What to look for when buying a child’s tablet – Word from the Mr

I’ve mentioned before that Dave is something of a massive geek.  He spends hours reading about tech stuff and watching reviews so this latest guest post from my husband is just a fraction of the tech based information in his head . . . 

kids using tablets
Photo Credit: Wayan Vota via Compfight cc

Ben’s going to be 5 this month.  As he’s getting older he’s getting more aware of the technology we use.  He’s proficient with the TV remote (much to my annoyance), he likes to use Colette’s phone whenever she let’s him (rarely!) and he loves playing Cbeebies games on her laptop.  However after he knocked her laptop off the dining table she’s been reticent in letting him use it again (she loves that laptop more than me!).

We’ve spoken about when was the right time to get him his own phone and after much discussion we’ve come to the conclusion that somewhere around 12 is probably right.  That doesn’t apply to tablets though.  We figured that he’ll be using it at home and he’ll only be using it where we can see him so, with restricted availability through the day it would get him used to using touch screens (so he can experience the joy of technology! Just like his dad!) and allow him to play the online games he likes.  It can also be used as a treat when he’s being good or as a deterrent to the inevitable poor behaviour choices.  So we’re getting him a tablet for his birthday.  The lucky sausage!

With that choice being made it falls to me (as the family geek) to choose / buy the tablet and research the software that will go on it to protect him from anything we deem unsavoury (of which there is plenty if we’re being honest).  This leads to weeks of me reading reviews and watching videos of tablets and kid friendly software online (not that I’m complaining, it beats watching soaps with Col!)

Hence this post, a collection of my thoughts on what to look out for an which things are the most important when tablet shopping.  At least from my point of view.  So without further ado I give you the musings of a geek!

The first thing to think about is the hardware.  On a tablet that means 3 things:- the screen, the processor and the overall build quality.  The screen has to be number one as its the thing you look at continuously and interact with.  A bad screen with poor touch responsiveness will ruin the experience.  There’s nothing worse than tapping repetitively at the screen with nothing visible happening.  Also the sharper the screen the better the viewing experience.  Higher resolutions are better in my opinion.  The processor is less obvious in that you can’t see it, but it runs everything.  If that’s not up to snuff then the screen won’t respond promptly, apps won’t open sharply and you’ll struggle to browse the web or stream video.  Lastly the build quality is important because you’ll be touching the tablet constantly.  Its not like a TV where you sit 10 feet away from it, the tablet is in contact with you for pretty much the whole time you use it.  Also a strong tablet will withstand the drops and bangs it will without doubt be subjected to.  Of course a good case can help with knocks and is always advisable.

Secondly you’ll have the software.  Now for kids that means two things, ease of use and control.  Ease of use is all about big buttons for kids and nothing complicated (they’ll pick it up at a frightening rate though).  Control is more for us as parents.  You should be able to tailor the usage as you see fit, set timers for allocated times and restrict everything on the net that hasn’t been approved by us first.

Third and finally is the price.  We’re not made of money and also buying Ben something hugely expensive at the age of 5 seems a bit over the top.

Now before we get into what I’ve finally decided on buying, I’m sure you’re thinking there’s already a lot of tablets available specifically designed for kids.  Brightly coloured, big and chunky which some might say is good enough for a first tablet.  My problem with these offerings is that I don’t think they’re worth the money.  At all.  The ones I’ve looked at fail on all 3 of the points I mentioned above.  I’m convinced you can get better quality for less money buying a normal tablet, then putting software designed for kids on it.

I don’t think you can mention tablets without talking about the iPad.  Its the original and many would say the best tablet.  The 9.7″ iPad is probably a bit large for small hands but the iPad mini fits 2 of the criteria I mentioned above, and if you’ve got the money to drop £200 on a tablet for the kids then its definitely worth a look.  We however don’t, so I’ll leave the fruit based products out from now on in.

I won’t go into all the possible choices there are because this post would become painfully long.  So I’ll just tell you what we’re going to buy based on my research and maybe in a few months, once Ben’s used it for a while I’ll do a quick follow up to tell you if I was right. (Probably only if I was right though as if I’m wrong the shame will be unbearable!)  The table we’re going to buy is the Colorfly e708 (q1 or q2 – the only difference is the inclusion of a rear camera on the q2, not a big deal for Ben).  It ticks all the boxes above, the processor is good, the screen has a very high resolution for a 7″ tablet (better than most of the offerings from larger manufacturers) and is of a good quality.  From reviews I’ve read / watched its put together really well.  We’ll of course get a case to give it a fighting chance of making it through a year!  All this and its available for less than £70.

