#parent | #kids | Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids review: a family-friendly tablet that’s won us over


Before we had kids, we – very naively – said we’d never let our child become reliant on a tablet for entertainment. Fast-forward three years and various scenarios – car journeys, trying to cook dinner, working from home with them in tow, and more – have meant we’ve well and truly backtracked.

On the plus side, our toddler now has a firm understanding of technology. He’s also learned things from YouTube Kids that we hadn’t taught him. Singing Happy Birthday to himself at his first birthday party, for instance.

The tricky thing is that few brands make tablets designed specifically with children in mind these days. And even fewer pack them full of features and sell them for as relatively cheap as the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition.

If you’re in the market for the best tablet for kids, you need to weigh up the price with how robust it is, as well as what protection it offers in terms of apps and parental controls.

In our Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition review, we look at the pros and cons of buying this child-friendly tablet versus buying a regular tablet. We compare the Kids Edition with the standard Amazon Fire HD 8. We also get our toddler to test how easy it is to use and how robust it is. Plus, we take a look through the various controls and customisation options to give you peace of mind.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition review: summary

Price: £139.99

Key features:

  • Full-featured, 8-inch HD tablet powered by Amazon’s take on Android – Fire OS
  • A child-proof case comes as standard. Available in blue, pink or purple
  • 32GB of storage, expandable to 1TB via microSD
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Every purchase comes with a free, one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (formerly known as Fire for Kids Unlimited). This usually costs £79 a year, or £49 for Prime members and gives kids unlimited access to child-friendly apps, games and videos
  • Amazon Kids+ includes educational apps for preschool, and key stage 1–3
  • Parental controls, including screen-time limits, are controlled via the Parent Dashboard available on the Kids+ phone app or via your Amazon account
  • Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition comes with a two-year guarantee, and Amazon will replace the tablet for free if it breaks within this period

Pros:

  • Designed with kids first and foremost; it’s not just an adult tablet with child-friendly features tacked on or buried away
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Can be used as an adult tablet by setting up additional profiles
  • Up to four children can share yearly Kids+ subscriptions
  • Three gadgets in one – a Fire tablet, Echo Show and Kindle

Cons

  • Not cheap
  • Basic design
  • Sluggish
  • No Google apps – including YouTube Kids

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is available at Amazon for £139.99.

What is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition?

At its core, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a repackaged Amazon Fire HD 8. It comes with all the features and design elements of the original yet is sold with a kid-friendly case, parental controls enabled by default, and free access to Amazon Kids+.

For these additions, you’ll pay an extra £50 on top of the price of a standard Fire HD 8, or £30 more than a Fire HD 8 Plus. This price gap becomes even wider when you consider the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is £90 more expensive than the entry-level Amazon Fire 7.

Hardware-wise, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has an 8-inch HD screen. It’s powered by a dual-core processor and runs on 2GB of RAM. The tablet itself comes with 32GB storage, but you can expand that up to 1TB with a microSD card. On both, the front and rear is a 2MP camera, and Amazon promises a 12-hour battery life.

The main difference between the Kids Edition and the standard Fire HD 8 is that the latter comes in an additional 64GB model. This is largely moot, though, given the fact you can expand both of them up to 1TB. The Fire HD 8 Plus, despite being cheaper, comes with an extra GB of RAM and wireless charging.

All Fire tablets are powered by Amazon’s take on Android, called Fire OS, but the Kids Edition comes with an extra layer of parental controls and kid-friendly apps. Even if you don’t subscribe to Amazon Kids+, the Kids Edition has a redesigned web browser designed with child safety and security in mind.

Compared to the £50 entry-level Amazon Fire 7, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has dual speakers, tuned by Dolby Atmos, rather than a basic mono output, and it’s much faster thanks to having twice the RAM and twice the power.

