I waited quite some time to write this review because I wanted to give Griffin Technology the benefit of the doubt. They generally make some fantastic products, and Crayola ColorStudio HD was…not. The combination iMarker hardware and coloring book app just didn’t work, and I really wanted it to, because I think it’s a great idea.
The premise is simple, and really rather wonderful; Crayola ColorStudio HD turns your iPad into a coloring book. An animated one, at that. It presents you with numerous coloring options: crayons (of course), markers, colored pencils, paintbrushes…all of which look quite good. You can select the size of your tip, and you can spin the color wheel to choose your color. The options allow you to color freely, to always remain inside the lines as you color, or to automatically fill in areas with a paint bucket tool. This is fun, because hidden objects are sometimes revealed, giving you even more to color.
There’s also a mode where you can create your own pictures to color, with animations and clip art available to you. Or, you can just draw freely with a blank “sheet of paper.” Your creations can be shared on Facebook or e-mail, or you can print them off.
This would all be great…if it actually worked. But it doesn’t. Not consistently, anyway. The main problem stems from the iMarker, which is unreliable. Sometimes, it fails to lay down any color. I found that if I held the marker to the iPad screen for a second or two before applying any strokes, it would mostly work. From time to time, though, it would lose track of the area I was coloring when set to stay inside the lines, and instead start coloring outside the lines. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get reliable performance at all when freely coloring.
The troubles don’t stop with the iMarker, though. When using the paint bucket, it would often fill in too much. I want to color the leaves of a tree green, and it colors the trunk green, as well. I tried to color a boy’s hair blonde, and his face becomes blonde, too.
A more minor complaint stems from the selection of pages to color. They’re fine, but generic and rudimentary. Kids likely aren’t going to care too much about this unless they’ve got Disney or Nickelodeon licensing on the brain, but haven’t we all grown bored with soccer by now? I’ve seen church bulletin clip art with more pizzazz than some of the images in here.
With the Crayola and Griffin names on this product, I expected a whole lot more. Perhaps it will still come. Griffin promises more pages to color via in-app updates (currently at 30+), and perhaps there’s a way they can correct the iMarker connectivity/sensitivity issues, too. Until then, coloring remains one of the activities that is much, much more fun when done the old fashioned way.