Register for your free ZDNet membership or if you are already a member, sign in using your preferred method below.
In the consumer electronics world there are two types of parents: Those that are interested in buying tablet computers for their kids and those that are staunchly opposed to doing so. For the latter group, a large part of that rejection comes from price. Electronics are, after all, pretty expensive. Considering how often kids tend to drop or otherwise destroy things, spending hundreds of dollars in a device that may before long be destroyed isn't too bright of an investment. Price-wary parents should be soothed, however, by the fact that, like most things, tablets vary greatly in price. Here's a list of seven kid-friendly tablets ranging from under a hundred dollars to five hundred bucks.
Launched in 2010 for the Wii, THQ's uDraw tablet is making a push into new audiences with its latest revision, which adds support for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Ideal for those who already have access to the consoles, the uDraw tablet lets kids interact with games via its stylus and touch screen. Featuring motion controls, touch input, HD output, and over two-hundred points of pressure sensitivity, the uDraw tablet is pretty capable for a device with its price.
Dubbed the "learning app tablet" VTech's InnoTab takes the app approach and tailors it especially for kids with its 5-inch screen. Featuring interactive e-books, learning games, and a variety of other creative apps, the InnoTab is a capable tablet with a price tag most parents won't be afraid of.
Capable of running over a hundred apps, games and interactive books the LeapPad is a versatile learning tablet. Kids can interact with the tablet’s five-inch screen using either their fingers or the device’s stylus. The tablet also features its own camera, allowing kids to take ether video or still shots. LeapFrog also built the tablet to be durable, which any parent can appreciate.
Bridging the gap between the LeapPad and more high-end devices is the Nabi, an Android tablet for kids. Netflix-ready, the Nabi's 7-inch screen can display video in 1080p. While most kids may not care about that detail, most will enjoy the tablet's ability to let them play popular mobile games, browse the web, and read books. The tablet also features "Mommy Mode", which allows parents to take full advantage of the tablet's features without the device's parental controls.
Amazon's trove of books, music and movies is put to good use with the Kindle Fire. Amazon offers one thousand illustrated children's titles, all of which take advantage of the tablet's 7-inch screen. Parents are sure to be excited by the tablet's price, which, at $200 is less than half the price of the iPad. And that's not too much to ask for a device with as much potential content as this one.
The newest of the bunch, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet is quickly becoming the de facto tablet for book-hungry kids. In addition to over a thousand picture books, Barnes & Noble offers a slew of interactive books designed specifically for the Nook Tablet. More, the tablet's Read To Me feature lets parents record themselves reading, allowing their kids to hear them read stories even when they their parents are not around.
The PlayBase is an Android-powered 7-inch tablet built from the ground up for durability. Its exterior is protected by PlayCover, a silicone case that guards the tablet from water, scratches, and damage from falls. For parents looking for a tablet that can take a beating, the PlayBase is a viable candidate.
Nearly identical to the original Xoom, the Xoom Family Edition offers a few features that Motorola hopes will make it an ideal choice for parents and their kids. In addition to $40 worth of built-in kids apps, Motorola has furnished the device with parental locking features, which prevent kids from getting into content they shouldn't. While the the Xoom's 10-inch screen isn't ideal for smaller hands, the Xoom Family Edition is a tablet both kids and their parents can find use in.
Encased in a durable, soft-edged chassis, and featuring a tempered glass screen cover, the Vinci is clearly built with accident-prone kids in mind. Made especially for toddlers and preschoolers, the Vinci tablet is built without Wi-Fi, an intentional decision done to save parents the concern over whether the device is emitting potentially harmful signals.
No list of kid-friendly tablets would be complete without the iPad, which has firmly established itself as the go-to tablet for most tablet consumers, let alone children. With countless games, learning apps, and kid's books, the iPad may not be the cheapest item on this list, but it's certainly the most popular.