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REVIEW: Kindle Fire KIDS Edition

I know this is a health + fitness blog but I’m also a mama so posts like this may pop up from time to time! 😉 Plus a lot of people have been asking me my opinion about the new Kindle Fire KIDS Edition I purchased for my boys so I thought I would share it on here! Here we go!

Kindle-FreeTimeUpon first opening up the package and turning them on I thought it was going to be love. Not only did it offer a 2-year “no questions asked” warranty but it also provided a free year of Amazon’s “Freetime” which is basically a Kid’s App Wonderland! We were formerly using iPad minis (that the boys have cracked more than once despite cases and screen protectors) and the Kindle Fire just appeared to be so much more durable within a child’s hands. However… After spending more than 40 hours in the car over the past week we had a lot of time to become VERY acquainted with the Kindle Fire KIDS Edition and we decided to return both of them. 

FIRST let me explain my reasoning for wanting to switch from Apple’s iPad Mini. I am a self-proclaimed Apple addict and I love all of their products. However, I just don’t think the iPad Mini was DESIGNED with kids in mind. One day Apple will come out with something specific to kids, I’m sure, and I’ll likely be one of the first people to buy it, but until then we were on the search for something else for a variety of reasons but mostly the two below.

1) In-app purchasing – the amount of in-app purchases on almost every app we downloaded was horrendous. My kids could barely open up an app, play a game, or do anything without being inundated with “purchase now to upgrade” in their face which resulted in a lot of crying an begging for me to put my password in so they could buy a game or upgrade. Miserable.

2) Durability – like I mentioned before, despite having cases on both iPad Minis they both (currently) have cracked screens. They break SO easily which is just not ideal when in the hands of a little kid.

NOW in comparing the Kindle Fire KIDS Edition to those issues, I think it resolved BOTH of them. However, it added new ones that we previously didn’t have to deal with. And those would be…

1) Horrendous battery life – When I say the battery life was horrendous, I’m not exaggerating. I would say they died within 2-3 hours of constant use. Our iPads could last DAYS without a charge. Being in a car on a 10 hour road trip having to continue to charge your kid’s electronic device via USB cable is not enjoyable for anyone. 

2) Ridiculously little storage with 8GB – Why on Earth would a device ever be made, for anyone, with 8GB. I just don’t know.  Especially when the way you’ve set up your platform is for as soon as a child clicks the brightly colored icon of the app, it immediately downloads it… So I’m sure you can imagine, when you hand the Kindle to your 3.5 year old and he sees a variety of his favorite characters smiling faces, he’s going to click ALL OF THEM which means you have about 10 apps downloading at once and you’ve maxed out your storage within the first 10 minutes of starting the device! I can’t tell you how many times I needed to take each device, log in to my “parent” account and delete apps so that the kids could have a functioning device again (you can’t delete or alter anything while in “kid mode”.)

3) Slow-moving operating system – I think a lot of the “slowness” of the operating system came from the lack of storage and the amount of “power” being used for all of those apps that are ongoing. However, the constant freezing and needing to re-boot the device to get it to go back to the home screen was frustrating to say the least. 

4) Difficult to navigate – Unlike the iPad there is no physical “home” button to press, instead, you need to swipe the screen at the top to bring down a menu bar which shows a small “home” icon that you need to click in order to go home, along with an arrow that will bring you back to a previous screen. This is all well and good for an adult, or even an older child, but neither of my kids were able to master that one very well (my 3.5 year old better than my 2 year old but neither very good) and it just led to a lot of screaming and frustration when wanting to swap out to a different game/book/app. Not to mention, when in “book” mode it really WAS difficult, even for an adult, to get out of that and go back to the home screen. 

So what DID we like?

We loved FREETIME. Like I mentioned before it really is like a Kid’s App Wonderland. All of the apps were fantastic, a wide-variety to choose from based various ages and NO in-app purchases that I encountered which was incredible. We loved the wide variety of apps, books AND videos to choose from and the kids really loved the selection as well. The idea that you’re paying one small fee a month ($2.99 – although free for the first year with the Kids Edition) and you have access to a HUGE library of the above, was a huge win for us. 

The parental controls were great! Being able to set timers (when it would shut off) was fantastic and also having the “kid” and “adult” accounts was great too! The kids do not have access to all of the things that were (annoyingly) accessible on the iPad. 

The overall construction and durability of the Kindle itself as well as the case – I know I mentioned this before but I have to emphasize again how much of a win this was for us. I personally have not been a Kindle user since 2010 and was completely unsure what kind of device I was going to get when this arrived. Definitely pleasantly surprised about the sturdiness of the case and the construction of the device itself.

So…What now? 

We actually went back and forth about this because we weren’t sure what we were going to do. We didn’t want to go back to the iPads BUT we felt that spending $180/each on these Kindle Fire KIDS Edition that we just weren’t super happy with was just too much money to spend. SO – we decided to go ahead and order a regular Kindle Fire HD (we chose to get 2012 models from Amazon (LINK) with 32GB for $119/each) and they arrived yesterday! Let me just say this. Could not be happier with that decision! We were able to get a comparable case on E-bay (LINK) and *so far* majority of the issues we had with the Kids Edition is nonexistent with this other version! Sure, we are sacrificing that awesome 2 year “no questions asked” warranty but in the scheme of things, it wasn’t worth all of the negatives. In my opinion Amazon launched the product too soon and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a new version soon with a lot of tweaks. 😉 

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