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Posted on Sep 10, 2012

The 2012 guide to buying the best tablet for your kids

The 2012 guide to buying the best tablet for your kids

Searching for the best tablet for kids in 2012?

Think carefully about that.

Is there one best laptop for adults? How about one best games console for teenagers?

This article is not about holding up one tablet and firing a sales pitch at you to tell you why it is the best. Instead it will give you the questions, knowledge and resources you need to seek out the best tablet for your child.

For younger children, who don’t need WiFi access, take a look at my comparison of the latest LeapPad and InnoTab gamers.

Tabeo from Toys R Us

What’s your budget?
$150-$200 will buy you a 7 inch tablet good for media and games, and OK for browsing the Internet.

As the budget increases so does the size of the screen, responsiveness, quality of the media playing and browsing experience and overall functionality of the tablet (it will do more, and it does it quicker).

But for a child who wants to play some fun apps, a few educational games and do a little research online the $150-$200 budget is a good place to start.

If you are looking for a younger child, say around 3-6 years, you might want to check out the InnoTab2 and LeapPad2 educational gamers.

Meep from Oregon Scientific

What do you need?
Make a list of the features you would like your new tablet to have, and make a note as to how important each one is.

Typical features to look for include:

  • Front and / or rear cameras – do these do photos and video footage?
  • Is there an SD card slot, or USB cable point so you can transfer content from your PC to the tablet and vice versa?
  • WiFi connection – will you be accessing the Internet on this tablet? Do you want parental controls on the content your child is able to view?
  • What are the available apps like? Are the mainstream games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja available on this platform? How much does each app cost to download?
  • What accessories will you need? For example, some of the higher priced tablets can be put into keyboard docks so you can type on it like a regular laptop.
  • Will you want to us the tablet for Skype?

Kurio from Inspiration Works

The technical stuff
To make the wisest purchase you really need to get into the technical stuff.

Here’s the essentials to look out for:

  • Size of the screen – this is measured in inches and taken across the diagonal, corner-to-corner of the screen, excludng the casing.
  • Screen resolution – how clear and detailed the images will appear. Higher numbers indicate better quality. 1280 x 800 indicated HD quality images.
  • Speed – dependent on processor speed and size of RAM. Higher numbers mean a more responsive tablet.
  • Memory – all tablets have some built in memory, which can be anything from 2GB to 64GB. Most tablets come in a range of memory sizes so you can find a model to match your budget, as prices increase considerably with more memory size. You should also look at the storage options outside of the internal memory. Does the tablet have access to free cloud storage like the Kindle Fire? Or does it have a micro-SD card slot so you can expand the memory when you need to?

Consider your options
I’m not listing them all the tablets available since there are dozens of them and a new one seems to be released every 25 minutes.

For less than $200 for a good all-rounder, start off by checking out these 4:

  • Tabeo from Toys R Us
  • Meep from Oregon Scientific
  • Kurio from Inspiration Works
  • Kindle Fire from Amazon

  • Kindle Fire from Amazon

    Listen to other parents
    Parents that have already gone through this buying process will be the most useful source of information and inspiration.

    Take a look at the Amazon discussion forum for tablets. You don’t have to enter into a conversation if you don’t want to, just browse through other people’s questions and read the advice the received, then match it to your situation.

    I picked up this great comment from someone on that forum:

    So my new advice for parents and anyone else buying a tablet for kids is to not worry too much about all of the specs and brand name, just buy one that is of reliable quality and within your budget, and be sure it will play the games or other media they want. If possible, set it up and download some games or other fun things before you give it to them. A few kids might care about the screen size or the logo on the back, but many will be more impressed if it already has a bunch of fun things to do when they turn it on the first time.

    You should also check out the bestselling tablets list so you can see what is popular, and also read other customer’s ratings and reviews of the products.

    Ready, set, shop

    So whilst I accept I have not shown you THE best tablet of 2012, I do believe I have equipped you with the knowledge you need to find the best tablet for your child.

    Good luck, and please like, share and tweet if you found this post useful.

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    Cheers, ta, and thank you very muchly.