On paper, the Kurio 7 almost lives up to its tagline: "The ultimate Android tablet for families". It has a customised interface for kids, full parental controls and web and content filtering, preloaded content for kids, a rubber bumper to guard against accidental drops and access to the full Ice Cream Sandwich Android interface for parents. It's not even absurdly expensive. See also: Group test: best tablet for children
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Turn the device on, and things bode well. The set up sequence, using the custom interface, takes you through connecting to your Wi-Fi network, setting the time and date (although this part falls back to the Android interface), creating user accounts, choosing age-appropriate content filters and which apps the account can access (including whether it can go online or not). It's also possible to set the times when a child can use the device, and a maximum session length. See all: children's tablets reviews.
For each user profile, you can choose an image or photo, change the interface's theme, add a password, restrict internet access to certain sites or use the content filters. The filters provide options for under 7s, 8-9, 10-11, 12+ strict, 12+ normal or custom. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?
In addition to session control where you can set a maximum length and a rest period between sessions, there's a global control where you can set a start and end time for each day - the device can't then be used outside of those hours.
See also: Arnova Child Pad review
It's also good to be able to choose which of the installed apps are available, so if you don't like the idea of your child playing a maths-based boxing game, you simply uncheck it and it won't appear in the menu when they log in.
Kurio 7: Apps
Although none would break the bank if you were to buy them yourself on another tablet, it's good to see Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, World of Goo, Doodle Jump and Where's My Water installed. Separate Boys Colour and Girls Colour apps are also decent, while MeeGenius includes 20 books which are read aloud, with the words on the page highlighted to help your child learn to read.
Other apps are less impressive. Toon Googles is a kind of cartoon YouTube full of American cartoons with no content UK kids are likely to know or demand, and the range of Mr Nussbaum games look as if they may have been made in the 1980s, presenting basic arithmetic puzzles and giving kids no reward for doing well. In fact, in some games it's practically impossible to win.
Aldiko is an eBook reader, but as with Kurio's own store, prices are in dollars and there's an inescapable US-feel to everything.
In fact, this brings us to a big bone of contention: the absence of the Google Play store. This is a shame, since it limits you to what's in Kurio's store. Naturally, the selection is much more limited, and some apps which are free in the Play store aren't in Kurio's.
Although the Kurio 7 supports Flash 11, some kids websites which use Flash wouldn't load, such as www.mrmen.com. It also failed to play videos on the popular Channel 5 Milkshake site. Plus, the low resolution means that most sites don't display properly, such as www.peppapig.com. As we'll see later, the tablet's slow processor can't really handle these Flash-based sites anyway, and they run extremely slowly.
Kurio 7: Content filters
Kurio provides its own web browser in the kid's interface and sensibly uses Google's SafeSearch for Kids which provides reasonable protection when searching for websites. Even if a questionable link appears in the results, Kurio's content filters will usually kick in and block the site.
No filter is 100% accurate, and you may have to resort to compiling a white-list of sites you're happy for your child to visit, but in general, the Kurio 7 is one of the better tablets to give young children unsupervised.
Kurio 7: Hardware
At this price, comparisons with Google's Nexus 7 are inevitable. The most noticeable difference is the screen resolution: 1280 x 800 is much higher than the Kurio 7's 800 x 480. Not only this, but the Kurio's screen is one of the worst we've seen in a modern tablet. Apart from the low resolution which makes text blocky and a little hard to read, it's a cheap panel with poor vertical viewing angles.
This is a problem when you rotate it to portrait mode, as anyone sitting to the right of you can't see what's on screen. It isn't a particularly bright screen, either and has a grainy look to it.
We also noticed that it could be unresponsive at times, making it impossible to adjust a slider, for example. At other times, it would work fine, even when colouring in a picture with five fingers at once.
Kurio 7: performance
We've already mentioned the sluggish performance when browsing Flash-based sites, but even attempting to navigate around Google maps is a frustrating experience. Pinching to zoom or just scrolling around the map results in huge lag.
Kurio 7: connectivity
There's 4GB of internal storage, plus a microSD slot to add up to 32GB more - something the Nexus 7 lacks. There are also mini-USB and mini-HDMI outputs (not the usual micro versions) and a standard 3.5mm headphone socket. You can use the HDMI output to watch videos and photos on a TV, and the USB input allows you to attach storage devices.
There's a front-facing VGA camera and a rear-facing 2.1Mp snapper. Both are poor quality and shouldn't be a reason to buy the Kurio 7. You can see an example of a photo taken with the rear camera on a sunny day below. We found the white balance was occasionally completely wrong, turning green leaves purple.
Battery life is also disappointing. In general use, it lasted less than a day before needing a recharge, and couldn't even manage four hours in our video-looping test which we run at full brightness.