapping away happily. Just note that there is still no built-in memory, so you'll need to add your own SD card.

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Leapster Explorer Camera and Video Recorder Let me just say up front that this product is an accessory for the handheld Leapster Explorer device (which is pictured above, with the Leapster Explorer Camera and Video Recorder add-on installed at the bottom), so unless your gift recipient already has the Leapster Explorer (a handheld gaming and e-Book reading device for kids), you'll need to cough up an additional $70 for the Leapster Explorer itself. With that out of the way, this is a great little accessory that adds a lot of functionality to the popular Leapster Explorer. It essentially turns the device into a digital camera and camcorder, allowing kids to take and edit pictures and videos, which can be transferred to your computer for printing  and viewing. Although the setup is a little arduous (requiring you to connect the device to your computer and download software to it), once it's set up the functions are easy for a grade-schooler to figure out (though not as easy to use as a standalone point-and-shoot camera). Best of all, it comes with a number of fun and semi-educational photo- and video-oriented activities, such as a letter and number game, puzzle maker, story creator, music-video maker, and more.

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Nintendo DSi XL Anyone with an older grade-schooler or middle-schooler has undoubtedly heard of the Nintendo DS and DSi handheld gaming devices. But what you may not know is that the DSi includes two cameras which allow it to operate as a digital still camera as well. The newer Nintendo DSi XL, released earlier this year, is essentially a larger-sized DSi, with dual 4.2-inch screens that are 93-percent larger than the 3.25-inch screens of last year's DSi. While resolution hasn't been increased, so the screens are arguably just more pixelated, the larger screen size does provide a wider viewing angle which improves the photo-taking experience. The camera features are a lot of fun and the combination of two cameras and two screens means you can easily take self portraits or forward-facing photos (of what's in front of the device) and quickly swap back and forth between cameras. There are a number of fun "lenses" that let you add various special effects to photos, as well as some that use face recognition technology to do entertaining things like merge two faces together or measure the level of resemblance between two faces. You can even upload images to Facebook, or share them with other DSi users (but not to worry--there are robust parental controls as well).

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SpyGear Spy Video Trakr Good remote control vehicles are always a crowd-pleaser, but add a digital camera to the mix and you've got a sure-fire hit with youngsters and grown-up kids alike. The SpyGear Spy Video Trakr claims to be the first programmable remote control vehicle that can also transmit color video, audio, and data to a remote screen.  So essentially, you can steer the little bugger into other rooms and see and hear what's going on remotely. Add in your own SD card and you can you can snap still photos and record videos of everything in the Trakr's path. There are built-in "apps" that allow you to use night-vision technology or map-out and record paths that the unit will automatically follow (sans remote control steering), but you can also download more free apps or program your own, depending on your level of obsessiveness.  The remote is very responsive and the solidly built unit is surprisingly agile and should provide hours of spy-worthy entertainment.

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