CNET First Look
Amazon's Kids Edition Fire tablets don't fear cracked screensThe Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 come with a two-year warranty, lots of kids content, and deep parental controls.
Kids and tablets go together like bulls in china shops. I've seen smashed screens, sticky buttons, and devices covered with all kinds of food and grime, and that's before you get to dealing with all the inappropriate apps and websites kids can access on a tablet, phone, or PC. Well, Amazon comes to the rescue with special kids edition versions Of its inexpensive Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets. These kid-friendly models are physically identical to the regular versions. The difference comes from accessories, software, and support. Now, at first glance it may seem crazy to pay an extra $50 for a kid's version of the same tablet, but the math actually makes more sense than you might think. With the kid's edition, a $100 for the 7 inch $130 for the 8 inch you get a rubberized bumper case, a two year note question questions asked replacement warranty and double the storage of the non-kids model. But the best part maybe a one-year subscription to free time unlimited which is Amazon's Netflix [UNKNOWN] subscription service [MUSIC] With kid-appropriate ebooks, videos, and games. That all adds up to way more than the $50 premium for the kids' version over the standard Fire tablets. My six-year-old son has been using free time unlimited on his recently purchased Fire HD 8 for a few weeks now, and he's a big fan, especially of the idea that he can pick and download his own games and books. One interesting way to search for content is through a menu icon labeled Characters. There kids can scroll through icons that run from generic like dinosaurs to very specific brands like Lego, Sesame Street, and Marvel and it shows you all of the available e-books and apps from that category. Depending on how old your child is, you can get all the Harry Potter books. Or just play a bunch of [UNKNOWN] apps which are big with the kid set right now. And if you download more stuff than the 16 gig seven inch or the 32 gig eight inch can handle, there's a micro SD card slot so you can add more space. You also get a deep set of parental controls. And you can set the system to go to sleep at 8PM and not activate again until 8AM, for example. Or different schedules can be set for weekdays versus weekends. But that's just the beginning. I can limit the total screen time to 1 hour, 4 hours, or leave it at unlimited. Or I can set time limits on specific categories from books, to apps, to videos. I can even set what Amazon calls education goals and require 30 minutes of book reading before allowing access to games. Even though the screen isn't much bigger, I'd suggest spending a bit more and getting the 8 inch over the smaller 7 inch version. Both have the same processor, but the bigger tablet has more RAM and feels a lot smoother and faster. The 7 inch [INAUDIBLE] just enough to be annoying. The Fire HD8 also has a higher resolution screen and better stereo audio. The one little speaker in the Fire 7 just doesn't cut it. Add a parent's password and you can use this as a regular fire tablet and watch all your R rated Amazon and Netflix movies. The main problem will be getting it away from your kids long enough to do that. But at these prices, you might as well snag a second non-kids fire tablet for yourself.