Best Android tablets for kids

October 17, 2012
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Kids love touchscreens. They are accessible and intuitive to use. That makes tablets ideal for learning and for play. The Android platform offers some really great apps for kids and manufacturers are starting to see the potential for dedicated child-friendly devices. That means you can reclaim your Galaxy S3 or your Nexus 7 and keep the kids happy with a tablet of their own.

We thought we’d take a look at some of the dedicated best Android tablets for kids that are now hitting the market. It’s worth considering one for your child for a number of reasons. They can help children to learn about various subjects, improve their motor skills, spark their creativity, and keep them amused on road trips or while you cook dinner.

The question is – are these dedicated child-friendly Android tablets worth getting as opposed to a standard Android tablet with the right collection of apps? Considering that you can install parental control apps and limit what your kids do with a standard Android tablet, the limitations of dedicated tablets for kids might be enough to make you think twice. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer.

You may also like: Best cheap Android Tablets

Tabeo ($150)

  • 7-inch touchscreen (800×480 resolution)
  • 1GHz single-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 4GB memory (and micro SDHC slot)
  • WiFi
  • 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera

The Tabeo looks like a kid’s toy and it comes with a range of brightly colored plastic frames for that 7-inch screen. It also comes with parental controls and 50 pre-installed apps. There’s no access to Google Play so new apps have to be acquired through the Tabeo App Store which has around 7,000 to choose from right now. Even at $150 this isn’t a great tablet.

Archos ChildPad ($140)

Archos ChildPad

  • 7-inch touchscreen (800×480 resolution)
  • 1GHz single-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 4GB memory (and micro SDHC slot)
  • WiFi
  • 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera

You might be getting a sense of déjà vu because the Archos ChildPad is virtually identical to the Tabeo. The original ChildPad was $10 cheaper, but it had a resistive touchscreen, this updated version has a capacitive touchscreen and it works much better. It also comes with a bunch of pre-installed apps including Alvin & The Chipmunks 3 content thanks to some kind of deal with 20th Century Fox. There’s a clunky interface, parental controls, and a kid friendly app store with around 10,000 apps and games in it. This is tough to recommend.

Fuhu Nabi 2 ($200)

  • 7-inch touchscreen (1024×600 resolution)
  • 1.3GHz quad-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 8GB memory (and microSD slot)
  • WiFi
  • 2-megapixel front-facing camera

This is a bit more like it, just because a tablet is for kids, doesn’t mean that it has to be underpowered and the Fuhu Nabi 2 proves it with a Tegra 3 processor. You also have the usual kid-friendly interface and curated content including Mom-approved apps, music, and optional TV shows (unlimited streaming of Spinlets+ TV is $2.99 per month).

The parent mode is stock Android and you can also access the Amazon App Store on the Fuhu Nabi 2. In fact, you could even root the Fuhu Nabi 2 and add Google apps if you like. This tablet has a kid-friendly, tough exterior and a solid set of specs. The interface, the combination of entertainment and educational content, and the decent quality hardware make this well worth a look.

Oregon Scientific MEEP ($150)

  •  7-inch touchscreen (800×480 resolution)
  • 1GHz single-core processor
  • 512MB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 4GB memory (and microSD slot)
  • WiFi
  • 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera

The early reviews for this underpowered tablet are not good. The main selling point seems to be the durability factor as this is a rugged Android tablet designed to stand up to boisterous kids. It also has parental controls that can be adjusted remotely, which is a good idea. There are also some interesting accessories like a drum pad and steering wheel, but they cost extra. It’s tough to look past the disappointing specs here.

Kurio 7 ($150)

  • 7-inch touchscreen (800×480 resolution)
  • 1.2GHz single-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 4GB memory (and microSD slot)
  • WiFi
  • 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 2.1-megapixel rear-facing camera

A colorful rubber bumper, parental controls, and a batch of pre-installed apps combined with a decent set of specs make the Kurio a good option in this price bracket. The interface isn’t the most intuitive in the world and there’s no Google Play, just the limited Kurio App Store. There is an adult mode and kids might enjoy taking snaps with the rear-facing camera. If you can scrape together another $50 then you should skip this.

Kindle Fire ($159)

  • 7-inch touchscreen (1024×600 resolution)
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)
  • 8GB memory (and microSD slot)
  • WiFi

The Kindle Fire is worth considering, especially with the new Kindle FreeTime service which is effectively a set of parental controls. This is an Android tablet that the whole family can enjoy. It lacks a camera and there’s no Google Play, but Amazon offers a huge selection of content and there are little extras like cloud storage. It is also lightweight and Amazon claims it’s tough enough to let your kids play with, but some kind of bumper or case would probably be a good idea.

Decisions, decisions

If you want something designed specifically for kids and you have $200 to spend then pick up the Fuhu Nabi 2. It combines the best blend of kid-friendly features, usability, and polish. If you want something you can use when the kids are in bed then the ad-supported Kindle Fire is worth a look. If you can’t stretch your budget then the long awaited OLPC XO 3.0 should be on your list, especially if the makers can hit the touted $100 price tag.

Most of these kid-friendly tablets aren’t really worth considering. You could pick up any Android tablet, install some parental controls and kid-friendly apps, and buy a bumper or case for it. The obvious advantage being that you’d have something without limitations that anyone in the family could use.

Have you tried out any of these Android tablets for kids? Do you know of another one that you’d recommend? Post a comment and tell us about it.

 

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