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

We test, rank and rate the 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.

In particular, Amazon has a great feature on its tablets called FreeTime. You can set up password-protected profiles so you can give each child access to only the books, games and apps you want them to see. Plus, you can set different time limits for reading and playing. The fact that it starts from just £79 is why we think the new Amazon Fire HD 6 is one of the best choices for kids right now. 

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.

If you want a bigger screen - or a proper Android tablet - then you do do a lot worse than the new Tesco Hudl 2. This has a great 8.3in screen and costs a very reasonable £129. It has great parental controls, and a child-friendly web browser. You'll probably want to budget for a case to protect these tablets, which will bump up the price a bit.

If you're quick you might be able to pick up an original 7in Tesco Hudl, which is being sold alongside the new version. The price has dropped to just £79, making it really good value.

We've included the original iPad mini (the larger iPad can be too large for small hands) because it's still on sale and now costs less than £200. But bear in mind that you might be able to get a refurbished iPad mini 2 for the same price if you keep your eyes on Amazon's website.

See also: 28 best tablets you can buy in 2014.

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

9. 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?

8. 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.

7. 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.

6. 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.

5. 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.

4. 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.

3. Tesco Hudl 2

The cameras are still not great, but in almost every area the Tesco Hudl 2 has been improved and it's still a bargain at £129 or even less with ClubCard Boost. The software is good but takes up valuable storage space and non-Tesco customers won't get the most out of it. A great screen, decent processor and microSD card slot make this an excellent tablet.

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 Fire HD 6

It isn't perfect, but the HD 6 is really good value. Performance is well above the level you'd expect at this price, as is the quality of the screen. Some might find the 6in screen too small, though, so it's worth trying to track one down before buying.

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