Tablets are great for keeping children entertained for hours, but you can’t simply hand your new iPad Air 2 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.
The Amazon Fire HD 6's vibrant display, top-notch parental controls and healthy app selection make it a great kids' tablet on its own, and the Kids' Edition adds even more value for Junior. This special version of the HD 6 includes a year's worth of endless kids' apps, video and books via FreeTime Unlimited, and packs a durable rubber bumper to keep it safe from your little one's butter fingers. With support for up to four kids' profiles, you can ensure that each of your children has his or her apps, games and usage limits set up exactly how you want.
Sporting a durable, kid-safe design; long battery life; and heaps of engaging kids' content, the Fuhu Nabi 2 has long been one of our favorite slates for young techies. The tablet's robust parental controls make it easy to keep Junior glued to age-appropriate apps and games, and features like Chore List will make your little one feel rewarded for working hard. The Nabi 2 is also available in a special Nickelodeon edition, which will delight fans of SpongeBob, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Fairly OddParents.
Amazon's Fire HD 7 is an overall excellent tablet that just happens to be well suited for your little one. The slate's crisp display and long battery life allow the HD 7 to entertain your child for hours at a time, while Amazon's renowned FreeTime controls let you determine just how many hours they spend glued to the device. With vibrant color options and a low $140 price tag, the Fire HD 7 makes a great fit for anyone in the family.
If you want to treat your little one to one of the most jaw-dropping tablet displays on the market, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is worth a look. This tablet's 8.4-inch, 2560 x 1600-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 S 8.4 can run you up to $400, but its premium price brings with it one of the best screens on any tablet.
Built for kids ages 11 to 14, the 10-inch Fuhu Nabi XD offers a 1366 x 768-pixel display and a colorful interface that will appeal to users of all ages. The Nabi Mode allows parents to set up to 10 user profiles with different levels of Internet and app access. Parents can also block specific sites, and even filter out certain types of songs and videos. And with a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the slate will easily keep up with your kids fast-paced life.
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.
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's $200 Galaxy Tab 3.7 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 Fuhu Nabi 2 or Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids' Edition.
The IdeaPlay Tablet is a slate that's less of a gift for your kids and more of a punishment. It offers terrible battery life, at just longer than 4 hours, and the 7-inch display is dim with a very low 800 x 400-pixel resolution. Plus, the IdeaPlay offers a poor content selection, making this one kids tablet you should definitely avoid.
Kurio's 10s offers a host of preloaded apps and content, robust parental controls and excellent Kurio software. Sadly, this slate is held back by its below-average 6:41 of battery life, sluggish performance and heavy 2-pound chassis. The slate's smudgy screen doesn't do it any favors, either.