Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Review & RatingJuly 11, 2018 0 By admin
Amazon’s “Kids Edition” tablets are the casseroles of consumer electronics: leftovers dressed up to become a new meal. But that’s not always a bad thing. In Amazon’s case, the company has made no-brainer tablets for kids to throw around without their parents worrying about them. The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids’ Edition is just a bundle of the Fire HD 10 tablet; a year of “FreeTime Unlimited” software; a two-year, no-questions-asked replacement warranty; and a blue, pink, or yellow rubbery case. That’s $226 worth of goods when purchased separately, here for $199.99.
You can read our Fire HD 10 review for the basics of this tablet’s design and how it performs. Like other Fire tablets, it runs a fork of Android where Google services have been replaced by Amazon’s, including the app store.
The compelling idea is that the accessories reinforce each other. The HD 10 tablet isn’t particularly rugged, and it isn’t waterproof. But the big, rubbery case included here makes it drop-resistant, and the guarantee means that even if you drench it, Amazon will replace it. But honestly, this isn’t a tablet you’re going to want to keep for more than two years.
The case is big, bubbly, and bouncy, with cutouts for the tablet’s buttons and keyboard. But it doesn’t have a kickstand, which feels like a missed opportunity considering that kids like to watch a lot of video.
Playing With FreeTime
The heart of the operation—and what makes the Fire different from an Apple iPad or a standard Android tablet, and potentially better for your small child—is the extremely restricted FreeTime software. The Kids Edition boots up into the FreeTime UI, which only shows parent-approved and age-appropriate subscription content from Amazon. You can stream content over Wi-Fi, or download it into the 32GB of built-in storage to watch in the back seat of your car.
Along with the usual books, videos, and app categories, there’s an interesting option to browse by “characters,” such as those from Frozen or Peppa Pig. Drilling down, you see apps, books, and videos related to those characters, all together. There’s also a very restricted Web browser, which can only see white-listed sites. Parental controls let you lock the tablet during bedtime or school hours, or restrict the amount of time specific types of content can be used.
My opinion of the value Amazon’s tablets has been cooling recently, as more shows have been coming exclusively to Netflix and Hulu. While you can certainly run those apps on an Amazon tablet, there’s no way to integrate Amazon and non-Amazon content on the same menu screen. Similarly, you lose some elegance if you want to play your own stored, non-Amazon videos. You can load those onto a microSD card and play them through third-party video apps, but once again, now you have your video in all of these little silos rather than in the main FreeTime interface.
Kick the tablet out of FreeTime, and it’s an ordinary HD 10, capable of showing Amazon content for adults, or running apps downloaded from Amazon’s app store or side-loaded from an SD card. I like the HD 10 as a basic entertainment tablet, especially for media streaming. Unlike standard Android tablets, though, it doesn’t have access to the Google Play store, only Amazon’s more limited app store, although there are unsupported hacks and kludges (which I don’t recommend) to make Google Play work.
Oddly, Amazon told us that the Kids’ Edition won’t have Show Mode , the useful new feature which turns an HD 10 into an Echo Show. There’s no clear reason for this.
What’s The Best Kid-Friendly Tablet?
At $199.99 for this bundle, the HD 10 Kids Edition isn’t super-cheap. Families can get almost all of its benefits out of the smaller, $129.99 Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition, which has the same bumper, software, and warranty on a smaller 8-inch tablet. The HD 8’s screen isn’t as nice, but frankly, kids don’t care. The HD 10 also has a little more RAM than the HD 8—2GB as opposed to 1.5GB—but if the tablet is mostly playing Frozen and Peppa Pig videos, that’s not such a big deal.
The big reason in my mind for kids to get the HD 10 over the HD 8, at least in theory, would be to read digital comics. You need a 10-inch tablet for that. Unfortunately, Amazon’s kid-friendly experience doesn’t extend to comics. You can download Comixology or VIZ Manga from Amazon, or side-load Marvel Unlimited from another Android device, but I didn’t find a way to restrict them to kid-friendly comics only.
If you’re stuck on a 10-inch screen and you’re OK working within this tablet’s very limited functionality—in other words, you have a kid who’s younger than 8 or so—then you’re getting maximum bang for the buck here. The least-expensive, decent competing tablet I could find is the Android-powered Lenovo Tab 4 10, which costs $239 for a similar setup. A new sixth-generation iPad, with a case and two-year warranty, is $414.
Slightly more expensive, Google Play-compatible Android tablets generally don’t have easy parental controls or ways to restrict content. What you gain in flexibility, you lose in protection and assurance that your small children are only looking at things suitable for them.
With the $414 iPad you’ll get a totally different, and much more valuable, experience: a faster, smoother tablet with a much broader array of apps, a ton of educational uses, and stylus support, which appeals equally to kids and adults. Kids also don’t have much trouble navigating the iPad’s UI.
It goes against my reviewer’s philosophy to say, “don’t get this, get something which costs twice as much,” but the iPad is going to last you longer and be immensely more useful. I do feel like the equation works out more in Amazon’s favor once you get down to the $129 price for the HD 8 Kids Edition, but that’s up to you and your wallet.