As the father of four children, I know how expensive tablets can be. The time had come to find a tablet for my children, and I wanted the best tablet for kids that was also affordable. My wife and I each own an iPad and my sons are constantly wanting to use them to play games. There are a couple of problems with this. First, iPads are generally expensive, even the iPad mini is a good chunk of money to let your 4 year old carry, drop and use daily. Second, all too often, kids will end up downloading games or other apps that can affect your use of your tablet. Constant notifications from installed games or apps are annoying and clutter up your screen. Additionally, this extra storage is storage you can’t use for your personal use. The last problem I’ve had with allowing youngsters to use my iPad is the fact that they like to take pictures and don’t know how or care to delete the ones that are less than usable. I can’t count the number of times I found a string of a dozen pictures of my ceiling fan that the four year old thought I needed to keep for some reason. After dealing with all these issues, I decided I needed to get the youngest boy his own tablet to play with.
Like I mentioned initially though, $300 is too much to plop down for a tablet that will ultimately meet its demise from a toy being dropped on it. I started looking into less expensive alternatives. Android tablets are generally much less expensive than an iPad, so I began looking at them. The first tablet I purchased was a Dragon X10 tablet (that link will open in a separate window, so you can keep reading) because it was well rated. It was about a hundred dollars, but turned out to be a poor purchase. The experience for the first couple of days was average overall, but then I started noticing an increasing number of apps being installed…and we hadn’t installed them. It turns out I discovered this tablet originally shipped with malware already installed and after activation, it started downloading more. I had to hack that tablet to get it to work halfway decently. It ultimately died after a coffee mug got dropped on the screen. I obviously don’t recommend them because of the malware. I found out why this tablet was so highly rated as well. Included in the packaging was a slip of paper encouraging a good review and promising a case in return.
After a lot more research, I discovered that most of the less expensive Android tablets only have 1GB of RAM. Now this RAM isn’t storage, it’s memory used to actually run the apps when they’re being used. Tablets with only 1GB of RAM can be found for less than a hundred dollars. These inexpensive tablets do work, but aren’t very “snappy” in response time. The Dragon X10 I had bought although equipped with a faster quad-core processor, didn’t respond as fast as my two year old Samsung phone. The difference was the memory. I kept looking to find a reasonably priced tablet with 2GB of RAM. There were many that had 2GB of RAM but were well over $200 and some had extra features my children wouldn’t benefit from. There were also that appeared to be what I was looking for, but the reviews appeared phony or paid. When a tablet under $90 has perfect ratings across the board, that’s an indicator of something shady going on someplace. Some negative experiences should be expected as no product is perfect for everyone. The sub-$100 tablets will work great for general web browsing and email, but they just won’t work as quickly launching games as a better-built tablet.
The product I finally decided to buy was an Acer Iconia 8″ A1-840FHD-10G2. While it’s only an 8” tablet, it met my budget and needed specs. Its quad-core processor wasn’t hampered by memory and the other reviews looked good. At less than $135 shipped, I figured it was worth trying. After it arrived, I bought a cheap case for it to protect the screen. I charged it overnight, and set it up the next morning. I couldn’t believe how much faster the response time was and apps were near-instantly launched. I compared it to a relative’s iPad Mini and the speed was nearly the same. It’s been able to run any game we’ve put on there for our son and it’s survived several weeks so far of constant use without any performance problems.
I did run into one small negative, though. The screen is incredibly high-resolution and ships with the screen brightness turned all the way up. It drained the battery after a few hours of use. I turned the brightness down on the screen (really, it was near blinding-bright) and it resolved the short run-time. My son loves it and his brothers even crowd around while he plays it. Since it’s an 8” screen, rather than a 10” screen, it’s also a more portable tablet and he can take it to a restaurant to use while we are waiting for our food. So far, it’s run every game I’ve loaded on it and handled them well. Clash of Clans and other graphics-intensive games the older boys play, launch and run like a champ. I’d recommend the Acer Iconia tablet as the best tablet for kids to anyone who needs a less expensive alternative tablet for their children to use. If you decide to get one, let me know of your experience in the comments!