Choosing the right tablet for your child

December 6, 2011

More than a dozen young testers played with tablets from Fisher-Price, LeapFrog, VTech, and Vinci, which most resembles an adult tablet.

The children read books and played with the tablets for several days.

"They do mimic tablet computers, but they don't have nearly as many features and they also don't have access to the Internet. That's a good thing because they're for such young children but that means parents will have to help with downloading content," said Carol Mangis of Consumer Reports.

Back in the lab, testers got serious with their evaluation. They used a device to make the tablets stay on in order to measure battery life.

They also evaluated display quality and how easy the tablets were to use.

The Vinci, for ages four and younger, has the best display with a touch-screen interface and the largest hard drive at eight gigabytes. However that's not the only reason it stood out.

"The Vinci has a large screen, and it did well in our tests but our model cost $480. That's a lot of money to spend on a device for a toddler," said Mangis.

For far less, testers recommend the $80 InnoTab by V-Tech for ages four to nine. It has a smaller screen and hard drive, but it's loaded with features like an art studio, e-Reader and MP3 player.

The crowd pleaser with the children turned out to be the $100 LeapPad Explorer which is also for ages four to nine.

Its camera, photo-editing feature, and art studio had kids beaming.

The fourth tablet tested, the $80 Fisher-Price IXL Learning System, didn't have as many fans, but one aspect of it was a standout.

Consumer Reports says it had an especially long battery life of 13 hours. That's longer than even most tablets for adults.

The battery life for the other three tablets was only three to seven hours.

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