You can also buy a 7-inch Amazon Fire Kids Edition for £99.99 or upgrade to a 10-inch Kids version for £199.99. All Kids Editions of the Fire tablet come with a free year’s Amazon Kids+ subscription and child-friendly case.  In our view, however, the 10-inch is too big for smaller hands (it might suit a teenager better) while the 7-inch isn’t powerful enough. The 8-inch Fire HD Kids Edition is the Goldilocks of the bunch.

What does Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition do?

Amazon has taken the ethos of its standard Fire tablet range – to provide access to cheap and portable entertainment – and made it child-friendly.

Signing up to Amazon Kids+ is part of the setup process. You can alternatively download child-friendly apps via the Amazon App Store via your Parent Dashboard. When you switch to an adult profile, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Audible, and Kindle are all pre-installed.

  • Games, apps, books, web videos and a child-friendly web browser are all included as part of your free subscription to Amazon Kids+
  • Media streaming with Amazon Prime Video installed by default
  • Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, SkyGo and Disney+ available from the Amazon App Store on an adult profile
  • Kindle e-reader and access to the Kindle Store, plus Kindle Unlimited (for an extra fee)
  • Child-friendly Audible audiobooks on the Kids profile or the full catalogue on an adult profile
  • Show Mode turns the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition into an Echo Show when using an adult profile, complete with Alexa Skills 
  • Alexa built-in means you can use the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition to control Echo, plus other compatible smart devices, using your voice or the Alexa app

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How much is Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition?

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition price, when bought directly from Amazon, is as follows:

This price includes a year’s Amazon Kids+ subscription worth £79 (£49 for Amazon Prime members).

You can also buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition  from the following places:

You can sign up for Amazon Prime for a 30-day free trial, after which it costs £7.99 a month.

Is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition good value for money?

On paper, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition seems expensive. Especially compared to the standard £90 Fire HD 8 and £110 Fire HD 8 Plus. Of course, it’s far cheaper than the £400 iPad Mini, as an example, but £140 is still an investment. In this instance, though, we feel it’s an investment worth making.

When you add in all the extras, you’re getting a decent deal. The Fire HD 8 is £89.99; a shock-proof case is around £15; a year’s Amazon Kids+ subscription is, at best, £49 if you already pay for Prime. This takes the total to £154 – a saving of £14. Not huge, but it’s not quite the price difference it first seems.

What’s almost priceless, though, is the fact that Amazon has taken a lot of the hassle out of setting up child profiles and navigating through parental controls on multiple apps. You’re also paying for the peace of mind that if it breaks, you’ll get a replacement for free.

Adding to this is the fact you can set up multiple profiles on the tablet. This means it can become a family tablet – with a protected adult profile and access to standard apps, alongside the kid-friendly software features.

Amazon Parent Dashboard

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition features

While the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition’s hardware specifications are identical to the original HD 8, the software couldn’t look and feel further from it.

The Kids Edition runs on a child-friendly version of the original’s Fire OS, which is a take on Android. The small homepage icons and dark colour scheme of the regular version have been replaced by brightly coloured pages and large thumbnails on the Kids Edition. The Recent Apps button has been dropped from the on-screen menu, while a Parents menu has been added in the bottom left-hand corner.

Your child’s name and preferred colour scheme are shown on the home page, and you can swipe through to select Games and Apps, Shows, Educational Apps, and more. The most recently watched shows or apps are also shown, allowing your little one to jump straight back into what they were doing last time. The on-screen Home and Back buttons disappear as soon as any app or show is selected to avoid distracting your child or being knocked by accident.

The extra money you pay for the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition secures you a year’s free access to Amazon Kids+, and we cannot stress enough how fantastic this service is. It contains all of our toddler’s favourite shows – Peppa Pig, Mister Maker, The Gruffalo, PJ Masks – and various other mainstream, plus more niche titles. All perfectly aimed at younger children.

