Do Kids Need an Internet Tablet?

Geek Culture

tablets, kindle, android, googletablets, kindle, android, google

Archos 7Ob Tablet, priced at $199.

Confession: even though I write for GeekDad and GeekMom, I’ve never tried out a tablet until I received a review sample of the Archos 7ob Internet Tablet.

Why not? We have an iPod Touch, an iPhone4S, several desktop PCs, one netbook, and one MacBook (mine). Getting a tablet seemed overkill, especially since most of the lower-priced models only have WiFi and thus cannot be connected to the internet at all times to stream music or videos or play online games.

After trying this out, I’ve changed my mind. I was looking at lower-priced tablets as an extra computer that duplicates what I have. Tablets like the Archos or the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet serve a different purpose, In many ways, they combine the staples of books, music, games and movies all in one, thus they could replace the books, iPods, handheld gaming consoles and portable DVD players that we often take on trips or long car rides.

It’s not exactly translatable. I’m sure that some of the handheld gaming consoles have better graphics and some bells and whistles than tablets. And probably there are better graphics on the more expensive tablets that can do many more things, such as the iPads.

So, at $199, they’re somewhat of a bargain for parents who just want one thing to entertain the kids, especially with the instant access to download new books, movies or apps. I’d definitely buy the Archos Tablet over the iPod Touch as they’re the same price and the Archos offer a much larger screen.

I tested a number of apps for the Archos Tablet: Comixology for comics, Angry Birds for gaming, Pandora for music streaming, and Netflix for instant streaming. The results were excellent. I’d not yet had a chance to view DC or Marvel Comics digitally and I was impressed with the look of them. The youngest son (13) termed the graphics on Angry Birds very good, and Pandora and Netflix streamed nicely.

The one problem I had was with the Kindle App. It was hard to navigate and crowded. The Google Play app, however, made it easy to browse books. I don’t know if that’s by coincidence or design, given Google and Apple seem to be competitors in the tablet race.

The Archos tablet is powered by Android 2.3 Honeycomb, has a 1.2 GHz processor, 512 MB of ram, and a 1024 X 600 display on the 7-inch screen. I was less concerned with those specs than how well it worked when I turned it on.

Overall pros: easy to use, good resolution for watching movies, easy to download apps and an internet browser that worked well. The battery life is about eight hours, much worse than on my old Kindle (which does not even have a touchscreen) but that Kindle is basically only dealing with books.

The big con: No 3G service. None of the three tablets I mentioned for $199 have that capacity. So the user is limited by whatever is already pre-loaded into the system.

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