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Skip the iPad: This $190 tablet is redefining what a kids tablet can do

The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro was a pleasant surprise. Its smooth performance for the price is even more remarkable, given the $190 price tag.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet is normally sold for $190.
  • This kids tablet is built for older children, ages six to 12, with a slimmer design and faster performance than other Fire kids tablets. It also includes strong parental controls and a worry-free guarantee: Amazon will repair or replace the screen if it breaks within two years of purchase.
  • While it's better than other Amazon Fire Kids tablets, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet doesn't outperform an iPad -- but it's also a fraction of the iPad's price.

What makes a good tablet? It's easy to draw up criteria of features to look for: A fast processor, user-friendly platform, portability, and battery life, to name a few. What makes a good kids' tablet? Amazon appears to be in the running to figure that out, and they're on track to nail the formula.

I've been testing the new Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet since it was announced last year during Amazon's Devices and Services event. This is the latest generation of the Fire HD 10 Pro, a kids' tablet aimed at children from six through 12. 

Also: The best tablets for kids, according to parents

The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet promises a 25% faster performance than the Fire HD 10 Kids, a longer battery life, and a higher-quality front-facing camera at 5MP, up from 2MP.

View at Amazon

Why choose a Fire tablet? Many parents get their kids an older-generation iPad, like the 9th-gen iPad, as their first tablet. If you have a younger kid and are afraid an iPad won't hold up to their handling, consider an Amazon Fire Tablet. 

Since my oldest of three is only in first grade, I've already tried a couple of Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tablets. iPads are great, and my husband and I each have one. Since even my screen is cracked, I'm less than enthused about giving a seven-year-old one. 

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

This is why I prefer Amazon Fire Kids' tablets for my little ones. Plus, Amazon replaces them if they break within two years. They're also eligible for trade-ins when you want to upgrade to a new device.

Also: Amazon will pay you in gift cards to recycle your old electronics. Here's the secret

At the ripe age of seven, my oldest is craving "big kid" devices. I'm not one to get my kid a smartphone just yet, but we had considered graduating her to a big kid tablet in the form of an iPad this Christmas. 

I thought the problem was in the other two: a preschooler and a toddler who lack an understanding of personal property or space. It felt like the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet was built for this reason, but after almost a year of testing, my oldest broke the screen on the tablet. 

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

My kid's bad habit of leaving the tablet on the floor was finally curbed when I accidentally tripped over it and cracked the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet's screen. After quelling the tears, I contacted Amazon customer service to see what could be done. A representative instructed me to send the tablet in to assess whether the screen could be replaced or if a new tablet was necessary. In the end, Amazon sent us a new Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet to replace the broken one, with the whole process taking under two weeks.

Also: The best kids' smartwatches, according to parents

This tablet has been the perfect upgrade from the smaller Fire 8-inch model, which is cloaked in a chunky protective case. Aside from having a larger 10-inch display, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet is protected by a slim case that is more kid-friendly than kid-proof, as Amazon's listing describes.

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Like other Fire Kids tablets, the Fire HD 10 Pro kids tablet also includes the Amazon Kids+ subscription. This can be renewed after one year, but the timer resets whenever you buy a new Fire Kids tablet or another device that includes the subscription. 

The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro has proven itself to be faster than both generations of the Fire HD 8 Kids tablets we have. Since the older ones were passed down to a five-year-old and a two-year-old, that hasn't been a problem, but the seven-year-old and new owner of the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro definitely notices the difference.

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Though my firstborn is getting on in years and looking for more grown-up tech, she is still seven. In almost a year of use, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro has been dropped countless times and stepped on at least a dozen times. Like the older models, it has remained completely unaffected, except for the event described above. 

Also: The best GPS trackers for kids, according to experts

I appreciate that Amazon's Kids Tablets have strong parental controls. I can easily control what my kids watch, approve their app and purchase requests, and set up time limits from the app on my phone.

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Aside from access to thousands of apps and games, Amazon has also added new collaborative games that kids can play with others. My kids and I often play Sketch 'n Guess, a virtual word-guessing game where one person draws something, and the other tries to guess it. I play from my phone, and the kids play from their tablets.

Like Sketch 'n Guess, there's also Memory Match, Jigsaw, Chess, Checkers, Dessert Decorator, Chain Reaction, and more "Play Together" games included with Amazon Kids+. Even my five-year-old can play since the games can be read out loud what the kids can't read.

ZDNET's buying advice 

Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

If you're trying to choose between an iPad or a Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet, much will depend on how your kid will use the tablet. Amazon has refined the Amazon Kids platform into a kid-friendly user experience that doesn't feel childish for older kids but that younger kids can still navigate. 

Also: Amazon's Echo Show 5 made me a smart display believer (and my daughter, too)

These tablets can handle multiple profiles, including young children, older children, and adults, so they can grow with the kids. They are still limited by their 3GB of RAM and a slower processor than an A13 Bionic chip. 

An iPad has more high-end features, like a better processor and camera, and is a grown-up platform that is perfect for older kids, those who like to do more intricate play, like editing photos, and even those in the Apple ecosystem.

Even if we are an Apple family, I'll continue getting my youngsters Fire kids tablets until they can appreciate the value of a device you can't walk on.

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