Disney Joins Netbook Race With Netpal

Walt Disney’s Disney Consumer Products group and computer maker Asus on Wednesday unveiled the Disney Netpal, a branded netbook for children ages 6-12 with a slew of parental control options.

The laptop with reinforced mechanical design and spill-proof keyboard will be available in late July with a suggested retail price of $349.99.

Retailers include Amazon.com and Toys R Us. Disney also expects the product to become a hot holiday season seller.

It marks a renewed effort by Disney to enter the computer world after little success in 2004 with a $1,000 desktop unit.

The new product is chock-full of offers for kids growing up in the digital age, such as Disney Pix that allows for photo customization, a Radio Disney Widget that allows real-time streaming music and Disney Mix for music and media management.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs may sit on Disney’s board, but the new laptop is a PC with an 8.9-inch screen that executives said targets the needs of both children and their parents.

“Today’s kids are a digital generation,” said Chris Heatherly, head of Disney’s Toymorrow team and vp of toys and consumer electronics for Disney Consumer Products. “Parents are comfortable with their kids using the Internet, but they want to be assured that their kids are having a safe online experience.”

Among the safety features are the ability to pre-select e-mail addresses, Web sites and programs that kids can use, plus parents can view data where their children spent time and how much.

For fun, the laptop’s desktop is customizable with Disney themes ranging from “Vintage Mickey Mouse,” “Cars” and “Toy Story” to “Club Penguin,” “Hannah Montana” and “Disney Princess,” among others. At launch, the netbook comes in two colors: magic blue or princess pink.

Nielsen Business Media