When it comes to picking the best tablets for kids, there’s no shortage of devices to choose from – but do you go for the bargain basement devices in the knowledge that the kids will outgrow them, or is it better to invest in something with a longer lifespan and a case to keep it safe from drops and damage?
We think that for younger children an iPad or iPad mini may be overkill, and they’re hardly the cheapest options out there. But as manufacturers such as Samsung and Amazon demonstrate, it’s possible to get a pretty good tablet for children without spending an enormous amount of money.
In this feature we’re going to compare the Amazon Kindle Fire HD8 Kids Edition with the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8. As we’ll discover they have a lot in common, but there are some crucial differences we think you need to take into consideration. Which is the best kids tablet for your family? Let’s find out.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: design and display
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 interface.
The Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. Overall, the tablet is 233 x 184mm and 26mm thick. It weighs 550g.
The Samsung screen is also 8 inches and 1,280 x 800. The Tab A8 has no case so it is smaller and lighter than the Fire: it’s 210 x 124 x 8mm and 345g.
The Fire has 2MP cameras on the front and rear but the ones in the Samsung are better: it has 8MP in the rear and 2MP in the front, and the rear camera can record full HD video at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 30fps.
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: processor, battery life and storage
The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has a 2GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It also has a microSDXC card slot for additional storage, and its battery lasts for up to 10 hours between charges.
The processor in the Samsung is also a 2GHz quad-core with 2G of RAM. Storage is 32GB and it supports microSD cards up to 512GB. Battery life is a claimed 9-10 hours.
It’s important to take battery life claims with a pinch of salt as they’re usually based on non-interactive use, such as watching video stored on the tablet. If you’re going to be using interactive apps you should expect to be charging the tablets more often than the manufacturers say: a ten-hour tablet is likely to deliver somewhere nearer six hours in active use – which is still enough for even a long car journey.
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: operating system and apps
All of Amazon’s Fire tablets run Amazon’s own customised version of Android, which looks quite different from ordinary Android but works in much the same way. The Fire HD 8 connects to Amazon’s own App Store, which currently has over 60,000 apps, and its extensive selection includes all the big hitters such as Minecraft, Roblox and lots of games.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 shipped with Android 9 but is upgradeable to Android 10. Its App Store is the Google Play Store, which is bigger but a bit more lawless than the Amazon one.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: parental controls
The parental controls in the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition are very good, with a parent dashboard that enables you to set age ratings, bedtimes and per-activity time limits. It also enables you to offer positive rewards, such as “read a book for this long and then you can play games.”
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 has the same parental controls as other standard Android devices, which are pretty good, and the Samsung also has the Samsung Kids Home app to set time limits and monitor usage.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: price and verdict
The Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition has an RRP of £139.99 and is usually discounted during Amazon’s various sales events. The price includes a kid-proof case that we know is tough: it’s saved several Fires from accidents in our home. Amazon also includes a 2-year guarantee that includes accidental breakage as well as hardware faults: if it gets smashed to bits or full of jam they’ll replace it for free. Amazon also includes a free year of Fire For Kids Unlimited’s apps, games, videos and books; it auto-renews if you don’t cancel it at the end of the year.
Samsung has cut the price of the Galaxy Tab A8 to just £109, including a subscription to YouTube Premium for ad-free viewing – although we wouldn’t recommend letting young children have unsupervised access to YouTube, or to the Google Play Store that the Samsung connects to.
Given Amazon’s regular and aggressive discounting, you can expect to pay the same for the Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition as you would for the Samsung. On that basis, we think the Amazon tablet is the better buy – especially for younger children. For older kids the choice is harder because these tablets have very similar specifications. The Samsung has the better camera and the bigger App Store but you’ll need to be more involved in locking it down to prevent the kids from seeing things they shouldn’t.
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