Amazon dominates the market for budget tablets with the sub-$100 Amazon Fire 7 and Amazon Fire HD 8, but budget tablet or not, every parent will wince when their little ones ask to use their personal tablet.
Whether it is the sticky fingerprints that seem to be indelibly left on any surface you are going to look at or touch or the fear of it being handed back with an expensive cracked screen, leaving your personal tablet under the stewardship of your precious little one has a high price to pay in anxiety alone. And so, along comes Amazon with what looks like the perfect solution, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition.
A ruggedized tablet with a rubber case and, perhaps most impressively, a 2 year “if they break it, we’ll replace it, no questions asked” warranty. With an MSRP of $99 (£99) we think it is excellent value for money
However, this Amazon Prime Day it is discounted to $69.99 (£59.99) and if you want to avoid two siblings fighting over one tablet, you can buy two for $119.98 in the US right now making even more cost effective to educate, inform and entertain the children in your family.
The first thing you notice about the Fire 7 Kids Edition is the bright rubber bumper case that it comes with. Whilst definitely rugged (we dropped it from high chair height onto hard floors and it survived) it is also designed to be ergonomic for smaller hands. Coming in three bright colors, Blue, Magenta and Yellow it should be easy to find when tucked behind a cushion or plush toy.
Amazon claims its’ Fire 7 Kids Edition is designed for children aged 3-12, and here is where the bumper is a drawback for older children, because it definitely makes it look like it is for kids.
Even without the bumper on, where the Kindle 7 Kids turns into a standard looking tablet, we don’t know many 9 year olds that would want the stigma of having a “kids” tablet and they would probably be looking for higher resolution cameras for selfies and videos.
Just above the 1,024 x 600 IPS display sits a front facing VGA camera whilst on the back is a 2MP camera with 720p HD recording functionality, which will come in useful as every child becomes a budding photographer and videographer at some point.
The front facing VGA is a little grainy but perfectly adequate we reckon for the needs of most under 9s. The same can be said for the rear facing camera, which, whilst better in terms of resolution is the one that is likely to be used for more complex picture taking than a straight forward selfie. The rubber case is designed to sit well out of view of both cameras enabling unobstructed photos and videos to be taken.
Whilst performance is most likely not top of the list of a child’s requirement for a tablet, nobody wants to be waiting around for theirs to load and on this front, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids edition doesn’t disappoint.
Amazon’s Fire OS version 5 makes loading apps slick, which is impressive given that the tablet has, and to be fair, probably needs only 1GB or RAM. The dual band WiFi will ensure that the tablet makes the most of your broadband connection when downloading content.
Whilst Amazon’s app store may not be as populous as say Google’s, the Fire 7 Kids Edition comes with Amazon Freetime Unlimited free for a year, which is basically an app store of content designed for kids by age range whether it be books, games or TV and films targeted specifically at younger minds.
Given that this costs nearly $36 (£24) a year, this makes the relative value of the tablet even more appealing, but be aware that getting the best out of the tablet after the first year may cost you. ($2.99/£1.99 per month if you sign up a for a year).
Let’s face it, children see us, their parents, using tech all the time and the urge for them to emulate us is strong. However, handing over our precious smartphone or tablet for them to wipe sticky fingers across and keep us on tenterhooks that they don’t break it is often a price too high to pay for many parents.
In this respect, giving your little one, or ones, a tablet of their own to play with that is designed around their specific needs, with a robust design and a warranty that means that you don’t need to worry about breakages for two years is a very attractive proposition.
We know that Amazon often sell some of their products at a loss to get us hooked into their services and the Fire 7 Kids Edition looks like no exception as access to their Freetime Unlimited will cost $2.99 (£1.99) a month after the first year, but with the range of books, games and streamed content it gives access to we reckon this is the perfect device for parents of 3-8 years olds.
Based on our experience of tech savvy pre-teens however, we are not convinced that the Fire 7 Kids Edition is the tablet that 9 year olds and above are going to pleading with you to get them, largely down to the fact that “kids” is in the title, the camera qualities are not what they will be looking for to keep their social sharing up to scratch and at that age, we reckon they are more likely to be after something more grown up shall we say.