Best tablet for kids: 5 to choose from
6th Dec 2012 | 11:04
Treat the youngster in your life with one of these affordable tablets for children
Unless you've done rather well for yourself in life, chances are you'd rather not give your rough-and-tumble litte one a 64GB iPad 4 to play with this Christmas.
Fortunately for parents who want to keep little Charlie happy, there are plenty of solid, affordable tablets available nowadays, which give kids all the fun of having a portable learning and play machine but with much less worry about it being left out in the rain, given a bath with teddy or stuffed in the tumble dryer.
And yes, these tablets are all running Google's Android OS, as it's now become the software of choice for the cheap Chinese hardware makers, and as much as we love our kids, we don't really want to spend any more than necessary on the little... darlings.
But we're not ranking these tablets solely on price.
Some of the best new tablets for kids come pre-loaded with educational software, or feature adaptable, toughened hardware, while others are good choices thanks to offering parental controls that can help limit their use.
Here are the five best tablets for kids you can buy today:
1. Nabi 2
The updated Nabi tablet is by far the best option for kids, and it's relatively cheap, costing just £149 on the high street through the likes of Argos.
This tablet isn't a compromised piece of hardware designed to fleece tiny minds; it's powered by Nvdia's Tegra 3 chipset, alongside 8GB of RAM, a 1024x600 resolution display, and it even manages dual cameras for video chatting.
There's a standalone curated app store - where apps are approved before release - and a parental admin panel, so there's no worry about inappropriate content. Plus, there's a huge educational system in here featuring maths, science and English learning tools.
Also, that coloured bumper is removable, so your kid can whip it off when they come of age and want the tablet to look a bit more like an iPad.
2. Arnova ChildPad
Arnova's kid-themed tablet is a little heavier on the customisation than the Nabi 2, although it's based around Google's Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google, so dad will know it's a pretty modern device.
It's much less powerful than the Nabi, though, running Android 4.0 on a single-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM.
The 7" machine's display runs at a low 800x480 resolution, but as it'll only be running Angry Birds for 16 hours a day that's no big deal breaker.
Apps are a little light, with Arnova using the AppsLib database rather than Google's Play Store - which means you can filter apps so that only age-appropriate ones are downloadable.
3. Kindle Fire
This one comes with the security of Amazon's locked-down ecosystem and hardware, which already offers more of a curated, walled-garden approach to app distribution than Google's roguish Play Store.
Kindle Fire's also rather cheap, giving kids a 7" tablet that runs smoothly on its upgraded 1.2GHz dual-core processor.
The key thing here is the peace of mind mum or dad's poor credit card gets from Amazon's new Kindle FreeTime software, which lets admin users control access to Amazon's bewildering array of content, even going so far as to specify a daily time limit for use.
So it won't be daddy saying no, it'll be Amazon saying no. Bad Amazon.
4. Kurio 7
Beneath the chunky, colourful case sits a relatively generic Chinese Android tablet, offering Android 4.0.3 for dad to tinker with once the kid's asleep, a 1GHz processor, 4GB of storage space and 1GB of RAM to make multi-tasking possible.
What you're paying for here is the chunky anti-shock cover that should see it survive a few trips down the stairs, plus support for multiple profiles and time management controls to reassure parents that bedtime means bedtime, not downloading Jason Statham movies off the internet until 4am.
The 7" display's a little low quality at only 800x480 resolution, and at around £150 the Kurio is expensive given the rather low-spec tech inside, but the custom kids' OS and wide range of parental controls make it a decent choice if you need something that can be locked down; whether that's for your kid's own safety or as punishment.
They'll behave better (hopefully) if you threaten to take YouTube away from them.
5. Lexibook Junior Tablet
If your kid is so young it can't differentiate between brands, operating systems and onboard camera resolutions, you may still be able to fob it off with a cheaper, sturdier option.
The £129 Lexibook Junior Tablet looks like some sort of toy that ought to come with a yellow plastic hammer to control it and a handle to wind it up rather than a battery, but it's actually a proper tab that runs Android 4.0 beneath a totally custom interface.
Lexibook has stuck on stacks of learning apps and games, with karaoke options, cartoons and more, pre-loaded for your kid's amusement.
The camera app uses a comedy face-warping tech that'll provide hours of fun, and the rubberised case is chunky enough that it can also be used as a sledge.