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Best Tablets for Kids this Holiday Season: Kindle Fire, iPad Mini, LeapFrog LeapPad, and More

( [email protected] ) Nov 12, 2014 04:55 PM EST
If you have small children, you know that handheld devices are quickly replacing the television as the most popular form of entertainment. This is certainly a good thing if you're looking to develop hand-eye coordination and promote interactivity. But which tablets are best for kids?
Which tablet PC is best for your child? Photo: Corbis

If you have small children, you know that handheld devices are quickly replacing the television as the most popular form of entertainment. This is certainly a good thing if you're looking to develop hand-eye coordination and promote interactivity. But which tablets are best for kids?

The problem with most tablets is that the best ones for us are not necessarily best for little hands. Young children tend to handle the tablets differently, and they often need simple controls, durability, and even resistance to elements like water and dust (or peanut butter and jelly). Ultimately, the tablet you use to balance the budget, shop online, and store all of your important family photos may not be the best one to give to your children.

So we've put together a list of the best tablets for children to give you a better idea of what to look for in the crowded tablet market. And no matter what you decide to buy, a durable case is always a good investment when it comes to kids.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

Amazon's Kindle tablets started out as simple e-readers (remember that term?) but have quickly evolved into significant competition for the big-name tablets out there. The $180 Kindle Fire HDX is billed as a family tablet with the ability to create a seperate profile just for children that blocks in-app purchases and allows for more streamlined content access. You can also set time limits on the Kindle Fire HDX, so it won't work when bedtime arrives.

 Fahu Nabi 2

The $180 Nabi 2 comes standard with a non-toxic silicon bumper case, so it works well for young children. While this tablet also has time-restricted access and other important parental controls, its best feature for parents is N-site which gives real-time reporting and analytics to let you know what your child is viewing and interacting with the most. The Android-based Nabi 2 comes pre-loaded with plenty of apps, but you can always find more on the Google Play Store.

LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra

LeapFrog began as the prominent supplier of kids tech with its interactive storybooks in the 90s, but they've done well to keep up with the times. The $130 LeapPad Ultra is made specifically for children three to nine years old with a large, easy-to-use interface and plenty of pre-loaded apps featuring popular LeapFrog characters.

Apple iPad Mini 3

While the $400 price tag makes the iPad Mini 3 the most expensive tablet on the list (your child doesn't need the top-tier cellular version), it's certainly the most popular with children. And with improvements brought in for iOS 7, parents now have more controls available to restrict access to certain parts of the iPad. Another important consideration with the Apple product is the carry-over of skills. It will be much more important for a child to learn how to use an Apple product in 5-10 years than, say, LeapFrog.

Asus VivoTab Note 8

Along those same lines, the Asus VivoTab Note 8 comes installed with Microsoft Windows and is the largest of these tablets with an 8.1-inch screen. This one might be best for older children, but a stylus is an attractive feature to build handwriting skills. You can find the Asus VivoTab Note 8 for $230 at Amazon.

XO 7-inch Kids Tablet

The XO includes many of the same features that make kids tablets great, like parental controls, ease-of-use, and a durable shell, but the cheap $63 tablet is focused on teaching children different languages. You can also track your child's learning progress, lock certain features, and access hundreds of suitable apps through the Android-based Google Play Store.