Gruffalo Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Not only does this make it incredibly easy for children to search, browse and select their shows, it means you don’t have to jump from Disney+ to Netflix to BBC iPlayer and so on, like you do on the standard Amazon Fire HD 8 or other tablets.

There are then books your child can read, or that can be read to them, National Geographic collections, games, packs based on various kids’ interests such as cars, dinosaurs, animals and so on. There is even a child-friendly browser that has parental controls and restrictions in place by default.

One downside – or an upside, depending on your view – is that the Amazon App Store does not support Google’s suite of apps. This includes YouTube and YouTube Kids. If your children are avid YouTube fans, this may not be the tablet for them. It is possible to watch YouTube via the web browser if need be. However, if you’re trying to wean them off watching hundreds of videos of other children opening Kinder Eggs, then this may be a major positive.

Another more significant complaint is that many of the apps and games were too advanced for our toddler. Amazon says that the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is suitable for ages three and up, yet all the games and apps are pretty much lumped together and aren’t categorised by age. Our toddler would often click on games appropriate for his age, in terms of content, but too advanced in terms of controls. This led to quite a few frustrations.

On the iPad Mini, he’s learned to press the physical Home button to go back to the main menu. He then selects which app he wants. The disappearing Home button on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition meant he was shouting for us every few minutes because he’d got bored of the app he was on and couldn’t get out of it. Considering we use a tablet to keep him amused because we need to get on with cooking, or while we’re cleaning up the mess from a recent arts and craft session, this defeated the point somewhat.

Toby using the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

A major plus point in the Kids Edition’s favour is that you can add multiple profiles, including a profile for yourself. Once you’ve enabled an adult profile, you get the full functionality of the Fire HD 8. This includes Show Mode.

Show Mode is the standout feature for us in the 2020 versions of the Fire HD range. Rather than paying extra for an Echo Show 8, simply ask Alexa to enable Show Mode on your Fire HD 8 Kids Edition (with an adult profile selected), and you have a fully-fledged alternative.

Show Mode gives you the full-screen Alexa experience. You can use it in your kitchen to get step-by-step recipes, see weather and news headlines from a distance, catch up on your favourite shows hands-free (in the bath, for instance), make video calls and add to your Amazon shopping list. Plus much more.

What’s more, because the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes with a case and a stand, you don’t have to prop it up against something or pay extra for a dock – like you do with the HD 8 and HD 8 Plus.

We should warn you, though, if you’re using it in Show Mode in the same vicinity as any other Alexa-enabled devices when you shout “Alexa”, they’ll all kick in. Eager to come to your assistance. This can get confusing!

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition screen and sound quality

In our Amazon Fire HD 8, and HD 8 Plus reviews, we marked the tablets down slightly because the screens weren’t quite Full HD quality. They fall short of the technical definition of full HD by around 1 million pixels, and they only just qualify officially as HD.

When judging the same screen, with the same resolution, on the Kids Edition, this dip in quality feels less important. As adults, many of us are used to 4K screens, but our toddler doesn’t know the difference. Even our 10-year-old barely flinched at the fact that the display didn’t match up to our TV’s quality.

If anything, the quality – considering this is a tablet aimed at kids – feels more than adequate for what it’s being used for.

Like on its “adult” sibling tablets, there are areas where the low definition is visible, on smaller icons and notifications particularly. Yet because the software is deliberately bright and colourful, and the buttons are all larger, this is less of an issue on the Kids Edition. The screen is highly reflective, though, which can create some problems. Not to mention the fact it shows up all of your child’s many sticky fingerprints.

Thanks to the partnership with Dolby Atmos, the quality of sound that comes out of the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition’s dual speakers is decent. It’s not super loud, but this is a good thing for little ears. At full volume, the sound can become a little tinny on certain games and shows, but the speakers do a good job of making voices sound clear when audiobooks are being read out loud.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition design

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition ports

As the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has the same overall design as the Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus, our critique is the same. It’s basic and looks cheap. This is due to its large bezel, chunky shape and size, rounded corners, and plastic casing.

