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There are so many tablets on the market, making a choice for adults can be difficult enough -- what memory do I want, what operating system, what applications do I want access to, and how much am I willing to spend? However, when you add children to the equation, you must also consider how you can both keep them entertained and safe at the same time.
Detecting a niche in the market for family-friendly devices, a number of tech firms have begun offering tablet computers aimed at the younger generation. Whether you're looking for an entertainment, education-based or budget-friendly tablet, here are a number of options suitable for you -- and tips on how to keep your device child-proof.
Child-proof your device tip: 'Free to Play' labels on applications do not necessarily mean there are no in-app purchases -- which your child could use to buy virtual items. Avoid bill-shock and check apps that your child has access to before they play.
The Kindle Fire HDX, marketed as a family-friendly tablet, is a good choice for children not only due to its price, but Amazon's Kindle FreeTime feature. The tablet allows parents to create a different profile for each of their children and tailor access to content accordingly. If you want to encourage your children to complete educational tasks, you can block access to entertainment apps until these goals are met. In addition, parents can choose when the tablet will work for their children, depending on the time of day and how long children are allowed to use the gadget.
The tech specs: 7-inch, 8GB/16GB storage models, 1280x800 high-definition LCD display, a dual-core processor, Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core, anti-glare technology.
Child-proof your device tip: Invest in a strong, robust case for the tablet. Children aren't always exactly the most careful of creatures.
Price: £119 ($200)
The nabi 2, protected by a non-toxic silicon bumper, is suitable for young children. The nabi 2 is faster and more powerful than its predecessor, and includes parental controls including timers, content restriction, and the N-site feature -- which gives you real-time reporting and analytics on your kid's educational progress and trouble spots.
A number of games are pre-loaded on the device, but it's worth mentioning many are Lite versions and request for users to upgrade them. However, an update to the nabi range is access to the Google Play store, which gives you access to many free apps instead.
The tech specs: 7-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution, Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with quad-core CPU, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, 2MP front-facing camera, Android 4.0 operating system.
Child-proof your device tip: If your child has access to your personal tablet, make sure you back up data regularly to avoid heartbreak if they accidentally wipe important files.
Google's Nexus 7 tablet is a good, affordable option for older children. Not only is the tablet easy to navigate, but the tablet can be useful for both you and your child -- as you can download apps to set up restricted profiles to control what content, websites and apps a child can use.
The tech specs: 7-inch, 1920x1200 HD display, 1.2MP front-facing camera, 5MP rear-facing camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 16GB/32GB storage, 2GB RAM. Android operating system.
Child-proof your device tip: Make sure your device is PIN-protected. If they decide they'll play with your gadget while you're distracted, with unfettered access your kid could cause you heartbreak.
Price: £199 ($340)
The Hudl is a 7-inch tablet for those on a budget. The Hudl, encased in a tough casing with rubber grip to help tiny hands, comes with easy to setup parental controls when you first power up the device, and you can password protect anything from Internet browsing to age-related movies and apps found in the Google Play store.
The Hudl is available in black, purple, red or blue.
The tech specs: 7-inch screen, 1440x900 pixel resolution, 16GB storage, 1GB RAM, 1.5GHz quad-core A9 processor. Android operating system.
Child-proof your device tip: Fire up AppLock on your Android devices to filter content and set up a PIN number for authorizing purchases made on your tablet.
Price: £119 ($200)
LeapFrog's LeapPad 2 tablet, available in pink and green, is a tablet suitable for children between 36 months and nine years. The entry-level tablet is certainly kid-sized and shaped to be friendly to tiny hands, and children can use the touchscreen to access the five pre-loaded apps on the device (Pet Pad, LeapFrog Learning Songs, Art Studio, Cartoon Director and one of your choice), as well as explore a library of hundreds of downloadable applications.
The tech specs: 5-inch screen, 4GB storage, 2MP cameras on the front and back, powered by AA batteries.
Price: £69.99 ($120)
The LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra, available in pink and green, is suitable for children between the ages of four and nine and is a step-up from the LeapPad 2. The LeapSearch facility sandboxes Internet browsing to keep children safe, and the tablet has child-friendly photo editing with Photo Fun Ultra and the Art Studio Ultra app. The tablet also connects to LeapFrog's library of over 800 education-related apps, games, ebooks and videos.
The tech specs: 7-inch screen, 1,024 - 600 pixel resolution, 2MP cameras on the front and back, 800MHz processor, 8GB internal storage. Powered by four AA batteries.
Price: £89.99 ($155)
The iPad mini with Retina Display, the second-generation smaller version of the iconic iPad, is not the cheapest on the market by a long stretch, but iOS devices are well-known as some of the best quality products available.
If you're not willing to shell out on the more expensive iPad, the mini version could be a suitable alternative for older children. However, with the right parental restrictions in place, you can also access the iOS store, which is full of free and inexpensive educational, gaming and entertainment apps.
The tablet is available in gray or silver.
The tech specs: 7.8-inch display, 2048x1536 resolution, A7 processor, 1.2MP camera, 16GB - 128GB storage. iOS 7 operating system.
Child-proof your device tip: Consider downloading safe browsers to filter sexual and explicit content.
The Meep!X2 is marketed as a tablet suitable for children six years or older. Pre-loaded with over 50 apps, music, e-books and games, the gadget includes 'Parent Zone' -- which allows you to set up your account to monitor a child's activities on the tablet. Either the Meep store or Google Play can be accessed, and this depends on the restrictions and access rights you place on separate accounts. The kid-friendly setup and rugged feel of the tablet combined with many types of parental controls -- from app and browser access to content filtering -- make this tablet a strong contender.
The tech specs: 7-inch screen, 800 x 480 pixel resolution, 4GB storage, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 2MP camera. Android operating system.
Child-proof your device tip: For younger children, you may want to review and download apps you consider suitable on the tablet, and then remove the tablet's access to Wi-Fi by deleting the profile afterwards.
Price: $99 -- $140
The XO 7-inch Kids Tablet is a gadget designed with languages in mind. Apps, ebooks, translation and activities are available in both English and Spanish, which can be switched over by pressing a single icon.
There are also dashboards which allow a parent to track a child's learning, and password protection to restrict content on the device.
Price: $70 - $140