If you are eyeing the tablet world this holiday season, then you may be kicking up your heels in glee over Apple’s recent announcements about new iPad models and pricing. The lower pricing of the mini and the full-size provides cheaper iPads for teenagers and tweens who love iTunes and other Apple products.
As an iPhone fan, I love iMovie and Garage Band as apps that my tweens and teens can learn with so that they can excel in expression and creativity. I’m not giving up the phone for the kids, though, and an iPad is on my list for the household so that these interests can be facilitated.
As much of the Apple line is familiar, the thing that most captures my attention as a parent with the recent announcements is pricing. The mini is now within reach for those who have gandered from afar. There are many competing options, and Kindle Fire HD 6 offers a run for the money with regard to pricing and quality, providing a compact but powerful device that allows access to a huge library of content. If budget is your main factor, the lower pricing of the iPad mini may be tempting. However, if you really need to stretch your holiday budget, definitely give the Kindle Fire HD 6 a bit of consideration.
With nearly a week of the Kindle Fire HD 6 on the market, I’ve had a little time to evaluate the intuitive nature of the device in the hands of tweens and teens. I’ve also had a little time to evaluate my own ability to adapt given years of dedicated iPhone and Apple product use. There are definitely some Apple features that I miss with Kindle Fire, but I can get past them in lieu of having access to an affordable tablet computer for my kids.
From my own perspective, the home button used by Apple helps when you are stuck, and I much prefer this navigation to the touchscreen swiping needed to find the home button. I got stuck in an app and had a bit of trouble getting back out until I accidentally swiped from top downward to expose the home icon. The kids weren’t nearly as stuck on this issue, and they have adapted easily.
As a parent managing one device for multiple kids, I needed to spend a little time creating profiles. This is not terribly difficult, but it is time-consuming. The kids, on the other hand, can easily access their profiles for use of loaded features. I can load apps to the device and assign them to specific kids. The boys, after all, have no interest in butterfly math that my tween daughter likes.
Overall, the device seems more easily discerned by my tweens and teens than by me. I still need to come to terms with Kindle Free Time and other parental controls. My kids aren’t tremendously thrilled with my choice of educational apps, but we are just getting our feet wet. As we work through the process, I hope to adjust so that there will be a balance of educational and entertaining activities.
The last few years have certainly provided a roller coaster ride in the world of electronics, and perhaps there has been a bit of malaise toward some of these devices due to the fact that there have been so many cheap tablets introduced on the scene. The iPad still seems to rule the roost as the primo tablet for tweens and teens, and I can’t blame those who choose this option as the iPad and iPad Mini continue to be excellent for intuitive use while integrating quite seamlessly with iPod and iPhone. However, those of us on a budget or dealing with larger families may be holding our breath for a cheaper version of a quality tablet that provides an exceptional, not mediocre, experience. Behold, the Kindle Fire 6.
As I get used to my own iPhone 6Plus, I’m appreciating the fact that a 6-inch tablet should be excellent in comparison with tiny iPods and cellphones. My own Kindle Fire 6 is due to arrive at any moment, and I will continue to post as I introduce the device to my children for educational and reading purposes. The trick is to get their interest fixed on the benefits without losing them to a plethora of video games, but Kindle Free Time may be the perfect solution, allowing for different profiles and limits.
My tweens can become much too absorbed in games, but then, I can as well. However, the Kindle reading is an excellent tool that I want to tap into more. This will enable me to test the waters before diving in and getting additional cheap tablets for teens and tweens in my home. The $100 mark is a significant dividing line because of the fact that this isn’t just any tablet. It’s able to connect to a significant amount of content and services that I appreciate and use, and the ability to share without worrying about my device being ruined is a plus. Wait, there’s UPS! Time to test the new tablet! Will post about my opinions about this choice in teen tablet computers soon!
If you are keeping your eyes out for cheap tablet options, the Visual Land device, while basic, is regularly priced in the $149 range with occasional sales in the $100 range. If you need an affordable choice for your tween or preteen, then this may work well, though reviews at Best Buy (Visual Land – Prestige 7 Tablet with 8GB Memory – Red) are mixed. Some think it’s great for what it offers at the price. Others find it insufficient. Google Play isn’t available, but reviewers state that the Amazon App Store works well. You can explore further firsthand reviews of the device at Amazon.
In coming weeks, many parents will be thinking about cheap tablet options for tweens, teens and kids. There are lots of possibilities. The most important thing to remember is that cheaper tablets aren’t going to be the equivalent of an iPad. There are some affordable devices that have rave reviews, but most cheap tablets have very mixed reviews. One of the more affordable tablets that has excellent reviews is Kindle Fire. The new family of tablets in this series have been improved upon from last year’s highly successful original Fire, and the original is $40 cheaper at $159. I know tweens who have saved allowances and made a Fire purchase, and the device seems to be well-received at the preteen and teen age range. It’s worth considering if it’s in your budget. If you are thinking about a tech device in the below 100 range, my daughter really loves her Kindle ereader, and I have to say that it’s a great option for giving your preteen or tween something useful to learn tech responsibility.
