Kids can be considerably less respectful of electronics than adults, to put it politely. Most parents have at some point reclaimed their phone or tablet only to find it has developed a new scratch or crack of indeterminate origin, or perhaps finger smears of an unknown substance. You can only watch your iPad sprayed by an unguarded sneeze or dig it out of the bottom of the toybox so many times before you resolve to get kids a tablet of their own.
Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the perfect solution. Packed with curated, age-appropriate content, wrapped in a rugged bumper with a no-quibble replacement warranty, and coming in at just $130 this is the child-friendly tablet of your dreams.
Set it and forget it
While you could buy a standard Fire HD 8 tablet with 32GB of storage for $110, Amazon has packed in way more than an extra $20’s worth of value here. The Kids Edition tablets are some of the most thoughtfully designed kid-focused electronics around, but to be honest the bar isn’t very high.
No parent wants to allow their child free reign in the app store to install whatever they like, but that means kids are constantly asking if they can install this or that and you have to check it for suitability and then install it if you approve. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition dispenses with this problem entirely. During setup you’ll create profiles for your kids, and there is the option to create multiple profiles and allow them to share a tablet if you like.
You’ll set their age and the age range of content you feel is suitable for them and Amazon will serve up a carefully curated buffet of cartoons, apps, and games that are age-appropriate. The content rotates, so there’s always something new and it includes lots of recognizable characters from Disney, Cartoon Network, PBS, Nickelodeon, and more.
The Kids Edition tablets are some of the most thoughtfully designed kid-focused electronics around.
There are more than 20,000 books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps and games on offer as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. It’s a subscription service that costs $3 per month for one child or $7 per month for a family of up to four kids if you have Prime membership, or $5 and $10 per month respectively without Prime. However, you get a one-year subscription included with your new Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet.
We’ve found that the kids love the content it serves up. They’ll watch Spongebob or Teen Titans Go, they’ll play Star Wars or Peppa Pig games, and they’ll even dip into the odd app that looks vaguely educational. They enjoy being able to choose their own content and install it without having to ask and the great thing is you have peace of mind they’ll never be accessing anything unsuitable.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Compared To
Excellent parental controls
There’s still some argument about how much screen time is safe for kids, but everyone is conscious that we need to impose some limits. Amazon provides extremely granular tools for parents to dictate precise limits and even break allowances down into specific goals, so you might limit your child to one hour of screen time a day but specify that 30 minutes of it should be spent reading.
It’s relatively easy to set parental controls on a Fire tablet and you don’t have to drill down into specifics if you don’t want to. You could just set a daily time limit, bedtime hours when the tablet can’t be used, and an age range and be done with it. But if you want to get more specific, you have the power to do it.
With the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, when the time limit runs out or it’s bedtime, your child will see a message pop up on screen to tell them. They can come and ask you to extend the time, but you’ll have to enter your PIN to do so. It should go without saying that you need to guard that PIN well.
You can also check the Parent Dashboard on any device at the Amazon website to see precisely how your child has been using their time on their Fire tablet. It provides a breakdown of their activity over the last seven days.
Curated content with limits
The Fire HD 8 runs Amazon’s Fire OS over a forked version of Android, which means you won’t find any Google apps or services on it.
As good as the curated content is, there will be times when your child comes to you and wants that iPad game they played or an app a friend has been talking about. You can install things from outside the FreeTime Unlimited program, but you’ll need to do it manually and you are limited to Amazon’s App Store, which has far fewer options than Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store. When our kids were younger this was rarely an issue, but as they’ve grown it has definitely become a problem.
Another issue you’ll run into is that some content can’t be streamed or played without an internet connection. Amazon has thankfully now added the option to download videos, but you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you’re well stocked before a car trip or vacation. Irritatingly, some games also insist on an internet connection for no obvious reason, but thankfully many don’t.
Although you can remove the garish pink, blue, or yellow case to reveal a less embarrassing plain black tablet beneath, we think your kids will also outgrow the curated content. Amazon suggests the tablet is good for kids up to age 12, but our 9-year-old has abandoned his Fire tablet now, complaining about a lack of things he wants to play or watch. Much depends on your child’s tastes.
Performance is just good enough
We’ve bought and tested several gadgets and tablets for kids and there are plenty of manufacturers out there talking up their wonderful educational credentials and then packing their content onto the cheapest, nastiest hardware available.
While the Fire HD 8 is certainly no speed demon, it performs well enough. There’s a quad-core processor inside clocked at 1.3 GHz and backed by 1.5GB of RAM. We’d like to see that climb just a touch higher, because there are sometimes long loading times and irritating pauses.
The display is an 8-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, which translates to 189 pixel-per-inch (ppi). To give you a point of comparison, the iPad scores 264ppi. The screen is sharp enough and generally bright enough that content is always legible, though viewing angles aren’t great.
You also get 32GB of storage in the tablet and there’s a MicroSD card slot to expand that by up to 400GB. The dual speakers have Dolby Atmos support and they’re loud and clear. There’s also an audio jack and a built-in microphone.
The front and rear cameras are both rated at 2-megapixels and the main camera can also record 720p video. The quality of most photos and videos is awful, but our daughter enjoys making both, so it’s a nice feature to have. If you already have a Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and you’re wondering what has been upgraded this year, it’s just the front-facing camera which went from VGA to 2 megapixels.
While the Fire HD 8 is certainly no speed demon, it performs well enough.
The best thing about the performance is the battery life, which Amazon claims can stretch to 10 hours between charges. We think six hours or so is more accurate for kids gaming and watching movies, but that’s still good.
Sadly, you have to charge via Micro USB cable and that’s tough for adults to plug in the right way first time, so kids can really struggle with it. We recommend snagging a cable with a detachable magnetic tip that stays in the tablet – this has enabled our daughter to charge the tablet up herself really easily.
Price, availability, and warranty information
Amazon charges $130 for the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and it comes with a special two-year worry-free warranty. That means, even if your child drops it and breaks it repeatedly, Amazon will replace it every time. The only thing you’re not covered for is theft or loss.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet is the complete, affordable package for young kids. It’s easy to set up, it works well, and it’s automatically filled with a rolling menu of good quality content. The case will keep it safe, but if it doesn’t you can get it replaced without any hassle. The limitations pale into insignificance next to the benefits.
Is there a better alternative?
If your budget allows, you might consider the Apple iPad (2018) at $330, but remember that you’ll also have to buy a case and a bunch of content which will bump the price up considerably beyond that.
How long will it last?
Thanks to the chunky protective case and the two-year warranty you can expect to get at least two years from your Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 9 years-old, we think this tablet makes the most sense.