If you’ve read my post on the top 5 tablets for kids, then you know that I began my search for a tablet for my son after noticing how much he loved my iPad. My son is 6 and I consider him to be a mature 6-year-old (he used the word fragile this morning to describe a glass he was drinking out of) so I wanted to find a device for him that would truly grow at the same pace he does.
If you’ve done a brief scan of the kids’ tablet market, you’ve probably noticed devices like the Vtech Innotab or the Leapfrog Leappad, which are great devices but are definitely marketed towards a younger age demographic (ie: you’re not going to see a 10-12 year old playing with one). These type of tablets are priced very attractively, but they lose some of their value because they are somewhat limited in how far they can expand beyond the feature functionality that they come stock with. Sure, you may be able to add some new books and games with some cartridges, but they do not have the diverse and continually expanding array of options that, say, an open-developer App store brings.
I don’t know about you, but my son is won’t be the elitist tablet devotee who insists on having the latest and greatest device that hits the shelf each season. If I am going to buy him a tablet, he is going to have to enjoy it for years to come (which also means the device will need to bring with it a certain amount of durability).
So in my search for the best tablet for my son, I knew that I needed to keep two things in mind:
- I need to find a tablet that will be able to adapt to my sons maturing interests
- I need to find a tablet that will be able survive my son’s abuse
After scanning the competitive landscape (that a business school word by the way, you’re welcome), I ended up focusing on a few devices. I’ll go over each on in detail.
Nabi Kids Tablet
This tablet features a 7-inch screen, weighs about 1.2 pounds and sports a very noticeable red “bumper” that should ensure that this thing is impervious to disastrous drops from above. It retails for $199.99 and is only available at Toys R Us. It features a 800-by-480 pixel display that doesn’t nearly stack up to any iPad you’ve seen, but should do the job for a child. Compared to devices like the Innotab, the construction and the screen resolution still outshine the more limited devices.
What really makes the Nabi worth the $200 is the ability to download applications from the Android marketplace. The marketplace on the Nabi isn’t the fully-loaded marketplace you’d find on a Android tablet though, as it has been culled down to just the kid-friendly applications. But this still means that you kids can play Temple Run and Angry Birds like I’m sure they already love to do on your phone or tablet.
The VINCI Tab is another device I stumbled across in my research. Unlike the Nabi, it doesn’t connect to any open developer app marketplaces, which is a downside in my opinion, but it does include a rich array of content that should keep any child enthralled for a long time. VINCI separates their games and content into stages of a child’s life. Their games begin with ” Level 1: The Curious” which seems to be targeted towards toddlers, and “Level 2: The Confident”, and “Level 3: The Capable” are there to cater to your child as he/she ages or progresses in maturity.
The VINCI Tab does not have WIFI but can be updated through connection to your PC or Mac. One thing I really liked about the VINCI was that it features handles that are perfect for a child’s smaller hands. I sometimes find my iPad awkward to hold, so having this as part of the construction of the device makes a lot of sense.
So which of these two is the best tablet for older kids?
Well if you haven’t read my article on the best 5 tablets for kids, then this is a spoiler alert, as I decided to purchase the Nabi tablet for my son.
After comparing the specs between the two, I just couldn’t justify the price of the VINCI ($389 in most stores). The Nabi was pretty much half the price, and the fact that it could connect to the Android marketplace really sold it for me.
If you have experience shopping for a tablet for your child, please tell us your thoughts on this topic below. Thanks!