Text By C. Scott Wyatt
ack-to-school shopping included a quest for new tablets for our daughters. The aging iPads that my wife and I passed on to the girls barely hold a charge. They are also as old as the girls.
At first, I resisted the idea of new tablets. The girls share a brand-new Mac mini, and we built a simple PC in 2020 so that each girl could be attending virtual classes during the pandemic.
The girls are 8 and 9 years old. We monitor their computer time, with the Mac located in Susan’s office and the PC sitting in a living room corner. We use parental controls and review their computer time.
However, Susan telecommutes and often needs to talk to coworkers or attend video conferences. We recognized that it would be easier to have both girls work in the living room or my office space during those meetings.
The most affordable iPads remain close to $350. I searched for alternatives, doubting that I would find tablets perfect for young children.
My quest led to the new Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids’ Pro. The Fire HD 10 replaces its disappointing predecessors. Amazon’s tablets had been underpowered and poorly designed.
Amazon Fire tablets use the Android operating system, yet their lack of memory and processing power prevented earlier models from running popular apps, including Microsoft Office. The older models also struggled to play high-definition videos without stuttering.
With new 8-core processors, beautiful 244 pixel-per-inch screens, extra memory and expandable storage, the 2021 Amazon Fire HD matches the competition from Samsung and Lenovo. Even the two cameras are surprisingly good. For $129 each, we purchased two Fire HD 10 Kids’ Pro tablets. By adding 128 GB memory cards for $30 each, the Fire tablets easily play movies, support games and run Microsoft Office.
When you buy the Fire HD 10 Kids’ edition, you also receive a year of the Amazon Kids+ subscription service. Amazon Kids+ includes thousands of books, videos, apps and more. The girls have already located many of their favorite books in the Amazon library. The service is $3 per month after the first year.
Amazon knows that children can be rough on tablets. The rugged cases include integrated stands. The real clincher for us was the two-year full-replacement warranty. If anything happens to the tablet, Amazon will send you a replacement.
Amazon does not request email addresses or the full names of children. The student mode restricts email, chat and video functions unless a parent or guardian installs extra apps.
The parent dashboard, accessed via a web browser, gives us control over time limits for each application or sets of applications. You can set “learning goals” that must be met before any games can be played or entertainment features used.
The new tablets work well with the educational websites and apps that our girls use. I’m pleasantly surprised.
The iPad line is better technically in every way. However, for students under 12, the Amazon Fire HD Kids’ Pro might be the perfect tablet for school.