Android Tablet for Kids
September 18, 2015 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find an affordable tablet for kids to use...details inside.

Asking a new question because this one is 2 years old. I'm trying to find a tablet (or two) for young kids (ages 2-6) to play with. Primarily for long road trips (watching movies or educational apps/games) or other situations where young kids can get really restless.

It has to be Android with access to the Google Play ecosystem because of the amount of money already spent on apps, games, and media for the kids already - otherwise I'd just go with the brand new $50 Fire that Amazon just announced.

I don't particularly care about cutting-edge specs or frequent software updates, but it shouldn't be so underpowered that it can't handle basic games or streaming. Something running at least KitKat is ideal to ensure it will continue to work with apps and games for the next couple years.

I don't need a retina display, but it's got to be at least decent enough that the display won't be obviously pixelated at a normal viewing distance.

I don't need Bluetooth or ac wifi, but at least n would be good to reduce buffering if the kids are streaming something.

In terms of size, I'm thinking something in the 7-8 inch range would be good. Anything smaller is too easy to lose and anything much bigger is difficult for their small hands to handle.

One specific thing I'm looking for and am having trouble finding is that it should charge through the micro-USB port. Seems like most of the cheap brands use a separate AC adapter which will inevitably get lost or broken so I want to avoid those.

Because it's for kids, I'd like to find one that comes with, or at least has available for purchase, a rubber/silicone bumper to help protect it from bumps and drops.

I'm really hoping to stay somewhere around the $50 range but I can go up to probably $80ish. I see lots of cheap unknown brands in the price range but they are all missing at least one thing that's important to me. I also see that I can buy a used Nexus 7 (2012) in my price range, but that device is 3 years old at this point, and I'm wary of how much longer the physical hardware itself will hold out even though the specs are still decent - and the 2013 refresh is going for at least $100 used. Are there any better options out there that meet my needs?
posted by trivia genius to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would put more trust in a refurb original nexus 7 than the new brand x products.
posted by Candleman at 12:08 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How much money have you spent on those Android apps? Because the Kindle with the Freetime app is a pretty sweet deal for kids. We have a Nexus 7 that belonged to the kids but they (and we) vastly prefer their Kindle Fires for kid stuff. Other than the subscription, which is about $5/month, we have not purchased any apps for them, and they never run out of content.
posted by xeney at 12:20 PM on September 18, 2015

7" ASUS MeMo tablet? Seems to be about $100 on Amazon.
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm going to try one $50 Kindle Fire for the same purpose - to replace a dead $100 Android tablet regardless of the money invested in Google - that was purchased to replace a $200 (?) iPod Touch regardless of the money invested in Apple because the kids want new apps all the time anyway. My users are older so your situation may vary. Regardless $30-50 is a lot of apps. I am favoriting this question, looking forward to seeing the outcome.
posted by RoadScholar at 12:38 PM on September 18, 2015

When it came time to get tablets for my four year old kids, I got them Nook HDs. Now I guess that would be the Nook Galaxy Tab 7". They're the right size for your needs, built to handle e-books, include a built-in speaker and headphone jack, hard cases are available, allow access to most apps on the Google Play store, and also include a built-in kids profile They also have a micro sd card slot, so we can load up a ton of videos for them to watch.

The only disadvantage is they don't use a microsb charger. Nooks require their own kind of cord.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on September 18, 2015

Best answer: I know you mentioned Kindles in your post, but Amazon recently created "Actually Free," otherwise known as "Amazon Underground." It has hundreds of apps where all in-app purchases are free.

I downloaded Jetpack Joyride to test it and purchased every item in the game at no cost. So if you switch to a Kindle, at least you'll have a bunch of free new games to play.
posted by tacodave at 1:46 PM on September 18, 2015

tacodave: "So if you switch to a Kindle, at least you'll have a bunch of free new games to play.

Worth pointing out that this is not restricted to amazon devices, works with any current android device.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:09 PM on September 18, 2015

I purchased an Asus MeMo 7" tablet for my preschooler last Christmas, and it has been an excellent tablet in most ways.

The good: it has held up to relatively rough handling (with a cheap leather case), it recently received an update to Lollypop, and it has run everything we've installed.

The not-so-good: it has a battery that was physically smaller than the space allotted in the case, and unplugged itself after a drop (relatively easy fix by packing the space with cut out cardboard), it doesn't have GPS (not a problem for her apps, but she has become interested in maps and "where we are" and it would be nice to let her use her tablet for that).

Overall: I would definitely recommend it, as long as you are comfortable opening the case to check/fix the battery problem if it occurs (difficulty level: credit card pry-off).
posted by 1367 at 9:26 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I think we're going with the new Kindle for now. I haven't followed the Amazon app store lately so I didn't know about underground, or the freetime app.
Now to decide whether to just get the $50 one or the $100 kids version, which is the same tablet but with a kid-friendly case and a free year of freetime, plus 2 year no-questions-asked replacement.
posted by trivia genius at 6:51 AM on September 21, 2015

I spent the money and don't regret it. We've had to replace their nooks (free) and the USB cords (not free!) at least a couple of times. Even the most careful kid can have an accident.
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on September 21, 2015

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