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11 best kids' tablets: What's the best tablet for children?

We test, rank and rate the 11 best children's tablets

Technology manufacturers were quick to realise that kids love to play and interact with tablet PCs. So much so, several tech firms have started making their own dedicated children's tablets, but some parents may prefer to adapt standard adult tablets for their gadget-savvy offspring.

Here's where we review and rank the 11 best children's tablets available to buy in the UK in 2014.

We've included the iPad mini (the larger iPad can be too large for small hands) and a few Android tablets because these will better suit older children. The 2013 Amazon Kindle Fire HD is here because a recent update adds a locked-down kids' mode, and it supports multiple profiles.

We think kids aged over 7 would probably prefer an "adult" tablet, but do remember to install proper parental controls to restrict the Internet's multitude of inappropriate content. See also: 28 best tablets you can buy in 2014.

And, while we're in lecturing mode, we should also point out that parents should be keenly aware of the amount of screen time their kids are exposed to. For more on this see: How much screen time is healthy for children? Health risks of too much kid screen time.

Tablets are great for kids – if they're not on them all day – so pick wisely for the best tablet for your child and family.

11 best children's tablets: What's the best tablet for kids?

10. Kurio 7

The Kurio 7 has a decent interface for kids, and some good pre-loaded content. Its content filters are some of the best we've seen and don't require a paid subscription. However, the hardware is disappointing: a low-resolution, occasionally unresponsive screen with poor viewing angles, mediocre battery life and a slow processor that can't even handle websites such as Google Maps. The concept is good and, had the hardware been up to scratch, we'd have liked the Kurio 7 a whole lot more. As it is, it fails to live up to its 'ultimate' description and you're better off buying a Google Nexus 7, a protective case and installing a child-friendly web browser and the Kid Mode app.

9. Arnova ChildPad

The ChildPad looks the part but we can’t recommend it to parents because of its sub-standard games and fiddly interface. The range of games and learning apps on the Leapfrog LeapPad and VTech InnoTab are superior to these Android offerings, although they pale into insignificance compared to those on offer on more expensive iOS devices. Given a better interface and much-improved apps and games, plus the promised more secure parental controls the ChildPad would be compelling. Currently, it’s just not good enough.

8. Vtech Innotab 3S

It may be a slow and potentially costly system, especially if you go down the cartridge route, but the children we gave it to really liked it. Kids eh?

7. Tesco Hudl

The Tesco Hudl is a budget tablet with a nice design and good build quality. Key specifications are better than the price tag suggests such as the processor and good quality 7 in screen. A microSD card slot and Micro-HDMI port are two reasons to opt for the Hudl over Google and Amazon alternatives.

6. Apple iPad mini

The iPad mini is a premium small tablet, with a price to match. It's a shame Apple couldn't have included a Retina screen and newer processor - expect the iPad mini 2 to get those updates when it launches later this year. This Wi-Fi only model also lacks GPS. It's not cheap by any stretch, especially if you want more storage spare or the 3G/4G cellular version, but it's great value compared to a full-size iPad. You can save a chunk by buying a Nexus 7, Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD, but if you must have an iDevice, it won't disappoint.

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids

This is one of the better kids’ Android tablets we’ve seen but with a street price of £150, it’s not cheap. Yes, you get Android Jelly Bean and access to Google Play, but the sluggish performance and poor cameras combine with the missing user profiles and imperfect screen-time management to outweigh those advantages. The new Kindle Fire HD costs £119 (or £139 if you want 16GB of storage) and has a much better kids’ mode with user profiles and great screen-time management. The price doesn’t include a child-friendly case, but these are sure to appear now that the FreeTime feature has been added.

4. nabi 2

It's not without its faults, but the nabi 2 is currently one of the best Android kids' tablets around. It's rugged and has an easy-to-use kids' interface. You're unlikely to want to use it yourself, but it does allow you to use the full Android interface, and now has Jelly Bean and access to the Google Play store and Google apps.

3. Kurio 10S

The Kurio 10S has reasonably good child-friendly software and decent parental controls. A year on from our original review, the addition of Google Play and other Google apps is a major bonus and means you're not limited to the Kurio store. Keeping Wi-Fi turned off improves battery life, and at the current discounted prices, it's not a bad deal at all.

2. LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi

The specially built-for-kids LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi are similar in specs and functionality. The larger, 7-inch, Ultra XDi has twice the storage as the 5-inch LeapPad 3 but younger children may prefer the 3's smaller size and weight. We think their upper-age range is seven rather than Leapfrog's claimed nine, but our eight-year-old tester still enjoyed her time with both. While the hardware is cheaper than normal tablets note that the software can be more expensive. The advantage of Leapfrog software is that, while not as cheap as normal mobile apps, it has been built by educational PhDs with both fun and learning in mind. With its white-list web browsing it's safer online than most adult tablets, although it's limited in its scope from that point of view. The LeapPads are bestsellers every year and the latest models build on an award-winning and popular formula without any huge leaps forward in terms of design or functionality.

1. Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013)

Since we initially reviewed the Fire HD, Amazon released an update which adds a new feature: FreeTime. this turns the Kindle into a great tablet for kids, allowing you to create separate user profiles and limit screen time. Usefully, you can set different limits for reading and everything else, so kids can't sit there playing games all day long.

If you can live with the limited amount of storage in the 8GB model, the £119 price makes this a great choice over virtually all other dedicated children's tablets.

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