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I bought this Amazon kids tablet instead of an iPad and wasn't sorry

Fit with highly-customizable parental controls and a kid-proof construction, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids is an inexpensive, yet durable, tablet for the younger crowd.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Kerry Wan
A person holding the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet.
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

If you're looking to buy a tablet for a kid, you're probably aware of how difficult it is to find the right one. For example, you don't want one with unreliable battery life or one that can't sustain the challenges of a child handling it. After trying (and hesitantly letting my kids try) several brands of tablets, I've finally landed on the right one for my youngsters: The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet.

Also: The best kids tablets you can buy

First off, is the Fire HD 8 Kids the best tablet ever? Definitely not, but it's the best tablet for my kids at their current stages of life. 

The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is a well-built, entry-level tablet that comes with a sturdy kid-proof cover and features useful parental controls. At the center is an 8-inch high-definition touchscreen that's able to operate for up to 13 hours per charge, supports USB-C, has dual speakers, and comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage that you can increase up to 1TB with a micro SD card.

Also: How to trade in your old devices for Amazon gift cards

All Fire Kids tablets include a complimentary, one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, a service that typically costs $48 a year for Prime customers and $79 a year for everyone else. This subscription unlocks thousands of books, videos, games, and Alexa Skills. Even if you already have a Kids+ subscription from an older tablet, when you activate a new Fire Kids tablet, Amazon will renew the service by another year, which is great.

What age is the Amazon Fire Kids tablet good for?

Amazon has optimized its tablets' operating system, Fire OS, to make it more kid-friendly, no matter the age, with the option of parental controls for things like setting screen time limits and filtering by age-appropriate content. 

For example, Fire OS lets you customize the appearance of the tablet's home screen with a "Younger" or "Older Kid" theme. The former favors larger icons and images to encourage natural exploration, whereas the Older Kid theme is best for kids that can read and is more similar to the software experience on Amazon's non-kids tablets. All of this is to say that the Fire HD 8 Kids tablet should be usable for most age groups, from toddlers to adolescents.

Also: Best Amazon tablets you can buy

A child interacting with the Fire HD 8 Kids tablet.

The parental controls make it easy to customize the tablet experience for different ages.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Parental controls can be accessed from the Parent Dashboard which, by default, is locked with your Amazon password or a 4-digit pin. Fire tablets connect to your Amazon account so you can also change the settings remotely from your phone using the Amazon Kids+ mobile app. You can change themes and age filters, add or remove apps, and even view historical data of what your child has played on their tablet.

Also: Good news, parents: YouTube Kids has a screen limit setting

It's worth noting that there is no YouTube Kids app available on the Amazon Fire Kids tablets, though there are some third-party apps that you can use to access the service. If your child is one who enjoys watching videos online, they'll have access to Amazon's content library or web videos through a browser, provided that you've enabled web browsing through the Amazon parent dashboard.

Choosing for your kid: Fire HD 8 Kids or an iPad?

When shopping for a tablet for your kid(s), you may wonder how the Amazon Fire lineup compares to its closest alternatives -- namely, the Apple iPad

As far as screen resolution, display quality, internal storage, and processor go, the truth is that the Fire tablet doesn't compare to the iPad, but that's because it's not trying to. The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet starts at $140, almost $200 cheaper than the currently cheapest iPad available, the iPad 9th generation, which starts at $329 (or cheaper when on sale). 

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet

If permitted, the 2MP front-facing camera can be used for video calling.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

And while the iPad is definitely faster for everyday use and is a great option for older kids who are already familiar with iPhones, its larger 10.9-inch display, when caseless, is more prone to damage than that of the Fire HD 8 Kids tablet. At the higher price point, the iPad may not be the most cost-efficient investment. 

Review: Apple iPad (2021): If it's not broke, don't fix it

Endurance really is the main reason why any parent should buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids. I don't know if you've been around children between the ages of three to seven, but it can get pretty rowdy when it's time for play. 

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet

The main camera on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet is reinforced with bumpers to protect it.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

That's why Amazon has strengthened its screens with aluminosilicate glass, which makes them less prone to scratching and cracking than the glass used on iPad screens. The rugged case on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet also has a built-in stand that doubles as a handle to carry the device.

Also: The 5 best rugged tablets for work and play

Aside from sticky-finger smudges, stickers, and marker artwork, Amazon's Kids tablets tend to hold up beautifully. I can't tell you how many times my preschoolers have dropped (or thrown) their tablets and stepped on them "by accident" over the past three years, yet the screens have remained intact. Besides some diminished battery life, the tablets have held up well, with no cracks in sight.

What if my kid breaks their tablet?

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Princess tablet

The cases for the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablet come in four different colors: Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse, blue, and purple.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Amazon stands behind its claims of making a tablet strong enough to survive the trials and tribulations of the rowdiest of kids. Each Fire tablet, the Fire HD 8 Kids included, comes with a 2-year warranty that promises free replacements if your tablet does break.

Review: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022): Primed for Amazon superfans

Bottom line

When it comes down to it, the $150 Amazon Fire HD 8 is a great, child-friendly tablet for education, games, and entertainment. Its 13-hour battery life means that you'll need to charge it less often than other competitors, and the combination of a durable case and screen ensures the integrity of the Fire tablet for years to come. The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is a perfect first tablet, and I've loved that my kids have been able to use the previous model for years now. I fully expect this new model to last just as long, if not longer. 

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