Amazon offers kid-friendly versions of all its Fire tablets. We think the HD 8 is the best device for most kids. Compared to the older Fire 7 ($100), the larger screen is sharper and you get Dolby stereo sound with dual speakers. The Fire HD 10 ($200) (which also has all those features) is really big in kid hands, especially with the Kids Edition case around it, so it’s better suited for older children.
The Kids Edition versions are exactly the same as the regular Fire tablets, except they come with a rugged case and a two-year worry-free guarantee, which means Amazon will replace the tablet for free if your kids break it. It also comes with one year of FreeTime Unlimited, offering access to kid-friendly movies, books, games, and apps. It costs $3 per month after the first year.
Avoid the Fire 7
The Fire 7 is Amazon’s cheapest tablet, with a tantalizingly low price. But if you’re making more demands on your Fire tablet than a 3-year-old who loves Carl the Super Truck, you should probably cough up a little extra and buy an HD 8. Like we said in our Fire 7 review, the 7-inch screen will feel somewhat cramped and its screen resolution is noticeably pixelated. You won’t love the mono speaker, which is easily blocked by a single finger. Its battery also lags behind the other two tablets, and the 8-gigabytes of internal storage is pitifully small, mandating a MicroSD card from the get-go.
Amazon Sells Older Fire Tablets. Don’t Buy Them
Only buy one of the “9th Generation” or “10th Generation” Fire tablets. We suggest sticking to the tablets we talk about in this article (also listed here).
If you’re on a tight budget, the 2017 Fire HD 10 is often available refurbished for considerably less than the new one. The downside with it and other, older model Fire tablets is that they may not get software updates for a long as the current generation will. You’ll also miss out on the faster processor and more RAM in the newer model (and the USB-C).
It’s a pain, but if you’re buying an old device you should also cross reference the latest update available for the tablet you’re going to buy (find it on this sheet) with the latest version of Fire OS to see how up-to-date your software will be.
What’s WIRED About All Fire Tablets
A Faucet for Amazon Content: If you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service, you can consume all the included movies, music, TV, and books while also shopping for all the items you can get with its free two-day shipping or browsing your free Amazon photo storage. You can do most of the same things from an Android tablet or iPad, but the Fire OS interface is crafted specifically to deliver Amazon goods, with swipeable pages for each type of media Amazon sells.
Built ‘Good Enough’: Physically, Amazon’s Fire tablets are made of cheap-ish plastic, but they’re designed with enough care that the build quality won’t bother you too much. The Kids Editions are also some of the best-quality tablets for kids, encased in a rugged bumper, and all have MicroSD slots so you can add extra storage. (We recommend this 128 GB MicroSD card.)
Cheap: Did we mention the price? They all cost $150 or less, which is a price that would have legitimately shocked you a few years ago. They offer high value for the price. You can also get them with Amazon lock-screen ads, which will lower your price by $15.
What’s TIRED About All Fire Tablets
Non-Amazon Content is Lacking: The greatest strength of these tablets is also their greatest weakness. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime subscriber and don’t plan to get your video, audio, or books from Amazon, the Fire tablet line is far less compelling. They do have Alexa, so that could be a plus, but again, that’s tied deeply into Amazon’s content library.