The best cheap tablets for kids: yes, there are quality children’s tablets under $100
(Also see: Best tablets for kids: 2015 roundup)
Cheap in price doesn’t have to mean low in quality. With the economy the way it is, there’s no reason to break the bank when it comes to getting a fun, educational device for your child. A children’s tablet doesn’t need to be as powerful as an iPad. There are plenty of quality children’s tablets for under $100. We’ve gone through customer reviews, company Web sites and reviews and discussions on other sites to zoom in on tablets your child will love. To find current prices, please see the product pages.
What to look for in affordable tablets for kids
The most important qualities in a cheap tablet for kids are the same as in any children’s tablet: hardware, quality of content, durability, ease of use, and parental controls, as well as battery life, as well as customer service.
Hardware: what operating system does it use? Is the processor fast enough to watch video? What about HD video? Is the screen resolution high enough? Is the screen large enough?
Content: It’s important that the tablet has enough variety of content so that your child can grow with it. The cost of adding apps and other material should be considered too. What’s preloaded onto the tablet? How much does it cost to add content? Is there free quality content available? Is the content personalized to your child, can you track it? Some tablets have only proprietary content that must be purchased or downloaded from the manufacturer’s Web site. Other cheap tablets for kids are just regular Android tablets where you can get any Android apps from the Google Play store.
Durability: Is the tablet rugged, will it survive drops, spills, and rough handling? Does it come with a protective casing, or do you need to buy one?
Ease of use: This is about design of both hardware and software. Is it simple to use? Are the parts easy for little hands to manipulate? Are there complicated series of operations to get to the content? Is it lightweight enough for young children to hold and carry it easily?
Parental controls: Some cheap tablets for kids have robust parental control, and others are simply lower-end adult tablets with no parental controls. Is there enough memory to accommodate different media, including video?
Battery life and power: What about the battery life and charging options?
Customer Service: It’s good to know that if you have a problem, you will be listened too, since inexpensive electronics are somewhat more likely to break or malfunction because of lower-quality parts.
Here are our top picks for cheap tablets for kids.
The price is super low and the functionality competes with considerably more expensive devices. With the option to buy a sixpack of Fire tablets at a discount, the Amazon Fire (see it on Amazon) is a great choice for kids.
Runs Fire OS 5 “Bellini”
7″ IPS display
Weight: 11 oz.
8 GB storage (OS takes up about 2.5 GB)
1.3 GH processor
screen resolution 1024 x 600, 171 ppi (low resolution, but higher than the original iPad and iPad2, which were 132ppi))
Battery life up to 7 hours
Micro SD slot takes up to 128GB SD card
preinstalled Amazon apps include Instant Video, games, Kindle
Child subscription to paid content for $2.99 a month (as of this writing, Nov. 2015)
Ad-free option for additional cost
front and rear cameras
over 250,000 apps, lots of free content
“sixpack” of Fires currently available (check site for coupon code)
The Amazon Fire is a low-cost tablet that’s perfect for kids and budget-minded adults alike. The tablet, while not the fastest, works smoothly for apps, including videos and gaming, at a very low price. Parental controls allow you to create profiles for children. The Amazon store has a great deal of kid-friendly content (you won’t be able to get apps from the Google Play store, only Amazon). And kids (and you) can draw using art apps. If you have a Prime membership, that considerably increases the content. You can sign up for a free month trial of Prime here.
The screen is low-res, but it’s fine for casually viewing Netflix and other streaming, and for reading the gazillion books available via Amazon’s Kindle store. The camera is not the best, and the sound isn’t exactly hi-fi, and the large-bezeled design is strictly utilitarian, but the many ways it gives you of enjoying content makes it a great value.
LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet
Ages 3 to 9
The LeapPad2 features cameras both in front and back, a video camera, and an MP3 player. Games are enhanced by its motion sensor. It features personalized learning, and comes in at a low low price. There is no wifi.
Screen size: 5 inches
Screen resolution: 480 x 272
Processor: 550 MHZ
Comes with an attached stylus.
Apps including Art Studio and Pet Pad. Other apps must be purchased either as apps or cartridges. Some kids may not want a whole lot of games and apps, but if they do, these cartridges and apps cost from a few bucks on up, with cartridges being more expensive.
Personalized learning that parents can keep track of and that grows with the child. The LeapFrog library has over 800 games, ebooks, and videos.
Hard plastic, but the screen can crack if dropped.
The battery lasts a generous 9 hours. It’s a good idea to buy the rechargeable battery set.
Some parents not happy with customer service. Complaints about the expense of the content and that it does not come with much content. There are no free apps in the store. App cards often go on sale though. All the same, LeapFrog content is high quality and you don’t need to worry about kids getting online.
Our rating: 4.5/5
Please see our longer review of this tablet here.
VTech InnoTab 3 The Learning App Tablet
2 to 9 (Amazon says 3-9, but content from Vtech for this tablet starts at age 2)
Screen size: 4.3 inches. Memory: 2GB storage, can be expanded to 4.
