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Know your options when buying a kids' tablet
on September 18, 2013
Innotab vs. an ipod/Android device:
There are some kid-friendly android tablets out there for not much more than the innotab. Plus older generation iPod touch devices are not too much more expensive. Leapfrog, Disney, Nickelodeon and other big draws for kids make content for all these devices, so what's a parent to do?
Typically those apps are around $4-5 for iOS/Android. The Vtech games offer 3 modes in each cartridge (games, art and story), so in a way it's like getting 3 apps, which makes the prices much more comparable. Additionally, used kids clothing stores almost always have a ton of games very cheap and this is a great way to buy at a lower cost.
In my opinion, if your child is on the younger side (3-6), he might like the Vtech better if you're willing to buy into a few games. The educational content is much higher on Vtech than the free apps on iOS/Android, and with my tips above, it's probably cheaper on the real game/app content as well. The trade off is being locked in to Vtech, not being able to quickly stream content to the device, and lower specs on the hardware itself.
If you have older children, or if you want to watch a lot of video content (ie digital copies of movies, stream shows from things like the Disney Jr. app, etc) then the iOS/Android might be a better option. Also, if your kids are on the older side (7+), I'd see the days being numbered for how long they'd hold on to an Innotab before wanting that wider range of content.
My 5 year old likes the innotab, but usually reaches for a Kindle, iPod, etc first. However, he has older siblings so he's learning from them, too. I don't feel like the content on those devices is educational, but its fun. Therefore, it'll come down to your tolerance as a parent as to what they spend their screen time doing.
+Works with a large library of games.
+Games offer 3 modes on each cartridge - game, art and storybook.
+Low cost games using my tips above and considering the variety in content on each cartridge
-Compared to the Innotab 3s, which is only $30 more, it lacks rechargeable batteries and wifi. These might help bridge some of the gaps to an iOS/Android device, but I don't have the 3s to know for sure
-Screen scratches easily
-Must connect to computer for any progress updates and learning achievements to be visible online.
-No way to translate a cartridge purchase into a downloadable form of the content. It would be really nice to be able to transfer the game cartridge onto the internal storage so you don't have to carry multiple cartridges. Many games sold in cartridge form can be bought online (including here on Amazon - as a redemption code) and downloaded to internal memory. The down side of this is that the license is linked to your Vtech account, so if you gave or sold the innotab to someone, they'd lose that content as soon as they sync it to their own account.