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September 10th 2012 1:43 pm

Why are companies still making toy tablets?

There's no question that kids love tablets. A touch interface is far more natural than using a keyboard and mouse, and the wealth of education software and games available for iOS and Android -- not to mention easy access to books and streaming media -- means that there's never a shortage of things for kids to do with a tablet. However, is there really a need for toy tablets? Manufacturers certainly seem to think so. In the past couple of days, Oregon Scientific has rolled out the MEEP, and Toys R Us announced the Tabeo. Both are slightly ruggedized, underpowered Android tablets that sell for $150.

A couple of years ago, this might have seemed like a good deal: give the kid a basic tablet that's less likely to break when they drop it, and protect your own iPad or Galaxy Tab. However, with the Kindle Fire now going for $159, there seems to be little need for a kids-only tablet -- especially given the wealth of media options available for the Fire, its new, better, parental controls, and its beefed up specs. Worried that the kid will drop it? Buy a case. You'll spend a little more than you would for the MEEP or Tabeo, but your kid will have a better tablet -- and in a pinch, you can use it too, something you might not be able to do with a kiddie tab.

What do you think?

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4 replies

I had considered such a purchase the race to the rock bottom of price began. At this point I would probably opt for an N7 or Fire with an extra rugged case, but I would wait till Android AOSP or the Fire OS implemented true separated user accounts so I could have an account for my kid (a restricted and monitored account).

There are rumors of bits of such multi-user account structuring within Jellybean so I hope this shows up soon. It's really time for this to happen as tablets probably second only to the "computer room" or den family PC are the devices that all family members use from time to time.

I'd expect Apple to continue on expecting every individual to have a personal iPad, but who knows - maybe they're smart enough to add this to iOS.
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Check out the Nabi 2, which is the standard bearer for kids tablets. The manufacturer had an exclusive with Toys R' Us for their first tablet, which was also underpowered, but TRU (at least according to the maker of the Nabi, Fuhu) allegedly sabotaged sales and gleaned as much as they could about making a tablet in order to come out with their own, the Tabeo. However, it is essentially a copy in terms of hardware of the original Nabi.

The Nabi 2, on the other hand, is a vast improvement, and actually has the same processor as the Nexus 7, plus the microSD slot and mHDMI out that the N7 lacks. Only downside is that it doesn't include Google Play, but most of these kids tablets do not (the Tabeo doesn't). If you really want Google Play on your Nabi 2, you can root it - there are instructions on XDA-developers. With the Nabi 2 you can have it go to a kid-friendly mode, but you can also switch to stock ICS 4.0 and use it as you wish when your little one goes to sleep...
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SO, i am a parent who is worried about spending 150 on a "child's toy". whats the best bang for my buck? i already purchased the tabeo as a christmas gift for my son, so i am able to return this if need be. i just need some one to basically tell me what to get!
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If you want an excellent kids tablet, the best out there is the Nabi 2. Best tablet AND best support. Check out the Nabi Facebook page to see what I mean. This is one of the best companies I've ever dealt with for any product. On the contrary, TRU is one of the worst that I've dealt with. The Nabi is a little more expensive at $200, but it will LAST. It is not a toy, but has the same processor as the Google Nexus 7 tablet, and basically has gotten excellent reviews all around. Check reviews here, on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy. All of these places sell it, plus Target.com, Gamestop, and recently Radio Shack. As opposed to the Tabeo being sold one place - TRU! :)
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