Over the last holiday break, I noticed that my nieces and nephews were much more docile than they had been over last Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations (there are 4 of them: ages 4-12). Then I realized that each had their own tablet device to which they were keenly entranced by. Later on that day, I got to look at a couple of these devices, hoping to gain insight should I buy one for my own son (who is 6). I was actually astonished at the level of detail that some of the apps had on these devices. One of the tablets I looked at even had a “kid-friendly” version of the Android operating system, with games that even I had on my iPad (like ‘Cut the Rope’, ‘Angry Birds’, and a few others). It’s not becoming obvious that electronics companies needs to be focusing on the tablets for kids market. Here are a couple other kid-friendly tablets that I ran across in my research (oh, and I’ll tell you which one I ended up buying for my son).
Nabi Kids Tablet with Android
Of all the ‘tablets for kids’ that I researched, this one had to be the coolest. Now, I say that because I am a little bit biased towards the tablets that could appeal to a wide audience. My son is 6, but I feel he is pretty intelligent and I didn’t want him to easily outgrow some of the tablets that are only intended for his age range.
The Nabi Kids Tablet allows your kid to watch movies and TV, learn science, math and spelling, and play some of the most popular android games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Temple Run. It comes with over $100 of games pre-loaded on the device, so you don’t have to worry about throwing down extra money to get apps.
The display on the Nabi is 1080p, which is better than many full-sized tablets on the market. It can also stream from Netflix, so if you have an account, you can browse through kid-friendly movies and TV shows to keep them entertained for hours. Good luck finding another kids tablet that will have this.
The thing I liked the best about the Nabi that sets it apart for being one of the best tablets for kids is the educational content on the device. It has over 22,000 state standardized math skills embedded in fun, interactive games that your kids will love. The educational content is covers grade Pre-K through 5th grade, so your child can enjoy this device for a long time. If you are in the market for a tablet for your kids, this should definitely be a chief consideration if you want versatility along with a top-notch education center.
VINCI 7-inch Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet
The second tablet I researched while shopping for my son was the VINCI 7” Touch Screen Mobile Learning Tablet. As far as construction and durability is concerned, this thing may be the most durable tablet for kids that has been conceived. The device was invented by a mother, if that tells you anything.
One thing I really liked about the VINCI Mobile Learning Tablet was the handles on the sides and top of the devices. One thing that I think companies overlook when it comes to tablets for kids is that children can’t necessarily handle a tablet device like adults can.
I played around with this tablet at the store, and while the versatility of the Nabi wasn’t there, the educational content developed for this device was outstanding. I’m 38 years old, and some of the science games I played actually taught me a few things that I didn’t know.
Let’s face it: kids aren’t learning that same way they used to. Books and chalkboards are becoming a thing of the past. Your children can probably recite a video they’ve seen on YouTube better than they can their ABCs. What I liked about the VINCI is that it applies this methodology of learning and harnesses it for good.
There was one thing about the VINCI that could be a drawback for some but a benefit for others: it’s not WIFI enabled. This can definitely be good if you want to closely monitor the content that your child is viewing.
Vtech – InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet
The Vtech InnoTab was another device that I got to try out during my research. In fact, I was at my son’s Tae Kwon Do class and they had one of these in the waiting room, so I got to test this one out for a while (under the scrutiny of some concerned-looking karate moms).
The Vtech InnoTab definitely leans toward the ‘education’ end of the tablets for kids spectrum. This one has some pretty cool science and math games on it. It also had some good games to teach basic music theory, which is something I can’t recall seeing on some of the other education tablets for kids (although I wasn’t actively looking for it).
The InnoTab by Vtech also comes with a variety of books. These aren’t just any books either. These eBooks feature interactive buttons and narration that really keep the kids entertained and occupied. I wish I had this kind of device when I was learning to read. The ebooks on this device had to be some of the best I had seen on a children’s tablet. They teach skills like vocabulary, phonics, and reading comprehension. There is also a feature that highlights the words as your child reads them, which is great for providing visual feedback for what is happening on the screen.
The InnoTab syncs with your computer via USB cable, after which you can download games, e-books, apps and other mentally-stimulating activities. You can also buy ‘cartridges’ which come preloaded with games and books for your child. This device seemed to be aimed at kids 4-10 years old, however the educational content appeared to go even closer to 5th grade.
LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet
If you have kids, you have probably heard of LeapFrog. LeapFrog has made interactive and education devices for children for a while now, so I expected a lot when I found that they had entered the tablets for kids market.
The LeapFrog LeapPad made my top 5 list for a couple of reasons:
It’s reasonably priced. Unlike some of the devices, you can get this one for just over $100, and the educational content is just as feature-rich and stimulating as the InnoTab or the VINCI.
It has a sleek, but kid-friendly design. Not only is the LeapPad durable and sturdy, it also looks cool and is easy to carry and hold.
It has a camera! You aren’t going to find very many tablets for kids that have a camera. This one has a built-in camera with 2 GB of built in memory for storing photos and videos. This is one of the best features on this device.
It has some of the best reading exercises/applications of any of the children’s tablets. The LeapPad comes with several ebooks that guide your child through the story with interactive narration and features that keeps them immersed for hours. I have heard of several kids in my and the next generation that learned how to read form Sesame Street. This is 21st century Sesame Street on steroids.
The LeapPad comes pre-loaded with over 100 learning applications in the form of videos, apps, game and books. You’re not going to have to spend extra on application to get this thing up and running. Just power it on, and your kid will be learning in the car on every family vacation.
Vtech mobiGo Touch Learning System
OK the Vtech MobiGo isn’t a tablet in the purist sense, but I put this one on the list because I seriously considered it given its affordability and its physical keyboard. This one has a QWERTY style keyboard and I thought that it might be good practice for my son to get used to typing in this fashion.
Of all of the tablets for kids that I looked at, this one was by far the cheapest. It’s available for $44.99 through Amazon.
Of course, there were a few things that it lacked in comparison to some of the other devices that I looked at.
First, it didn’t have as wide of a variety of educational content and apps that the Innotab and the LeapPad had.
The construction of it seemed nice, but I wasn’t sure how long the ‘flip’ functionality would last in my destructive 6-year-old’s hands.
One thing I liked about it was that it seemed relatively simple to get this one going. Simply power it on and your child can start using some of the pre-loaded applications and programs—no downloading necessary. Also, if they run out of content, they can use cartridge to access additional content (these are sold separately, however).
For the price, I thought the graphics on this device were very well done. The user interface was also very simple and easy-to-understand, something that is essential for kids tablets.
The product I ended up going with was the Nabi Kids Tablet with Android. The Android hook got me and didn’t let me go. I really liked that this device featured all of the things that the other did (educational content, ebooks with interactive features, durable construction) but the fact that it could connect to the android market meant that this would be a device he would really love for years and years.
After doing my research, I realized that a lot of the tablets for kids out there are designed for kids ages 3 to 9. Since my son is 6 (and nearly, 7) he is getting towards the end of that spectrum and I thought the Nabi was the best tablet that would grow with him.
And I am glad I went with the Nabi. He has ended up downloading a lot of the same games that I have on my iPad and we often challenge each other’s high scores on different games. I think he actually is beating me on Fruit Ninja. Oh well.
Anyways, do your research before buying. Just because my son ended up with the Nabi doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for your child(ren).