I don’t think it’s completely clear from Amazon’s description, that the Kindle Fire Kids Edition is no different to a standard Kindle Fire (at half the price). What you actually get is a bundle, which still represents good value, and includes the following (prices correct at the time of the post):
- Kindle Fire 7″, without Special Offers (which normally costs £10 to remove). Total value: £59.99
- Blue or Pink kid-proof case, that you fit around the Kindle Fire. Value: £19.99
- Fire for Kids Unlimited provides a child-friendly user account with free content. Value: up to £7.99 per month (4 children with no Prime membership)
- 2 years of accidental cover. Not available separately.
If bought separately, this would add up to a hefty £176 if you have no Prime membership, and 4 children. And that doesn’t include the accidental damage also included.
Kindle Fire 7″ (2015 version)
The tablet runs Amazon’s own flavour of Android called Fire OS, with its own Amazon App Store (no Google Play Store). But if you’re familiar with an Android tablet, the interface will feel very familiar.
The screen is not quite HD, with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, but is clear and text looks sharp. Inside, the Kindle Fire uses a quad-core processor, but performance is not its strong point. Before being loaded up with user accounts, apps and games it’s runs fairly smoothly. But with 6 user accounts for our family, and stacked full of books, videos and games, there’s often a significant lag moving between applications, or changing user accounts. And sometimes the device will lock completely, with a reboot the only option.
But it’s not as bad as it sounds. The tablet plays most of the games my children enjoy and even manages Real Racing quite smoothly, which is a demanding game.
The tablet has a microSD lot to expand its storage, which is a good thing since it only comes with 8GB of internal storage. Frustratingly, even if you choose to install everything to external storage (we have a 32GB microSD card installed), it still uses up much of its internal storage. So the tablet needs regular housekeeping to avoid warning messages regarding the internal storage running low.
Child specific features
The tablet comes with a spongy, chunky protective case (see photo at top of post), which does a good job of protecting the tablet from drops. There’s no screen protection, but the only way to break the screen would be to drop it screen first, directly onto the corner of a table for instance, since the case forms a significant protective lip around the front. The case also makes the tablet very grippy, perfect for little hands.
You can easily setup up to 4 child accounts, which all have access to Fire for Kids Unlimited. You can also create two adult accounts, which you can use to setup restrictions for the child accounts. But you can also login to the adult accounts to use the Kindle as a normal tablet.
You can control all aspects of each child account individually: how much time they’re allowed on for; at what time of day and whether to allow (very limited) web browser access. You can even set goals: for example the child can play games after they’ve read for 15 minutes for instance.
Their Kids Unlimited subscription allows them to browse and install whatever they come across, through a child friendly interface. The content is somewhat limited, but some popular books like the Guinness Book of Records and the entire Harry Potter collection are available. There also decent video content, although more CBeebies, than CBBC I’d say. Most of the games are not blockbusters, and most my children hadn’t heard of. But there are some decent games, and there are no in-ad purchases or annoying pop ups.
A nice feature is that you can download and install anything you like from the adult account and enable them on the child accounts. And the Kindle Fire has a line of apps called Amazon Underground which are entirely free (Amazon label them Actually Free), with no in-ad purchases. Games such as Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds and Goat Simulator can be downloaded and added to the children accounts very easily.
Strangely, you can’t access music from the children accounts. Either free music from a Prime account, or music you’ve transferred to the tablet. Hopefully this is something they’ll include with a future update.
The overall package is hard to beat. I would like a faster tablet, with a higher resolution screen, but my children (aged 6 to 11) really don’t care about this.
If you’ve after a tablet for your children, with easy to configure parental controls, the Fire Kids Edition is worth considering. Especially if you’ll have more than once child using it.
- Good value. Nothing comes close from a big name
- Multiple child user accounts easy to setup and configure
- Parental controls very straightforward and flexible
- Kids Unlimited content
- Amazon Underground, completely free apps
- Expandable storage via microSD
- Limited internal storage. Even with a large microSD card, the internal storage fills up and requires housekeeping
- Only average performance. With 6 user accounts occasional lock ups which require a restart to clear
- Additional storage not always recognised after first powering up the tablet
- Some popular apps and games not available through the Amazon App store (eg Clash of Clans)
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