The best tablets for kids include some extremely expensive options, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money on a tablet for the children. In fact, many parents would suggest exactly the opposite and recommend spending as little as you possibly can.
If you’re looking for a budget tablet for kids in 2021 the most tempting options are Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and the Kurio Tab Connect. Both are eminently affordable and are often discounted, too. If we have one bit of Amazon buying advice, it’s never pay the full RRP for an Amazon device: they’re always discounted not just for Black Friday and Prime Day but throughout the year.
But of course money isn’t the only consideration here. There’s the device itself, what it can do and perhaps more importantly, what you can make sure your children don’t do. Which budget kids’ tablet has the best apps, parental controls and value for money? Let’s find out.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect: design and display
The HD 8 is Amazon’s second smallest tablet but given the choice between the seven-inch and eight-inch display we think the extra inch is worth paying a little extra for. The screen resolution is 1,280 x 800 and it’s perfectly decent, bright enough to be used outdoors.
The Kids Edition of the Fire HD 8 is identical to the standard Fire HD 8 but includes a tough, rubberised case and also has a kid-friendly interface on top of the usual Amazon one. We’ve had a few Kids Editions now and can attest that its case is a real life-saver, preventing damage from drops that would otherwise have proved catastrophic – although if something bad does happen to the tablet Amazon will replace it, even if the damage took place during a tantrum.
The Kurio Tab connect looks very similar to the Fire but it's more rectangular. The display is an inch smaller and lower resolution, delivering 1,024 x 600 pixels. It too comes in a tough rubberised case and puts a child-friendly interface on top of its Android operating system. It’s splash-proof but not waterproof.
The Fire HD 8 is 233 x 184mm and 26mm thick. It weighs 550g. The Kurio Tab Connect is 180 x 100 x 18mm and weighs 570g.
Both devices have front and rear cameras but they are adequate rather than exciting. On the Fire HD the cameras are both 2MP. The rear camera on the Kurio is 2MP but the front camera resolution is not stated.
It’s worth pointing out that while the rubberised cases protect both of these tablets from drops they can be dirt traps, especially around the edges of the displays.
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect: processor, battery life and storage
As you'd expect at this price, you're not getting extreme power or performance here. The Fire HD’s processor and specs are comparable to a budget Android smartphone, with a quad-core 2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It also has a microSDXC card slot for additional capacity. Amazon promises battery life of around 10 hours between charges, although more intensive apps such as games will reduce that. That said, apps and games for younger kids rarely push tablets to their limits.
The Kurio’s specs are lower and comparable to a significantly older Android phone. It has a 1.3GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD to 32GB. Kurio claims seven hours of battery life and again that’s dependent on how you use it.
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect: operating system and apps
Both of these devices run Android, but in the Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition it’s an Amazon-flavoured version: Amazon has built its own OS, which is a variant of Android 9 Pie. For the Kids Edition it adds a child-friendly interface on top but you can switch that off for older kids or adults and get the standard Kindle Fire interface.
The Fire HD 8 connects to Amazon’s App Store, where you can choose from over 60,000 apps. The available selection includes all the big hitters such as Minecraft, Roblox and lots of games.
The Kurio also puts a child-friendly face on Android, but the Android here is older: it’s Android 6, which is nearly six years old now, so you may encounter compatibility issues with some more recent apps.
In addition to its own KIDOZ app, which offers online child-friendly games and education, the Kurio can connect to the Google Play Store. That has around 3 million apps, but you’ll need to limit things with parental controls as that’s a pretty lawless place. Be wary of free, ad-supported games: the age rating for the app doesn’t necessarily reflect the age-appropriateness of its ads. We’ve encountered several games for young children that suddenly switch to inappropriate ads for gory zombie games or otherwise adult-themed content.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect: parental controls
Amazon’s parental controls are excellent. The online Parent Dashboard enables you to set age-appropriate content ratings, shut down at bedtime and set time limits on particular kinds of activity. You can also set goals, such as requiring a certain amount of time spent reading before any games can be played.
Kurio’s parental controls are good too, with a filtering system called Genius that filters some 38 billion web pages to prevent the kids from seeing things they shouldn’t. As with Amazon you can have different profiles and different levels of protection for multiple users, and you can set time limits or block or allow specific apps.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Kurio Tab Connect: price and verdict
Although the Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition has an RRP of £139.99 it has been heavily discounted in Amazon’s recent sales events. That brings it close to the price of the Kurio, and we think it’s the stronger buy in every category.
Neither of these tablets is a flying machine but the Kurio is a lower spec device with an older operating system and feels quite dated compared to the Amazon one. The Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is faster, has more memory and storage, has a bigger, better display and even includes a two-year guarantee that’ll replace not just faulty Fires but accidentally broken ones too, no questions asked.
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