As I discussed in a previous blog, there are plenty of reasons for getting a dedicated kid’s tablet for a young one, from price, to the kid-friendly design, educational apps and games, and a plethora of kid (and parent) friendly features. But how do you choose which one would be best?
With the holidays just around the corner, you’re likely considering what would be the perfect gift for the pre-school and school-aged child on your list. If you’ve got technology and tablets on the mind, here are some great picks in the category.
For Kids Aged 3-9
Ideal for kids aged 3-9 are models like the LeapPad 3, which focuses on education with great parental controls and a durable design that can withstand slips from a child’s sticky fingers – it is even shock-resistant for drops from as high as 3 metres, not to mention water-resistant as well. And it comes in super-cool colours like green and pink that kids will love.
It has a 5” (480 x 268) capacitive touch screen with a highly responsive interface that can recognize a child’s light touch, a 4 GB hard drive that can store tons of content (like photos), a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM for fast operation, built-in Wi-Fi, and a 2 MP front and back cameras that can also record video at 480p resolution.
There’s a four-digit security code for accessing settings that determine what your child can and cannot do on the tablet, as well as when he can use it. The LeapSearch function, powered by Zui, only shows kid-approved and age appropriate Web content, which parents will appreciate. Kids can choose from more than 1,000 games, apps, books, and videos with, of course, a primary focus on education. The tablet adapts to your child’s learning level over time in all of the core subject areas. With Learning Path, mom and dad get progress updates to see how your child is progressing, and get tips on how to improve his performance.
There’s a fun, interactive component as well that lets kids play with friends online through compatible apps like Pet Chat and Pet Pad Party, listen to music, and have fun with photos.
If you’re on a really tight budget, a more economical option that’s also great for educational purposes (and fun!) for kids of the same age range is the VTech InnoTab 3S+ Learning Tablet, which comes with 14 apps, plus an eReader for quiet reading time (including a story dictionary), and Wi-Fi for browsing kid-approved Websites.
It comes with a 5” colour touch screen, 4 GB of storage capacity (expandable via optional memory card), a 180-degree rotating camera, and games that teach everything from math, to social studies, and science. Powered by a rechargeable power pack, it includes two styli (and a string so you don’t lose them) for easy navigation. And you can grab it in pink or blue to suit the child’s style. Check out my review of the tablet.
The LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra is a step-up version with a larger, 7” screen that adds 11 custom apps, like Photo Fun Ultra, Art Studio Ultra, and Pet Pad Party. It can also act as a music player.
A comparable alternative to the Ultra for the budget-conscious is the VTech Innotab Max Learning App tablet, which comes with tons of content: 650 educator-supported learning cartridges and educational Android apps. This one has a 7” multi-touch screen as well, and includes fun features like the VTech Kid Connect for communicating with friends and family (including smartphones) using text and voice messages, photos, drawings, and stickers. It, too, offers access to kid-safe Wi-Fi. As a plus, it comes with a tough kid-friendly cover that can be removed for older kids who might not need it.
For Kids 6 And Up
Other great options for kids aged six and older hail from Lexibook, including the 7” Tablet Master. This Android tablet can actually be used by kids aged 3 and up, but might be best suited for older kids, with features like access to Android apps, Toon Goggles kid-safe cartoons and games, and a special space on the device specifically for access to multimedia content, including music, videos, and photos. Kids can also browse the Lexibook Videostore to choose from hundreds of cartoons. Don’t worry, parents, as you can secure and filter all non-suitable apps using a password.
Like the other Lexibooks, it displays large images and icons, making it easy for kids to navigate.
The Lexibook Laptab tablet comes with an 7” touch screen, plus 0.3 MP front-facing Webcam for video chats (and a 2 MP rear-facing camera), and an HDMI port for connecting it to a large-screen TV. But what really sets it apart is the detachable QWERTY keyboard – it’s like a laptop/tablet hybrid that a tween or teen can use for Word processing and e-mail composition as well as education, reading, games, and multimedia playback. It runs on the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, and has a 1.2 GHz processor, Wi-Fi, 8 GB of on-board flash memory for storing content, or use an optional microSD memory card.
It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can pair it with other mobile devices to play back music, for example. It comes loaded with a whole host of apps, including handy ones for older kids like My Translator and My Agenda.
Alternative Options to a Kid’s Tablet
You might decide that you don’t want a dedicated kid’s tablet at all – maybe because you don’t feel the need for the extra parental controls, or perhaps your child is older. There are plenty of affordable options that can get a tablet into your kids’ hands before you fork over a bit extra for a higher-end device once they get older (or can earn the money to buy it themselves!)
D2 has a number of options that might fit the bill. The D2 Pad D2-741G is an 8 GB tablet with a 7” touch screen that runs the Android 4.4 OS and is powered by an A23, 1.5 GHz Allwinner dual-core processor.
Naturally, it comes with Wi-Fi access, but does not block Websites via parental controls like you’d find with the others – it affords access to all apps available on **competitor**. You can store files in the 8 GB of NAND flash memory, or via optional microSD memory card (it accepts up to 32 GB cards.) There’s 0.3 MP rear and front-facing cameras for snapping pics and the all-important selfies, or Instagram-worthy videos.
The 9” model has an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor instead, and comes loaded with Android 4.2 It has a better 2 MP rear-camera (same 0.3 MP front), and adds Bluetooth capability for connecting to other compatible devices.
There are tons of tablets that are suitable for young kids to get them familiar with the tablet experience, but that won’t blow your entire holiday budget, or have you worrying about what they’re accessing, how long they’re playing, and how much of their time is spent on educational content. With the aforementioned devices, tablets can serve as valuable (and safe) learning tools, yet be fun at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds.