Best tablets for kids 2016

Every kid wants a tablet. But deciding to invest in a tablet for your child is a big step, and there are a number of qualities to consider: price, parental controls, and perhaps most importantly, durability. I've read the reviews, asked around, and brought together the tablets I believe will be the best for your kids, and my top pick is the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition.

Our pick

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

A kids tablet almost impossible to beat.

The only tablet that offers a two-year, no-questions-asked warranty is Amazon's. If the unthinkable happens to the Fire 7 Kids Edition, or if you know your kids tend to be hard on their toys, this is peace of mind included in the price of the product. Running the mature and fast Fire OS, the only thing missing is Google's services, but Amazon's Appstore is stocked with lots of apps and games.

Who should buy the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

The Fire 7 Kids Edition is a great choice for kids of all ages. It has a ridiculously tough case included, a great warranty and superb parental controls. If your child is a little older, just pop the case off and their Fire 7 looks just like yours.

It comes with one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which allows your child to access over 10,000 apps, games, shows, movies, and books, all kid-tested and parent-approved. Parent mode, which is accessed with a password, gives you the opportunity to share media that your kids need your permission to get into. It also helps keep little fingers away from your Amazon account, which is pretty important.

Additionally the Fire Kids Edition now comes in an 8-inch and 10-inch version for $130 and $200 respectively if you're looking for something a little bigger.

Is it a good time to buy this tablet?

The price is pretty constant being an Amazon first-party product but there are frequent deals, especially as we enter the holiday season. It's been over a year since the last update, but even then it was a very modest one that only tweaked a few small areas. There's nothing to suggest a replacement is imminent, but even then, it's unlikely there would be a massive change.

Reasons to buy

  • Great warranty.
  • Tons of child-friendly content.
  • Excellent parental controls.
  • Well priced.

Reasons not to buy

  • Battery life on the low side.
  • Quite a lot of reflection from the screen.

Everything you want from a tablet for your kids

The only thing the Fire 7 is missing is the Google Play Store. While that might be offputting to some adult buyers, for children it's not really an issue. Not when Amazon does such a great job at providing and curating content that your little ones will enjoy.

Specifically, though, the Kids Edition has perks over the regular Fire 7 that make it worth the extra spend. The included case is absurdly thick and just bounces when the tablet (inevitably) hits the deck.

But it's not just that, Amazon has a pretty bulletproof two year warranty where you can claim a replacement if the worst happens, and Amazon Freetime Unlimited for a year is a handy bonus.

Amazon's parental controls are also particularly strong. The kids can have a completely walled experience, siloed off from the main tablet with you, the parent, needing to share content that isn't already curated for young eyes.

It's a tablet you can genuinely just hand to your child without having to worry about them breaking it, or what they're doing with it.

Alternatives to the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

While it's hard not to recommend the Fire 7 Kids Edition, there are other great options out there for more specific requirements.

For younger kids

LeapFrog Epic Academy Kids Tablet

LeapFrog was one of the first tablet-style devices made just for kids. Until recently, parents had to purchase cartridges in order to get games or educational materials for LeapFrog products, but the latest versions of its tablets have eliminated the cartridges in favor of Wi-Fi and an Android-based OS. Now that everything can be downloaded, just like a regular "grown-up" tablet, you'll never have to go searching for little green cartridges again.

This comes with a three-month trial to LeapFrog academy, a learning service aimed at 3-9-year-olds. It also has a reassuring 2-year guarantee since, you know, kids.

The Epic Academy edition has 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot if you need more. While it's running an ancient version of Android underneath (4.4 KitKat), the parental controls allow you to open up access to regular Android apps like Netflix when you decide the time is right. That's a nice touch, and all told it's a solid tablet for your kids for around $85.

For the Disney fanatic

Dragon Touch Y88X

The Dragon Touch tablet runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a heavily customized user interface that's designed to be super kid-friendly. It costs $70, and you get some pretty great and unique features for a tablet in this space. The first of those is pre-loaded Disney content worth $80. The Y88X includes 20 books and 4 audiobooks for your kids to enjoy at no extra cost. It comes with Kidoz, Dragon Touch's parental control software, which also helps customize content recommendations specific to your child.

Besides a chunky protective case, the Y88X has a nice 1024 x 600 resolution 7-inch display. The stand on the case adjusts so you can prop it up to watch a video or rest it at a comfortable angle for little fingers to poke at it. It's also available in four colors.

Budget pick

Fisher Price Kids Learning Tablet

The first thing you'll notice about the Fisher Price Kids Learning Tablet is that it's perfectly suited to handing off to the little ones without worrying about it disintegrating. It's eye-catching enough to be fun, while being covered in the sort of rugged case that will protect from the likely frequent tumbles.

Fisher Price preloads the tablet with 35 apps and games suited for ages 3 and up, which is great because part of a good experience for a kids tablet is tailored content. But, where it has the edge on something like the Fire Tablet is with full access to Google Play.

Without being siloed away from Google's massive app catalog, you've access to anything you want to have for your kids. It's also very affordable at around $55.

The bottom line

No one knows your child like you do. You are the best predictor of what your child is going to enjoy and get the most use out of. You're also the one with the wallet.

But it's tough to look too far beyond the Amazon Fire Kids Edition. Amazon's no-quibble warranty and the sheer amount of content available for the young ones makes it hard to top. All of these are good, though, so you're sure to be getting a great tablet for your kids with any of these.

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