If you are looking for a great tech gift for tweens, especially in the area of tablets and ereaders, you need to pay attention to stock issues. There’s a balance in waiting for the right deal and looking for the right device. It’s important to realize that if you are working with a specific occasion in mind that you pay attention to the trends with some of the devices.
As an example, the release of Kindle Paperwhite was in advance of my daughter’s birthday. Unfortunately, delivery was pushed back due to popularity in pre-orders. This is happening with other tech gifts for tweens, teens and kids, not to mention adults. Shortages and demand require fast action on some products but leave other viable alternatives more easily available. iPhone 5 is hard to find right now. Tabeo from Toys R Us sold out of preorder tablets for kids being available.
The shortage potential isn’t equal across the board, and it requires some research. If you find that you’ve missed the boat on your desired device, you can do a couple of things. Try calling around to local tech stores or department stores carrying your device. You may luck out. You can postpone your purchase for another occasion. You can provide your child with either a more advanced or less advanced model. For example, I had to think about a basic Kindle or a Kindle Fire Tablet for my tween. I opted for the ebook reader because I don’t want too many distractions associated with the gift. I also had the option of choosing a refurbished Kindle Touch, but since I wanted an extended warranty, I didn’t consider this choice for long. You have time before the holidays to approach tech purchases for preteens, but it’s important to recognize the happenings in the market.
There are plenty of tablets on the market now, and while the iPad is the premium version, the more extensive availability makes the technology more affordable this year. I love the fact that there are some great choices at reasonable prices. Finding the right tablet for a tween in 2012 is a function of availability and competition on the part of marketers. The options are great.
If you are willing to dish out $150+ for a handheld gaming system, then you will find the Kindle Fire update to be reasonable. I think that a tablet provides a great deal more value in use than a video game, though many tweens are particularly interested in the gaming aspects of tablet technology. Unlike the Nintendo DS or PSP Vita, though, a Kindle has a mature look and the ability to serve one’s needs long beyond the game absorbed days of the preteen and teen years. Your preteen may love the popular game choices, but music and video also integrate. With the Kindle Fire, ereading and ebooks are also a vital function. With parental controls, you can somewhat oversee and direct your child’s activities too.
I liken the tablet to a combination of all the biggest holiday gifts of the last decade bundled into one. Black Friday crazes over small computers (netbooks), personal DVD players, audio listening (iPod) and ereaders merge in the tablet. Which is the right tablet for your tween?
Budget Tablets for Tweens in 2012
There are tablets for less than 100 dollars on the market. Storage is limited and reviews varied. If you absolutely must select a cheaper tablet, read the reviews and make an informed decision. Recognize that a cheap tablet is not the equivalent of an iPad. Don’t expect it to have the same effect. At the lower age end of the tween market (9-10 years old), this may serve as a decent gift choice, an opportunity to demonstrate responsibility. You can explore various options inunder 100 tablets for tweens here, sorted according to customer ratings.
Tablets for Tweens between $100 and $175
The Kindle Fire is the main option in this range to consider, priced at $159.
The acclaim received last year for the first Kindle Fire was exceptional, and many parents report that it was an outstanding gift for kids, preteens and teens. This was when the pricing was $199. If you can manage the $159 pricing, it’s a good choice for providing all of those significant activities previously mentioned (video, music, reading and games) along with Web browsing.
$200 to $300 range Tablet Ideas for Tweens
The Nexus by Google is retailing at $199 for the 8 GB version, while the Kindle Fire HD is priced at $199 for a 16 GB model. There are others in this range, the iPad mini rumored to be among them when it releases. If the $499 iPad is out of reach, think about one of these alternatives.
There are many interesting tablet choices being discussed and there are many exciting prospects in terms of price and size. I’m excited about some of the lower cost tablets, especially when I consider how my tween children will deal with these. Some of the latest details to consider:
Kindle Fire for Tweens: One of the biggest competitors to the iPad, the original Kindle Fire made it possible to find a high quality tablet in the $200 price range. Amazon’s prep for its tablet release was really smart, developing a variety of content options before releasing the device. Reading, Video and Games all were well in place in advance. Kudos for thinking this through. The next edition is expected soon…add a camera and other features, keep the same price, and watch the earlier version adjust in price. This makes a great deal for the parent that doesn’t see fit to sink several hundred dollars into a tween tech gadget that may not survive the pre-teen years. (Read about Accident Protection)
iPad Mini for Tweens: The iPad Mini will definitely shake things up across the tablet market, especially in tween tablets and electronics. The reality is that a vast spectrum of tweens love iTunes for their music, and the integration of Apple products with Apple products is more intuitive and easy to manage. If the release of the Mini includes a decent price tag, then the device produces a new alternative to the iPod Touch and a better fit for the musically minded tween. With a more manageable price tag, parents will have a hard time resisting the mini.
