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What’s the Best Kid’s Tablet?

Carl Laron from ConsumerSearch.com

Tablet computers are expected to be hot sellers this holiday season, topping the gift lists for both parents and their kids. At ConsumerSearch.com, we dig pretty deeply into the many choices available — and name the tablets we think are the top picks for most users. When picking a tablet for your son or daughter, however, there are a few extra things you need to think about.

First and foremost is the issue of safety. Tablet computers intended for adults are gateways to the Internet, with all the pluses and minuses that entails. For your child, you will typically want something that doesn’t carry with it the risk of being exposed to something that’s not age appropriate. Most tablets include built-in parental controls, or offer the ability to download apps that do the same thing.

Effectiveness can vary greatly, however, and we’ve seen plenty of tales of clever kids that have found work-arounds — some considering even the presence of parental controls to be a challenge that has to be conquered.

The safest environment, of course, is one that’s built from the ground up to be kid friendly. Some, such as the LeapPad 2, for example, lock out the Internet entirely, aside from their own child-oriented app store.

Leap Pad 2

Others, such as the Nabi 2, offer apps only via a proprietary child-safe store, but also include a browser that gives kids access to sites you pre-select on the full Internet (just make sure to create a password that he or she can’t guess).

Nabi 2

Child-oriented tablets also need to be built well enough to stand up to life in a child’s hands. Let’s face it, even adults can be a little careless with their electronic goodies — as countless cracked screens on smart phones and tablets can attest. Kids tablet makers do a pretty good job of ruggedizing their cases by adding outsized bumpers, so it’s all good on the front — for the most part. Keep in mind, however, that even the strongest tablet will be challenged by a direct hit to the screen.

Apple iPad

Are there downsides to selecting a child-oriented tablet over a full tablet, such as the Apple iPad or the Google Nexus 7? In many cases, the answer is most definitely yes. Performance is a major concern.

Google Nexus 7

Looking over some of the best-known choices, as we did here, you can see that children’s tablets are usually — though not always — less expensive than ones targeted at adults. Unfortunately, that’s often reflected — and then some — in the hardware. An unresponsive screen and sluggish overall performance can frustrate young ones, especially if they are used to seeing their parents zipping away on their adult tablets. In addition, if you opt for a fully locked-down tablet, you need to be very mindful of its recommended age-range, as there’s nowhere to go with it if your child outgrows its sandbox.

That said, we did find at least one kid-oriented tablet that seems like a winner. That’s the aforementioned Nabi 2. The key is what’s under the hood — the same processor found in the Google Nexus 7. As a result, it performs as well — and in some cases better — than many adult tablets. At around $200, it’s a little more expensive than some kids tablets, but the Nabi 2 comes with lots of free preloaded content, a kids-oriented app store, a child-safe streaming video service and access to the full Internet via a web browser with strong parental controls. The Nabi 2 is drawing lots of kudos from experts and owners; if you want more information, it’s covered in this post at ConsumerSearch.com.

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Click on image of individual tablets to view at Amazon.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

13 Comments

  1. This list? It is wonderful! couldn’t have come at a better time. Damian’s grandma and i have been discussing what to get him for christmas. she wants to get him an iPod Touch but I argue that she should buy a Leadpad2. Many thanks for this post, will email it to her.
    vanita recently posted…The Truth About Premium CommentluvMy Profile

  2. Very comprehensive list you have there. I probably would have included the InnoTab 2 in that selection though; with their new camera and additional memory, I’m sure they will be giving LeapPad a run for their money this Christmas.

  3. Nabi does sound like a great option!
    maryanne recently posted…Fun Christmas Craft: Family Handprint Christmas TreeMy Profile

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      Are you thinking of electronics for your kids this holiday season? I have a request for 3D DSi and laptop computer. The laptop will have to wait until my kid is in middle school, but my son does use his DSi a lot. I was worried about eye issues with the 3D DSi so he promised to keep that feature off. We lost our iPad and my kids want the mini but I think we are swimming in screens right now. I had no idea there were so many tablets for kids! I’ve never heard of most of them!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…A Teacher Turned Author Inspires Writing SeedsMy Profile

  4. Tee

    My 5 year old owns a Leap Pad…..never uses it! I think it honestly sucks! She also has a mobi go so worn from use! She got it almost a year ago & adores it! In September she got an iPad 2 for school (she’s autistic) & LOVES it! It’s amazing! Finally she has the innotab 2 & it’s EPIC! There’s so much in each game & free downloads & apps that come already on it! Best purchase ever! The innotab 2 is the only one we’ve personally purchased, the rest gifts. The iPad & innotab though are by far my highly recommended!!!!!!!

    • Tee

      I forgot to add my daughter had a 3DS as well but I think it’s better aimed for the older kids! IMO!

      • Hi Tee,
        My 8-year-old has been dying for a 3DS. He has a well worn DSi but I hesitated because I head the 3D can be bad for his vision. I am finally relenting for Xmas though as he promises to turn the 3D feature off. I guess there are cool games that he says he can play not in 3D that are not made for the DSi. I got the bigger screen thinking that might be easier on his eyes but am not sure if that is true or not.
        Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Kids Make Gift (Day 2), 12 Days of ShoppingMy Profile

    • Hi Tee,
      My kids had a Leap Pad when they were little too and it didn’t get much use. They used the book cartridges as pretend cookies! I think the iPad is more versatile and the kids definitely fought over it. It was in high demand until we lost it. Glad to hear that you love the Innotab 2. Sounds wonderful! I’ve never heard of it and I need to check it out! What ages would you recommend it for?
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Kids Make Gift (Day 2), 12 Days of ShoppingMy Profile

  5. Ann

    That is neat that you can access the web from the new LeapPad!

    My kids would love to get iPads!
    Ann recently posted…Make a Pine ForestMy Profile

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