Children and tablets typically go collectively like bulls and china retailers. I’ve seen smashed screens, sticky buttons and gadgets coated with a nice movie of gunk, meals and who is aware of what. And that is earlier than you get to coping with all of the inappropriate apps and web sites children can presumably entry on a pill.

Handing over an iPad is much less of a white-knuckle expertise than it was once, with beginning costs dropping from $500 to $329 over the previous few years, however that is nonetheless plenty of religion to place into tiny fingers that won’t perceive simply how delicate these gadgets may be. And whereas specialty children’ tablets and youngsters’ computer systems have been round for years, they’ve usually been low-end machines that do not do a lot, and do it slowly. Some are locked right into a handful of preloaded no-name apps, others are about as enjoyable to make use of as a nasty Black Friday doorbuster.


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Amazon’s Fireplace line of tablets has a pure attraction for fogeys, with low costs, first rate specs and entry to a large world of apps and options. However they’re nonetheless basic function machines, aimed toward adults, and particularly at Amazon Prime members on high of that. Beginning in 2014, nevertheless, a parallel collection of Children Version Fireplace tablets took the identical primary and added equipment and software program (and better costs), in an try and make one thing helpful for the youthful set. 

This evaluate is particularly in regards to the Children Version. You may learn in regards to the general wonderful Fire HD 8’s hardware and performance in this review, and the additionally superb, however more limited Fire 7 here.

A numbers sport

The present Amazon Fire ($39.99 at Amazon.com) line, final up to date in 2017, is available in 7-inch, Eight-inch and 10-inch variations, with on-sale costs dropping as little as $35 for the (very) primary Fireplace 7. It is the pill as impulse buy, sponsored by the hope that you’re going to purchase content material — books, movies and apps — from Amazon and create a recurring income stream for the e-commerce large.

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The Fireplace HD Eight behind the Fireplace 7.


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Apart from the usual fashions, there are additionally the aforementioned Children Version variations of the Fireplace 7 and Fireplace HD Eight. These kid-friendly fashions are bodily equivalent to the common variations, and the distinction comes from equipment, software program and help. At first look, it appears loopy to pay an additional $50 for a pill that normally prices $49/$70 (for the Fireplace 7/Fireplace HD Eight), however the math really makes extra sense than you would possibly assume.

The Children Version prices $100 or £100 for the 7-inch, and $130 or £130 for the Eight-inch model of the Fireplace tablets. (Sorry, Australia: Amazon hasn’t but determined to supply its tablets Down Beneath.)  This is what that further money will get you:

A rubberized bumper case: Amazon sells this individually for $30 or £20. I’ve had an identical one on my son’s hand-me-down iPad 2 for years.

A two-year “no questions requested” substitute guarantee: The case is sweet, however that is the place the true peace of thoughts is available in. Smashed display? Dumped within the mud? Amazon will substitute it free of charge for the primary two years.

Double storage: In every case, Amazon bumps up the storage from the baseline “grownup” mannequin. Shopping for the Children Version of the Fireplace 7 will get you 16GB as an alternative of 8GB, whereas the HD Eight will get you 32GB as an alternative of 16GB. Each are additional expandable through microSD playing cards, that are plentiful and low cost.

One-year subscription to FreeTime limitless: This Netflix-like subscription service is chock filled with kid-appropriate ebooks, movies and video games. After one 12 months, the service prices $2.99 a month for Amazon Prime members ($four.99 for non-members), which is about $35 per 12 months. That each one provides as much as effectively greater than the $50 premium for the Children model over the usual pill.

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Take into account additionally that Amazon repeatedly places these gadgets on sale. The Fireplace 7/Fireplace 7 Children Version can at occasions be as little as $35/$75 and the Fireplace HD Eight/Fireplace HD Eight Children Version may be discovered for $55/$95 throughout Amazon gross sales within the US, with related worth cuts usually operating within the UK.

Amazon Fireplace costs

Fireplace 7 (8GB) Fireplace 7 Children Version (16GB) Fireplace HD Eight (16GB) Fireplace HD Eight Children Version (32GB) Fireplace HD 10 (32GB)
US $50 $100 $80 $130 $150
US sale worth (supplied periodically) $35 $75 $55 $95 $110
UK £50 £100 £80 £130 £150

The hidden charms of FreeTime

Of the extras included within the Children Version of the Fireplace tablets, the subscription to FreeTime Limitless could appear the least helpful, a minimum of in comparison with the padded case, further storage and no-hassle substitute plan. It is really Amazon’s secret weapon, and having used the service extensively over the previous couple of weeks, it is nearly criminally low-profile for the worth and suppleness it affords.

I might beforehand heard in regards to the service, which mixes the really free FreeTime options, together with detailed scheduling and usage tools for parents to restrict how and when children use their pill, with the subscription Limitless half, which acts as an all-you-can-eat buffet of ebooks, apps and movies.

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A baby (or kids, as you may arrange a number of profiles at an additional price) will get a customized interface, a lot completely different from the usual Android-like Fireplace interface. FreeTime has a blue background and a handful of enormous class icons. It is also landscape-only, though some apps and ebooks work in portrait mode whereas they’re getting used.

As is commonly the case with content material looking, precise discovery may be hit and miss. There’s not a transparent grasp checklist of what particular content material is included, or an actual understanding of what highlights the app chooses to floor. That stated, the affords are so broad and far of it’s of top of the range, that youngsters will take pleasure in simply making an attempt random new issues.

My 6-year-old son Sprint has been utilizing FreeTime Limitless on his not too long ago bought Fireplace HD Eight for a couple of weeks now, and is a giant fan, particularly of the concept he can choose and obtain his personal video games with out getting me or his mom to log out on each particular person one.

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When organising FreeTime, you choose the age vary of media you need displayed, and that modifications the extent of books, movies and apps. I set Sprint’s vary at as much as Eight years previous, simply to verify he was challenged by new issues.

The video seems to be from Amazon Prime, so you are not getting something new there, however the ebooks and apps add nice worth. Books are pretty well-formatted for the display. Some work on both panorama or portrait mode, however others are restricted to at least one view or the opposite. There is no pinch-to-zoom to learn textual content, which may get small, however double-tapping on textual content pops it up in a bigger bubble. Learn one blurb, then swipe left with one finger to mechanically advance the textual content. I can not say it should encourage self-directed studying for each child, nevertheless it labored on the one I do know, largely as a result of he might choose what to obtain by himself.

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The apps are principally video games. Many are of the free or freemium selection (and no, children cannot make further purchases on their very own), however an excellent quantity are literally surprisingly premium. I used to be pleasantly stunned to seek out a big library of apps from Toca Boca, writer of Toca Life, Toca Lab and different kid-friendly apps. Sprint is a giant fan of those, and I’ve beforehand bought a couple of for round $three every. One obtain like this per thirty days covers the price of the whole FreeTime Limitless service as soon as the included one-year subscription expires.

Getting in character

One attention-grabbing approach to seek for content material is thru a high menu icon labeled “characters.” There, children can scroll via icons that run from generic, like Dinosaurs, to very particular manufacturers, like Lego, Sesame Road, Marvel and Star Wars. Clicking on any of those brings up an inventory of all obtainable ebooks, movies and apps from that class, and tapping on every particular person merchandise downloads or streams it.

It is a good way to find content material, though some manufacturers have solely apps and movies, however no books, or solely books and movies, however no apps, and so forth. Many, nevertheless, have all three, and Sprint now has an on the spot Phineas and Ferb e-book assortment.

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