Up til now, brands such as Fuhu, Leap Frog and VTech have largely dominated the children’s tablet space, but Samsung may be looking to change that. Announced today, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is a slightly-lower end version of Samsung’s 7-inch slate with educational tools and safety features aimed at children. We gave Fuhu’s Nabi 2 high marks for its impressive Tegra 3 performance, robust parental controls and its ability to function as an Android slate and kid-safe tablet. But could a major industry player like Samsung give the Nabi 2 some stiff competition?
The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids features the same look and form factor as its mainstream sibling, but instead sports a bright yellow color. Samsung’s press images showcase the slate outfitted in its orange Kids Case that adds a durable and child-friendly grip to the device. This case also comes with a C Pen stylus, but Samsung has not clarified whether or not this comes included with the tablet.
The Fuhu children's slate features flared edges that differ from the Galaxy tab 3 Kids’ soft and rounded corners. It comes with a rubber bumper that protects the tablet from bumps and bruises, but doesn’t include a stylus like Samsung’s tablet. It does, however, come with Fuhu’s Kinabis, which are raised squares that can be used to personalize the tablet. Users can buy rubber alphabet letters to stick on these squares to spell out their name, favorite phrase, or anything else.
Measuring 7.4 x 4.3 x 0.4 inches, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids more compact than the 8.6 x 6.1 x 1.1-inch Nabi 2. At just 11.2 ounces (0.7 pounds), it’s also noticeably lighter than the 1.3-pound Fuhu nabi Jr.
MORE: Fuhu Nabi 2: Full Review
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids appears to be a slightly-lower end version of the company’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3. The children’s slate will run on a 1.2-GHz dual-core CPU with 1GB of RAM and features a 3-megapixel main camera with a 1.3-megapixel front camera. The original Galaxy Tab 3 is powered by a 1.5-GHz Exynos chip and comes with a 5-megapixel main camera and the same 1.3-megapixel front facing shooter.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 Kids will run on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, although we’re expecting to see a pretty heavy child-friendly skin over the interface. The tablet will come with 8GB of storage space expandable to 32GB via a microSD card slot, and is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible. Samsung hasn’t given a battery life estimate for the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet, but it comes packed with a 4,000 mAh lithium ion battery
Comparatively, the Fuhu Nabi 2 boasts quad-core Tegra 3 performance , enabling it to handle more demanding graphics than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids. The Nabi 2 only has a 2-megapixel front facing camera and no rear camera, unlike Samsung’s upcoming slate.
Although their cameras and processors differ significantly, the Fuhu Nabi 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids sport displays with the same 1024 x 600 resolution. Both slates also come with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage space expandable to 32GB via a microSD card slot, Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi support.
The competing children’s tablets differ yet again when it comes to battery capacity and operating systems. While both devices run on Android, Samsung’s offering operates on the newer Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, while the Nabi 2 used Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Nabi 2 comes with a 3,850 mAh battery, which lasted for an impressive 8 hours during our LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to 40 percent. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids comes packed with an even-larger 4,000 mAh battery.
Like many other children’s tablets, parents can select which apps they want their children to have access to by using the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids’ Application Manager. There’s also a Time Management feature that lets parents set specific time periods for use. When this time is up, parents will have to enter a password if they want their children to continue using the tablet. Samsung has not revealed any information about potential parental controls in the tablet’s Web browser.
Fuhu touts its parental controls as one of the Nabi 2's standout features. The tablet comes with Nabi Mode as well as Mommy/Daddy Mode, which means it can function as a normal Android tablet or a children's device. with a password is required to switch between the two. Additionally, parents can put restrictions on the websites their children visit, the videos they watch, and the music they can access. Fuhu also allows parents to create separate profiles for each of their kids. With separate profiles, parents can make sure that their children have access to age-appropriate videos in the the Fooz Kids video app.
Samsung boasts that its Galaxy Tab 3 Kids comes pre-loaded with “top ranked kids’ apps” spanning across education, games entertainment and e-books as well as an entire app market known as the Kid’s Store. The company hasn’t detailed how many apps will be in this store or if the tablet will also be compatible with Google Play.
The Fuhu Nabi 2 comes with more than 100 kids apps, games and learning activities out of the box. Fuhu has also preloaded Spinlets TV+, which offers more than 700 hours of streaming Saturday morning cartoons for $2.99 a month. Spinlets+ Music also allows access to Kidz Bop, Disney, Nickelodeon, and more. In addition to the Nabi App Zone, the slate also comes with access to Amazon’s market of more than 50,000 apps.
Samsung will have to deliver if it wants to stand up to the Fuhu nabi 2, but it’s too soon to tell if the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids will be the children’s tablet to get this holiday season. The Nabi 2 comes with a better processor and the ability to switch between kid’s mode and parent mode, but other hardware elements such as the display resolution and storage space are the same as the Galaxy Tab 3. Samsung’s offering is also lighter and smaller than the nabi 2, which can be important when mom is carrying the tablet around in her purse to entertain little ones on the road.
The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids’ success will largely depend on the quality of the children’s apps, the size of its app store, its parental controls and the tablet’s price. These factors have yet to be determined, but Samsung will have to price its tablet in the same price range as the Fuhu Nabi 2 ($199.99) or cheaper to truly compete.
The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids will hit Korea in early September and will launch in other markets including China, Europe, the United States, Africa, South America and South East Asia afterwards. Samsung has not disclosed when the slate will hit these other markets, but has said that availability will vary depending on the region.