The Innotab comes in pink and blue. It’s popular among customers. VTech has been around since 1976 and creates innovative educational products. The Innotab is multilingual; you can set it to English or Spanish during setup. There are two styluses included; the stylus attaches to the tablet.
Children can’t use their fingers on the screen, only the stylus.
A rechargeable battery is available separately, and strongly recommended.
Content in the areas of reading, language, handwriting, geography, problem solving, science, social studies, and math is available for 4 age groups: 2-5, 3-6. 4-7, and 6-9. The tablet comes with apps and an ebook. More can be purchased on the Vtech site. It has a cool rotating camera and kids can add 55 special effects to their photos. It has a directional pad and tilt sensor to make games exciting, and interactivity includes being able to shake the tablet to cause things to happen. Kids can also make videos and import and play MP3s. We think this tablet is a great buy. This tablet does not have wifi.
Each cartridge has a game, app, and story mode, so your money will go farther with the cartridges. The tablet comespreloaded with 16 apps, including Art Studio and the Magic Bean Game.
It comes with 4 AA batteries, but we suggest buying the rechargeable battery pack. It can be charged via the included USB to a wall charger, or you can buy a separate AC adapter.
Amazon Prime is available with this purchase.
In the box: InnoTab 3 Learning Tablet, two styluses, “Read, Play and Create” cartridge, 4 AA batteries, USB Cable, and a Learning Lodge installation CD.
Our rating:4/5 stars.
NOTE: There has been a hack with this company in 11/15 (after this review was posted) that has been in the news and apparently privacy has been compromised. Hopefully the company will learn from this and improve its system, but be warned.
Our rating: 4/5
PPTab® 7 Inch Android 4.2 PC Tablet
There’s no gel bumper or other protection, so we don’t suggest this for small children.
The capacitive-touch PPTab is an Android tablet with wifi with a decent amount of internal memory and storage. Itsports a front and rear camera. Some adults even buy it for themselves. You can play videos, full-length movies, and music on it.
Screen resolution : 800 x 400.
Screen size: 7 inches
Memory: 8 GB of internal storage, 512MB DDR RAM.
It comes with Google Play and many common apps pre-installed. You can play games, watch YouTube, and keep social media updated. YouTube and Facebook preinstalled. In short, this is a real tablet. Some customers complained of poor battery life and some glitches, but overall, the reviews are very positive. This is not a tablet that’s very different than adult tablets, but you have the whole Android store and all media available for kids, so adding content to this will be inexpensive. There is nothing specifically child-centered about this tablet, it’s just a lower end Android tablet, but it’s suitable for kids.
Loading children’s apps onto this tablet will make it a straightforward and positive experience for youngsters.
Our rating: 4/5
2-12. Content can be customized for all ages.
Parents can create profiles for up to three users, and monitor their activities in the Dashboard. They can see every Web page visited and app used via theJournal feature. Parents can limit Internet usage, chat and talk, and app store purchases.
The bright-green bumper case does a good job of protecting this from drops.
Vivitar makes excellent cameras, so it’s no surprise that the front and rear cameras on this XO 7-inch Kids Tablet are of good quality. HD video plays fine on the high-resolution screen. The software is called Dream Explorer, and allows children to press buttons to explore different careers. For instance, pressing XO Engineer will lead them to various learning modules about what engineers do. Hundreds of apps and carefully chosen books, including classics, are preinstalled, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money adding them. Dream Explorer was developed by MIT Labs as part of the One Laptop Per Child Program. The content has been chosen by companies such as Oxford University and Discovery Communications.
The XO Learning Tablet can be used in English and Spanish. You can toggle back and forth between the Dreams interface and a regular Android tablet. It gets wifi, but has parental controls.
Customer service receives praise, and people were able to get new tablets when there were problems.
Battery life and power: The main complaint about the XO is problems with the charger. Children and adults should be careful when using the rather flimsy charging port. And sometimes even new devices won’t charge. But customer service did replace problem tablets.
Orbo Jr. 4GB Android 4.1 Five Point Multi Touch Tablet PC
Orbo Jr. 4 GB
Age group: 2 and up
Android 4.1 (Jellybean)
4GB expandable memory
One front-facing camera, good for video chat.
Included soft, slip-on gel cover comes in blue, pink, or red
Screen size: 7″
Screen resolution: 1024×600
Google Play; download educational apps from the app store, movies, music, books, videos; use Facebook, YouTube etc.
No child-specific content comes preloaded. Has wifi and is just a regular Android tablet. Some adults use this tablet too.
Parental controls: none
Ease of use
One Orbo user said her child has to press a bit harder on the screen than on a more expensive tablet. Overall, easy to use.
A surrounding case made of silicon gel protects the tablet well. The case is about 1/4: thick and has rounded, reinforced corners that jut out, giving it added shielding. If you happened to drop it on something sticking up and it hit the screen, the case would not protect the screen.
Users report good customer service.
However, some complain of defective battery charging, or getting refurbished items. If not for the problems being fairly common, we’d give it 4 stars.
Our rating: 3.5/5
Also see Best tablets for kids: 2015 roundup