In today’s fast moving technology world, its extremely difficult to keep up with all the changes in the tablet market. Fortunately you’ve come to the right place! Were here to help take the guess work out of purchasing a tablet for kids. As parents ourselves, we know how daunting the process can be. No two children are the same and everyone will have different criteria and preferences when deciding which kids tablet is best for them, but there are certain attributes of a quality tablet that can be used to rate their general desirability.
A key thing to note is that we will be discussing full featured tablets. That is why we wont be covering the likes of the Meep!, Kurio 7, Nabi 2 etc. We are taking this approach, because much like the old adage, the best camera is the one that’s with you, we think the best tablet is the one that is with you. Owning all sorts of separate devices for the kids that run on unfamiliar platforms, require different chargers, or are unable to display media you’ve previously purchased, can start to become a bit of a nuisance.
In the interactive grid of tablets below and the analysis that follows, we’ve taken a look at 4 top tablets currently on the market.
Buying Guide and Key:
Included in the Matrix are 7 columns:
- Tablet Pictures
- Tablet brand name/mode (click to view more details or purchase)
- Screen Size Measured in inches
- Platform Operating system for the tablet
- Parental Controls Rated Minimum, Moderate, Robust
- Price These are approximate prices on Amazon
- Rating The average rating on Amazon, useful in determining customer satisfaction
*Click on any of the data columns to sort
Ater looking at the chart you may still be thinking that getting a tablet specifically designed for your kids would be the best option. And that may be true. Typically, the chief argument against giving your kids a tablet that adults may also use is that they will break it or access content that would be inappropriate for children of certain ages. Todays tablets, however, have tons of specialized cases that can be purchased to protect your gear and parental controls are abundant on most devices. Also, the prices of full featured tablets have come down to the point that they arent really that much more expensive than their fully kid-centric counterparts. That’s why we think it makes the most sense to purchase a full featured tablet computer for your kids.
Review of the Top 4 Kids Tablets
To add a bit more detail to the grid above, below are our rankings for the top kids tablets on the market today. We will be constantly evaluating and updating this list as 2013 progresses, but for now they constitute the best way you can entertain, educate, and keep your kids quiet for a few minutes (truly the #1 reason to buy a tablet PC for your kids!). Keep in mind, these rankings are subjective and surely others have different opinions. We welcome any feedback in the comments section!
#1 Amazon Kindle Fire
But now back to what makes it a great tablet for kids. As I mentioned, the standout kids feature on the Kindle Fire is FreeTime. FreeTime is an all encompassing solution to parental controls on a tablet and allows parents to create profiles for each of their children and choose what apps, books, games, and videos they want their kids to have access to. This customized experience extends to the homescreen where their recently viewed and used content is stored in an easy to use carousel. Additionally, you are able to set daily time limits for Kindle use or for specific tasks like watching videos or playing games, while still allowing them unlimited reading time. One really important note, FreeTime only works on the 2nd generation Kindle Fire or any of the Kindle Fire HDs. If you see a really great deal on a 1st generation Kindle Fire, just be aware that while you will still get access to Netflix and other traditional apps, the immersive experience of FreeTime will not be available.The Amazon Kindle Fire is a great all around tablet, but takes our top spot on the strength of one important feature Kindle FreeTime. Well get into that aspect of the tablet in a little bit. First, here are the basics of the Kindle Fire. It has a 7 inch LCD screen, built in Wi-Fi, and runs on a custom version of the Android platform. This allows access to thousands of developer built apps including Facebook, Netflix, and games. Don’t be mistaken, however, the build of Android on the Kindle Fire is truly Amazon specific and is designed to take advantage of the rather extensive catalog of media (books, movies, tv shows, and music) that are available from Amazon. This is both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, if you’re already an Amazon customer with existing content purchases, access to that content is relatively seamless. If you’re dependent on another ecosystem (Apples iTunes for instance) getting all of that great content on the Kindle Fire is more problematic.
#2 Amazon Kindle Fire HD
For all of the reasons above that the Kindle Fire is the best tablet for kids, the Kindle Fire HD comes in 2nd place. The reason its not in first is really due to price. For a kids centric tablet, there’s really not a reason to spend the extra money for a better screen resolution. Kids dont care about stuff like that! The only other major advantage of the Kindle Fire HD from a kids perspective is that it has a front facing camera. If you are looking to take advantage of video conferencing on Skype with grandparents or other loved ones, it may be worth the additional investment.
#3 Apple iPad Mini
On the plus side, the Apple App store is the most robust of any of the platforms on tablets. Developers seem to create apps for Apple first and will then usually add Android counterpart somewhere down the line. This holds true for the development of children’s apps as well. There are thousands and thousands of great apps for the kids ready to download from the App Store. Additionally, as a device the whole family can use, the iPad Mini has great access for email, music, videos, and integration to any Apple content you may own.Coming in at number three is the Apple iPad Mini. The most expensive of the devices listed, we really recommend this tablet computer for families deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. As a stand alone children tablet, it really pales in comparison to the Kindle Fire series. The reason is the lack of customization specifically for children. There are some parental controls available to limit a kids ability to download content, access the internet, or use certain apps or games, but there is not a full immersing experience for the kids. Some apps, like Hulu Plus, have attempted to create this experience by adding Kids buttons that draw kids into a kid friendly section, but it is not nearly as intuitive or robust as the FreeTime experience on the Kindle Fire.
#4 Google Nexus 7
Similar to the iPad Mini, if you are deeply invested in Google Android ecosystem, buying a full featured Android tablet that runs a stock Google version of Android (No third party customization like the Kindle Fire) the Google Nexus 7 may be the best choice for you and you family. Competitively priced just higher than a Kindle Fire and quite a bit less than an iPad Mini, the Nexus 7 is capable of completing all the tasks one would expect out of a modern day tablet