The top performers in our review are the nabi Dreamtab, the Gold Award winner; the Amazon Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition, the Silver Award winner; and the Kurio Xtreme 2, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a tablet to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the 10 best tablets for kids.
Falling somewhere between smartphones and laptops, tablets are popular gadgets thanks to their portability, computing power and ease of use. Kids tablets have many of the same features as regular tablets, but their designs are optimized for the specific needs of children and parents. While most don’t have a keyboard, kids tablets have slim dimensions that make them easy to slip into a purse or the backseat pocket in a car.
Kids tablets generally have a wide variety of child-friendly features. On the outside, these tablets frequently have brightly colored cases and rubberized exteriors that guard against damage from drops. Inside, kids tablet software often includes ways to monitor web and application use. These features differentiate kids tablets from standard home tablets, which typically have sleek designs and don't emphasize parent-friendly control options.
There are many products that can help meet your family's home computing needs. Our education section highlights family-friendly software options including typing for kids, preschool games, and algebra software. If your child is too old for parent-friendly content and monitoring options, our Chromebook section highlights budget-friendly mobile computing options. Popular mainstream products like the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab are featured on our tablets website. For additional information about family-friendly tablets, read our articles on tablets for kids.
For our evaluation, we focused on tablets designed for kindergarten and elementary school age children. These products are available from popular online and standard retail stores and priced up to $150.
In our testing, we focused on evaluating the build quality and performance of each tablet, placing emphasis on features that parents and children value like durability, speed and internet safety. We performed hands-on evaluations and testing to gather data on important factors like battery life and display quality to find the tablets’ abilities in day-to-day use. We examined each tablet's software features to see how fast they run and checked the quality of its parent-friendly control settings. Focus group testing with parents and preteens also affected our weighting of factors like case material and durability.
As a result of our research, we found there are several criteria to consider before you purchase a kids tablet. First and foremost, you should consider your child's age and exact needs. For versatility, many kids tablets can be switched to a Parent Mode, allowing it to work like an adult-orientated tablet. As with any tablet running Google's Android operating system, you have access to unrestricted web browsing and eReader applications in this mode. On the other hand, when you purchase a toddler-designed tablet, you are often limited to a predetermined set of applications.
The depth of parental monitoring features can vary widely on kids tablets. Most Kids Mode interfaces are software that run on top of a tablet's existing operating system. The best tablets tout features like full web browsing monitoring.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Along with the price tag and specifications, there are other important items to consider when buying a tablet for your child. Focus on the following areas to ensure your tablet is the best fit:
Downloading Third-Party Applications and Content
Many kids tablets come with preinstalled software like games and educational applications. While these programs generally offer enough variety to keep kids entertained, popular services like Netflix and Google's Play application store also provide additional kid-friendly content.
Many tablets are built on Google's Android operating system, which can come with access to the Play store. However, more basic tablets may lack this content and only come with a suite of preinstalled programs.
Additionally, some kids tablets rely on proprietary app stores to supply their content. While the applications in these stores have the benefit of being designed exclusively for children, they are often only available by purchase.
Most kids tablets aren't as multimedia-reliant as mainstream tablets, but with content like applications, music and photos, storage is still an important consideration. Many come with 8GB of internal storage by default, which is comparable to a budget smartphone.
However, tablets with SD card readers can supplement these storage limitations. Generally, tablets can support cards with storage capacities of up to 32GB or 64GB, allowing you to store large content like movies or music libraries without worrying about running out of room.
Alternatives to Kids Tablets
Kids tablets are optimized for children and families, but if your child has aged out of this demographic, similarly value-friendly options are available. Google's Chromebooks are portable laptops that run the company's Chrome OS operating system. They tout features like full web browsing and apps like Netflix. The tablet market features similarly budget-friendly models from a variety of manufacturers.
Chrome OS and tablet operating systems iOS and Android also offer parental control options. While these features aren't as extensive as they are on kids tablets, full mobile operating systems still offer some parent-friendly flexibility.
Our top selections combine the performance and versatility of the best mainstream tablets with features and designs optimized for you and your children. The nabi DreamTab touts excellent build quality and a display that's among the best we've seen for a tablet. A full suite of simple parental control options provide straightforward monitoring and safety options.
Elsewhere, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition pairs the company's exceptional Kindle hardware and platform with software and features designed for young kids. Finally, the Kurio Xtreme 2 features a full slate of parental control options in a budget-friendly package.
Beyond these choices, additional standouts include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition and nabi Jr. The Samsung has a kids-friendly interface that runs on the solid foundation of a standard Galaxy Tab and the nabi Jr. features a low price point and durability suited for young children.