If you’ve been waiting to buy a tablet for your kids (so they’ll stop hogging yours), you’re about to be rewarded for your patience! If an iPad or an iPad Mini isn’t in the budget, don’t despair. Many more affordable, kid-friendly models are now available, just in time for the holiday season. Here are some of your best options:
1. LEAPFROG LEAP PAD 2
Ages: 3 to 9 | $99
A chunky 5×7-inch handheld gaming and learning device for the littlest kids. This entry-level gizmo comes with front and back cameras, five wholesome preloaded apps, and now compatible with both LeapFrog cartridges and the LeapFrog App Center — a library full of amazing educational and age-appropriate apps for kids.
Unlike other tablets, this one runs on AA batteries (compatible with the recharger pack, sold separately). This makes it singularly ideal for travel, when on-the-go recharging isn’t always an option.
2. NABI 2,
Ages: 4 to 10 | $199
A sturdy 7-inch Android tablet with Wi-Fi, a camera, and an included rubber shield that comes pre-loaded with $150 worth of games and ebooks, both educational and just for fun. Also included are free trial subscription-based streaming video and music apps.
Finally, it has a chore list that can be tied to a reward system (coins that can be exchanged for apps). Sadly, it can’t tell if your child really made his bed or just said he did, but what tablet can?
3. VTECH INNOTAB 2
Ages 4 to 9 | $74
An absolutely bombproof handheld gaming and learning device for small kids at an attractive price. The Vtech InnoTab 2 is tricked out with a camera, video camera, photo viewer, video player, MP3 music player, e-reader, art studio, games, and microphone. Game cartridges will cost you, but will be offset by the low device price. Apps, e-books, and music can be easily uploaded too.
Since it takes AA batteries, it’s great for travel (since it’s not always convenient to recharge on the road). Consider investing in a battery recharger though, so you won’t be buying, using, and recycling way too many batteries.
4. KINDLE FIRE
Ages 6 to adult | $160
A full-color, 7-inch tablet with multi-touch display, Wi-Fi, and (perhaps most pleasing of all) really nice integration with Amazon’s endless emporium of books, movies, magazines, games, and apps.
When Amazon released the HD version of the Kindle, the price on this base model Kindle came down $40. This is really good news for you, because you get a lot of value for your money with this model. Find my full review (from last year, but still totally relevant) here: Best gift of the season? The Kindle Fire.
5. GOOGLE NEXUS 7
Ages 6 to adult | $265
Some people want a 7″ tablet, but don’t like being locked into a device that confines them to consuming media from Amazon. For these people, the clear choice is the Google Nexus 7.
This device is almost identical to the Kindle Fire HD (not listed here, because we recommend the cheaper version). It’s an absolutely great little machine. Slightly more expensive than the Kindle Fire HD, but slightly less expensive that the iPad Mini.