As loving parents and grandparents, we are hardwired to seek out the best for our offspring, whether it be food, strollers or a college education. Strollers are generally straightforward purchases, but what about first tablets?
The good news is that prices have dropped and power has increased since last year. There are many more products to choose from, and it’s easy to make a hasty decision based on price alone.
When choosing a child’s tablet, remember that you are really making a down payment toward a content library that will stay with that child for years and that can end up costing many times the price of the device. This is a business model many are eager to exploit, including Amazon, Apple, LeapFrog, Google, Nintendo, Samsung and VTech. Each has an associated device that offers a different experience, and, of course, a shopping cart.
So which is the best option for your child? First, ask “What does the device let my child do?” and “Am I comfortable with that activity?” Have a close look at the associated content library, which is why Amazon’s “all you can eat” FreeTime Unlimited program is a logical choice for putting thousands of digital books at your child’s fingertips.
Next, consider the overall ease of use. Can you turn it on and off, charge the battery and toss it across the room without breaking the screen? How much stuff can the device hold before it fills up? What about screen quality, battery life, cameras and parental controls?
I’ve just finished testing this year’s new tablets for children. Here are my notes, along with some safe, middle-of-the-road recommendations. Feel free to contribute your experiences, both pro and con.
If you were stranded on a desert island or stuck in traffic on I-80 and you could choose just one device, you would want an iPad. It offers the best content and features, though it costs more. The question this year is which iPad? Apple is offering five choices with varied prices, including the original iPad Mini ($250 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version), and last year’s 16 GB, iPad Air for $400. Don’t forget the a thick foam case like the Big Grips Tweener ($25) and an iTunes gift card.
Need to know: The iPad comes with excellent content filtering and parental management features already built in, including a new Family Sharing feature that makes it possible to approve your child’s spending from another device.
Amazon Kindle and Fire.
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited ($4a month per child) is noteworthy, especially because Amazon’s management features allow you to create profiles for each child in your family. So which is best for children? If you’re looking for movies and apps along with books, consider this year’s quad-core, 7-inch Fire HD for $140, and then pay a bit more for expanded 16 GB of memory. Add a foam bumper for $25, start a subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, and the entire package will cost around $200. For those who prefer to hold off on the bigger technology, this year’s books-only Kindle ($80) now has a touch screen, plus batteries than can go for weeks without a charge.
Need to know: The Achilles heel of the Fire HD tablet is storage space. So the access to the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited content plan has little meaning with only 8 GB of storage … it’s sort of like offering a huge, tasty Thanksgiving feast but only a miniature plate. My Fire HD 6 Kids edition only had room for 13 apps, 40 books and one movie. The 14th app required accessing the parent account and manually deleting content.
Android Kids Tablets.
A slew of various, lower-cost Android kid’s tablets can be found in the end-caps of any retailer this fall, but as many people who snapped up cheap tablets last year have already discovered, you get what you pay for. This year’s contenders include Samsung Galaxy Tab Kids’ Tablet, Nabi DreamTab, Kurio Xtreme, XO Tablet, the Q and the Little Scholar. All have limited internal storage, clear touch screens and squishy silicone bumpers. But finding mainstream apps can be like deep water fishing. Because these tablets have an interface that’s layered over Android, they can be harder to operate. Even finding the “on” button can be tricky.
Need to know: When choosing a lower-cost Android tablet, make sure that it’s Google Play certified, so that you can download mainstream apps.
source : nytimes