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.
Fuhu Nabi Elev-8 (Buy)
Proving that made-for-kids tablets don’t have to be junk, the Fuhu Nabi Elev-8 features a powerful octa-core processor. Its bright, 1280 x 800-pixel, 8-inch display is great for watching videos and learning from the ton of educational apps Nabi pre-loaded. It also lasts more than 9 hours on a charge. Parents can hand the tablet over to Junior with confidence, since the tablet comes with strong parental controls for managing the entire experience. The silicone bumper case is easy for small hands to hold onto the Elev-8.
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.
Polaroid Kids Tablet 2 (AVOID)
The Polaroid Kids Tablet 2 is an inexpensive kid-friendly slate with lots of content, but your youngsters can do better. While it features a bright, intuitive interface, as well as apps and books from the likes of Disney and Marvel, the experience is hampered by a short, 4.5-hour battery life and a limited version of Android that blocks out the Google Play store.
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.
Amazon Fire Kids Edition (New and Notable)
Amazon's new Fire HD Kids Edition bundles the 7-inch slate, 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 it. The new tablet's quad-core processor should offer speedy performance sure to cause less whining.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook
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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