Kano PC - Please tell us more!

So the new Kano PC was announced this past summer, and months later, there is still next to no detailed information about it, and I cannot find even a single review by someone who has used it.

Here’s what we know:

  • From Kano store web page, we know it’s a build-your-own Windows touchscreen computer that uses a (discontinued 3-year old) Intel Atom processor to run Windows 10 in S mode.

  • We know that besides the Windows 10 OS, it includes the How Computers Work, Make Art, Kano App, Paint 3D, and Kano Projects software, and since it runs Windows, it can also work with “millions more” software apps, including Microsoft Office.

  • We know that from the marketing verbage, it’s claimed that users can “Go from beginner to code master with step-by-step challenges. Drag blocks, type code, unlock programming powers. Projects with Python, Javascript, and Terminal commands.”

What we don’t know is:

  • Are the included apps different from those found on the Raspberry Pi-based Kano Computer Kit?

  • Is the Kano App on this Kano PC the same as Kano Code App available on the Windows App Store?

  • Since this is a Windows-based computer and not Linix-based, are the lessons / projects on Python, Javascript, and Terminal commands simulated or does the user have full access to those programming languages / environments pre-installed on the Kano PC?

  • How does this compare overall with the Raspberry Pi-based Kano Computer Kit / Computer Kit Touch products? Is it a “step up” from those products? Will kids who have used those older Kano Computers find new and unique lessons / projects / activities on the new Kano PC?

  • Other unknowns such as expected battery life, HDMI output resolution, USB device compatibility, etc.

We’re three weeks away from Christmas and it’s mind-boggling that the above mentioned information has not been made available, and that Kano has not sent advance units to any major tech publishers for the purpose of review.

Please if anyone who has bought and tried using the new Kano PC is reading this, we would love to hear from you! What has your experience been?

As for any word from Kano, I suppose it would be from the only team member active on these forums, @chris. If you have any information to share, that would certainly be welcome!

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Hi @flyingtacos

The lack of reviews is down to no one yet having a retail version of the Kano PC to review.

Although they were due to ship in October, a production delay has pushed things out, and we’re now shipping direct to pre-order customers in time for Christmas, and journalists in the new year.

Please bear with us as we get these out to the folks that have ordered them - updates to follow! :slight_smile:

Thanks!

Chris

Why not just release Kano as a software package or VM then?
I get the idea of ‘building’ a computer, but it’s not really a significant element long term, especially if it’s just a windows machine.
Just buying an old laptop and installing Kano stuff seems like a better value proposition than purchasing an Atom based windows machine.
There are plenty of SBCs out there to run Kano linux on far more capable than the old Ras Pi

@flyingtacos
I don’t have a Kano pc but I can answer a couple questions.

The expected battery life is 8 hours is with light web browsing and light office productivity.

You didn’t ask this but the display resolution is 1366x768

I would consider it a step up from Kano computer kit touch because it’s probably faster(other computers with the same processor get about twice the score on Geekbench 4 compared to the raspberry pi 3), it has much longer battery life, and (this one could be subjective) it runs windows 10 so it can run a lot more apps. One disadvantage is that it’s a bit heavy at 5 pounds(2.26kg).

As far as usb devices, probably whatever windows 10 in s mode has the drivers for. And you can always switch out of s mode for applications outside the windows store(although it’s a one time thing, so no going back to s mode)

I currently have a Kano PC and it works like a charm.It can become Windows 10 Home for free in Microsoft store after activation.It also has HDMI and 2 usb ports. Can run things like Minecraft Java Edition and Netflix wonderful after upgrading to Windows 10 Home.Comes with the kano app,make art Microsoft edge and How Computers Work with headphone Jack and 64 gb of storage. Has excellent touch screen with detachable keyboard and mouse,is replaceable in tablet mode with it’s keyboard.There are the full features of Windows 10 available,like Cortana,Microsoft store and email.Can use all usb drives Windows 10 can.

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@KanoMaster200
How’s the performance of the Kano PC? Is it able to do light tasks like web browsing relatively quickly and smoothly?

It can do that and more smoothly and quickly.

Battery life is 11 hours on a full charge.

Thanks @KanoMaster200! That’s more than I was expecting. I don’t mean to overwhelm you with questions, but I have a couple more. How’s the keyboard and trackpad? Are they comfortable to type and click on? And how’s the weight? Is it light enough to be held as a tablet?

