Asus and Disney Join Forces on Kid-Friendly Netbooks

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Add this to the list of unexpected business partnerships: Asus and Disney have combined their expertise in computers and cartoons to produce a Disney-themed netbook called the Netpal. Available in "Princess Pink" or "Magic Blue," the Netpal will be available in late July.

The Netpal should be perfect for the Disney fans who need a laptop that packs a little more punch than the $30 Vtech Disney Princess Carriage "Laptop" and just aren't feeling the Snow White look of the older Lenovo IdeaPad Y330 Disney Limited Edition.

The Netpal will be sold by Toys ‘R' Us,, and for $350, which will get you a 2.6-pound laptop with 1GB of RAM, Windows XP Home, an 8.9-inch display (1024-by-600 resolution), and a 1.6GHz Intel N270 processor.

There will be two models available: one with a 160GB HDD, and one with a 16GB SSD (the latter will be about half a pound lighter), and both will come with SD/MMC card readers, a 3-megapixel camera, a VGA port, and three USB ports.

The Netpal also comes with a handful of preinstalled themes inspired by Disney and Disney/Pixar movies, including Cars and Vintage Mickey Mouse (as well as Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers themes for the more-mature Disney fan). There's also plenty of Disney-specific software that comes with the Netpal, so if you're having a hard time finding Hannah Montana on Pandora, you might have better luck with Disney Radio.

For parents who balk at buying a $350 PC for children on a toy-breaking streak, the Netpal's design may give them some peace of mind: it packs a spill-proof keyboard and is protected against data loss from impact by Asus ShockShield technology.

It also has plenty of parental control options; parents can restrict their children's access to particular sites or programs, limit e-mail correspondence to certain addresses, set different permissions corresponding to different scheduled times (sorry, Junior -- no Internet after 8 p.m.), and even provide statistics on what users are doing online. You can also figure out how much time the kids are spending playing Flash games when they're supposed to be studying.

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