Youngsters and tablets typically go collectively like bulls and china outlets. 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 arms that won’t perceive simply how delicate these gadgets could 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 foul Black Friday doorbuster.

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

This assessment is particularly in regards to the Youngsters Version. You may learn in regards to the total glorious Fireplace HD Eight’s hardware and efficiency on this assessment, and the additionally superb, however extra restricted Fireplace 7 right here.

A numbers recreation

The present Amazon Fireplace ($39.99 at 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) fundamental Fireplace 7. It is the pill as impulse buy, sponsored by the hope that you will purchase content material — books, movies and apps — from Amazon and create a recurring income stream for the e-commerce large.

The Fireplace HD Eight behind the Fireplace 7.

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Apart from the usual fashions, there are additionally the aforementioned Youngsters Version variations of the Fireplace 7 and Fireplace HD Eight. These kid-friendly fashions are bodily similar 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 suppose.

The Youngsters 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 Underneath.)  Here is what that further money will get you:

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

A two-year “no questions requested” alternative guarantee: The case is sweet, however that is the place the true peace of thoughts is available in. Smashed display screen? Dumped within the mud? Amazon will exchange 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 Youngsters Version of the Fireplace 7 will get you 16GB as a substitute of 8GB, whereas the HD Eight will get you 32GB as a substitute 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 Youngsters model over the usual pill.

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Be mindful additionally that Amazon often places these gadgets on sale. The Fireplace 7/Fireplace 7 Youngsters Version can at instances be as little as $35/$75 and the Fireplace HD Eight/Fireplace HD Eight Youngsters Version could be discovered for $55/$95 throughout Amazon gross sales within the US, with related value cuts usually operating within the UK.

Amazon Fireplace costs

Fireplace 7 (8GB)

Fireplace 7 Youngsters Version (16GB)

Fireplace HD Eight (16GB)

Fireplace HD Eight Youngsters Version (32GB)

Fireplace HD 10 (32GB)







US sale value (provided periodically)












The hidden charms of FreeTime

Of the extras included within the Youngsters Version of the Fireplace tablets, the subscription to FreeTime Limitless could appear the least helpful, not less than in comparison with the padded case, further storage and no-hassle alternative 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 gives.

I might beforehand heard in regards to the service, which mixes the really free FreeTime options, together with detailed scheduling and utilization instruments for folks 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 toddler (or kids, as you’ll be able to 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 huge class icons. It is also landscape-only, though some apps and ebooks work in portrait mode whereas they’re getting used.

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

My 6-year-old son Sprint has been utilizing FreeTime Limitless on his just lately bought Fireplace HD Eight for a number of weeks now, and is a giant fan, particularly of the concept that he can decide and obtain his personal video games with out getting me or his mom to log off on each particular person one.

Joshua Goldman/Proinertech

When establishing FreeTime, you choose the age vary of media you need displayed, and that adjustments the extent of books, movies and apps. I set Sprint’s vary at as much as Eight years outdated, 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 screen. Some work on both panorama or portrait mode, however others are restricted to 1 view or the opposite. There isn’t any pinch-to-zoom to learn textual content, which might 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 robotically advance the textual content. I can not say it can encourage self-directed studying for each child, nevertheless it labored on the one I do know, largely as a result of he may decide what to obtain by himself.

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The apps are largely video games. Many are of the free or freemium selection (and no, children cannot make further purchases on their very own), however a very good quantity are literally surprisingly premium. I used to be pleasantly shocked 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 number of for round $three every. One obtain like this monthly covers the price of your entire FreeTime Limitless service as soon as the included one-year subscription expires.

Getting in character

One fascinating strategy to seek for content material is thru a prime menu icon labeled “characters.” There, children can scroll by means of 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 out there ebooks, movies and apps from that class, and tapping on every particular person merchandise downloads or streams it.

It is an effective 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, nonetheless, have all three, and Sprint now has an instantaneous Phineas and Ferb e-book assortment.


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