Google Nexus for Tweens: The Nexus is a newcomer, looking to compete, but facing a big challenge with tweens in terms of content. The manner in which the content options are developed will determine whether the device snags a share of the tween market.
Meep for Tweens: With parental controls to be a major part of this tablet for kids, the device is designed with children in mind. For your tween at the younger end of the pre-teen age spectrum, it may be a lot of fun. For the older tween, 12-13, you will find that it may be less attractive.
Tweens love interactive devices, and tactile interaction in a tablet platform is easily learned. This is an exciting way to engage children in educational activity, and while many of the game apps seem silly, there are many that develop hand eye coordination and spatial understanding. Music, geography, and astronomy are more exciting than ever with iPad apps that allow all audiences, including tweens, access to a variety of disciplines.
Tweens may not be quite as concerned with processor speed or camera resolution. However, they will love the ever expanding choices in apps and activities. The tween really doesn’t need the 4G version of the iPad, and early reports suggest that many users exceed their data use early on with these. If you plan to get an iPad for your tween, the iPad 2 wi-fi version is a slightly less expensive option. Regardless of model, your best choice is most likely the wi-fi version. Additional storage versions are better if your tween has extensive music and media to use on the iPad, but a 16 GB can teach management skills, as your tween decides which material is most important.
2011 was the year of the toy tablet, with a huge focus on durable tablet toys for young kids. However, the early tween years, beginning at 9 or 10, were a little old for these toys. 2011 was also the year of the ereader competition heating up, with ereader tablets hitting the shelves in droves. Prices got competitive, and accessibility improved. As we survey new tablets for tweens in 2012, it’s clear that there will be a battle for your loyalty, and for your tween’s.
A new Android tablet is on the horizon. Details on the Meep! tablet are still forthcoming, but Oregon Scientific has incorporated the fun element of cartoon characters into a durable tablet design. This will pose a serious source of competition to the tablet toys of last year, as the interaction via wi-fi allows for easier access to music, video, and a host of free and inexpensive kid-friendly apps. Tweens will find this a real tablet, suitable for their interests, not too babyish. Younger children, though, will have access to the use of a real tablet. The biggest impact will be determined by the pricing. For this tablet to be attractive from a parent’s perspective, it should be competitive with the Kindle Fire, if not somewhat less expensive. Time will tell exactly how this plays out. It should be noted that there are many interactive musical instruments in the works to accompany the Meep! tablet, making its potential as a teaching device even more exciting.
Rumors were flying during the January CES show that another iPad release is on the horizon. While the official release will determine the specifics, a budget friendly version would be exciting. Many of the toy companies are banking on the popularity of the iPad in their latest releases, with interactive devices for use with iPad apps taking center stage at the 2012 Toy Fair. Watch for Mattel’s AppTivity, which includes a broad range of interests. Interactive cars, of course, but don’t miss interactive Angry Birds AppTivity selections, along with Fruit Ninja. Additionally, look for interactive gaming controls which work with the iPad. Interactive games, old favorites like The Game of Life Zapped Edition(pictured above, now available) and Monopoly, are on the slate, with game play incorporating the use of iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. iPod and iPhone interactive devices also include a Nerf Lazer Tag series, to be released later in the year.
It may be challenging in choosing the best tablet for your tween this year, but if you start saving now, you’ll be ready when these devices are released.
When you are thinking about purchasing tablets for tweens, you may shudder at the cost of an iPad, especially if your tween has a tendency to mishandle electronics. Still, that iPad is an exciting tech gadget, one of the most requested by young, and old. However, similar in operation to other Apple touchscreen devices, you may want to reconsider the iPad as a tween tech gift, and lean toward iPod Touch.
Some of the determining factors in your decision will include cost, device size, and your own tween’s ability to care for electronics responsibly. The 16 GB wi-fi iPad 2 is priced at $499, while the 8 GB iPod Touch retails at $199. If you are looking at the crunch on your budget that an iPad will cause, you can opt for the lesser cost of the iPod Touch for your tween. You can also examine lower cost tablet computers, such as the $199 Kindle Fire.
Device size is hugely different between the iPod Touch and the iPad. Both are portable, but the iPod Touch is more so. An iPod will fit into the tween pocket, which can have good and bad ramifications. It can go through the wash, for example. An iPad is less likely to be washed, but isn’t going to fit into a pocket for easy tween transport. Both will fit into a backpack, an issue that could be a problem if your middle schooler decides that it would be cool to show off his tech gadget at school. Few retailers offer accidental protection plans for iPad, but accidents are very much a possibility with a portable tween tech device. You are more likely to find a budget friendly protection plan for iPod Touch, a smart investment if you can’t afford to replace a washed iPod…we’ve come close to that situation, as my son washed his iPod charger…the iPod itself was not in the pocket, thankfully.
It may be tempting to opt for black Friday special and deals on tablets, and this, too, could be a cost saving way to approach your tween’s requests. However, if your tween has already devoted significant funds to iTunes content, you will want to investigate music apps for those devices.