Added to this I’ll be installing the Kido’z launcher to turn it into a child friendly product.  It makes all the buttons large and easy to hit with a colourful background.  All the options are hidden away behind a password for responsible(ish) adults to decide on.  My favourite feature is the ability to choose websites that are allowed to be visited in the browser, nothing new there I know, but the good bit is you can fine tune which parts of the website are available and which aren’t.  So for instance the Cbeebies website will be set up without a doubt but if you don’t like a particular programme, for whatever reason, you could remove the ability of the tablet to show pages relating to that programme!  That sounds pretty good to me.  I’m all about the control when it comes to young viewers.  It also makes the web pages you choose to be visible into a big button so that its easy for the child to find.  There’s more features and all the reviews I’ve read / watched are positive.  I’m really looking forward to setting it up!  Sad I know, but such is the life of the family geek!

So that’s my pick, and it’d better be good otherwise I’ll give myself a darn good talking too!  Its winging its way towards us as I type.  Just waiting to transform Ben into a tech obsessed mini geek just like his dad!

Fingers crossed I will have two happy boys at the end of this month!  If you’ve got any “go to” apps for kids do let us know! 

15 Comments

  1. July 9, 2014 / 2:35 pm

    Well done MR on such a good review .. think MRS better be worried you will be blogging yourself

    • July 9, 2014 / 2:50 pm

      He can't be bothered 😉 He likes to just dabble and post on my blog occasionally instead *phew*

  2. July 9, 2014 / 4:48 pm

    Great post fair play!!!
    My daughters (4 & 2) have to share their tablet – however its a nightmare! I think I may need to buy a new one this Christmas so they have one each. Not sure yet. I only get the tablet out once a week or once a fortnight – they love it but its too hard work to get them off it!

    • July 9, 2014 / 6:50 pm

      We've agreed that he will be allowed a set time limit at certain times of the day (eg while the girls are sleeping) – there's no way he's going to be glued to it all summer that's for sure 🙂 x

  3. July 9, 2014 / 7:40 pm

    Some great tips from your Mr thanks! I don't have a tablet myself but my eldest son is after one for his birthday – technology is changing so fast – it is hard to keep up!

    • July 9, 2014 / 7:46 pm

      It certainly is – that's why I leave it all to my lovely geek 😉 x

  4. Honey Mercer
    July 10, 2014 / 10:06 am

    Really great tips. Thanks Colette. x

  5. July 10, 2014 / 3:50 pm

    Wow its so technical and yet I get it. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    We have ipad mini at home which my 4 year old use. I let him use youtube and those cbeebies games and website. We got some numbers & letter apps too!

    #mmwbh

  6. July 10, 2014 / 8:01 pm

    Some really great tips that I had no idea about. It is a minefield with all the apps, my two are hooked on Minecraft, not very educational but they love it so much. #MMWBH

  7. Tas D
    July 11, 2014 / 11:27 am

    Some really good tips there and £70 is a very good price compared to, say, an iPad! (Which is what we have and he regularly steals mine)

  8. July 11, 2014 / 11:40 am

    What a brilliant, comprehensive blog post. We're looking at getting a tablet for our small boy, he's a bit too keen on mine and not too gentle so the Colorfly looks like a good, budget option Thanks for the info 🙂

  9. July 11, 2014 / 7:21 pm

    the ones I got the kids not fab no wonder they were cheap 😉

  10. July 11, 2014 / 7:46 pm

    Lucky kids! My son loves all the Toca games and one called clay jam, which I secretly love too,

  11. July 14, 2014 / 1:39 pm

    Ooh look forward to seeing how you all get on with it! x

  12. July 22, 2014 / 12:49 pm

    What a great review and oddly even though Ellie has an iPad, I am considering buying Jacob a cheaper tablet for his birthday next month. As for apps, there are LOADS to choose from. Fruit Ninja is our personal favourite! 😉 Thanks for linking this up with #MMWBH xx

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