Father Christmas very kindly brought my youngest two one of these tablets each for Christmas.
I wasn’t really too sure what to expect, they have had tablets specifically designed for children before, but none of them have stood the test of time. They have had the Leap-pad, Leap-pad Ultra and most recently some kid’s Android tablet from Argos that was so regrettable that they both went back in less than a week as they both broke. I will find out the name of it and edit it in but the name escapes me just now.
The leap-pads were both trash, too dumbed down for 5 year olds and the touch screens were both terrible, one non-capacitive and the latest just not nearly responsive enough. Also the stylus that comes attached to the side of the device for use on the screen actually scratched the screen. Fantastic.
The Amazon Fire Kids edition is a different kettle of fish from these others. It’s a full blown Fire OS (based on Android) Tablet with a ‘Kids Mode’ profile on it. I looked at the Amazon fire Kids HD initially, but I’ve never heard a 5-year-old moan about screen resolution so I decided to save Santa some money and go for the non-HD edition.
The tablet has a 7″ screen which has a resolution of 1024×600 at 171ppi compared to the HD variant which is a 6″ screen with a sharper 1280×800 at 252ppi, I readily preferred the idea of a slightly larger screen for the little ones so as not to strain their eyes.
I used a single Amazon account for the tablet and created both my daughters’ profiles under the same account. The good thing about this is that either one of them can sign in as themselves on either tablet. The downside is that both profiles take up space on both devices.
Given that the tablets only have 8gb of storage (about 5GB usable after the OS takes it’s necessary overhead) this was a huge issue. There are literally thousands of apps and videos at the child’s disposal on this tablet and the thing filled up almost immediately. This results in the WIFI being disabled and the tablet effectively being completely crippled until a parent intervenes and removes apps from the device to free up space. I did anticipate that this would be the case and the fact that the tablets will take a Micro SD card to expand their storage is absolutely necessary, so it’s worth factoring in the cost of a Micro SD card when considering the initial outlay on this tablet. Micro SD cards are relatively cheap these days, I ordered them both a 64gb one for about £12 a piece, which I didn’t think was bad at all.
The kid’s profiles are pretty locked down, there are tabs along the top for “Books”, “Videos”, “Apps” and “Characters”. All fairly self-explanatory, by “Apps” they basically mean games and under the “Characters” section there are sub folders for different well known children’s cartoon characters such as, Thomas the Tank Engine, Postman Pat, Shaun the Sheep, SpongeBob etc.
Also in this “Characters” section there are a couple of categories which they presumably didn’t think quite fit in anywhere else and wouldn’t have filled a page if they had their own section… Namely Sports, Science, drawing, history, Maths, foreign languages and Planets, etc. To my mind these would have been better placed in their own “Educational” tab along the top instead of hidden away at the bottom of the “Characters” menu.
There is some seriously good material in here, at a quick glance I found books about Dinosaurs, Snakes, Planets, the Muscular System and much, much more.
There is also a “Read to me” section in here, which contains books which the tablet will read to the child. Some people may be thinking, but…but..but… that’s the job of the parent!!!! Whilst nothing compares to and nothing should substitute a parent reading to their child, again there is good stuff in here. There are several Dr. Zeus books (a firm favourite in my house) in which the words are all highlighted whilst they are read, giving the child a link between what they are hearing and what the words actually look like on the page. The child can click on any word on the page to hear it again. All the pages have pictures on and the child can click on the pictures too. If, for example, there is a picture of an alligator on the page and the child clicks on the alligator, the word alligator is read and put up on the screen in a large font to show the child. I can see this being a positive learning aid for children learning to read, rather than just a lazy parents substitution for reading their kids a story. Some of the read to me books are just a guy reading the pages whilst the child site there and watches, but the Dr. Zeus ones are much more interactive and way better in my opinion.
The number of books there are in the “Books” section is absolutely unreal, I thought the same list was just scrolling round in a circle until I finally reached the bottom of the list. It would take a child literally years to read all of it, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many there are as it would probably take me all day just to count them! I may be exaggerating slightly, but let’s just say there are a tonne of books, which is great. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Amazon given their history with the Kindle etc. What strikes me as impressive, is the fact that everyone has been hand-picked as suitable for kids and every single one is FREE.
Same with the videos section, there is a lot of videos on here, hundreds I would say, again, all suitable, and ALL FREE.
I have also discovered that you can take any app from the Amazon App Store and “Share” it through from the Adults profile (something I haven’t even touched on in this review!) to the Kids profile. As an example, I have added games like Crossy Road and apps like Netflix to my Children’s profiles to give them even more content!
To say I’m pleased with this purchase is a bit of an understatement at this point.
The case it comes in makes the thing feel indestructible and the fact that it has a 2 year smash the crap out of it and we’ll replace it anyway warranty means it doesn’t matter if it breaks anyways.
There is so much content on here that I would actually say that when the years unlimited subscription runs out I will probably pay monthly to keep all the content anyways assuming they kids haven’t lost interest by that point.
Battery life seems good, I’ve been charging them every other night and they haven’t run out yet, with some decent usage over the Christmas period.
The speaker seems decent, only mono, but loud enough for me to often have to tell my daughters to turn it down, and clear enough that they can always hear what’s going on. It is actually considerably improved by the acoustics that having the thick child proof case on the tablet provides. It sounds much less tinny and better with the case on. Which I was glad to find out.
These tablets are brilliant, my five year olds absolutely love them, my eight-year-old is pretty disappointed that he didn’t get one himself, even though he got a Linx 8 last year. It’s just a completely different experience from the Linx. Everything is just there and ready to go, it’s all laid out nicely, and there is So, SO much if it that it’s just crazy. It would take me years and years to get this kind of level of content on my sons Linx and I can see why there is a hint of jealousy there.