- Tons of top-quality content
- 2-year no-quibble warranty
- Sturdy case
- Good battery life
- No screen protector
- No offline video viewing
- Review Price: £129.99
- 12-hour battery life
- 1-year Fire For Kids subscription
- 2-year warranty
- Kids Edition case
- 32GB storage + microSD slot
- 8-inch 1280 x 800 LCD IPS screen
- 2-megapixel rear camera, VGA front camera
Editor’s note: From February 7, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet will be available at £99.99 – a saving of £30. We don’t know how long this deal will last, so you’d better be quick.
What is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition?
The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the larger of Amazon’s two tablets targeted at children. At heart it’s a standard Fire HD 8, but with a drop-proof rubber case and a year’s free subscription to the Fire For Kids service, which provides access to a wealth of kiddy-friendly content.
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition – Design and Features
So the core of this package is the Amazon Fire HD 8 – if the nuts and bolts of that concern you, feel free to click away and come back here after. In a nutshell, it’s a cheap and cheerful 8-inch tablet that’s fine as long as you don’t mind being locked into the Amazon ecosystem.
Squeezed into the supplied Kids Edition case – available in blue, pink or yellow – physically it becomes a very different beast indeed. It’s much fatter and heavier, but very grippable, and it feels like it could survive being hurled across a room in a slushie-fuelled tantrum.
Like the cases of previous Kids Edition tablets, it reminds me of a car steering wheel. It has a little give and a light texturing to stop it slipping from chocolate-smeared fingers. The HD 8 simply squeezes into it with a nice, tight fit.
There are holes cut out of the case for the rear camera, the stereo speakers along the bottom, the volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone socket, as well as the power button and Micro USB charging port.
It still bothers me a little that Amazon doesn’t supply a screen protector, especially considering the huge premium charged for the Kids Edition over the standard HD 8. The case protrudes far enough from the screen that it will be a saviour most of the time, but I’d worry about it being dropped on a pointy wooden toy or something, with the glass display taking a direct hit. Thankfully, Amazon offers a two-year no-quibble warranty with the HD 8 Kids Edition.
Another thing I’d still like to see is some form of kickstand, enabling the tablet to be stood on a table or floor. The EE Robin managed it via a neat folding carry handle, and I’d hope Amazon will try something similar in the future.
The HD 8 Kids Edition comes with the top-tier 32GB of storage, which is handy for downloading all those apps your children will probably eat through. A microSD slot means you can even ramp up the space to 256GB.
The final extra that you pay a premium for is the Fire For Kids app and one year’s free subscription to the service. This offers a child-friendly overlay with a load of useful parental controls and access to a ton of decent videos, games and ebooks.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition – Performance
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As we said in our review of the standard HD 8, there’s plenty to like about Amazon’s tablet, but also a lot it could do better.
The 8-inch IPS display, for instance, is quite reflective and lacks contrast. It does go quite bright, though, so at least you can try to combat those reflections if it’s used outdoors.
Performance from the MediaTek processor and 2GB of RAM isn’t scintillating, but it’s good enough for the simple apps and video streams that will keep your little ones glued to the screen.
The cameras – a 2-megapixel unit on the rear and VGA for the front – are both fairly awful by today’s smartphone standards, but again they’ll be decent enough to let your kids play around. It isn’t like they’ll be Instagramming their Alphabetti Spaghetti, is it?
The 12-hour battery life is pretty impressive, however.
Amazon’s operating system, Fire OS, is Android-based but not Android as you know it. That means you can get most of the major Android apps for Fire OS, including Netflix and the CBeebies apps, but you can’t get Sky Q or Sky Kids, for instance. You’ve been warned.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition – Fire For Kids app
And now to the real meat: that one-year subscription to the Fire For Kids service. It’s basically a simplified UI that overlays Fire OS and provides access to masses of age-appropriate content.
You open Fire For Kids just like any other app, and it gives you the option to add profiles for each of the children who will be using the tablet. Just give them a name, age, gender and profile pic. You can also decide whether to assign them a standard Fire For Kids account or give them a Teen Profile, for children aged 11 and older. I’ll admit I couldn’t spot much difference between the two.
With your child signed in, they have a choice of content type: Books, Videos, Apps, Characters, and (if you’ve enabled permission) Web. They can also search by title or use the camera. All of the categories are crammed with content, and you’ll even recognise most of it – these are mostly well-known brands rather than cheap filler.
Browsing by character reveals plenty of familiar faces: Harry Potter, Thomas the Tank Engine, Fireman Sam, Postman Pat, Gruffalo and a load more, as well as sub-categories such as Dinosaurs, Trains, Princesses, Sports and Superheroes, to name just a few.
There doesn’t seem to be any real structure to the category lists, however, so something like Videos can be a bit overwhelming. Or, rather, you might find your kids never even spot that there’s something in there they would have loved.
Some of the apps can take a long time to download, and the progress bar isn’t super-obvious, so you might get your little darlings complaining about things taking too long. Books are much quicker, though, and videos stream almost instantly – but you do need constant Wi-Fi for the latter, so no videos for those long journeys in the car.
Handily, you can also download outside apps – such as CBeebies Playtime Island – through your adult account and simply add them to your child’s approved apps list. This is really useful for older children, in particular, as much of the Fire For Kids content is still targeted at younger kids.
One thing Amazon has added is a special web browser, which can be set to show a curated set of Amazon-approved bookmarks. Any other websites have to be manually put on the approved list – although in the case of YouTube, you can only approve specific videos rather than the whole site.
Within the Fire For Kids Settings page, there’s also the option to Set Daily Goals & Time Limits. You can specify what time of day your child’s profile can be accessed, for how long per day, and whether you want to set them a goal, such as a minimum of 30 minutes reading books.
Should I buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition?
The HD 8 Kids Edition is a really great tablet for children, combining a decent screen size and drop-proof design with a slick UI and tons of truly excellent content.
The only downsides are a lack of offline video viewing, and the fact that the large price premium over the standard HD 8 only gets you a one-year subscription to the Fire For Kids service.
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The best kids’ tablet so far – although it isn’t without its faults.