However, with the Kids Edition case attached, you don’t see any of this. It looks cheap and chunky, but then it’s meant to. The shock-proof kid-friendly case is overly big, but that’s deliberate. It’s designed to protect the tablet and make it easy for small hands to grab hold of.

The volume controls aren’t easy to access because the case is so thick, but again we imagine that’s deliberate. To keep them out of reach of young users. Plus, the robustness and thickness of the case mean the balancing issues we had with the regular HD 8 models is no longer an issue.

Moving onto the ports on the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, there’s a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, perfect for Amazon’s BuddyPhones headset, a USB-C charging port and a microphone.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition set-up

The step-by-step guide on the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is straightforward to follow, and you can get multiple profiles added in minutes. You don’t need to set up individual Amazon accounts for your kids; they can just be added to yours. If you’ve been bought the tablet as a gift and don’t already have an Amazon account, you’ll need to set one up, but even this can be done via the guide.

Unlike on the original HD 8 tablets, you don’t need to wade through a series of promotional messages and notices for Amazon’s services. Nor are you met with a host of pre-installed Amazon apps or ads when enabling a kid’s profile.

The overriding benefit of buying this tablet for your kids is that you can rest assured, out of the box, this tablet will entertain your children safely and securely without you ever having to tweak and mess with various parental controls. You can, of course, edit these controls in Settings and via the Amazon Parent Dashboard, but if you don’t want to, or you don’t know how they’re protected as standard.

Speaking of the parent dashboard, this is a great little app that lets you monitor usage and control screen time remotely, all with a very simple user interface. You can access it via the Amazon Kids+ app on your phone or via your online Amazon account.

Fire 8 Kids Edition review homepage

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition battery life and performance

Amazon promises a battery life of 12 hours and, in our looping video test (in which we play an HD video on repeat at 70% brightness and with aeroplane mode enabled), the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition took 10 hours 2 minutes to go from full charge to flat.

This is lower than what Amazon promises and three hours lower than the battery life on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus. However, even though the tablet shares hardware specs with the original Fire HD 8, the Kids Edition battery lasted around an hour longer.

When using the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for everyday tasks – playing a PJ Masks racing game, watching The Gruffalo (for the umpteenth time), helping Mister Maker draw shapes  – the tablet lasted days. Literally. It only died by the end of day three.

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is seemingly running apps and games that are less power-hungry and intense than those used on the standard models, which is reflected in the battery life.

Performance-wise, though, the HD 8 Kids Edition is less impressive. It’s as sluggish as its siblings and even more so when you switch between profiles and enable Show Mode. It works fine once enabled, but getting there can feel like a slog.

Our verdict: should you buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition?

Before we started writing this Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition review, we weren’t sure why anyone would buy a tablet aimed specifically at children in this way. Especially not when it costs substantially more than “adult” tablets with identical hardware specs. Yet, just like we backtracked on our toddler ever using a tablet, we’ve backtracked on this.

You get the best of all worlds with the Kids Edition – minimal hassle and worry about what your kids are watching, minimal stress about them breaking it, maximum value for money. For £149, you’re effectively getting an Amazon Fire HD 8 (£89.99), a case (£15), an Echo Show 8 (£120) and a year of Amazon Kids+ (£79) – a bundle of products and services that would set you back more £300 if bought separately. Plus, you can’t put a price on being able to drink a hot cup of tea while they amuse themselves for five minutes.

Interestingly, all the points we marked the HD 8 and HD 8 Plus down for don’t seem as relevant or as bad on the Kids Edition. It’s not perfect, but the things we’d change are very minor, and given how our toddler has taken to the tablet, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Rating:

Features: 5/5

Screen and sound quality: 3/5

Design: 4/5

Set-up: 5/5

Battery life and performance: 3/5

Overall rating: 4.3/5

Where to buy Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Still comparing tablets? Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review.



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