There hasn’t been a lot of movement on the children-focused gadget release front this past year, between the time we rounded up the top tablet choices for your little ones and now. But maybe it’s a false sense of quiet we’re picking up, and device manufacturers simply opted to reduce their marketing efforts in the niche.
After all, it’s a very particular industry segment the likes of Samsung, Amazon, Fuhu and Leapfrog are dealing with here, and the target audience probably doesn’t respond to traditional promotional tactics.
Mobile and computer expo showcases, press announcement distribution via conventional channels, TV ads, they’re all decidedly archaic and inefficient when toddlers and teens split their time between school, fun outdoor activities (hopefully), and social media (sadly).
But reaching out to parents is no doubt the key to the hearts of youngsters, and word-of-mouth, market longevity, as well as frequent discounts often produce the best sales results. Playing our part as always without trying to sell you anything, here are our kid-friendly Android tab recommendations for June 2015, based on Amazon user reviews, age and affordability, ordered from the cheapest to the costliest:
- InnoTab 3S Plus – $55 in blue; $68 pink
- Dragon Touch 7 2015 edition – $60
- LeapFrog LeapPad 3 – $78 and up
- LeapPad Ultra – $94
- Kurio Xtreme – $140
- Fuhu Nabi DreamTab HD8 – $148
- Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition – $149
- Fire HD 7 Kids Edition – $189 and up
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids – $240 brand new; $125 certified refurbished
- Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD – $550
Less pricey than a set of Harry Potter Blu-ray discs, at least in blue, the 3S Plus is what they call a “learning” tablet. Translation – it’s not a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, and gifting it to a kid over the age of ten will end up in a bad time for the both of you.
The main forte here is hands down the “age appropriate downloadable content” ranging from 2 to 9 years, which guarantees your child’s unique educational and playing needs will be fulfilled in the long haul. If the 4.3 incher (yes, it’s that small) lasts, of course.
Now, build quality typically corresponds with a slate’s price range, but the low-cost Innotab looks fairly robust at a first glance, so you could let its “owner” play on it unsupervised from time to time.
With Zoodles pre-installed, it’s easy to set up parental controls and block unwanted content on this surprisingly advanced 7 incher, despite there being Google Play access. KitKat software, backed by a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, ensures the Dragon Touch can breeze through videos and games, although the 512 MB RAM is certainly skimpy.
Durable and lightweight at the same time, the silicone case-protected Android is rated an impressive 4.7 out of 5 starts on Amazon, after over 100 customer reviews. That’s essentially the ultimate quality assurance.
Technically, this is built on a proprietary operating system that has nothing to do with Android, so it shouldn’t even be on our list. But we’re willing to make an exception, seeing how popular the tiny 5 incher still is.
It’s not pretty, it’s not new, very complex, packed with innovative features or engaging apps and games. But the custom-designed learning library includes everything you could want to give junior the best possible 21st century education. Also, the LeapPad 3 can access the web (under close supervision), and effortlessly takes a beating sans cracking.
Better in every way than its little brother, the Ultra of course targets a slightly more mature, pretentious audience. With “fancy” things like a 7-inch 1,024 x 600 pix res touchscreen, 6 hour+ battery life, dual 2 MP cams, 8 GB internal storage and free $80 worth of bundled software. No wonder it’s Amazon’s overall best seller in “kids’ electronic learning & education systems.”
Any tweener fathers or mothers tuning in? We know 140 bucks is starting to feel somewhat extravagant for a glorified electronic toy, but the Xtreme is actually fairly close to your standard, non-kid-friendly Android slate.
It’s got KitKat pre-loaded (with certain restrictions, obviously), a punchy dual-core 1.2 GHz Intel Atom processor inside, plus 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage space, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a couple of powerful speakers, 3,000 mAh battery and 2.1/0.3 MP cameras in tow.
It also offers a bunch of “management”, filtering and control options, and can withstand a few drops, thanks to a “bumpertastic” design.
As the name suggests, animation studio DreamWorks fiddled with the 8 incher to set it apart from the crowd, providing exclusive free apps, games and video content. But that’s not the only “dreamy” thing about the DreamTab HD, a piece of gear we’re sure many parents would love to rock themselves.
Yes, this one’s an all-family entertainment device, what with its ultra-sharp 1,920 x 1,200 panel, fast and furious quad-core Tegra 4 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 5 MP rear camera and 4,500 mAh battery. If it wasn’t for the obviously children-proof exterior, we could easily mistake it for a mainstream iPad mini rival.
50 whole bucks costlier than the base Fire HD 6, Amazon’s rookie 6-inch niche entry is not only “unsurpassed in reliability”, courtesy of Gorilla Glass and rubberized cover protection. It’s also fully endorsed for two years of damage and no-charge, no-questions-asked replacement.
Shall we even delve into the unlimited, free access to curated, kid-friendly proprietary content or are you sold already? Yeah, we think $149 is pretty irresistible too, as things stand.
If size is your sole gripe with the HD 6 Kids, the 7 incher offers the same worry-free guarantee, unbreakable chassis and stellar specs… for the product category: 1,280 x 800 screen resolution, quad-core power, 1 GB RAM, up to 8 hours of battery.
Let’s keep it short. We analyzed the entry-level, bumper case-shielded pad last year, and you can probably imagine the 1,024 x 600 display, humble dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC and 3 MP/1.3 MP snappers don’t get better with age.
That said, the refurb model is pretty tempting if you can grab it before it vanishes, even if it’s just covered by a 90-day standard warranty. Otherwise, Samsung must cook up hefty price cuts and one or two software updates. Jelly Bean is unacceptable this day and age!
Wait, $550?!? Exactly how big is the Big Tab again? Well, if you must know, it’s 23.6 inches in diagonal and tips the scales at 13 pounds (!!!). Why in God’s name would a kid, or for that matter grown-up, ever need this kind of lavish screen real estate?
Well, Fuhu actually promotes the colossus as a family-oriented TV substitute which you can move from room to room with relative ease for increased convenience. Plus, mom and dad don’t have to take turns enjoying their young ones’ company, teaching them something through technology and having fun together. It’s a funky concept and execution, clearly, but it may appeal to some (wealthy) parents.