Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition Review

Updated October 31, 2014
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Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition Review
Bottom Line

The Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition offers good performance for its category, coupled with strong parental controls, rugged construction, a bumper case that stands up well to drops, and a nearly unbeatable two-year warranty. Since it's built around a tablet that's also designed as a cheap alternative for grownups, it's less likely to wind up in the bottom of a closet if your child outgrows its walled garden.

ProsGood performance for child's tablet, Rugged, removable case, Multiple profiles, Terrific parental controls, Free year of Amazon FreeTime UnlimitedConsNo web browser

Breaking it down

Performance

Typical for a cheap tablet, outstanding for a child's tablet. Tablets designed to be used by children are often disappointing performers, given their price. The Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition is something different. It's an upgrade to either the 7-inch Amazon Fire HD 7 (Est. $120 and up) or the 6-inch Amazon Fire HD 6 (Est. $100 and up) that adds child-oriented content and protections to those tablets. Other than screen sizes (and the addition of stereo speakers rather than a mono one on the HD 6), the two tablets are identical -- with a hardware line up that's in line with what even pricier cheap tablets offer. That includes a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of memory, a 1,280 by 800 display, and either 8 GB of storage or an optional 16 GB (Est. $20). CNET reports that performance is in line with what should be expected from a "midrange slate." PCMag.com, however, finds performance to be a weakness.

Features

Kid-oriented features galore. Amazon's parental controls and child-safe content regularly draw kudos. The tablet supports multiple profiles, so you can select age-appropriate content for up to four individual children. In addition to screening content, FreeTime lets parents specify limits to different activities -- for example allowing more time for reading or educational apps, but less time for games or movies/TV. A year of FreeTime Unlimited (normally $4.99 per month for those who are not Amazon Prime members) is included. FreeTime Unlimited allows unfettered access to apps and streaming media that's been deemed to be appropriate for the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition's target age range of 3 to 8 years old. Kids are barred from making purchases without a parents' permission and access to the Web browser is disabled. That last point draws some criticism; however those concerned with the best protection for their young ones may be pleased as independent testing of most other children's tablets found that inventive youngsters can often make short work of circumventing their browsers' limitations. The outsized, removable bumper case that's included with the Kids Edition may be the closest thing to bullet proof of any children's tablet. PCMag.com drops the tablet with the case 10 times from chest height, and it survives falls that reviewer Sacha Segan says would have "shattered" an unprotected tablet. If that's not enough, the Kids Edition comes with a two-year warranty that even covers breakage -- no questions asked. Finally, Amazon Tablets usually ship with "Special Offers" screen savers with advertising offers. Those are removed in the Kids Edition at no charge (getting rid of them in an "adult" tablet is usually a $15 upcharge).

Ease of use

Easy for kids, not-so-much for adults. Looking through user reviews at Amazon.com, there's a bit of a disconnect between the fairly positive reviews for the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7, and the so-so reviews for the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition. Reading down, however, many of the complaints come from adults that are challenged by getting the parental controls set up properly. Others are unhappy that, while you can select access to other content, you can't filter FreeTime Unlimited content. The fact that FreeTime Unlimited streaming content requires a Wi-Fi connection and can't be downloaded and stored on the device also draws disappointment. Still, many -- even some that post negative comments -- say that their kids love the device. Slashgear.com's review covers some of the steps to follow to get the tablet set up and ready for your child.

Our Sources

1. Laptop Magazine

Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition Review, Anna Attkisson, Nov. 19, 2014

Laptop Magazine award the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition an Editors' Choice award. Anna Attkisson looks at the tablet built around an Amazon Fire HD6. "The Fire HD 6 Kids Edition is an excellent kids' tablet that offers robust parental controls and gobs of free content in a durable design backed by a strong two-year warranty," she says. Elsewhere on the site, the tablet is named the best tablet for kids for 2014.

2. PCMag.com

Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, Sascha Segan, Nov. 6, 2014

PCMag.com gives a mixed review to the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition tablet. Looking at the 6-inch version, Sascha Segan is not overly impressed with performance. Some aspects of the tablet do draw admiration, including the effectiveness of the bumper case, the two-year warranty and FreeTime Unlimited, "with its huge whirlpool of high-quality, branded content."

3. CNET

Amazon Fire HD 6 review, Xiomara Blanco, Oct. 13, 2014

CNET looks at the Amazon Fire HD 6, one of two tablets available in Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition form. Xiomara Blanco is impressed. "The 6-inch slate rocks a sharp IPS screen, performs smoothly, and offers a feature-filled, user-friendly operating system," something that can't be said about most tablets in its price range, she notes.

4. SlashGear.com

Fire HD 6 Kids Edition Review: Christmas Morning, Chris Burns, Nov. 12, 2014

This review walks parents through some of the steps of setting up the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition tablet for the first time. Chris Burns says that once everything is set up properly, it passes his test for what makes a kid's product a "winner" -- it holds the attention of his three-year old.

5. ConsumerReports.org

Amazon Fire HD7 Kids Edition is not just for kids, Carol Mangis, Oct. 29, 2014

In a free-to-read, first-look report, ConsumerReports.org reports on the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition, this time using the Amazon Fire HD 7. The article provides hands-on impressions and usage hints, but the Fire HD Kids Edition has not yet undergone formal testing. Some "potentially vexing" limitations and possible trouble spots are noted, but Carol Mangis says that "The Fire HD Kids Edition can be a great option for a tablet that families can share."

6. TheVerge.com

Amazon has finally cracked the kid tablet code, Dieter Bohn, Sept. 17, 2014

Dieter Bohn does not formally test the Fire HD Kids Edition, but is impressed with its value and potential. The tablet itself is not that impressive, he notes, but is better than the norm for a device aimed at children. "There have been many attempts at making tablets for children, but the vast majority of them have been so poorly-specced or had so few apps that they have been more insulting than educational," he says.

7. Amazon.com

Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2014

More than 340 owners have weighed in on the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition. Reviews are split between those who love the tablet, and those who are disappointed. Feedback indicates that kids are largely pleased, but parents take issue with set-up challenges, lack of content filtering in FreeTime Unlimited, the need for a Wi-Fi connection for some content, or disappointing performance, albeit mostly when compared to more powerful, upscale tablets. Elsewhere on the site, the Amazon Fire HD 6 and Amazon Fire HD 7 collectively draw more than 2,000 reviews and good feedback -- both earn 4.2 stars.

8. BestBuy.com

Amazon - Fire HD Kids Edition - 6" - 8GB - Black with Blue Case, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of November 2014

There are fewer reviews here of the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition -- just over 30 -- but higher ratings than at Amazon.com. It earns a grade of 4.5 stars, and roughly 94 percent of owners say that they would recommend the tablet to a friend.