Kids Tablets to Buy (or Avoid)
Tablets are great for keeping children entertained for hours, but you can't simply hand your new iPad off to Junior and hope for the best. If not monitored properly, your little one could accidentally skyrocket your iTunes bill, or stumble upon a minefield of inappropriate online content. Fortunately, there are tons of kid-friendly tablets on the market that offer robust parental controls, age-appropriate apps and oftentimes a durable rubber frame that will survive your toddler's slippery hands.
Some kids tablets offer the type of premium performance that mom and dad have come to expect, while others are best left in timeout. After playing with just about every children's slate out there, here are the ones you should buy and avoid.
Apple iPad mini 2 (BUY)
Why splurge on the $399 iPad mini 4, when you can pick up the mini 2 for just $269? Given that the only real differences between the two are the gold color option and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, that's a great price. Otherwise, your little one will be able to enjoy the same robust app and game selection; sharp Retina display; and long battery life. You can put the extra dough you’ll save toward content and a sturdy case.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8-inch (BUY)
If you want to treat your little one to one of the most jaw-dropping tablet displays on the market, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S2 (8-inch) is worth a look. This tablet's 8-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel display is ideal for cozy movie nights, and the slate's robust Kids' Mode ensures that all content your child gets his or her hands on is age appropriate. The Tab S2 8-inch can run you up to $400, but its premium price brings with it one of the best screens on any tablet.
Amazon Fire Kids Edition (BUY)
Amazon's new Fire Kids Edition bundles the company's 7-inch budget tablet with a new protective bumper and a year's subscription to Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited for just $99. FreeTime Unlimited gives you more than 10,000 books, videos, educational apps and games curated for children. Plus, a two-year guarantee promises to replace your Fire HD if your child destroys the tablet.
Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids (BUY)
With its long-lasting battery (8 hours and 40 minutes), fast performance and best-in-class parental controls, the Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition ($150) makes a good case for its slightly premium in price. The tablet comes with Amazon's confidence-inspiring warranty, which offers two years of no-questions-asked returns, as well as a year of access to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for kid-friendly content.
LeapFrog Epic (BUY)
The 7-inch LeapFrog Epic tablet gives kids an interactive virtual world as a UI and 31 free fun, educational games. Wrapped in a protective bumper, this slate is a little on the heavy side, and it's sluggish performance may teach kids a lesson in patience. However, the Epic lasts longer than competing kids tablets, so you won't have to charge it as often.
VTech InnoTab Max (Avoid)
At first glance you might not know the VTech InnoTab Max is a tablet to avoid. But if you pick it up and spend any time with it you'll notice the cheap construction, sluggish performance and low-resolution 7-inch display. The camera quality is poor and the promised 6 hours of battery life is shorter than the average tablet. Plus, the kid-friendly content is expensive and limited. Only get this for a kid you'd ordinarily give a lump of coal.
Fuhu Nabi DreamTab (AVOID)
Fuhu typically delivers some of the best kids' tablets on the market, but its new Fuhu Nabi DreamTab needs a bit of refinement before it's ready for your youngster. While the Dreamworks-themed DreamTab sports the robust parental controls, fast performance and kid-safe design Fuhu is known for, the tablet has a disappointingly short battery life (less than 6 hours) and is cluttered with too many apps that do the same thing. Unless your kid absolutely swears by characters like Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda, you're better off sticking with Fuhu's more solid Nabi 2.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Kids (AVOID)
Samsung's $200 Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Kids tablet has all the makings of a solid children's slate, but the competition simply does things better. While the tablet's colorful design and equally colorful interface will catch Junior's eye, the device's sub-HD display and lack of a kid-friendly browser are a bit disappointing. If you're seeking something equally colorful inside and out, you're better off with the Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids' Edition.
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum (AVOID)
From a purely educational standpoint, the LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum isn't the worst tablet around. However, your children won't have access to as much content as they would if they were on a more full-fledged tablet. This device also suffers from short battery life, a low-resolution display and sluggish performance.
Kurio Xtreme 2 (AVOID)
A $100 tablet with a grippy bumper, motion-controlled games and a handful of educational apps sounds nice on paper, but the Kurio Xtreme 2 has too many asterisks holding it back. The device's parental controls are OK, but they're missing a setting to stop Junior from making in-app purchases. The tablet also has a relatively dim display, and its performance is sluggish compared to most other tablets.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook (New & Notable)
The Galaxy Tab S2 Nook takes the already great, Android tablet Samsung made and adds Barnes & Noble impressive parental controls. You can also set up profiles for each family member and get easy access to the booksellers 4 million e-books, as well as videos, apps and games. That's particularly good for kids because B&N features a huge library of enhanced children's books.
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