The Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit promises great fun, but is actually quite complicated

Kano’s Harry Potter Coding Kit combines J.K. Rowling’s world with coding. Children can create their own spells using code wrapped in code. They can drag and drop blocks to change the color or make sparks fly from the wand. To see if the magic realm could be navigated, we played with the wand. For more educational toys visit www.toyhq.co.uk

In The Box

The Harry Potter Coding Kit contains a plastic wand and two AAA batteries. It also includes a circuit board and wrist band. There is also an instruction book and stickers. The book is not to be thrown away. You will want it.

The wand can be assembled by children, which is a great way to teach them about how technology works. The book explains the workings of the wand, using three sensors to determine when it is moving: an accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope.

It was easy to pop the batteries in and put the wand together.

The MacOS or Windows app must be downloaded to your computer. The program was easy to use on a MacBook Air.

Children create an account. Parents must add their email. Once you have logged in, connect your Bluetooth wand. This worked initially. I pressed the button on the front of my wand and the blue light flashed as it connected to my device. It then showed me the status by turning the blue glow to a steady glow.

The Harry Potter Coding Kit App opens to a map showing Hogwarts, including the surrounding areas such as Diagon Alley Kano

Enter Hogwarts

You will be taken on a tour of Hogwarts by the wand. Harry Potter fans will love the many locations, including Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft, Wizardry, and even the Quidditch Pitch. You will also find new creatures as you travel from one location to another and face challenges, and even extras such as a bubbling cauldron and a pumpkin. Your avatar can be customized with accessories such as feathers, spell books, and facial expressions. You can even customize what you wear, including the scarf that connects to the house you join.

The screen shows a map showing where you are located in Harry Potter’s world. It also includes a reference to the Marauding Map, which movie-goers and readers will be familiar with. Overall, the Harry Potter Coding Kit does an excellent job of conjuring J.K. Rawling’s world.

Problems arise when it comes to star attraction using the wand.

To work Kano, the wand from the Harry Potter Coding Kit must be connected to Bluetooth.

Code-writing and Spells

Next, you will be sent on a series coding challenges that are almost impossible to solve. There are over 70 blocks, and Kano does an excellent job of showing how they connect and how to change variables like the color of a pet.

As it should, each challenge builds upon the previous, helping children to feel more comfortable playing with their toys. You can try the code you wrote at the end of every challenge. Here’s where it gets tricky.

After dragging blocks or changing variables, half the time the Bluetooth connection would be lost. This meant that any attempt at trying the new spell would be unsuccessful: sparks wouldn’t fly, feathers wouldn’t move, and it was frustrating. It was not fun.

Kano seems to be aware of this possibility and has a short number to get help. You can push the button again to take the wand apart, change the batteries or move to the main screen to reconnect a new wand.

I tried to connect to Bluetooth on my MacBook Air, but it didn’t work.

Only one thing was able to get the wand connected again: remove the batteries and then connect the wand using the new and option. This happened three times in 30 minutes, constantly breaking the magic around it.

The fact that you had to connect to Bluetooth every time helped explain the purpose of Bluetooth — to create a link between objects to send information. It ruined the appeal of the toy.

To cast or not

Kano is a well-respected coding toy manufacturer. The Computer Kit earned high marks for being a make-yourself computer kit for children. The Harry Potter Coding Kit, a solid coding tool, has one major flaw: it must be connected to Bluetooth multiple times.

The Harry Potter Coding Kit, which costs $99.99, may still be worth consideration for parents with children who are enchanted by Harry Potter. Even without the wand the challenges can be completed in the form of code building, map creation, and customization of characters. Follow other wizards and gain followers. Children can view the spells they have created and share them with others. Be patient if there are Bluetooth issues. Spell casting is a skill that takes practice.

Pros:

  • Fantastic use of Harry Potter imagery in story and art
  • Wand is easy to put together
  • Coding tools that are easy to use

Cons:

  • Bluetooth connection between the game and wand is extremely temperamental
  • Price
  • Smartphones are not compatible