@KanoMaster200 do you know if there’s much of a difference from the kit vs installing the app from the Microsoft store?

I’d much rather buy a raspberry pi 4 kit, but since that’s not an option, I’d settle for installing (and paying for) the installing the experience on my choice of windows laptop. I’m hesitant to drop money on an under powered windows machine however, as windows updates/upgrades will surely drag the performance down in the near future.

I pre-ordered the Kano PC back in September and it arrived just before Christmas.

First off I think it is important to understand who the device is aimed at, or at least my impression of who the device is aimed at. I imagine the target market is a family buying the first PC for a young child. Windows 10 S is aimed at this type of person with apps only available through the Microsoft store and the OS locked down (no command prompt for example).

The Kano PC external packaging is well designed and immediately adds value by explaining many elements of a computer from binary numbering, CPU, storage. etc. The hardware design is solid but not robust (it wouldn’t survive being dropped). Elements on the PCB that are visible and labelled (HDMI port, sound port, CPU, graphics card etc) and the accompanying booklet encourages you to view these pieces with s supplied magnifying lens.

“Build your own PC” is a bit of a stretch you are instructed how to plug in the battery and speaker, clip on the plastic back and stand it on the keyboard connector.

Starting up the Kano PC is where things start to become disappointing. The accompanying booklet states - press on the start menu and click on How a Computer Works. It completely ignores the fact that you must go through the standard Windows setup process with multiple steps. It assumes you have a wifi connection available to get online, Windows 10 S doesn’t support local accounts so you must have a Microsoft account already or you’ll need to create one. Again this isn’t guided beyond what is standard with Microsoft Windows 10.

I was hoping and saddened that more effort hadn’t gone into this area to make it simpler. For example guided questions as to who is the parent and who is the child (if this is the assumed target audience). Create two accounts one for the adult and one for the child which are linked in a Microsoft Family setup (I assume this is what the external packing means when it refers to parental controls?). It should definitely have a solution or guidance for getting the Kano online and if not work offline until extra steps have been taken.

At first run Windows is normally show, this is due to .Net Optimisation, AV scanning and Windows Update. Again I hoped that Kano would have implemented solutions to delay or optimise this but they haven’t. As a result the PC runs extremely slowly, so slow that finally clicking on the Start Menu and “How a Computer Works” results in nothing happening. Task manager shows the CPU is running at 100% and it does this for tens of minutes. More work should have been done in this area to improve user experience.

Even the layout of the Start Menu lacks attention to detail, the Kano apps being below the Microsoft apps and almost out of view. How to Build a Computer is missing more elements than are available with around two-thirds stating coming soon. The app covering binary is very poor, the network performance with ping is better although the map doesn’t seem to display.

I am fairly confident once Windows has updated, AV has run, .Net Optimisation has completed and the store apps are up to date then it would be a better experience. In this respect, Windows 10 S on a relatively cheap touch screen computer is a good solution as a starter PC.

So all in all the Kano PC has many good and excellent elements, especially around the hardware construction. However, the software and Windows 10 optimisation is a huge missed opportunity and adds no value over any other PC and then installing the Kano apps from the Microsoft Store.

Paul

P.S. the keyboard supplied with my order is American even though the order was preceded with GB, support ticket raised for a replacement.

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I’ve had a response about the Keyboard and if correct this is a deal-breaker and makes the Kano PC not fit for purpose outside of the US

“Thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to send over a keyboard with a UK English layout, as we do not offer one with this product. My apologies for any inconvenience!”

Paul

Further dealings with Kano customer services leaves me with the feeling the company is in trouble and the product has not be completed with a rush to market.

Not having keyboards in which the company does business is a huge oversight, or an indication the profitability/cashflow of the company is questionable. The advice from customer service is to buy an external USB keyboard!

So in response to the Op’s request to “Please tell us more!” avoid this product and potentially the company.

Paul

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@Paul-B That’s disappointing and a bit silly that they don’t have a UK version of the keyboard, especially considering that Kano is based in the UK.

That being said, that shouldn’t necessarily deter people in the U.S or people in the UK who don’t mind a U.S Keyboard.

Has anyone had issues with the Kano PC screen flickering when connected to wifi? We had issues with the first one sent to us and now the 2nd replacement…not sure what
this is about? Waiting for a reply from customer service. I really wish they had a customer service phone number to call in.